Read this then ace the IELTS speaking questions on having things done

IELTS teacher has hair done and answers questions on hairstyle

Recently people have been reporting IELTS questions on hair. Just before New Year, I had my hair done at my local salon. I wanted to write about it here to help you out with some useful grammar for any IELTS questions on having things done. Your kitchen, your cleaning, your car repair – don’t do it yourself, call in the experts and have it done.

As a bonus, I have some idiomatic phrases to answer any current IELTS questions on hairdos.

As well as illustrating the grammar of having things done, it is a good opportunity to learn idiomatic vocabulary.

I spent an arm and a leg having my hair done – I got my hair bleached and then dyed with fashion colours.

It took an age – I was in there for about five hours in total getting it done.

The hairdresser put bleach on the ends to create what is called an ombre.

The advantage of this is that you only make the ends of the hair blonde, which means you do not get unsightly dark roots growing. The roots of your hair are the parts that attach to your scalp (the skin on your head).

For people with bleached hair (hair made a lighter colour), roots are a problem because they grow back as your natural colour giving a dark stripe on the top of your head. Then it becomes a constant fight to keep your hair looking nice because dark roots are unsightly (ugly).

Having an ombre seemed the obvious answer, but there is a class thing with this, and actually, in the UK, many people do not consider it high-class to have an ombre done.

However, I wanted to have my hair dyed (coloured) pink and needed to have it bleached before the dye would take, so I wasn’t going to let a few social snobs stop me, and I got it done.

Once she had bleached the ends – the hair opposite to the roots – the hairdresser used pieces of silver foil  (metallic paper usually used in cooking)  and a brush to add the dye and left it to work for half an hour. After that, she rinsed the dye off my hair and, hey presto, I was bright pink and blue.

I was so happy with it.

After that, I had ringlets (tight curls see the picture) put into it with curling tongs.

hair done in ringlets and dyed pink and peacock blue


Grammar Focus: To have something done VS to do it yourself

The only sad thing was that I had to have it done on the 30th because the salon was closed on New Year’s Eve. Once I had slept on my hair and brushed it the next morning, the curls were all gone, so I didn’t have that style for my party.

She told me it would only last for 6-8 weeks, but it has been four weeks, and the colour has almost entirely washed out.

I desperately want to be pink again, but I cannot afford to have it done every four weeks and have that money, literally, go down the plughole. If I am brave enough, I will do it myself at home rather than have it done in the salon.

Idiom: To go down the drain/go down the plughole.
Be unsuccessful, lost, or wasted.
“The company went down the plughole.”

My sentence: to, literally, go down the plughole

  • The dye is washed out of the hair into the bathwater.
  • The plughole is the hole in a bath where the plug goes.
  • The plug is placed in this hole. It stops the water from flowing out of the bath until you want it to.

In the sentence about the company, the idiom is only metaphorical. But in my example of expensive hair dye, this is a rare example of the idiom where the words actually describe the situation literally.

It is likely that the questions about hairstyles that have are being reported in IELTS currently will be testing higher band students on the following English grammar:

To have something done VS to do something.

When we do something, we might do it well or poorly. Certain things can or should only be done by professionals. In this case, we HAVE [something] DONE by [a professional].

I’ve highlighted in bold some examples in the story above. The resources below explain the grammar a bit more.

Here are some more resources to help you answer IELTS questions on having things done:

and this useful quiz to test your knowledge:

Other topics for having things done in IELTS

  • something you had repaired
  • a home improvement
  • your teeth – don’t do them yourself, have them done by a dentist!

I had my hair done in fashion colours – bright colours that are not natural for hair. Do you want to talk like a native speaker about colours in English. Watch my video here:

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