Welcome to the Precision Nails Blog

As a salon owner and licensed manicurist, my perspective on the nail industry could not be more practical. While some may be offended by the opinions expressed, please understand that I want to share information and stimulate discussion. Whether you want your nails done or do nails professionally, I hope you find this blog both useful and interesting.

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Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

Article Published in Stylist Magazine, September 2010

As a native, resident, business owner, employer, taxpayer, voter, consumer and licensee of the state of California, I do my best to understand the many responsibilities associated with living and working in my state. More specifically, because I choose to earn income as a salon owner and manicurist, it’s my responsibility, both legally and ethically, to understand and follow the laws that govern my chosen profession.

Because following the law can be very expensive, time-consuming and labor intensive, consumers should expect service prices to reflect the costs of operating a legitimate business. Consumers might also expect us to regulate ourselves, or believe that regulatory agencies have the resources to enforce the law. If only that were true . . . The pervasiveness of incompetent service providers, unlicensed activity and tax evasion demonstrates a considerable failure to protect the interests of consumers, professionals and the larger community, no matter where you live.

Being a beauty professional requires more than performing services safely and competently; we must do the right thing in all aspects of our businesses. Beyond regulating ourselves, we should not hesitate to report those who do not comply to the appropriate regulatory agencies for enforcement action. I’ve personally made more than 200 reports, which saddens me because it should not be necessary.

Consumers would also benefit from more information about professional beauty services. Your state board may already have resources to educate consumers, but if not, consider doing it yourself by referencing your state laws. For example, I share this information with as many consumers as possible:

Whether you consider professional beauty services an indulgence or a necessity, you deserve professional quality work. Your health and safety should not be compromised when receiving beauty services, regardless of the cost. As part of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs, the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) protects your health and safety by regulating beauty professionals. The BBC represents the largest professional licensee population in the United States, including more than 218,000 cosmetologists, 96,000 manicurists, 46,000 estheticians, 17,000 barbers, 1700 electrologists and 38,000 establishments.

Before obtaining a professional beauty service, the BBC strongly suggests that you consider the following rules:

The business must display a valid establishment license.
In California, any business that provides hair, skin and/or nail services* must obtain an establishment license from the BBC before it opens. This law applies to any kind of business, whether it’s a salon, day spa, hotel, medical office, or gym. Consumers should look for a valid license in a prominent place in the reception area. It’s also a requirement to display the poster listing the BBC’s Health and Safety rules, so that should be available also.

To determine whether a business is properly licensed even before you visit, follow these simple steps:
Visit the BBC website (www.barbecosmo.ca.gov/).
Follow the link “Verify an Establishment” listed under “Quick Hits.”
Enter the information requested.
If the business has a valid establishment license, that information will be listed in the resulting record with a current address, license number and a “Clear” status. If the business has fines due, a delinquent license, or no record of a license, that business should be avoided.

* The following services are not regulated by the BBC, and thus do not require a BBC license: natural hair braiding, styling wigs, threading, permanent makeup, tanning, massage and body treatments like wraps and scrubs.

Each individual performing beauty services regulated by the BBC must display a valid license.
Within a licensed establishment, every service provider must display his or her own individual license. There are five license categories (Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Manicurist, Barber and Electrologist), each with a specific course of training and scope of practice. For example, while cosmetologists can perform hair, skin and nail services, estheticians are limited to facials and waxing and manicurists to doing nails only.

To determine whether an individual is properly licensed, follow these simple steps:
Visit the BBC website (www.barbecosmo.ca.gov/).
Follow the link “Verify a License” listed under “Quick Hits.”
Enter the information requested.
If the individual has a valid license, that information will be listed in the resulting record with a license number and a “Clear” status. If the individual has fines due, a delinquent license, or no record of a license, that individual should be avoided.

The establishment must have clean equipment and work areas.
The BBC has strict rules about cleanliness to reduce the risk of spreading infections. For example, service providers are required to wash their hands immediately before each service. All tools must be sanitized (washed with soap and water) and disinfected in an EPA-registered disinfectant. Any items that cannot be disinfected, like emery boards, pumice stones, toe separators and wax applicators, are considered disposable and must be discarded immediately after use. A foot spa, or any container of water used during a pedicure, must be sanitized and disinfected between every client. Any licensee who provides service without washing hands, changing towels, disinfecting tools, replacing disposable items, or disinfecting pedicure equipment should be avoided.

Certain instruments and procedures are illegal.
Because the sole purpose of beauty services is to beautify, consumers should not expect their beauty services to replace professional medical care. Licensees cannot diagnose or treat medical conditions, or perform any procedure that affects the structure or function of living tissue. They may never use a razor-edged instrument to remove skin (such as calluses, corns, moles or skin tags), perform chemical peels, penetrate the skin with a needle, or use a laser. These procedures constitute the practice of medicine and must be performed by qualified medical professionals only.

Receiving a professional beauty service should be a safe and pleasant experience. Asking questions and being informed will help you make better choices.

By Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.

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