barber shop pole signbarber shop pole sign

TRADITIONAL SINGAPORE BARBERS

Every country and culture seems to have its own barber traditions, and Singapore is no exception. Looking for a wonderful way to make friends and have fascinating conversations? Step into a traditional barber in Singapore and experience what they have to offer.
Barber Shop in Singapore

Traditional barbers in Singapore didn’t even bother with shops initially. Roadside barbers along Barber Street near Jalan Sultan would set up makeshift tents and stalls, plastic chairs, mirrors and water-filled basins to tend to their customers.

Today, street barbers are all but lost. For hygiene and regulatory reasons, they have been asked to move to proper barber shops. However, it is still possible to find the odd street barber along the back alleys of Chinatown or Tanjong Pagar.

Barber Shop in Singapore

Although most barbers have moved to proper shops now, you can still get a taste of the Singaporean barber experience in barber shops in the heartlands. These men-only barber shops are immediately recognisable from the spinning blue, red and white poles outside.

Whether on the street or in barber shops, most traditional barbers didn’t go to special colleges or styling schools. They’ve simply been in the trade for many decades and might have learnt the business from an older family member or as an apprentice. 

Tools for haircut

Traditional barber salons tend to be operated largely by ethnic Indians and Malays, and most of them have a long history of cutting hair. Most barbers prefer to use old-school tools, and even prefer old-fashioned shaving blades to the more modern electric shavers.

Talcum powder is used liberally to soothe the skin after a shave, and a large thick brush used to remove excess powder from the skin afterwards. Prices are lower compared to boutique or chain salons, and generally include a vigorous head and shoulder massage, banter, humour, and valuable advice on life!

The last remaining street barbers of Singapore and traditional barbers in barber shops both tend to have loyal followings and many recommendations come through word of mouth. If you can’t find a traditional barber by searching online or hunting for the distinctive rotating poles, feel free to ask around — especially taxi drivers, Singapore’s hidden treasure-troves of valuable information.