Practical Tips for complying with State Cosmetology & Massage Board Regulations

By: Laura A. Ortmann
General Counsel & CFO
Ginger Bay Salon Group, Ltd.
437 South Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63122
(314) 966-0655
[email protected]

Bio Information.  Laura A. Ortmann is a licensed attorney in the States of Missouri and Illinois and is employed as General Counsel and CFO for Ginger Bay Salon Group, Ltd. in St. Louis, Missouri.

Disclaimer:  The information contained herein is intended to be general in nature and only serve as guidelines rather than actual legal principles or laws.  Please refer to a qualified attorney licensed in your State when seeking independent legal advice.

By definition, State regulations vary by locale.  Most States have established Cosmetology Boards which create and enforce the rules and laws governing the hair, nail and esthetics professions.  Some States, like Missouri, have separate Therapeutic Massage Boards which govern massage therapists.  

Often, the rules and laws governing your salon and spa can be found in more than one government resource.  Be sure to check with your State Board to ascertain every law and rule applicable to your business.  For example, in Missouri, we have relevant State statutes found in the Revised Missouri Statutes, as well as regulations found in the Missouri Code of State Regulations.  Our State Board of Cosmetology provides a handbook inclusive of all State licensing statues, rules and regulations.  Check with your applicable State Board to find out the best resource which is comprehensive of all of the rules and regulations related to licensed technicians working in your salon and spa. 

Typically found in your State Cosmetology and Massage laws are rules related to the licensing of businesses and individuals, licensing examinations, educational subjects and hours required prior to licensing, apprenticeship programs, cosmetology schools, and penalties for non-compliance.  Be certain to look for periodic changes in your State Cosmetology and Massage laws.  For example, in Missouri, since 1998 all massage therapists must bear the cost of, and submit to, a criminal background check.  While this change in the law has been very beneficial to Ginger Bay Salon Group, Ltd. ("Ginger Bay"), we have had to make concessions in order to keep good candidates. Ginger Bay chooses to reimburse the cost of the background check and offers conditional employment, pending the outcome of the criminal background check, to make sure the hiring and training process moves forward. 

Verifying the accuracy of the laws that apply to your salon and spa does not end at the State level.  Often, there may be federal and even local regulations to consider.  For example, in Missouri, the subjects and hours required by licensed estheticians are determined by a formula found in the Code of Federal Regulations (Subpart A of Part 668 of Section 668.8 to Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as amended).  Furthermore, look to your local municipal or county government for further laws governing your salon and spa.  For example, Ginger Bay is located within a municipality that requires a zoning variance in order to perform massage services and prohibits persons under the age of 18 from receiving a massage service.  

Practical Guidelines to prevent a violation of State Cosmetology and Massage Board Regulations in your salon and spa:

1. Contact your State Cosmetology or Therapeutic Massage Board to request a resource that contains all of your state licensing laws and regulations or, if not available, ask how or where you can obtain this information on your own.
2. Contact you local municipal or county governing body to request a resource that contains all local licensing laws related to your business.
3. Appoint a manager or a committee of technicians within your team to contact your applicable State Board to update your licensing resources no less than one time per year and establish a system to timely notify other technicians of  rule changes, pending your attorney's review and guidance.
4. Invite a member of your applicable State Board to speak to your employees about a licensing topic of concern.
5. Establish a relationship with your State inspector(s) so that you have a firsthand resource when trying to comply or interpret a law or regulation.
6. When requesting an interpretation of a law from a State or local governing body, ask that the interpretation be provided in writing, dated, and signed by the governing authority for your records.
7. When notified of non-compliance (by your State inspector), make every attempt to comply by the required deadline.  If you know that you cannot meet a deadline, contact your State Inspector before the deadline, explain your situation and request a reasonable addition of time to comply.  Your State inspector will be much more understanding and you may prevent further violations, penalties or fines.
8. Use select non-compliance issues as teaching cases to enroll your team in prevention methods and prevent similar non-compliance, when applicable.
9. For serious non-compliance issues or for proper legal interpretations of laws and regulations, consult with an attorney first. Only your attorney will have all of the facts necessary to evaluate your situation and protect your best interests.