With over 13,000 salons in Ohio inspected by 12 people, the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology is encouraging more public engagement.
Inspecting and ensuring the correct procedures for licensing, safety and sanitation in Ohio salons falls on the board of cosmetology. Northwest inspector Samantha Calkins said each of the 12 inspectors is responsible for between 1,000 – 1,500 salons. Salons only require an inspection once every two years unless a complaint is filed.
Kara Curtland of Toledo said she didn’t suspect anything unusual when she went into a popular salon for a pedicure a few years ago.
“Nothing looked dirty,” she said. “The guy who did my pedicure was super nice, and I remember thinking, if I ever come back I would ask for him.”
However, after her pedicure, Curtland developed an infection in her foot. She said she tried to clean and treat the infection at home, but it became so severe she had to seek the treatment of a podiatrist.
She was told by her podiatrist that her toenail had been cut wrong and possibly not been cleaned correctly, causing the infection.
Her infection was taken care of, however, Curtland said that after three years she still doesn’t have feeling in two of her toes.
She has had pedicures since the incident, but said she will never return to that salon. She also said she never reported the incident to the salon or the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology.
“There are always a ton of people in there,” Curtland said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more people have had issues at that specific place.”
Calkins said the three most popular violations found during salon inspections are improper licensing, dirty clippers and reuse of porous objects.
“Anything that isn’t metal, plastic or glass can only be used once,” Calkins said. “Those things are considered porous items-buffers, files, flip-flops and toe separators - they should be opened from a new package.”
Any items that are metal, plastic or glass must be washed with soap and water, disinfected with hospital grade sanitizer and covered between every use. Salons that don’t follow these procedures risk spreading infections between clients.
Lauren Haise of Toledo had suspicion of sanitation violations when she went to get a manicure. She had been to the salon before but said that this time was different.
“They didn’t take the tools out of a pack,” she said. “They were already loose.”
After that manicure, Haise developed an infection on the side of her finger. Her mother is a nurse and was able to drain the infection and treat it from home, but she is too afraid to get another manicure.
Haise, like Curtland, never reported the incident to the salon or the Board of Cosmetology.
Calkins said that without help from the public to locate salons that are having problems, it can be hard to find violations when salons are only checked every two years.
A new law was passed in Sept. 2016 that requires salons to have a sign displaying the 1-800 number for the Board of Cosmetology visible to customers in case they need to file a complaint.
Calkins said if someone experiences an issue they should call the number and leave a complaint. They can also fill out a form on the boards website cos.ohio.gov.
While the complaints can be anonymous, Calkins said it is very important to leave as much information as possible. Leaving contact information really helps when the board investigates the case.
“When we have contact information with a complaint it is easy to clarify specific information,” Calkins said. “We also update whoever left the complaint on the status of the case if they leave contact information.”
When a complaint is filed, the board must launch an investigation within 90 days. If the inspector finds a violation, they will write up a citation and fine for either the institution or the individual responsible.
Inspectors have to follow up after a violation within 90 days to ensure the issue has been taken care of. If the issue hasn’t been resolved, further action is taken.
If the issue isn’t resolved on the third check, the cosmetology license is suspended. If there are violations after that, the board of cosmetology can issue a legal misdemeanor.