Grooming

The Esquire Guide to the Best Barbershops in Manila

Getting a haircut is a timeless ritual for men. Here are the best places to get one.
IMAGE Sam Beltran
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Getting a cut and shave has never been easier now, with the best barbershops in Manila dedicated to making you look good no matter which part of the city you’re in. Whether you’re from the northern or southern districts or somewhere in between, there’s always a barber near you. Here's a list of some of the most reliable barbershops, from underground barbers to upscale concepts to the good, old-fashioned mall chains. 

Independent Barbershops

They’re not your lolo’s barbershops. Part of the new wave of men’s grooming, these neighborhood barbershops, mostly barber-owned, owe their influences to rockabilly and midcentury counter-culture. These independent shops form the fabric of the city’s street scene. 

1| Heavyhands Barbershop 

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Mak Azores and Ez Abinal—pioneers of Slick Barbers Co, a street barber movement that gained a loyal following from men who care about hair—are at the helm of Heavyhands Barbershop. Their Mendiola shop, which offers a straightforward cut-and-shave menu, attracts a long queue of guys looking for flawless fades, so while walk-ins are accepted, it’s best to reserve a slot. 

Unit G3, Concepcion Aguila Street corner 2nd Street, Mendiola, Manila; heavyhandsbarbershop.setmore.com 

2| Slick Barbers Co. 

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Slick Barbers Co. has retired its nomadic pop-ups and setup shop for good on Yague Street in Makati, making it the barbershop of choice for those who work and live in the nearby business district. Like Heavyhands, reservations are encouraged, but don’t fret if the Yague store is packed; you can also catch the same guys at Purveyr Post on Bangkal Street and at FLEX in Malate. 

3919 Yague Street Corner South Ave. Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Makati; slickbarbersco.setmore.com 

3| Southern Town Social Club 

 

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For men in the south: Kalbs Miralles, another fellow from Slick Barbers, opened Southern Town Social Club (formerly Southern Town Barbershop) in Muntinlupa as a commune for like-minded guys who are into classic cuts, tattoos, and streetwear. Here, online reservations let you choose your preferred barber.  

221 National Road, second floor, Barangay Bayanan, Muntinlupa; southerntownsocialclub.setmore.com 

4| KAPWA Studio 

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Poblacion isn’t just a hipster district housing the city’s food and nightlife; in the daytime, you can also visit the neighborhood and get a pretty damn good haircut. At KAPWA Studio, barbers Dencio Aguilar and Joe Camacam deliver fades and a lot more, as they also specialize in hair art and other edgier cuts if you’re brave enough to try them. KAPWA also doubles as a collaboration space for local art, tattoos, and retail. 

5059-A P. Burgos Street, Makati; baseup.co/widget/kapwa 

5| Elephant’s Nook

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At first glance, Elephant’s Nook may lack the grit of other shops listed here, but its philosophy is independent at heart. Intended for the students and workers of Ortigas, haircuts are priced at an affordable P250 (they do away with the frills of upscale concepts). Its barbers, who are recruited based on raw talent and a passion for cuts, have also been trained by JayR Mallari, the barber of basketball star Steph Curry. 

8101 Pearl Plaza, 8101 Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig

Specialty Barbershops

Men’s grooming doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s part of the resurgence of menswear and men’s lifestyle in Manila. More than haircuts and pomades, these shops offer curated retail concepts and other sophisticated elements. These multi-concept barbershops are a cut above the rest, catering to the discerning gent who lives a certain lifestyle. 

1| Talas Manileño 

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With a curated supply of local products and elements that celebrate Pinoy contemporary culture, Talas Manileño redefines the Filipino gentleman. Get a tasá (haircut), ahit (shave), or pisil (massage), and the barber will throw in a kiliti for free. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that perennial cool guy Jericho Rosales is its founder. 

Cubao Expo, 38 General Romulo Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City; +63917 5031842 

2| Felipe and Sons 

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No barbershop list is ever complete without Felipe and Sons. They call themselves a “barberdashery,” offering barber services and tailoring in one place. Its hashtag, #ReviveManilaSwagger, says it all: They’re bringing back the good old days of dapper style. Come in for a cut and a custom suit, and walk out like a brand new man. 

Makati; Ortigas; BGC; E. Rodriguez, Quezon City; felipeandsons.com 

3| Back Alley Barbershop 

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True to its name, Back Alley barbershops are tucked away in the city’s nooks and crannies, the perfect location for urban dwellers. Sharp interiors, an impressive collection of vinyl records, and a tasteful selection of reading materials lure the kind of man who knows exactly what he wants. Try its signature Hungover Treatment, which is ideal for office rats dead-tired from work (or from last night’s shenanigans). 

Salcedo Village and Forbes Park, Makati; Bonifacio High Street, BGC; backalleybarbershop.com 

4| The Village Barber 

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The Village Barber, also by The Back Alley group, focuses on a more community-oriented experience. Reflective of its name, it makes grooming accessible to the everyday man as it can be found in the township developments of Forbestown and The Grove. The barbershop also carries local products from the neighborhood. 

Forbestown Center, BGC; The Grove by Rockwell, Pasig; Nuvali, Laguna; backalleybarbershop.com 

Barbershop Chains

Fast, convenient, and reliable, these tried-and-tested barbershop chains are here to stay. 

1| Bruno’s Barbers 

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Offering the classic barbershop experience, from the usual cut-and-shave to that good old barber’s massage, Bruno’s is the king of multi-chain barbershops. Aside from updating its interiors, Bruno’s has also expanded its services to include facials and scalp therapy for dandruff control and hair growth. 

brunosbarbers.com 

2| HQ Barbershop

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Guys in need of an emergency haircut need not worry: At HQ Barbershop, you can get in and out of the barber’s chair in just 10 minutes. Its barbers will even vacuum your scalp to clean up the mess. Service is simple: Pay, collect a ticket from its ATM-like machine, and wait for your number to be called.  

Eastwood Cyber Mall and Lucky Chinatown Mall 

4| Bench Barbers 

 

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Remember when you used to get your haircut at Bench Fix? The brand has since diversified into three niches, with Bench Barbers as its men’s shop. Haircuts are updated, too, as barbers have been trained by Filipino-American stylist Mark Bustos (who is known for giving haircuts to the homeless). 

Glorietta 4 and Market! Market! 

5| Titan 22 

 

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Basketball fans and sneakerheads can get their fix at Titan 22’s in-house barbershop. It offers the traditional barbershop experience, where men can get a haircut and shave, after checking out the most wanted kicks. 

UP Town Center and Vertis North in Quezon City; Conrad Hotel, Mall of Asia Complex; Two Parkade, BGC; titan22.com/barbershop  

6| Big Boss Barbers 

 

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Guys who work in the McKinley Hill area can run to Big Boss Barbers for a haircut as well as a holistic barbershop experience. Big Boss has a premium man-cave feel, and with a work table and several power sockets, you can get work done here while waiting for your turn or after you get your cut. 

Venice Grand Canal Mall, McKinley Hill, Taguig; +63917 837 2677 

7| GQ Barbershop 

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With about 14 branches alone in the metro, plus 15 more in northern and southern Luzon, you’ll never miss a haircut no matter where you are. GQ Barbershop is like the Jollibee of barbershops—it's found everywhere and offers a straightforward menu. 

gqbarbershop.ph 

Grooming Lounges

At these lounges, you don’t simply walk in for a mere haircut; you get the whole pampering experience. These are throwbacks to old-fashioned barbershops where men convene to discuss the day’s affairs, only more luxurious. Also, they come with booze. 

1| The Refined 

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With its full bar and sleek sofas, The Refined really feels like a lounge for men. The generous interiors invite people to stay longer and mingle: Meet other like-minded men, get some work done, or just relax. Try the Omega Package, which comes with a haircut, a Nioxin shampoo and conditioner treatment, a facial, nail clipping, a body massage, and a complimentary drink. 

Fort Point II Building, The Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; [email protected] 

2| Thirsty Barber 

  

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Thirsty Barber, a barbershop-meets-speakeasy in San Juan, is from the same group behind Felipe and Sons. Like its brother, the barbershop is a multi-concept store, but instead of sharp suits, you get bottles and bar chow. 

Promenade Building, Wilson Street, Addition Hills, San Juan; +63995 4572594 and +63977 3608130 

3| Okada’s Retreat Spa Barbershop 

Okada’s Retreat Spa, which offers bespoke wellness services, also hosts its own premium barbershop to complete the pampering experience. The 1920s speakeasy-style barbershop provides utmost privacy, accommodating no more than about two clients at a time. This means you have sole access to its top-notch grooming services and also the whisky bar. 

Pearl Wing, Okada Manila, New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, Paranaque; +632 8880777 

4| Covent Grooming Lounge 

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Covent Grooming Lounge features Art Deco interiors, a concierge, and a private room for full “retreat” packages, which include a haircut, facial, and head massage. The lounge also has an extensive drink selection with its own cocktail recipes, instead of the usual beer and whisky offerings. 

The Grand Midori Makati, Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City; +632 8298730, +63905 4090242  

5| M Barbers

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Guys from Quezon City can swank it up at M Barbers, a concept barbershop under the Jing Monis brand. Located at the hotel’s poolside, M Barbers is decked out in tufted barbershop chairs and checkerboard floors, a stark departure from the celebrity hairstylist’s chain of salons. And yes, this is legit: Jing trained in the art of barbery in London for over a year and recruited a new set of cutters for his barbershop. Also, Robin Padilla has his hair cut here.

B Hotel, 14 Scout Rallos Street, Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City 

How to Get the Best Men's Haircut?

While you can’t go wrong with the classics, modern and even trendy hairstyles can be good options, too. It all boils down to selecting the right haircut that suits your natural hair texture, face shape, and lifestyle.  

Also, good communication with your barber is a must. Be honest with your barber about what you really want and don’t be afraid to get into the details, including your nape, hair part, and fade. At the same time, be open to your barber’s suggestions about what haircut best suits you.

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Sam Beltran
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