(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 based on 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 had 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 (who graduated there as well) to do a presentation. They did a run through of their power point presentation for me and the other stylists. We actually applauded we were so proud and impressed! In the week that followed we were flooded with applications for the job position of my personal assistant. Then I experienced what I felt was an unprofessional 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. I’m all about the law of attraction, but to become a stylist you must finish school, pass boards, get a job, and behave professionally behind the chair to become a successful “professional”.   I felt as though some of the behavior they encouraged was was inappropriate. One thing he said was they “encourage students to interact with local salon leaders online and in salons.” Well first of all I hate “drop-by” visits at home and at work. It’s rude and I’m busy. Second of all, to encourage online interaction with local industry leaders, you must FIRST teach how to interact. Even public schools know this is necessary and teach “positive online citizenship.” I mentioned this to him and he finally became quite. What I didn’t care for was this school that I had previously exclusively recruited from, encouraged students to put themselves on master stylists and salon owners level with forceful engagement. Which could be unprofessional to these “future professionals” and even possibly damaging to a student’s future career.

Attempt logic with a vortex of emotion..?

man shoutingHe became emotional when I questioned the judgment of practices encouraged by the school with salon owners. He became so upset he 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-proclaimed perception.  It felt as though I was attempting to problem solve with an HBO character who was having a breakdown amidst a swirling vortex of emotion. 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 attendance, yet they forgot to send her paperwork to state boards for her to test. Not once but twice. And in her mock boards test they gave for board preparation, they forgot to include a vital portion of the test that affects a large portion of the overall score . If you ask Megan why she believes she is successful she will attribute the 18 month internship she had with me, not really her time at that school. In the schools defense, she attended the first year they opened. In the schools coordinators defense, he manages 100 young ladies in a cosmetology school. Oye, vortex of emotion indeed. I remember school. In the nineties beauty school felt kind what I imaged reform school to be like. Shuffling around in ugly uniforms, fights in the color dispensary for alpha female position. I’m sure most things have changed but when you have that much female energy emanating in one room, there’s going to be issues. So I forgave and released it to the universe and moved forward 🙂

How is the public suppose to know the difference if I am confused as well?

Back to Sheila from part 1. 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. Sometimes I feel people thin we choose this profession because we had no better life options. False. I left college for this. Though I haven’t regretted it, I admit I didn’t grasp the level of commitment needed for industry success way back then. But it poses the question, if unlicensed people are confidently charging for services they have no right to charge forwhy arent there tougher consequences from the state? Furthermore, how is the public supposed to know the difference if I, a regularly hiring salon owner, suffered that moment of confusion as well?

This experience brought on a whole new level of inspiration and commitment to my industry. 

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 because you have to buy a minimum of $40 of products. Umm, required $40 purchase for “free” makeup application..isn’t that just a sneaky way of charging for makeup? In fact, some have started charging out right for the application, which again is a state license regulated service. 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.

…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 and 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, sanitation 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! Trust me when I say I never thought I would need to type the words “fecal matter” on my beauty blog.

How can this happen?

The goal is to sell products, not to provide a professional makeup application. Take a moment if you need to. Yeah after typing fecal matter I kind of need to myself. Collect yourself time and breath.. Ok. Yes, it is rather disgusting but now you see why they may not necessarily spend hours on the technique of makeup application in beauty school, but they DO spend hours of education on sanitation. Like never reuse tools or brushes without sterilization and decontaminating them first. In my opinion, retailers simply should not allow consumers to handle the makeup they use on customers. This will probably change, I hope so anyways. I don’t understand how a restaurant has to maintain health codes but a mass retailer who offers sample displays of consumer goods does not. Makeup is a consumable product. A consumable product is anything that goes in your body (like food) or ON your body (like makeup). Therefore, makeup should be regulated more strictly! At our salon, our makeup ‘display” is not really such because we use it, so it is not for clients to touch or sample themselves without us providing assistance. 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. I’ve even had sales girls at counters rub it on the back of my hand after they touched the product ungloved!

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 even 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.  No-one wants to send a paying customer out the door. A manicurist or barber is not licensed to perform bikini, or private area waxing. Only an aesthetician or cosmetologist is licensed for this.  However at our salon we reserve this service for estheticians only because they recieve more advanced training on body waxing in school.Think of this way..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.

Double Dipping is Not Exclusive to Chips

wax imageHow 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!