Is your beauty professional really a professional? What do I mean? In this post I'm going to disseminate some information known largely only to those in the beauty industry who are required to know. As consumers, though, you should know more than you probably do about the legal requirements of each field. You assume your hair person went to cosmetology school and is qualified to cut/style/color your hair, right? You assume your esthetician knows a little something about skin and is qualified to give facials and skin care advice, right? But do you check to make sure they're licensed before getting a service with a supposed professional? Do you know that Iowa law requires cosmetologists, estheticians, and nail techs to display their license near the entrance to their salon (which also must be licensed) at eye level so consumers can view it?
For this post, when I'm talking about "professional", I'm referring to whether the service provider is actually a licensed professional in the field in which they are practicing, not what we might think of as a professional appearance or demeanor. To be licensed in each field of Cosmetology, you have to complete the appropriate educational program, pass the state board exam, and apply (and be approved) for a license with the Iowa Board of Cosmetology, Barbers and massage therapists have their own licensing boards with separate sets of laws & rules.
Let me back up for a moment and tell you what inspired this post. Someone asked me if a person certified in eyelash extensions has to also be a licensed cosmo or esthi. Her lash extensionist was the former, not the latter. Iowa law is very clear about this; yes, you must be a licensed cosmo or esthi to apply eyelash extensions. You do not even have to have additional certification to apply lashes, Eyelash certification is not regulated, it only means the person has attended a training class offered by a lash company; some are more thorough than others. So my friend has been paying someone who is not licensed to do what she does, and from the pictures I saw isn't good at it either.
I copied and pasted below, the various definitions for providers in the beauty industry in Iowa. I hope you'll read them and think about whether or not you're supporting an ethical professional that operates within their scope of practice. What you need to know is that if a service isn't listed in the definition, that licensee should not be performing the service. I should also note that some professionals have multiple licenses, while others, like me, do not.
Some examples of cans and can'ts for professionals with only one license:
As an esthi, I can massage skin on various body parts (not the scalp though) if I'm treating the skin, but I cannot offer massages that fall under the definition of a massage therapist because they treat muscles and connective tissue. And yes, the line is blurred here because when you massage the skin, you're inevitably going to affect the muscles and connective tissues; likewise, to massage the muscles, you are going to massage the skin.
A massage therapist cannot give pedicures or perform hair removal or braid your hair.
A cosmetologist gets to do a bit of everything, but there are restrictions. For instance, they can give a facial, but can't perform extractions or a peel. I don't see essential oils in the list of products they can use; but I'm not even going to try to make sense of that as surely they can't be expected to avoid every product that contains essential oils.
A nail tech can wax the hair off your fingers & toes, but not your chin or eyebrows.
Both cosmo's and esthi's can apply makeup and eyelashes, but no one in Iowa is just licensed as a makeup artist or lash extensionist,
A salon owner does not have to be a licensed professional but EVERY employee of the salon that performs services must be licensed. So, if you see 8 people giving manicures and only 4 licenses displayed, you might want to ask some questions.
.Click here if you want to see what some Iowa salons got caught doing (or not doing)
You might be surprised to find out that Iowa no longer has salon inspectors, just investigators. That's right, the Board is counting on salon owners to follow all the laws. They have provided us with a checklist to conduct self audits. Only when someone files a complaint does an investigator dig a little deeper. Rest assured, I police myself very well and take the rules very seriously.
Licensing requirements are meant to protect consumers and ensure at least a minimum of educational training. You deserve to receive services from people who really do know what they're doing and do it in a legal and ethical way. Even better is the professional who goes above and beyond the 8 hours of required continuing education and educates her/himself with a variety of classes every year within and outside their field (yes, I do that). If you choose to pay an unlicensed someone to apply your lash extensions in the back room of a clothing store or perm your hair in their kitchen, that's your choice, but you're allowing them to break the law, You're also undercutting those of us who followed the rules and went to school, paid for licenses and continuing education, and everything else involved with being a REAL professional service provider. There are exceptions to the law of course, your mother or sister isn't breaking the law by curling your hair or polishing your nails.
Click here if you care to read the exceptions to those who require licensing.
I hope you have found this information interesting and appreciate seeing behind the curtain, so to speak. Please feel welcome to post your comments or ask questions.
Copied directly from Iowa Code 2016, Chapter 157.1
5. “Cosmetology” means all of the following practices: a. Arranging, braiding, dressing, curling, waving, press and curl hair straightening, shampooing, cutting, singeing, bleaching, coloring, or similar works, upon the hair of any person, or upon a wig or hairpiece when done in conjunction with haircutting or hairstyling by any means. b. Massaging, cleansing, stimulating, exercising, or beautifying the superficial epidermis of the scalp, face, neck, arms, hands, legs, feet, or upper body of any person with the hands or mechanical or electrical apparatus or appliances or with the use of cosmetic preparations, including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, or masques. c. Removing superfluous hair from the face or body of a person with the use of depilatories, wax, sugars, threading, or tweezing. d. Applying makeup or eyelashes, tinting of lashes or brows, or lightening of hair on the face or body. e. Cleansing, shaping, or polishing the fingernails, applying sculptured nails, nail extensions, wraps, overlays, nail art, or any other nail technique to the fingernails or toenails of a person
12. “Esthetics” means the following: a. Beautifying, massaging, cleansing, stimulating, or hydrating the skin of a person, except the scalp, by the use of cosmetic preparations, including cleansers, antiseptics, tonics, lotions, creams, exfoliants, masques, and essential oils, to be applied with the hands or any device, electrical or otherwise, designed for the nonmedical care of the skin. b. Applying makeup or eyelashes to a person, tinting eyelashes or eyebrows, or lightening hair on the body except the scalp. c. Removing superfluous hair from the body of a person by the use of depilatories, waxing, sugaring, tweezers, threading, or use of any certified laser products or intense pulsed light devices. This excludes the practice of electrology, whereby hair is removed with an electric needle. d. The application of permanent makeup or cosmetic micropigmentation.
24. “Nail technology” means all of the following: a. Applying sculptured nails, nail extensions, wraps, overlays, nail art, or any other nail technique to the fingernails and toenails of a person. b. Massaging the hands, arms, ankles, and feet of a person. c. Removing superfluous hair from hands, arms, feet, or legs of a person by the use of wax or a tweezer. d. Manicuring the nails of a person
From Chapter 158:
1. “Barbering” means the practices listed in this subsection performed with or without compensation. “Barbering” includes but is not limited to the following practices performed upon the upper part of the human body of any person for cosmetic purposes and not for the treatment of disease or physical or mental ailments: a. Shaving or trimming the beard or cutting the hair. b. Giving facial and scalp massages or treatments with oils, creams, lotions, or other preparations either by hand, or by electrical or mechanical appliances .c. Singeing, shampooing, hair body processing, arranging, dressing, curling, blow waving, hair relaxing, bleaching or coloring the hair, or applying hair tonics. d. Applying cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, powders, oils, clays, waxes, or lotions to scalp, face, or neck. e. Styling, cutting or shampooing hairpieces or wigs when done in conjunction with haircutting or hairstyling
Lastly, from the Iowa Board of Massage, Chapter 152C.1:
3. “Massage therapy” means performance for compensation of massage, myotherapy, massotherapy, bodywork, bodywork therapy, or therapeutic massage including hydrotherapy, superficial hot and cold applications, vibration and topical applications, or other therapy which involves manipulation of the muscle and connective tissue of the body, excluding osseous tissue, to treat the muscle tonus system for the purpose of enhancing health, muscle relaxation, increasing range of motion, reducing stress, relieving pain, or improving circulation
I am a licensed esthetician and own Renewal Skin & Body Center in Iowa City, IA. I love giving facials and other services that enhance one's appearance. Even more important is to educate people about skin-related services and products.