Friday, May 6, 2016

Performing Salon Services without a License? Beware.

Did you know that there are substantial penalties for performing salon services on others if you don't have an active license? Yes, it's true. 

For most states, there are regulations that govern individuals and salons providing cosmetology services of any kind on others.

For example, in Texas, the Occupational Code Chapter 1602 defines Cosmetology services as treating a person's hair by:
1.    Arranging, beautifying, bleaching, cleansing, coloring, cutting, dressing, dyeing, processing, shampooing, shaping, singeing, straightening, styling, tinting or waving;
2.    Providing ancillary services that include bobbing, clipping, cutting, or trimming hair;
3.    Cutting hair as a separate service.
Providing ancillary services to others includes hair braiding or weaving - the process of attaching, by any method, hair pieces or hair extensions to a client’s hair and/or scalp. Weaving is also known as hair integration or hair intensification.
Even shampooing and conditioning hair or servicing a wig or artificial hairpiece, whether on a person's head or on a mannequin block, without a license is in violation of the code.

Shampooing someone's hair is a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily. How do you know when NOT to shampoo a client? Without regulations, and sometimes even with the rules, salons neglect to follow proper sterilization and sanitation methods that ensure their clients are safe from communicable diseases.

My mother suffered third degree burns from a licensed stylist who turned the hot water on her head without checking the temperature. Blisters formed over most of Mom's scalp, her face swelled up double its normal size and she lost almost all of her hair. This was done by someone who had professional training.

In a busy salon, it's easy to get distracted and not follow proper procedures for safe salon practices. Inspect any salon and you'll probably find a few violations like improper storage of clean and dirty towels, debris in the sink drain, dirty combs and brushes, cross-contamination and more.

Beauty schools allow students who've finished a number of hours' training to work on customers who can get their hair done at low costWhile in school, I saw customers whose hair actually fell out in the sink as a result of chemical over-processing. It was a sobering experience for a new student learning the trade. I was once assigned a customer who had really messed up her hair when she fell asleep with the bleach chemical on her scalp. Based on the hair's condition, I was afraid to perform any service, including shampooing what little remained of her hair. It was so extremely damaged it would break off when combed. She assured me she would be happy with whatever I could do to fix it, and it turned out better than her own attempt, yet, she still blamed me for the poor outcome. There was little that could be done about her hair other than to let it grow out.
During beauty school training I was required to finish up another student's customer who was in the middle of getting a permanent wave. The previous student left the building with the customer's head hanging in the sink saturated with permanent wave solution. No timer had been set nor did I know how long the chemical had already been on her hair. The alkaline perm solution actually breaks down the sulfur and hydrogen bonds of the hair shaft and requires constant monitoring and specific timing. Wrapping the hair on perm rollers is the key to getting a good perm and her hair had less than thirty rollers over the entire head. You can imagine how things turned out. It wasn't pretty.

Cosmetology training covers not only history and theory, chemical processes for hair coloring, straightening and perms as well as how to cut hair. It teaches basic business skills like choosing a location for a salon, evaluating the competition in the area, break-even analysis and legal requirements for salon operations.

What are the license requirements for an individual to obtain a cosmetology operator's license? An applicant who wishes to obtain a license needs to meet these criteria:
1.    Submit an application
2.    Pay the required fee
3.    Must be at least 17 years old
4.    Must hold a high school diploma or the equivalent or be tested as to the benefit of training
5.    Must have completed 1500 hours of educational coursework
6.    Pass a written exam.

For a facialist, an individual must have completed 750 hours of training and meet the above requirements.
For a manicurist, the required training is 600 hours. To get a license for a hair weaving, braiding or specialty certificate, the person must complete at least 300 hours of training. 

Even to shampoo hair, you must have 150 hours of training.
According to the code, a person must pass the written examination before taking the practical exam which requires the individual to perform cosmetology services demonstrating their knowledge of proper practices on a live model.

There are regulations that specify the proper mixture of chemicals used to disinfect equipment and surfaces after contamination by blood and other pathogens. There is a difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization and specific chemicals prohibited from use due to safety and health regulations. Training teaches the basics about communicable diseases such as ringworm, head lice, psoriasis, open wounds in the scalp, and when it's okay to perform services despite these conditions.

The next time you sit in a stylist's chair, take note of the condition of their station, the cleanliness of their area, their brushes, combs, scissors and towels. You might be surprised at what you see. Hopefully, it's a reflection of their excellent training and good business practices.


  1. Oh your dear Momma...ever so sorry she suffered third degree burns in this manner.

    This is a 'hair curling' post.. you could write a series about this that would be 'to dye'.

    And thanks for this smile making 'Mr. Bean' episode...just perfect.

    Great and informative post. Thanks, dear Peg.

    1. Hi Mar, That situation happened when I was a pre-teen and was a powerful lesson for everyone involved about paying attention and about forgiveness. I remember that little beauty shop and the beautician. My mother wore a wig for quite a while after that.