Recently my Chinese friend rephrased my use of 美容院 with 理发店 during the conversation, on which I said I'm looking for a hairdresser.

In Japanese there are two types of hair salons - 美容院 and 理容院. Both cut your hairs but the service is different. The former focuses on the aesthetic and used by women and most of younger men. The latter is for men who don't care about the aesthetic (mostly middle-aged and elderly men), and often offers the shaving service as well as the hair cut, and cheaper.

In Mandarin, is this distinction applied in the same way? Or are these words more like the synonym and thus can a (fashionable) girl use 理发店?

Also, does it sound awkward for men to use 美容院? I wonder why my Chinese friend rephrased it... (she is female and I'm male, and both of us are 20s, FYI)

  • 美容院 is almost like the equivalent of a beauty parlor, so unless you are going there to get made up it’s probably not the word you were looking for.
    – Mou某
    Dec 16, 2017 at 1:37
  • ichacha:barber-hairdresser 中文是什么意思男子的理发师、妇女的理发师 hairdresser 1.理发员。 2.梳头者。 bkrs: 妇女的理发师 Women’s hairdresser
    – user6065
    Dec 16, 2017 at 2:21
  • 1
    @user6065 I think OP means the place not the person here.
    – Mou某
    Dec 16, 2017 at 2:37
  • iciba: Her cousin, a hairdresser, was perming her hair as a special treat. 她表兄是 美发师 ,正在免费给她烫发。 related: hair salon 发型屋 美发厅 头发护理中心
    – user6065
    Dec 16, 2017 at 2:41
  • Yeah, I know it's not great English but it is what it is.
    – Mou某
    Dec 16, 2017 at 3:30

5 Answers 5


理发店 is more of a general term for hair salons. If it were for a girl, then we usually say 美发中心,美发院。

  • How about men? Possibly fashionable men in their 20s?
    – Blaszard
    Dec 17, 2017 at 0:10
  • 1
    That will be "发型中心". You will find someone called "造型设计师". And they refer to themselves as by First Name(Probably an English one)+老师, such as "Kevin老师" or "Tony 老师".
    – moiaussi06
    Dec 17, 2017 at 0:13

To be very honest, we call them Tony. No kidding.

  • 1
    Yeah, Tony老师 = hairdresser.
    – Mou某
    May 9, 2019 at 5:22
  • It is used only when you are making fun of the guy.
    – zyy
    May 9, 2019 at 15:11
  • Make correct answers ,not joke May 11, 2019 at 0:56

in Chinese, 理发店is where to make a hair-cut or hair-dressing, both for male or female. 美容院is where to do some activity about cosmetology, usually for female.

  • Thanks but I still don't get enough. So approximately how many girls in their 20s go to 美容院 at least once a year? Is it common girls who go to 美容院 still go to 理发店 as well? (which in Japan is not true...)
    – Blaszard
    Dec 17, 2017 at 0:09

I don't think the distinction really applies in China. Maybe the difference is the amount of pop music they play!

Hairdressing salon, hairdresser's salon
剃头店 (This one maybe indicates a simple lob-off-your-hair place for older guys.)


In China, hair salon with emphasis on fashion and beauty is relatively new. Before 1980s and 1990s, most hairdressers provided only haircutting and shaving services. It is not until late 1990s did the western-style hair salons rise.
People may call a shop with haircutting service only 理发店, and a hair salon 理发店/美发店. Hair salons may call themselves 造型 (lit. styling), but this is not used by common people.
In Chinese, 美容院 is a beauty salon, which provides skincare services, and doesn't necessarily include hair-related services. So it's wrong to call a hair salon 美容院. Also, 美容院 usually sets for women, since there are so few men in China have the need to "beautify" themselves. Therefore, it is weird that a man goes to a 美容院, no matter how you call it.
Those who provides personal hairstyle services(i.e. for certain actors and singers) are called 造型师(lit. "stylist"). Unlike publicly available hair shops, this name is commonly accepted.

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