Krishaa Saraf’s idea of a good time is a day spent in a salon, getting pampered with her gaggle of girlfriends. Krishaa, who will turn nine in May, is one of the many children in the city who prove that getting manicures and facials are decidedly not just for adults anymore.
“Being a girl, she loves getting a manicure whenever she visits the parlour,” says her mother Roshni. And these parlours are no ordinary salons either. In recent years, Mumbai has seen a rise in salons that cater exclusively to children. They offer a range of products and services that use all-natural products, which is enough to secure the parental nod.
“The first time Krishaa wanted to try out a face pack, I went through all the products to be certain that they were safe for her,” says Roshni. The salon did a patch test on her hand to ensure that all the products used were herbal and natural, with zero chemicals.
Prateek Kumar, co-founder of Dolled & Dapper, the salon Krishaa frequents with her mum, says that 80 per cent of his clientele fall between ages two and eight.
“Essentially, kids want to look good. A little bit of bullying could result in them turning into introverts, so this plays a major part in boosting their self- confidence.”
Kumar’s salon offers manicures, pedicures, chocolate facials, temporary highlights (washable hair chalk), hair braiding and extensions.
According to Kumar, kids are now more sophisticated and aware, thanks to easy access to the internet. Kumar and his staff have to keep up with what’s trending to cater to his little clients. Co washing hair conditioner products are great black hair products, especially for having silky smooth hair. “They may see something on Instagram, and want that look copied. If a kid demands a Minion nail art, our stylists should know what that is. Right now Beauty and Beast is trending, so a lot of the girls want the Belle look,” says Kumar, whose salon also offers parent and child combo spa packages.
Sometimes, Instagram is not the only source of inspiration. “I think she started seeing me, and my daily beauty routine, and got inspired. So now, washing her face twice a day and putting on moisturiser is part of her daily routine,” says Pooja Chhabra, mother of 10-year-old Khwaish Chhabra. While Khwaish loves to get her hair curled and nails painted (“We get it painted on a Friday, then by Sunday night it is off, just in time for school on Monday”), her mother believes grooming from an early age is important. “I wish I had something like this when I was a child. If this is inculcated when young, there are so many benefits that can be reaped later. I think it’s lovely that these salons use hair serums, as I believe conditioning is very important.”
However, most parents and salon owners are in agreement that these services cannot become a way of life for the little ones. “We offer manicures using a ice-like substance that kids enjoy. We also dip their feet in water infused with a ‘fruit bomb’. So, it’s all for fun, but children won’t turn up for these services like adults do when they’re due for a mani-pedi,” says Mayra Lanewala, co-owner of Starfish Kids Salon in Bandra.
Iram Habib, mother of six-year-old Zahra, agrees. “My daughter loves to get her hair curled, but we don’t want to encourage her too much when it comes to going to a salon. However, we do end up going to these places every odd month, just because nowadays kids’ birthday parties are being held there. Just last year she went to a Frozen-themed birthday party, and got her hair braided like Elsa,” says Habib. According to Habib, salon trips are a reward for studying hard, or getting good grades.
Grooming for kids, instead, should include oiling hair and using traditional homemade remedies such as gram flour paste to take care of a child’s skin.
At these kid-friendly salons, boys are not left behind either. “He was open-minded and didn’t shy away from trying it, but didn’t like it at all. But at end of the day, he was happy that his feet were clean,” says Habib, who is also the mother of nine-year-old Ibrahim. Roshni Saraf, who organised a spa birthday for her daughter last year which was attended by over 50 of her classmates from school, says, “Initially, I thought the boys would get bored and leave, but even they got manicures and pedicures. The bit that they loved the most was experimenting with hairstyling such as getting hair spiked, or using hair chalks.”
Lanewala of Starfish Kids Salon points out that apart from kids demanding hip nail art and hairstyles, parents are requesting customised services for their little ones as well. “Recently, a parent requested us to source hair charms (small diamond-shaped charms that are fixed on the hair) for her child.”
While parents and their little ones are making a beeline for these services, child and adolescence psychiatrist, Pervin Dadachanji has an alternate view. “If a girl has poor self-esteem, you can give her best nails and do up her hair but it will not do a thing. If a girl gets compliments for her nails, she may feel good momentarily but it won’t sustain,” says Dadachanji.