(This is part two or a two part Blog post on licensing in our industry)

Last month I discussed my own discovery of our industry’s licensing by the State Board and what you need to be aware of in order to protect your personal health and well-being.  This month I continue the topic and start by telling you about the way we are educated in the Beauty School system or at least my personal experience. You can read Part I to get caught up.

The Beauty schools had my wheels turning. They are receiving educational seminars from unlicensed people, yet are educating students to become licensed. They are often eager for speakers and outside education. I remember an incident we had with an area school. For 2 years a local school where Megan (one of my long time stylists) had attended and asked me several times to come speak. After several requests, I called them and told them  I could not make it but I was sending Megan and another stylist Michelle (who graduated with the schools affiliate in Nashville) to do a presentation. They did a run through of their amazing power point presentation for me and the other stylists. We actually applauded them as we were so proud and impressed! In the week that followed, our salon was flooded with applications for the job of my personal assistant. We experienced (what I felt was) an unprofessional, and unfair interaction with a student.  While discussing the incident with the school coordinator, the conversation got a little heated. This well known beauty school encourages its students to call themselves “future professionals”.  Mind you, it’s great to encourage positive thinking.  As a stylist,  you must finish school, pass boards, get a job, and behave professionally behind the chair to become successful.   I felt as though some of the behavior they encouraged with salons and salon owners were very unprofessional, even possibly damaging to a student’s future career.

I am attempting to problem solve with an HBO character!

He became emotional when I questioned the judgment of practices encouraged by the school with salon owners. He became upset and screamed (rather hysterically)  “I am a professional!” I feel if you ever scream those words out loud to someone that may be a debatable self-perception.  It felt as though I was attempting to problem solve with an HBO character.  Let’s just say the experience I had with this school, was not what I considered professional. I felt like the incident was scary, and was so unprofessional that this school, where I once exclusively recruited from, I now had to cut ties. This school didn’t have its stuff together when Megan had gone there. Her parents paid the equivalent of a university college tuition fee for her to attend. The school  forgot to send her paperwork to state boards for her to test twice, and in her mock boards test they gave for board preparation, forgot to include a vital portion of the test the state grades you on. If you ask Megan why she believes she is successful she will tell you it is the 18 month internship she had with me and our salon.

How is the public suppose to know the difference if I …a salon owner, am confused as well?

Back to Sheila. Putting herself in the same equivalence of ‘professionalism and skill’ as myself and my other licensed cosmetologists and aestheticians was shocking.  No wonder our industry can have a negative stigma attached to it. People out there are confidently charging for services that they really have no right to charge for! Furthermore, how is the public supposed to know the difference if I, a regularly hiring salon owner, was confused as well?

<img scr=” Gemy-Studio-39-licensed-salon.jpg” alt=” Studio 39 Salon is licensed by the State , Kansas City, Studio 39 Salon”>Did you know that MAC and other makeup lines sales girls refer to themselves as “makeup artists”?  I have never really given licensing about makeup services much thought prior to my experience with Sheila. Since then I have learned the reason department stores can have unlicensed counter girls performing services on the public is because they don’t technically charge for the application of makeup, you just make you buy a minimum of $40 of products. Isn’t that the same thing? In fact, some have started charging out right for the application, which is illegal and unfair. Big department store cosmetic companies shouldn’t confuse the public with their glitzy makeup case and false titles of “makeup artist”.  It takes away from an actual professional who is doing everything required per the state government’s standards to perform that service.

…most common were strains of bacteria that cause strep and bacteria found in high levels of fecal matter.

The point of a counter girl is to sell you products. That is their job. At Studio 39 Salon, we are more concerned with giving you a skilled, safe service during your makeup application. If you as a consumer,  believes ‘it’s just makeup, it’s not dangerous, anyone can do it’. Think again. This is where all the emphasis and our training on sterilization and communicable bacteria comes in. If you have used a tester in a department store (who hasn’t) you have more than like came into contact with several different strains of bacteria.  Did you hear about the recent lawsuit was filed in New Jersey by a woman suing MAC for giving her lip herpes?   How glamorous is that? A two year study released  by Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor, reported bacteria linked to salmonella, staph infections, herpes, MRSA,  pink eye, and even the deadly hepatitis A, were all found on testers at makeup counters across America. If these testers are used on moist membranes of the eye and lip tissue, you most certainly can acquire any of these viruses. The highest amounts of bacteria and most common were strains of bacteria that cause strep and bacteria found in high levels of fecal matter. It is usually not the stores’ lack of effort to maintain cleanliness, it is the fact that customers are allowed to touch the very makeup the counter girls are using to apply to your face!

How can this happen?

The goal is to sell products, not to provide a professional makeup application. Take a moment if you need to. It is rather disgusting. Now you see why they may not necessarily spend hours on the technique of makeup application in beauty school, but they spend hours of education on sanitation and never reusing tools without sterilization and decontaminating them first. In my opinion, retailers simply  should not allow consumers to handle the makeup they use on customers . I don’t understand how a restaurant has to maintain health codes but a mass retailer does not. Makeup is a consumable product. A consumable product is anything that goes in your body (like food) or on your body (like make up). Therefore, makeup should be regulated more strictly! At our salon, our Mirabella makeup display is not for clients to touch or sample. No way.  We will carefully use a small disposable spatula to slice off a piece of lipstick for you to test with a disposable lip brush. You can trust that at no time is a customer is allowed to rub it on the back on their hand to test the color, as is often done in department stores. Heck, the sales girls rub it on the back of your hand for you!

Do you want someone slathering hot wax all over your baby maker without the proper credentials?

There are lots of people riding the coattails of our multi- billion (and still growing strong in a bad economy) industry. If someone can make a buck, they will. Don’t be surprised to find a  salon that is only licensed to do nails  performing bikini waxing and facials as well.  A manicurist, barber or even cosmetologist is not licensed to perform bikini, or private area waxing. Only an aesthetician is licensed for this.  Do you want someone slathering hot wax all over your baby maker without the proper credentials? Or putting a glycolic acid peel to your face if they aren’t trained? I don’t think so.

How do they pour gasoline on this fire?  Would you believe‘double dipping’ in the wax pot during a Brazilian bikini wax! Double dipping is when the same stick is reused to collect wax from the wax pot then reused to apply wax to the client’s body. You can imagine the health risks when ‘double dipping’ is done on vaginal, anal, and lip areas. We proudly proclaim we are a no “double dipping” salon . This is a prime example of businesses slipping through the state Board of Cosmetology’s cracks. How this undetected by them is unclear to me as all salons undergo routine inspections by the state. Please read more about “double dipping” on our website.

You can imagine why double dipping is extremely unprofessional and unsafe. The heat from the wax does not kill bacteria. This is a common misbelief because it feels warm when applied. Bacteria actually thrives at temperatures above freezing and below boiling. Warm wax pot+ bacteria= infection city (or even an STD).Clearly clients believe people are licensed to do perform these services when they are advertised a on website.  Another confusing fact for consumers is you don’t actually have to be licensed in our industry to own a salon or to have a salon ”master license”.  Beauty Brands and Ulta are prime examples. While they may employ licensed service providers, the actual owners don’t have to have a  trade license themselves individually. In fact, I have firsthand knowledge that retail based stores like Beauty Brands, Ulta, and Sephora also have non-licensed makeup artists applying makeup in the retail area of the store. Again, just because it says “salon” on the outside of the building doesn’t mean that the person applying your makeup is licensed to do so. While the hairdresser is licensed, the gray area of makeup application by unlicensed professionals is often overlooked.  In my travels and relationships with educators I have noticed the most discerning stylists work at a salon where there is an actual stylist/owner, because they set the standard for skill and professionalism, and industry knowledge in the salon. So how can you protect yourself?

 I have compiled a list of questions to ask the service provider or salon desk before you book.

Here’s a fact: Our industry is ultra -competitive and salons over inflate themselves or flat lie on their websites. So do your research!

Cosmetologists All ( CA) are the only license for everything. It includes hair cutting, color, makeup application, nail services, and facials, and waxing. The other trade license’s are specific to what area of the body the service provider may perform on a client or customer.

Here is an updated list from State Board of Cosmetology of what ALL licenses are allowed to perform.


Certification for more specialized services like keratin treatments and hair extensions are needed-but not necessarily required. So do your research here when looking for things like hair extensions and keratin treatments. Lots of people are doing these services with little or no training. Needless to say, if a stylist is serious about it- they will pay for it. But in this day and age of YouTube, many don’t.

Here are 4 tips for finding an experienced and properly licensed beauty provider.

1.Do your research.

Read reviews (even the filtered reviews from places like Yelp. Different sites have different requirements on what they publish) It will give you a valid overall feel of the quality and professionalism. If you see a complaint that is given by different reviewers that are similar in nature, more than likely it’s legit. We all have bad days, but any business should have more good reviews than bad.

2.Ask if they are licensed by the state for the specific service you’re booking.

The desk person should know. If the service provider is dumb enough to lie and open themselves up for a lawsuit, report them. File a complaint with State Board of Cosmetology and the Kansas City Business License office.

3.Look for the license upon arrival.

By law, they are supposed to be prominently displayed at the front of the business. A “master” license is the salon license as a whole. Each service provider must display their trade license( cosmetology, manicure, hairdressing, ect.) by the master license with a picture, so you can see who they are and what they are licensed for.

4.If things feel or look weird, leave.

Seriously, just because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings is not a reason to suffer through a service that could be dangerous. Remember, if something fishy is up- report the salon! The consumer has more power than other industry insiders, because without you, we wouldn’t have a job. So what is professionalism? It is a combination of correct licensure (most important), knowledge, and the appropriate behavior and communication/reaction to clients and others in those industries.

I love my industry and I am passionate about protecting it and the consumers who need our services. Knowing that you are safe and that your stylist or skin care provider has the proper certification and licenses to work on your hair, skin or make-up should not be a concern to you when you book an appointment at your local salon. But it is. If you read through this two part blog post on You need a license to do that, you are now a more  informed and educated as a hair, skin care or make-up client. You know why You Need a License to do that!