Rediscovering old school at Back Alley Barbershop

I've always been a salon kind of guy. As a kid it may have always been a trip to the local barber for haircuts but once that "consciousness" arrived in my teenage years, I graduated to salons. I guess it had to do with this perception that they're more attuned to current hairstyles than old barbers. But then not all salon-based stylists are good.

Anyway after twenty-something years I found myself at a barbershop again just yesterday afternoon. Following a failed call for an appointment at my go-to salon, My Bibe suggested I try Back Alley Barbershop, which she'd been following on Instagram. Alright, I thought, time to try something new by going old school (ironically).

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As old school as this place can get, they play music from vinyl.

Back Alley has been around since early this year and yes, it's located somewhere in a back alley in Salcedo Village, Makati City. Outside it looks pretty unassuming but once you enter that glass door it's warm, cozy, and very manly. Talk about wood furniture, wood flooring, an exposed ceiling painted in black, black leather cushions, and of course that unmistakably familiar barber's chair, of which there were six.

Customers are treated to either a glass of pressed coffee or Katipunan craft ale. While waiting--or while your wife or girlfriend is waiting--there's a really good selection of books and magazines to peruse, all while some good old music is playing from their stack of vinyl records. Everywhere you look is a touch of class, which makes this place a gentleman's heaven. Back Alley is still your old school barbershop, only swankier.

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Back Alley is indeed in a back alley.

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The reception.

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Cool black and white artworks adorn this wall at the entrance.

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Warm and swanky interiors.

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I just love this really cool chair here.

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This is where your coffee is prepared.

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The shampoo area.

After a brief wait it was now my turn on the chair. My barber JR politely asked for my name and greeted me with a firm handshake. He was wearing a barber's apron over a tie with the sleeves of his shirt rolled up. I appreciate how they make the barbers here look very dignified. It is a noble and decent job after all, and one that deserves respect.

I sat on the chair and it felt good to be reoriented with it after a long time. Before me was a host of different implements from the barber's "tools" to a random display of various hair and facial care products. I loved how his scissors, combs, and blades were all laid out neatly on the table but still with a touch of randomness.

My guy started wrapping a towelette around my neck before throwing the barber's cape over me. I'm accustomed to having my mane shampooed first but it was different here, as my guy immediately began buzzing my sides with the clipper interspersed with some handiwork with different scissors.

A few minutes later he pulled out a new blade, soaked a cotton and wiped wet the edges of my hairline from my left temple, all the way to the back and then to my right temple. Then he started scraping those excess hair away with careful precision, something I haven't experienced in a very long time. After a few more touches, he went on to shampoo my hair, ever so careful with how the towels are wrapped around my neck and laid out to cover my face. I honestly don't get this level of care at my go-to salon.

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Just before my little grooming and pampering started.

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My guy's tools, laid out like some surgical employs but with a touch of randomness.

It was time for my shave. No, I didn't ask for a full clean shave because I still wanted to keep my facial hair. So basically I was just in for some good old grooming.

My guy flipped an extended headrest and then set the chair to a full recline. After a quick run with the clipper he carefully lay a towelette around my face and began applying some product with a shaving brush around the base of my neck and somewhere on both cheeks. He followed it with a nice hot towel before the actual shaving.

With my eyes covered I couldn't see what he was doing but I felt the care and precision in his hands. He likewise carefully trimmed my mustache as I was starting to doze off. After brushing off all the cut hair on my face I was awakened by the refreshing feel of the cold towel followed by a really nice-smelling aftershave.

As with probably any barber, my guy gave me a firm shoulder, head and arm massage before returning the chair to its original position. Next he gave me a quick but good back massage, sprayed my hair with water, applied some product, and groomed it handsomely. And we were done!

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I should probably get some of these next time.

More than just a haircut and shave, my little Php 700 experience was a nice and relaxing pampering session that I certainly would want to experience again. The price may be steeper than what I would usually shell out for a haircut but I'm happy with it. I appreciate the unobtrusive care and attention given to me, the warm and cozy ambiance where there's none of that loud chatter, and those few minutes in a place where a guy can just escape to, unwind, and be cared for.

Back Alley Barbershop is located at Unit 1D, Alpha Salcedo Condominium, Bautista St. corner Sanchez St., Salcedo Village, Makati City.

For appointments, call 0947-518-5736.


  1. Maganda ang service but satisfied na ako just for php 30 haircut hihi

  2. Wow! This place looks incredible...just by looking at the pictures you can tell you´re in for an experiencie. I´ve been wanting to return to a barbershop for sometime...When i was little there was one just around the corner so it was my go to, as you now I go to a salon (which is convinient since is my uncle´s) but barbershops were always a very special place, now the true challenge is finding one because they are almost extinct over here.


    1. we still have a lot of barbershops here, though, but very few like this one.

  3. I have always been a salon kind of guy until trying out back alley. Had my second visit yesterday and I think I’m hooked! I have Jonas as my go-to barber now.

    1. then we just might bump into each other there one day.

  4. I really impressed after read this because of some quality work and informative thoughts . I just wanna say thanks for the writer and wish you all the best for coming!


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