There’s never been a better time to get a classic cut and shave at KL’s modern barbershops. Here, we check out the city's best places for cool hair and wet shaves.
Barber-musician multi-hyphenate Kevin Tan – formerly of OTHRS barbers – has his own salon space now: The Oven Cuttery, located inside Battery Acid Club. First and foremost, it’s home to Mentega, Kevin’s own oil-based pomade (#whatbutteryisthis, he’s also an entrepreneur/hair scientist) – but it’s also a barbershop, where the master barber will treat your whiskers to a beard trim (RM15), an old-fashioned straight razor shave with a hot towel service (RM25), and so on. Haircuts, which come also with a hot towel service, start at RM38.
Haircuts from RM38. By appointment only.
Adding to the growing list of tenants at APW is 52 Barbers, a barbershop specialising in men’s cuts and shaves. The compact space accommodates only two chairs, and is run by McBe (formerly of OTHRS barbers). Easily recognisable with its ceiling-to-floor windows and teal frames, the quaint shop is quite minimal by way of decor – exposed concrete flooring, walls with simple chalk drawing, and a phonograph tucked in a corner.
Services you can get here include shaves, beard trims and bespoke gentlemen cuts. The best part is, the haircuts are finished with a refreshing hot towel service. Prices start from RM60 for a bespoke gents cut (RM40 for kids aged five to 12), and shaves from RM20; a combination of a haircut and shave will cost you a minimum of RM85. Walk-ins are accepted, but it’s recommended that you book online beforehand.
Haircuts from RM60; shaves from RM20
This neighbourhood joint, formerly known as Amplitude Barbershop, is a triple threat – barbershop, music store, and academy for dance and music. Chief barber Lex Low has been practising the craft of the cut since he was 16 years old; in June he partnered up with Jonathan Lim, founder of Amplitude Music, to open the barbershop. In the front and on the walls, guitars are mounted alongside posters of rockers past and present; the back area is the barber space, decked with a couch, leather chairs and pomade products from America, Holland and Indonesia. Lex also brews his own pomade – the water-based LeQuiff&Co – and takes to the streets to cut hair for the homeless, the orang asli and the underprivileged.
Go in for a beard trim, a haircut, a fade, and have a conversation with the boys – it has a hip-but-homey vibe, without a hint of pretension. They also offer free cuts by their barber apprentices, under the watchful eyes of Lex, of course.
Haircuts from RM25.
Operated by Ted Lee, an independent barber who used to work out of The Oven Cuttery and OTHRS Barbers, Sweeney Ted is the latest addition to a growing list of barbershops specialising in men's cuts and shaves. Having just opened in early May, the shop is still bare-looking with more furnishings to arrive in the coming months; but everything you need for a haircut, shave, or trim can be found here. Be sure to reserve some 'me' time when making an appointment; unlike services offered by traditional Indian barbers or mall-based Quick Cuts, haircuts here take around an hour, or more if you want to follow it up with a shave. Services offered include a simple beard trim (RM25), a regular haircut (RM45), and a full-service haircut with hot and cold towel two-pass clean shave (RM90). Aside from barbering services, Sweeney Ted also stocks imported grooming products such as hair clay and beard oil from the Australian-based Burly Fellow, as well as soap, deodorants and solid cologne from US brand O'Douds.
Originating in Mayfair, London, Gentlemen’s Tonic offers traditional barbershop services with a modern styling. Grooming remains the key service offered here and that includes haircuts, razor head shaves, scalp treatments, beard design, wet shaves and more. Granted, the brand targets the middle-to-high end of the market, but what you’re paying for is the pampering experience and also the attention to detail, from the way your barber styles your hair down to the design of the chairs and mood lighting.
What really sets Gentlemen’s Tonic apart from the pack is their wide-ranging menu that also offers facials, manicures and pedicures, and even massages, making this a one-stop centre for all your male grooming and pampering needs.
Haircuts from RM70; shaves from RM45.
Those looking for a quick buzz will likely bristle at the long wait – Zenon is infamous for its two-hour queue – if not for the barbers’ attention to detail and affordable pricing. It’s a tiny space that’s timelessly handsome; there are pictures of rock’n’roll icons hanging on the walls, and the barbers cut with prized vintage Andis and Wahl clippers, before applying prickly heat powder – an old-school British Dispensary cooling powder – as an aftershave. Drop by for a classic cut – the high-and- tight and the pompadour are the most highly requested – and finish with a traditional hot towel shave: it’s the old-fashioned barbering experience.
Haircuts from RM20.
Barber beast Ardy Damis – also of Joe’s Barbershop – opened Nimroc’s second shop at Pudu Uptown about a year ago. A chop and cut at Nimroc is paired with good music and great conversation – politics is an oft-covered topic, as befits old-fashioned barbershops where men met like-minded men. Classic, sober styles are Nimroc’s signature, though they also do contemporary cuts.
Haircuts from RM20.
There’s little in the way of decor – black walls, dim lighting – but if it’s good enough for Wak Doyok, the man with the moustache, it’s good enough for you. With a great beard comes great responsibilities; that’s why Wak Doyok is a co-owner of Shino’s, where beard care is available along with the standard services of cut, shave and wash for men, although children’s and women’s cuts are also offered. If you’d like to carve a custom design into your mane, ask for the hair tattoo.
Haircuts from RM25.
Many would argue that the barbershop boom in KL is credited to Joe Flizzow’s success with Joe’s Barbershop more than two years ago – at a time when, suddenly, facial hair was the fad du jour and the word ‘hipster’ lost all meaning. Joe’s Barbershop is New York hip hop: all black and white floor tiles, exposed brick walls, with The Notorious B.I.G. blaring out of the speakers. Come for classic cuts, cornrows and dreadlocks; stay for the bakso behind the barbershop.
Haircuts from RM20.
The new establishment, by a co-owner of Shino’s, carries old-school touches: gentlemen’s cuts, a straight-razor finish, wood paneling. Your hair is in good hands; the hairstylists are themselves hyperstylish. At the back, a vape shop holds court.
Children’s haircut, RM15; men’s haircut, RM25.