We hope that you find the information in this booklet useful. If you have any
questions, you may contact the Department of Consumer Affairs, Barbering and
Cosmetology Program at 800/952-5210.
The Barbering and Cosmetology Program of the Department of Consumer Affairs
regulates the professions of barbering, cosmetology (including skin and nail
care), and electrology in California.
Anyone who provides the following services for compensation must be licensed
by the Program: hairdressing and styling, hair cutting, shaving, manicuring,
removing unwanted hair, skin care, or applying cosmetics. In order to be
licensed, individuals must complete a certain number of hours of course work and
practical training and must also pass a written and practical (hands-on) test.
The Program also licenses the salons and barbershops where these services are
provided and regulates health and safety and curricula issues in approved
barber, cosmetology, and electrology schools.
The Program handles consumer complaints involving gross negligence and/or
incompetence; unsanitary conditions in salons, barbershops, and schools of
barbering, cosmetology, and electrology; unlicensed practice of barbering,
cosmetology, and electrology; operation of an unlicensed salon or barbershop;
and misrepresentation or false advertising of services.
This booklet is being provided to you, the consumer, so that you can make
informed decisions when seeking barbering, cosmetology, or electrology services.
Health and Safety Guidelines
The Barbering and Cosmetology Program’s Health and Safety Guidelines are
listed on pages 25-26 of this booklet. The laws and regulations from which these
guidelines are taken are printed on the Health and Safety Poster that must be
posted in the reception area of all licensed salons, barbershops, and schools.
For a copy of the Health and Safety Poster, call the Department of Consumer
Affairs Consumer Information Center at 800/952-5210. §
Before Accepting Service
Before you accept barbering, cosmetology,
or electrology services, be sure that the salon
or barbershop and the operator are in compliance with the
§ The establishment
and all operators must have licenses issued by the Barbering and Cosmetology
Program (or, prior to July 1, 1997, the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology). All
operators must display their licenses in plain view at their work stations. The
salon license and the Health and Safety Poster must be displayed in the
§ The salon or
barbershop must have clean working equipment and a clean work area. Regulations
require licensees to wash and disinfect all tools and instruments before they
can be used on customers. An operator should never use the same tools on you
that were just used on someone else without first disinfecting them. If an item
cannot be disinfected (such as a nail buffer block or an emery board), it must
be thrown away immediately after use. If a clean set of tools is not available
for use on you, do not allow the operator to perform the service. Improper
disinfection of tools and implements can spread disease and bacteria from one
person to another. A prime example would be the spread of nail fungus during a
manicure or pedicure. (NOTE: You have every right to ask the operator to explain
the disinfection procedures before a service begins. Various viruses can be
transmitted through the use of dirty instruments, including HIV and Hepatitis B.
Don’t risk your health. If
the disinfection procedure doesn’t sound adequate,
you should refuse the service.)
§ Electrologists are required to sterilize their reusable needles/probes and
tweezers with either a steam sterilizer or a dry heat sterilizer approved by the
federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some electrologists use disposable
needles/probes and throw them away after each client. Some cosmetologists and
manicurists may also use steam sterilizers or dry heat sterilizers to disinfect
their metal instruments.
§ In addition to
disinfecting tools and instruments, operators are required to wash their hands
between clients. Before beginning nail care services, operators should also ask
their clients to wash their hands.
Talk with your operator before the service begins so that you both have an
understanding of the desired results. Be honest. If you have color or other
chemicals on your hair, tell the operator. If you have had problems in the past
with artificial nails, tell the manicurist. Tell the operator if you are taking
any medications, since this could affect the outcome of the service. When you
pay for the service, be sure to insist on a receipt. If something goes wrong and
you must file a complaint, the receipt will help you prove that the service
actually took place and may help identify the operator who performed it. (If the
operator accepts payment by check or credit card, also keep your cancelled check
or credit card slip.)
Barbering and cosmetology services should not be
painful. You should report any side effects or
unpleasant experiences associated with §
Deciding on a Service/Selecting a
You’d like a change but aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for.
Maybe you’d like a permanent wave to add body, or a chemical relaxer to aid in
styling your overly curly hair–or perhaps you want a completely different hair
color for that next job interview. Maybe you’re thinking of getting artificial
fingernails. If you’re not sure what you want, the best thing to do is be
observant. Look through magazines and cut out photos of styles and colors you
find pleasing. Be a people watcher. If you see a style or color you like, notice
the wearer’s face shape or eye and skin coloring. Is it close to your own?
Take notes so that when you decide to take that big step, you’ll have an idea
of what you want and can discuss your options with your operator.
The simplest and best way to find a reputable salon or barbershop is to ask
friends, family, or coworkers where they go and if they are satisfied with the
services they receive. Whether you select an operator through word of mouth or
advertising, or just take a chance on a new salon or barber-shop, take the time
to ask about the operator’s experience with all the services that interest
you. Seek the operator’s professional opinion, but don’t let that be the
final word. If you don’t feel comfortable with what you’re told, don’t
feel pressured to get the service at that time. A second opinion can be just as
important here as in other areas of your life.
All beauty and barber services must be provided in licensed salons or
barbershops by licensed individuals who have received state-required
training and have passed a state test in their specialty. After earning their
licenses, barbers can provide hair and limited skin care services;
cosmetologists can provide hair, skin, and nail care services; manicurists can
provide only nail care services; estheticians may perform skin care services;
electrologists can remove unwanted body/facial hair using electric needles or
probes. Licensees are required to post their licenses at their primary work
stations. You have every right to ask to see the license if it is not visible.
If the salon or barbershop won’t show you an establishment license, you
don’t know whether the shop’s health and safety procedures have been
approved by the state. If the individual operator doesn’t show you a license,
you can’t tell if he or she has had the required training to provide the
service without harm to you. For your protection, check out the licenses. If you
don’t see them and they aren’t shown to you when you ask, walk out and find
another salon or barbershop and operator. To check on a license, call the
Department of Consumer Affairs at 800/952-5210. §
Scopes of Practice/Types of Service
The various barbering and cosmetology services are described below,
Barbering is the practice of shaving or trimming the beard or cutting the
hair and giving facial and scalp massages with oils, creams, lotions, or other
preparations, either by hand or using mechanical appliances. Barbers are also
trained in singeing, shampooing, arranging, dressing, curling, waving, chemical
waving, hair relaxing, or dyeing the hair or applying hair tonics, and in
applying cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, powders, oils, clays, or lotions to
the scalp, face, or neck. In addition, barbers are trained in hair styling of
all textures of hair. In California, barbering services may be legally performed
only by state-licensed barbers in state-licensed salons or barbershops.
Some common services may be performed by state-licensed cosmetologists as
well as barbers (see Cosmetology below). However, there are some services, such
as shaving, that only barbers may perform. Barbershops are most easily
recognized by the traditional symbol known as the barber pole. It is an unfair
business practice for barbershops or salons to display the barber pole if a
barber is not employed at that location.
A common tool that you will see in most barbershops is electric clippers.
Like all other tools or equipment used on a client, these must be disinfected
prior to each use with an Environmental Protection Agency-registered
disinfectant that has demonstrated bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal
activity. The disinfectant container must be covered, and the disinfectant must
be used according to manufacturer’s instructions. Many clippers have a
detachable blade. It is not uncommon to see a barber disinfect electric clippers
by removing the blade, cleaning away any foreign matter, and using an approved
disinfectant spray on the blade.
Make sure your barber uses only clean, disinfected equipment on you during
any service. §
The practice of cosmetology is all or any combination of the following:
arranging, dressing, curling, waving, machineless permanent waving, permanent
waving, cleansing, cutting, shampooing, relaxing, singeing, bleaching, tinting,
coloring, straightening, dyeing, brushing, applying hair tonics, beautifying, or
otherwise treating by any means the hair of any person.
In California, cosmetology services may be legally performed only by
state-licensed cosmetologists in state-licensed salons or barbershops.
Within the practice of cosmetology there exist the specialty branches of nail
care (manicuring/pedicuring) and skin care (esthetics). §
Manicuring is the practice of cutting, trimming, polishing, coloring,
tinting, or cleansing the nails, or massaging, cleansing, treating, or
beautifying the hands or feet of any person. In California, manicuring and
pedicuring services may be legally performed only by state-licensed manicurists
and cosmetologists in state-licensed salons or barbershops.
Are Artificial Nails for You?
Whether you will be happy with artificial nails depends on several factors,
including your lifestyle and the type and length of nails you choose. In
addition, you may discover that you have an allergic reaction to the chemicals
in artificial nail products. Different types of artificial nails may be applied
to natural nails to enhance their length and make them stronger.
The most common are acrylic and fiberglass applications. Some people are hard
on their nails and hands because of their jobs or lifestyles, and are not good
candidates for artificial nails. Speak to your manicurist or cosmetologist.
Discuss what your hands go through in a normal day, and ask for suggestions. You
may decide that a plain manicure is the best service for you.
Nail Lifting, Fungus
Sometimes the artificial nail begins to lift around the edges, allowing
moisture to get trapped under it. Left untreated, mold or fungus (causing a
green or brown discoloration) may begin to grow. If this occurs, your manicurist
or cosmetologist should immediately remove the artificial nails and refer you to
your doctor. Do not have the nails reapplied until your natural nails are
completely healthy. Without proper treatment, these conditions could result in a
permanent deformity of the nail.
It should not be painful to have artificial nails removed. If the process
causes you any pain or discomfort, tell your operator.
Electric Nail Drills
Electric nail drills are often used to file artificial nails. A licensed
manicurist or cosmetologist may sometimes use a drill on natural nails, but only
if the drill is designed for use on natural nails and the operator follows the
manufacturer’s directions. The drill bits on these devices must be disinfected
before use. If your operator uses a drill bit (or any other implement) that has
not been properly disinfected, you run the risk of contracting an infection.
Sandpaper-type drill bit coverings, if used, must be thrown away after use on
each client. §
Pedicures can be a great source of pleasure for consumers, and a welcome
relief to those who have trouble tending to their own feet. However, it is
important to be aware of what a manicurist may and may not legally do.
Pedicuring falls under the practice of manicuring (nail care) and includes
cutting, trimming, polishing, coloring, tinting, or cleansing the toenails. It
also includes massaging, cleansing, treating, or beautifying the feet.
The Barbering and Cosmetology Program’s laws and regulations prohibit
licensed operators and students from working on a person with an infection or
communicable disease and from massaging any person’s skin if it is inflamed or
infected, or where an eruption is present. Thus, if a client has athlete’s
foot, eczema, or other similar conditions, the manicurist must, by law, refuse
the service in order to protect other customers. (It is illegal for licensees to
use certain instruments and techniques during pedicures.
Before receiving any nail care service, you should inform the licensee if you
are diabetic, have a peripheral vascular disease (such as arteriosclerosis), or
are taking any blood-thinning medication, including daily doses of aspirin. This
will alert your manicurist to take special precautions. §
Esthetics is the practice of giving facials, applying makeup, giving skin
care, or beautifying the face, neck, arms, or upper part of the human body by
use of cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, tonics, lotions, or creams. It also
includes applying eyelashes or removing hair by tweezing, depilatories, or
waxing. (It is illegal for estheticians to pierce the skin during any service or
to administer any medications for pain control.)
NOTE: People who only demonstrate, recommend, or sell cosmetics are not
required to be licensed by the Barbering and Cosmetology Program and may not
receive (or expect) any compensation from clients for product application.
In California, esthetics services may be legally performed only by
state-licensed cosmetologists and estheticians (known as cosmeticians prior to
July 1992) in state-licensed salons or barbershops. §
Electrolysis is the removal of unwanted facial and/or body hair by use of a
tiny needle or probe that conducts electric current. In California, electrology
services may be legally performed only by state-licensed electrologists in
state-licensed salons or barbershops.
Cosmetologists and estheticians may not remove unwanted body/facial hair by
electrolysis, but they may remove superfluous hair from clients by several other
means. (This does not include laser hair removal devices or any other device
labeled by the federal Food and Drug Administration [FDA] as a "medical
After electrolysis, the skin will usually be slightly red and irritated for
up to several hours. If you have more severe symptoms, like large scabs or
blistering, or if symptoms last for several weeks, check with your doctor. Be
sure that the service you’re paying for is actually electrolysis and not
simply electronic tweezing, which may not permanently remove the hair. Licensed
electrologists may not administer any type of medication for pain control. §
Chemical services such as permanent waving, straightening, and hair
lightening or coloring all cause permanent changes to the hair. When done right,
these services can make us look terrific. When done improperly, these same
services can make us look and feel terrible. In California, chemical hair care
services may be legally performed only by state-licensed cosmetologists and
barbers in state-licensed salons or barbershops.
If you are going to have chemical services done, and your hair is in
questionable condition, ask the operator to do the proper test before performing
the service. For permanent wave services, a preliminary test curl may be done.
This type of test will help determine how the hair will react to a permanent. It
is usually done on tinted, bleached, or overporous hair, or on hair that shows
signs of damage. A test curl also indicates actual processing time and curl
results based on rod size and the product used.
For color services, the operator may perform a strand test. This pretest is
given before the treatment to determine development time, color result, and the
ability of the hair to withstand the effects of chemicals. If hair is
color-treated, or if you are visiting a new operator, ask for a strand test to
ensure the quality of service and the desired result. If the product is an
aniline derivative (which includes all permanent haircoloring), the FDA requires
a predisposition test (also known as a "patch test").
A predisposition test involves applying a small amount of the product to your
skin to determine if you may be sensitive to the chemicals. Nearly all
manufacturers of chemical products recommend that a predisposition test be
performed 24 hours before the desired chemical service to determine whether or
not the client could be allergic to the product. There may be a charge for a
consultation or pretest, so be sure to ask in advance.
For all chemical services, a towel and/or other sanitary neck strip must be
used to keep the full-length protective covering (i.e., shampoo cape, drape,
smock, etc.) from coming in direct contact with a client’s skin. The towel
will also protect the client from solution that may drip during the service.
(The operator may also spread petroleum jelly on the skin to help protect it.)
The towel must be changed frequently. If it is too wet, it cannot absorb more
liquids. If it has absorbed chemical drips, prolonged exposure to it can burn
your skin. The chemical solution must be removed from the skin immediately on
contact. If you feel chemicals dripping on your skin or any burning sensation,
immediately inform the operator.
Although some chemicals may have strong odors, they should not cause you
discomfort, and salons and barbershops should have adequate ventilation to keep
the odors from lingering. If the chemical odor causes you any discomfort,
immediately inform the operator.
Because the chemical application causes a change to your hair, it is
imperative that the hair be allowed to adjust before it is shampooed. Heed your
cosmetologist’s or barber’s advice to wait so many days (or hours) before
you shampoo or use any hot implements on your hair. Otherwise you could severely
damage it. §
Chemical exfoliation (also known as "skin peels") is a process by
which layers of facial skin are removed with commercially available products.
Various acids are applied to the face for a few minutes a day over several days.
The skin reddens as if sunburned, then darkens and peels away, revealing a layer
of sensitive, new skin. Recovery time varies from days to weeks or even longer,
depending upon the depth of the peel. Chemical exfoliation is done to smooth
wrinkles, reduce scars and blotchy areas, and improve the overall appearance of
In California, chemical exfoliation services may be legally performed only by
state-licensed cosmetologists and estheticians in state-licensed salons and
barbershops–or by plastic surgeons and dermatologists in medical offices.
NOTE: The chemicals used by physicians are usually stronger than those used in
salons and penetrate deeper layers of the skin. Any skin peel product with a
strength greater than 40% by volume should be used only by medical
Chemical exfoliation is not the same as "deep cleaning" facials,
also known as masks or facial packs. Deep cleaning facials simply clean the
pores and slough off dead surface cells, leaving the skin in a softer condition.
Licensees of the Barbering and Cosmetology Program are restricted by law to the
use of commercially available (prepackaged) products designed for removing only
the uppermost (dead) layers of the skin. Any service requiring greater skin
penetration must be done by a medical practitioner.
Cosmetologists and estheticians are prohibited by law from mixing or
combining skin removal products, unless specifically required by the
manufacturer’s directions on the commercially available (prepackaged) product.
When performed properly by a well-trained practitioner, chemical exfoliation
is usually safe; however, a significant potential for harm does exist. The
chemicals used for the exfoliation procedure usually consist of one or more
active ingredients, such as resorcinol, phenol, alpha and beta hydroxy acids,
lactic acid, and salicylic acid. These acids act by destroying skin tissue. Even
a fairly mild acid left in contact with the skin for a prolonged period may do
Because of the potential for skin damage, especially if exfoliation is done
improperly, it is essential to be absolutely sure that your skin care
practitioner is well-trained and licensed. Before you schedule this procedure,
follow these tips:
§ Ask for names of satisfied customers who have received this
procedure. Call them (or have them call you) and ask if they were satisfied with
the service and if there were any complications.
§ Ask what changes will occur in your skin during each phase of the
procedure and how it will feel. Ask to be shown actual photographs (not just
advertising brochures) of the licensee’s clients during the various phases of
the exfoliation service.
§ Thoroughly discuss all aspects of the procedure with your
practitioner, especially safety issues, hazards, skin types, and any conditions
that may increase risks. If you have any doubts about the procedure or about
your skin care practitioner’s abilities, do not have the service performed.
§ Advise the operator of all medications you are taking, particularly
Accutane ® , Retin A ®
, or any other acne medications.
§ Ask to see the product to be used, and find out if it is a
commercially prepared product. Ask if the licensee will be mixing any chemicals
before they are applied to the skin. If in doubt, ask to see a copy of the
product manufacturer’s instructions.
§ After the procedure, call your doctor immediately if you experience
any symptoms that are more severe than those explained to you by the licensee.
If you have to seek medical attention, take photos of the affected area as proof
in case it turns out you have been harmed. §
Electronic Muscle Stimulators
Electronic muscle stimulator (EMS) devices supply electrical energy to the
body surface through plates, pads, or other attachments and cause contraction of
the muscles. In California, cosmetologists, estheticians, and barbers may use
electrical equipment to give facials or to help creams or lotions penetrate into
the skin, but they must be set so that they promote muscle stimulation, not
muscle contraction. Only licensed medical practitioners may use EMS devices to
stimulate and contract the muscles to relax a muscle spasm, prevent tissue
atrophy, increase local blood circulation, or for other purposes. Use of these
devices by cosmetologists, estheticians, or other nonmedical persons for body
toning, muscle firming or tightening, passive exercise, reducing or eliminating
"cellulite," girth reduction, and similar applications is considered
unsafe and fraudulent by the FDA.
EMS devices have a great potential for harm if used improperly. Excessive
electrical stimulation can aggravate existing medical conditions such as cancer,
heart and circulatory diseases, and epilepsy and may produce adverse reactions
requiring immediate medical assistance. If a cosmetologist or esthetician uses
electrical devices while performing a service on you, make sure he or she uses
all safety precautions necessary for your protection. Do not allow a licensee of
the Program to apply any electric equipment to your skin if you have a cardiac
condition or metal implants, unless you have the consent of your physician.
NOTE TO LICENSEES: To find out if a device is intended to contract the
muscles, ask the manufacturer or representative and check the manufacturer’s
Beware of devices that advertise "passive exercise,"
"slimming," "cellulite removal," etc. These are services, by
their very nature and title, that would require muscle contraction to produce
the advertised result. Ask the representative to demonstrate the device for you.
A muscle contraction can be seen with the naked eye–the muscle
"jumps" when the current causes it to visibly shorten and thicken. §
California law requires all barbering, cosmetology (including skin care and
nail care), and electrolysis services administered for compensation to be
performed by a California-licensed operator in a licensed salon or barbershop,
or by a student in an approved school. However, the law allows licensees from
licensed salons to provide in-home services in cases where illness or other
physical or mental incapacitation prevents the customer from visiting the
licensed salon or barbershop.
If you need in-home services, call your operator at the shop. Explain that
you are ill or incapacitated and ask if your operator or any other licensee at
the salon would be available to provide in-home services. Your appointment will
then be logged in the salon or barbershop’s official appointment book.
Licensees providing in-home services must follow all the Barbering and
Cosmetology Program’s health and safety laws and regulations.
Patients in Convalescent Homes
If you are arranging in-home barbering or cosmetology services for someone in
a convalescent home or skilled nursing facility, be sure to make the appointment
with a licensed individual from a licensed establishment, and do not accept
service from anyone who does not follow state health and safety guidelines. It
is particularly important to tell the operator what medications the client is
taking and his or her disabilities or special needs. If the client has
difficulty communicating or is limited in other ways, you may wish to stay
nearby during the service. NEVER ask the licensee to treat medical conditions
such as ingrown toenails or corns. These should be treated by medical personnel
The following services are not regulated by the Barbering and Cosmetology
Program, even though they may be performed by a Program licensee in a salon or
barbershop setting. The Program does not establish any specific sanitation,
training, or minimum competency standards for these services, and licensees
cannot lead consumers to believe they have been licensed by the Program to
provide them. Before you have any of these services done, find out what type of
training the individual has received, and ask for references. CAUTION: With
unregulated services, you may not always get the results you want.
Permanent Cosmetics/Body Piercing/Tattooing
The Program does not regulate services such as the application of permanent
cosmetics, body piercing, and tattooing. However, a new law establishes
sterilization guidelines and requires county health departments to conduct
annual inspections of establishments offering these services.
Practitioners are required to register with their local county health
departments before December 31, 1998. The sterilization requirements and
inspections will begin after January 1, 1999.
The Program does not regulate tanning salons, although some licensed
establishments do have tanning booths. All tanning salons and tanning booths in
salons licensed by this Program must operate in compliance with the Filante
Tanning Act, and licensees must warn consumers of the dangers associated with
the use of tanning beds.
Individuals who provide aroma or massage therapy are not regulated by the
Program but must comply with applicable local regulations. §
Illegal Instruments & Techniques
It is illegal for California-licensed individuals to use certain instruments,
such as "Credo" blades (tools fitted with razor blades), "cheese
grater" type instruments, or scalpel-type blades, to remove dead skin or
shave calluses during pedicures. Licensees are also prohibited from using
needle-like instruments, such as lancets, to extract skin blemishes or to
perform similar procedures. In addition, it is illegal for any of these devices
even to be in a salon or barbershop. Such acts, and any other services that
affect the structure or function of living tissue of the face or body, are
considered invasive procedures and should be performed only by medical
professionals or by the clients themselves outside the licensed salon or
Some manicurists and cosmetologists who perform artificial nail services may
use a product known as liquid methyl methacrylate monomer (LMMM/MMA). The FDA
discourages the use of this chemical in fingernail products. Although LMMM/MMA
is difficult to detect because it is not visually distinguishable from other
regular nail acrylic products, consumers should be aware of the following
warning signs: a very strong and strange odor different from regular acrylic
nail products, very hard nails that may be difficult to file, and artificial
nails that will not easily soak off in solvents. The danger is that you could
have a severe allergic reaction to products containing this chemical, and there
is the potential for dangerous nail infections resulting from breaks in the
natural nail. The acrylic nail adheres so strongly to your natural nail that it
may cause the natural nail to be removed from the nail bed under extreme
pressure. The Barbering and Cosmetology Program recommends that you do not allow
this chemical to be used on you.
Consumers should also be aware that licensees cannot legally give injections
or apply any topical prescription medications. If a licensee offers these
services, for example for pain control during electrolysis or permanent cosmetic
tattooing, you should decline.
Laser hair removal is a popular technique currently being advertised.
However, it is illegal for any Program licensee to perform this service. The
equipment used to perform laser hair removal is classified as a "medical
device" by the FDA, and use of these machines is considered the practice of
medicine. Laser hair removal may be performed only by a physician or by a
registered nurse or a physician’s assistant who is working directly with a
How to File/Resolve a Complaint
If you are unhappy with the services you received, discuss your concerns with
the operator, manager, or owner of the salon or barbershop. Many complaints can
be quickly resolved this way, and you may be given a refund or corrective
services at no cost. However, you should be aware that many individuals in the
beauty industry are independent contractors who rent booth space from the salon
or barbershop owner. Because these operators are not employees, the salon or
barbershop owner may not have control over the quality of the services rendered
or the authority to demand that they provide a refund. NOTE: The Program cannot
recommend a business or product or resolve "buyer’s remorse."
If you are injured by any licensee of the Program, discuss what happened with
the operator and salon or barbershop owner. Take photographs of the injury and
have another professional look at it to provide independent confirmation. Seek
medical attention if necessary, and file a complaint with the Department of
Consumer Affairs (see the following).
If you feel that a barber, cosmetologist, manicurist, or other licensee has
violated state health and safety guidelines, call the Department of Consumer
Affairs Consumer Information Center at 800/952-5210 and request a complaint
form. (A complaint form is also located on the Program’s website at www.dca.ca.gov/barber
.) Program representatives will review your complaint and determine the
appropriate course of action to resolve the issue and/or obtain salon/
barbershop/operator compliance with the laws and regulations. You can also file
a complaint to report unlicensed activity, false advertising, or fraud. §
Health and Safety Guidelines*
On your next visit to a salon or barbershop to get cosmetology, electrology,
or barbering services (a haircut, manicure, waxing, electrolysis, etc.), look
around and see if the salon or barbershop is complying with the following health
and safety rules.
¤ Is the overall appearance of the shop clean? Are the sinks dirty?
Are the trash cans overflowing?
¤ Is an establishment license posted in clear view in the reception
area? Is it current? Is the Health and Safety Poster displayed in the reception
¤ Are current operator licenses posted in public view at individual
work stations? (Photocopies are not acceptable.)
¤ Are the operators performing only those services for which they are
licensed? For example, manicurists and estheticians cannot provide hair
services, and Barbering and Cosmetology licensees are not allowed to perform
certain procedures, such as laser hair removal, which is considered a medical
¤ Are the operators properly disinfecting their instruments between
clients? Did you see the operator disinfect the instruments after they were used
on the client before you? Instruments must be cleaned with soap and water and
then totally immersed in an Environmental Protection Agency-registered
disinfectant that has demonstrated bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal
activity. The disinfectant container must be covered, and the disinfectant must
be used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
¤ Is electrology equipment sterilized by a steam or dry heat
sterilizer that is registered with the Food and Drug Administration? Are
disposable needles/probes available? Ask the operator.
¤ Are items that cannot be disinfected, such as emery boards, cotton
pads, nail files, nail buffers, etc., immediately thrown away after use on
clients? Note: Some nail files can be disinfected and don’t have to be thrown
¤ At the operator’s work station, are clean items stored separately
from soiled ones? Are they labeled to identify them as clean or dirty? Are combs
and brushes clean? Are manicuring instruments stored in a clean place and not
hanging on the side of a cup or jar?
¤ Are clean towels stored in a closed, clean cabinet? Are soiled
towels put in a covered receptacle? Is a clean towel provided for each client?
¤ Did the operator wash his/her hands before beginning services on
¤ Are the operators using prohibited instruments such as Credo
blades, cheese grater-type metal scrapers (used to remove calluses during
pedicures), and lancets? Use of these instruments is illegal except by medical
personnel. Do not let an operator use them on you.
* The complete Health and Safety regulations can be found in Title 16,
Division 9, California Code of Regulations.
The Bottom Line . . .
If you’re not comfortable with what you see in a salon or barbershop, the
best thing you can do is leave. Find another salon or barbershop that follows
these guidelines. Beauty and barbering services should not hurt or injure you,
or put you at risk of infection §