On the back of a shampoo bottle in my friend’s shower, “damage level” is translated as “dégâts de niveau.” I find this odd, isn’t it backwards? Shouldn’t it be “niveau de dégâts”?

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    At first glance, you're right. But it would be nice to get more details or a context, perhaps what comes around these words in both English and French... Translations on products, at least in Canada, are sometimes very sketchy too. It wouldn't be a first if that turned out to be a poor translation... – Pas un clue Sep 7 '18 at 23:39

You are right. In general damage level should more translate to niveau de dégâts.

However, I have found a shampoo label showing both the English and French forms you refer too, and in that case, despite the Spanish and Italian translations being reversed (level de daño, livello de danno), dégâts de niveau makes sense in French.

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The full English phrase is more like "Damage level: #3" while the French one can be read Dégâts de niveau 3. In that case niveau 3 is fine and idiomatic.

I don't know if these damage levels are standardized. In France, we talk more about the agressivité of a shampoo, with a shampooing extra doux being a very low damage level one followed by a shampooing doux up to a shampooing très agressif but the latter won't be labelled like this.

After reading @PapaPoule's comment, I searched a little more and found an advertising that reads:

First, a salon will diagnose your hair’s ‘damage level’ (graded 1 to 3)

On the other hand, a reply on Amazon gives a range from 1 to 5.

Whatever the highest level is, this is about the hair quality. I don't think there is such hair grading used in France and dégâts might not be the best word to use. Both dégâts de niveau 3 and niveau de dégâts 3 sound odd when referring to hairs, that's more for a car or a house when talking with your insurance company. Perhaps qualité or dégradation would be closer to the idea.

Instead of a single range, we generally talk more about the kind of disorder the hair might suffer and say shampooing pour cheveux normaux, secs, très secs, gras, très gras, cassants...

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    Thanks for the shout-out! It might be because I’ve never picked-up/read (much less purchased) a bottle of “fancy” shampoo, but I’d say that American shampoos (just as you say for French ones) also “generally talk more about the kind of disorder the hair might suffer” (I’d’ve been tempted to add “pour cheveux colorés” to that list of “disorders”!). Anyway, if I were a bit more cynical about how far companies will go to sell their products, I might be tempted to attribute the use of “Damage Levels” to a desire to sound more “fancy” & “scientific-like” (i.e., something that needs to be “Googled”) – Papa Poule Sep 8 '18 at 17:27

You're right that the way to say “damage level” in French is “niveau de dégâts” (assuming a literal translation for “damage” and “level”).

Dégâts de niveau 3” works, however. It depends how you complete the sentence fragment. If you complete it as “the level of damage is 3”, then it's “le niveau de dégâts est 3”. But you could have expressed it in English as “this product causes damage at level 3”, which can be phrased in French as “Ce produit cause des dégâts de niveau 3”. It wouldn't be a literal translation of the English, but it would be grammatically correct and semantically acceptable. I doubt that this is what the manufacturer meant, though. In both English and French, this formulation makes it more apparent that this is a negative aspect of the product. Using a noun phrase “damage level”/“niveau de dégâts” makes the negativity of “damage” a bit less prominent.

The expression niveau de dégâts is very uncommon (even in Canada) so I'm sure that the literal translation is not the correct one. I think that jlliagre is right that we'd use agressivité. French-speaking countries don't seem to put numbers on agressivité, but if we did, we wouldn't write ”niveau d'agressivité“, we'd just write “agressivité”, even with a numerical value, even in Canada.

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    It wouldn’t change the answer to OP’s specific question (which both you and @jlliagre have addressed nicely, imo), but I suspect that OP read this on a bottle of conditioner/soin/après-shampooing rather than on a shampoo bottle (or maybe one of those “shampoo+ conditioner” products), which could mean that “Damage Level X/Degats de niveau X” is referring to the current state (level of damage/deterioration) of a purchaser’s hair (to help them choose the product best suited for their particular hair) and not to the agressivité/potential damage-causing qualities of the product. – Papa Poule Sep 8 '18 at 13:01

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