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Parenting : Short Cuts : Upscale salons cater to the young set with cookies, balloons, games, videos and souvenir photos.

August 20, 1993|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Cindy LaFavre Yorks writes regularly about fashion for The Times

One of the rituals of childhood is battling Mom and Dad about hair. As a rule, children dread haircuts. The youngest tots will resist parents who come after them with scissors.

Eventually, even do-it-yourself parents relinquish the shears to the experts. While there's nothing novel about this, what is news is the effort being made by kids' salons to please their pint-size clientele.

This is especially true in the Valley, where a dozen or so salons cater to the young set. Providing videos, comic books, cookies and other kid-style lures, these upscale chop-shops strive to keep youngsters amused as they're being barbered. Often, stylists will also cut the hair of waiting parents and send the family home with a certificate commemorating Junior's first bob.

Naturally, these amenities do not come cheap. While at Supercuts, an economy kid's trim--sans shampoo and blow dry--starts at $8, the more upscale, kids-only salons average $15 a cut.

The extra money may represent a couple of hours of entertainment. But hairdresser-to-the-stars Allen Edwards, who recently opened a children's salon next to his main Woodland Hills cuttery, explains that his goals go beyond providing youngsters with fun and games.

"I wanted to see better haircuts on kids," he says.

First-time clients are eased into Edwards' price structure with a $10 charge for either a boy's or girl's haircut (blow dry included, shampoo excluded). Subsequently, the salon charges $15 for boys and $17 for girls (shampoo excluded, blow dry included). And of course, this comes with the requisite lineup of movies, toys, pay-for-play video games, cookies, candy and balloons.

A playhouse is part of the decor at Bambino's Children's Salon in Agoura Hills, which also provides kids with animal crackers, coloring books, free video games, helium balloons and a commemorative Polaroid of their shorn selves. A cut-and-blow-dry is $15 without a shampoo, $17 with. (Long hair is an extra $2 to blow dry.) Parental haircuts can be had for an extra $2, based on the children's rates.

Halos in Reseda has its own video theater, where kids can sit on gymnastic mats and watch cartoons and films. In addition to standard games and treats, small, hand-held toys distract children during the actual snipping and shaping, and a Polaroid captures the new look. Haircuts are $16 for children (shampoos are $2 more) and a blow dry for long hair adds $2. Mom pays $30 for a cut and a 'do for Dad runs about $20.

The miniature merry-go-rounds at Little Rascals Children's Hairstyling in Northridge are a big hit with kids, as are the video games, pinball machines, and toy chests filled with treasures. Sixteen dollars buys an all-inclusive child's haircut, and parental cuts run $22 to $30.

Along with the usual juvenile entertainments, Wiggle Worms in Tarzana features pint-size upholstered furnishings and baskets of toys for kids to hold while they get their haircuts. Afterward, the certificate for the first 'do is dispensed with a a gummy worm, a picture and some strands of hair. Kids' cuts are $15, shampoos an extra $3. Women's cuts are $20 to 25; men's are $18 to $25.

At the Yellow Balloon in Studio City, nervous kids may be comforted by the framed prints of Aladdin and Mickey Mouse, or by the chance to read their favorite books while waiting on child-size furniture. As their locks fall, they can enjoy a lap-size basket of toys and some licorice, Smarties or lollipops. The aromas of sweets are even infused in a line of kids' hair products--shampoo that smells like bubble gum and gel that smells like grape jelly. Baby's $10 first cut includes a snapshot, lock of hair and the ever-popular certificate. Kids' fees are $13 to $15. Parents' cuts range from $20 to $22.

Stellar themes prevail at Young Attitudes in Sherman Oaks. Pink and silver stars are sprinkled on the salon's wall and even counter tops sport lively squiggle patterns. Kids can choose from a variety of low-tech toys--dolls, kiddie cars, trucks, balls, crayons and coloring books--and higher-tech video games. There are complimentary edibles for youngsters and coffee for adults. Kids' cuts range from $16 to $18, depending on hair length. Men's cuts are $25 and women's are $30.

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