Licensed or Not? How Can You Know?

Okay… by now, anyone who has met me knows that I love to say, “Be an informed consumer!”

I say this so often because I truly believe it!  Why? Because I am done! DONE, I say with being duped, fooled or otherwise misled to believe something I intend to purchase to put in or on my body is something other than what it really says it is.  I want to know exactly what I am getting for my money.   And for that money I put down, I want assurances that I am indeed receiving what I intend to receive.  After all, my money is my vote.  My vote as to whether this item is going to remain in production or will go on the clearance rack.  Just when we think our votes really don’t matter, think again when it comes to this kind of “voting”.  Billion-dollar companies will not continue to produce things that their highly-valued end consumer (that’s you) won’t vote

The same goes for little stores too.  The backbone of American enterprise, the small business owner relies on a stellar reputation in its community to survive.  Your vote for or against them is more critical to their success or failure than anything else.  So, rightfully so, they should be doing everything they can to win your business and perform professionally to ensure you keep voting for their success.  To that end, and for the purposes of my blog today, I want to talk specifically about your favorite salon.  And your favorite stylist, manicurist, barber or esthetician.

So many of you good-faith patrons walk into your favorite salon and figure all must be well.  After all, “Stylist Sally” is standing there, smiling, with her apron on, scissors in hand ready to serve you.  The lights are on and the water is still running.  Business must be on course.  Think again.  Be an informed consumer!  Know who it is that is serving you, especially when it comes to something as personal as your own hair, nails and skin.

How can you know for sure that Stylist Sally really is legit?  It is required by Washington State law that her Operator’s license be posted in the salon where she works, with a current picture attached. However, did you know that if she is not an employee of the salon, but rather an independent contractor, she must ALSO have a posted current Salon/Shop license as well?  Hum… now we are getting somewhere.  If Stylist Sally is not keeping current on her required licenses, what else might she be slacking on?

In September 2014, the Washington State Department of Licensing  reported a total of 10 infractions of operators working without an operator’s license, salon/shop license and/or were found to be working outside of their licensed scope of work.  These operators collectively were fined in excess of $5,500!  So just because the salon lights are on, don’t make the biz legit.

But wait, before you feel unsure or fear being taken advantage of, all is not lost.  You do have the ability as a consumer to find out if your favorite stylist or manicurist is legitimately licensed to work on your appendages in the salon where you visit her.  It’s quick and simple.

Just go online – ah yes, the good ol’ internet is where it’s at – to and begin your quick 7-step mini-investigation for the truth.

1) Under the green column, click on, “Look up a professional or business license”

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2) Under the column called “Go to…” click on the link “Search business and professional license

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3)  In these search fields, click on the down arrow from the list of License Type, choose “Cosmetologist, Barber, Manicurist, Esthetics”.  Then under Business Name, type in the legal name of the salon. (If you don’t know what that is for sure, just ask your technician.  Lots of companies work under a dba, or Doing-Business-As name.  You need the legal business name for this search)  Click Search.

look up a tech 3


4) From the Narrow Your Search screen, check the box, “Salon Shop or Salon / Shop” at the lower left corner of the page. Click Continue.

look up a tech 4

5) Wha-lah!  Your search results for whether or not the salon you visit is legitimately licensed will appear on this screen.  If you want to know the details of the license itself (when it was originally filed, when it expires, etc.), just click on the company’s legal name, which is hyperlinked to this information.

look up a tech 5

6) Almost done!  What’s most important, is now you want to make sure the technician who is working on you personally is currently licensed, simply click on the New Search button at the bottom center of the page.  This will take you back to  Step 3  (Search Business & Professional License)  Then, in the search fields under License Type, choose “Cosmetologist, Barber, Manicurist, Esthetics” again.  Then under Last Name and then First Name, type in the name of your technician (easy to get from their business card.  Just ask for one!)  Click Search.

look up a tech 7

7)  This time when you see the Narrow Your Search screen, (as in Step 4, above) check the “Operator” box mid-way down the left-hand column.  Click Continue.

Ba-da-bing! Ba-da-boom!  Your search results will tell you all you need to know about your technician.  (Again, to find out more detail about their licenses, just click on their name, which is hyperlinked to that information.)

look up a tech 8



Warning:  if “No Results Found” comes up, you may want to double-check your search fields (less info entered is more).  If it still pops up with the same answer, well then… Houston, you may have a problem with the legitimacy of your service tech.  A call to the state board may be your next plan to investigate further.

Just like that, in 7 quick steps, you are now a more informed consumer about the person who is handling the most precious parts of you.  Knowledge is power and you hold the power to keep a salon thriving or help it close its doors due to non-compliance.  It’s your vote.

Until next time, remember to take care of you.



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