As president of Salon Inspector — an independent consulting company providing inspection and education services to California’s beauty professionals — Monika Herzog Butler provides assessments of a salon’s adherence to cosmetology laws and regulations. A voluntary program, the company has no affiliation with the California Board; instead it works directly with the licensees that value professionalism and want to keep on top of their business.
Herzog Butler shared some time with NAILS to talk about her business and how she got involved in this aspect of the industry.
NAILS: What got you started as an independent salon inspector?
Herzog Butler: In short, it was my passion for the beauty industry. When I moved to Los Angeles from Germany in 2005 I was surprised at the condition many beauty salons were in and I observed how careless they were in regard to salon hygiene. And there was really no difference between hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, or even spas.
When I would ask about their disinfection and sanitation procedures, the licensees would look at me as if I was the first one ever to ask such a question. That really shocked me. I owned my own hair and nail business in Germany and I actually worked behind the chair and table. We would get those questions all the time and you had better have an answer ready and your salon in great shape or clients would just walk out like I did. I came to realize there were big differences in the way salons were run here.
NAILS: How did your concerns translate into opening your business?
Herzog Butler: I researched online and tried to find information about rules and regulations and found out about the efforts of the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. I researched more and saw that consumer interest in the subject was huge!
Once I understood how the system worked (or didn’t work) I set out to find a way to help. Despite the nail industry’s reputation, I believe there are plenty of salons that strive to be great and constantly try to become better. In my opinion, Salon Inspector’s voluntary control system can effectively help salon owners and technicians create and maintain a safe work environment that protects the customer and licensee. Whenever something is voluntary it automatically attracts people who are honestly interested in the subject. When we perform our inspections, it is not about fines. It’s about identifying the risks, providing education, and often hands-on help fixing the problem.
NAILS: What are the most common misperceptions people have about the regulations?
Herzog Butler: Licensees and salon owners often don’t realize that fines in California have been raised significantly and procedures have changed. Years ago fines were much lower and salons and licensees were given the opportunity to correct violations before they were fined. As Board inspections happen so rarely, some salons haven’t been checked by the Board in seven years or more and are surprised when they are inspected now.
Many professionals who have had their licenses for a long time believe that these new and tougher rules are unreasonable and unnecessary. The truth is, we as beauty industry professionals have to change with the times. Believe it or not, viruses change too.
There is never room for standing still. While most licensees are excited to learn new techniques and improve their skills, other areas of the business are often neglected. The most successful business owners in every industry are smart enough to understand that it is impossible to know or be good at everything related to one’s business. They get outside help in the form of business-related classes and consultants like us in order to stay on top of things at all times.
NAILS: Any specific regulations that trip people up?
Herzog Butler: In nail salons here in California there is a significant issue about the disinfection of nail files (the emery board type). Some licensees believe that files labeled “disinfectable” by the manufacturer are safe and they can’t be fined if they disinfect them prior to each use. No matter what the file says, the California Board does not permit reusing of [porous] nail files. There are some metal files that can be reused after proper disinfection, but never be misled by the labeling!
NAILS: What sorts of new routines do you recommend your clients implement?
Herzog Butler: Recommendations for protocols and routines are different in each salon. However, some of the changes Salon Inspector recommends are similar everywhere:
> Having each work station set up with exactly the same set of products, materials, and tools leads to easier control of salon protocol compliance, meaning self-inspections become much easier.
> We recommend creating manuals for each service offered at the salon. This is definitely a great way to monitor compliance during the service. Mistakes are easier to avoid and the service will be consistently the same experience no matter who treats the client. Compliance is easy if there is a clear plan the staff can follow.
> Setting up a designated area for the disinfection of tools and implements allows for a more practical approach. It is also helpful to designate one person to handle disinfection at the end of the day or twice a day. Some of our clients rotate with a cleaning schedule, so that everybody at the salon does something for the salon as a whole each day. This encourages teamwork and is more time efficient as well. For the owner this is an easy method to hold staff members accountable for their designated tasks.
Most Common Violations
> Reuse of non-disinfectable items
> Incorrect mixing of disinfectants
> No labels on containers or incorrect labeling
Herzog Butler can be reached through her website, www.saloninspector.com, or by calling (888) SI SAFE NOW.
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