The Nightmare Of Getting A Haircut In Singapore – Expat Style

I look like an abstract version of The Beatles.
And I couldn’t force myself yet to leave the Hair cutter shop for the Singapore public again. Embarrassed I hold tight to the chair I’m currently sitting in and decide not to leave until my hair has grown back again.
If the fear you felt back home before visiting the dentist now creeps up your spine when your hair starts to curl and you know its time for an “Asian Haircutting Adventure”, continue reading.

I had a hard time reaching the point (now, two years later) where I really get my hair done the way I want and am used to.
Here are my personal tips for you to reach this point in less then two years, and without multiple ridiculous results, very much to the amusement of your local friends.

1. The First Cut Is The Deepest

It was two weeks since I had set foot on Singapore’s shore.
And while my body was still struggling to adjust the heat, I thought it would be a wise move to get rid of my long hair as the first stab in the battle against 35 degrees in the shadow.

I was prepared. I had even brought a picture set of me, front, left, right, posing with my “favorite” hair style for the Singaporean Hair cutter to “simply” copy.

Not if you loose the pictures somewhere between the airport and your hotel though.

Result, the first ridiculous hair cut in Singapore as mentioned above, plus a bloody ear where the scissors didn’t really find any hair but only my skin. I couldn’t wait to go again.

  • 1. Tip:
    Bring a picture of you and your favorite hairstyle, sounds stupid, but makes it easy for everyone, especially your designated hair stylist. And wear ear protection :)

2. Ten Dollar Sounds Like A Good Deal – It Isn’t

The second time I went, I looked up all the vocabulary I might need for a detailed description of how my hair was supposed to look after the procedure took place.

Spotting one of the many “10 Dollar Hair cutters” you find along the streets, MRT stations or malls, even at Changi airport, I thought I might get a good deal this time.

Result: Disaster struck when I realized that the cheap price for my hair cut didn’t let any room for hiring English speaking personal. My gestures weren’t clear enough and I ended up with the exact same typical Asian “bowl” once again. Nicceee.

  • 2. Tip:
    Bring a local friend for translation or above mentioned picture when attempting the cheap “Ten Dollar Places”. You wont find a better deal in town, but it might be difficult to explain what you actually want.

3. The Strong Artistic Personality Of Your Hair Stylist

The next time I went to one of the “expensive” Hair stylists, very much confident that I should finally get back my old style for the little extra money I was now willing to pay. 35 Dollars to be exact.

And indeed, I showed up for the agreed appointment, and after the obligatory head massage, I could kind of make clear what I was looking forward to.

However this time, going for a “Senior Hair Stylist”, I wasn’t prepared for the artistically freedom my “stylist” granted himself without my own approval.

Result: I ended up with something… completely new… but looking like the latest Malay Pop Artist wasnt my ideal idea either

  • 3. Tip:
    Tell your “Senior hair Stylist” that you are not his new piece of art for his latest weird creation, but that you pay him for the exact hair style you want.

4. Finally …

I gave that expensive place another try after getting a recommendation from a friend for a specific hair stylist, and since then… I’m happy as ever before.

Without question there are significant differences in the general hair consistency between Asian and Non-Asian Hair, later resulting in significant differences of the overall styles that are “possible” and in the end look good.

So be prepared to go through some weird looks until you reach the result you are actually looking for.

Just imagine someone from Singapore in an European hair salon. Its the exact same situation, the “Asian Bowl” is not really on the local menu and paying up to 30 Euro (60 S$) for a simple haircut without a head massage might surprise them even more.

Got Some Funny Experience?

I’m sure you do, almost everyone of my expat colleagues showed up in the office at least once with something “undefinable” on and around his head. How about you, let us know in the comments below!




All true! Been there and done it! The $35 category usually want me to look like a 1990s Italian footballer.

After 8 years I have finally realised that to get a decent haircut (and someone who understands English) you’ve gotta spend way way over $35.

Unless you’re a ‘botak’ then you can get a quick shave by the uncle at Chinatown for $5.


Try Visage on Orchard.. Dominque will make you look fab…. and no bowls used…


been to Dominiques “the visage” today and am really happy with the result. The customers are 80% expats so the guy knows caucasian hair.
Men cut is 45 $ and you get your head massage ;-)


i think the key to getting the exact you want is knowing how to instruct the barber/stylist. i go to a $12 place and get pretty much what i ask for, every time. my hair style isn’t spectacular nor the most trendy, but suffice to say, i don’t look like a malay dude or italian footballer. cheers!


It’s not just AngryAngMohs who have a problem, I’m local and everytime I get a haircut I have to pray really hard. 80% of the time I end up looking ridiculous.


Hi there I am an exchange student, still in Singapore. I got my first haircut (female, but short hair) at Far East Plaza and paid 35S$ for a guy who couldn’t speak English and was about to straighten my hair with chemicals even though I have never wanted this. Luckily I could stop him.
Then I went to a very small shop in Tanglin, opposite Commonwealth Green (Commonwealth MRT). There are two Chinese ladies who don’t speak so well English either, but as I had a picture with me I got exactly what I wanted, in no time, for 10S$. I’ve been going there ever since.

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