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Consumer Information

The Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering establishes and enforces safety and sanitation practice standards, which preserve and promote health and safety for the citizens of Oklahoma.

Q.    What type of license is required?
In Oklahoma, cosmetology, barbering, facial and nail technology may only be performed by individuals who hold a valid state license and who work in a licensed establishment or hold a valid work permit.

Q.    How can I tell if a person performing cosmetology or barbering is properly licensed?
All licenses and work permits must be posted in public view with a current photo attached.   You may call the Board of Cosmetology and Barbering and ask for license/permit verification.

Q.    Are establishments inspected?
Oklahoma cosmetology and barber establishments are inspected at least twice a year to ensure safety and sanitation compliance and to ensure all persons providing services hold a valid license/permit.  The most current salon inspection sheets must be posted in public view.


Q.    What services can a cosmetologist provide and what are some of the things I should look for when receiving these services?

"Cosmetology" includes the practice of bleaching, cleansing, curling, cutting, coloring, dressing, removing, singeing, styling, waving, or similar work, upon the hair of any person by any means, and with hands or mechanical or electrical apparatus or appliances.  Non-permanent removal of hair services may be performed with these devices as long as there is no puncturing of the skin, or by use of cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, tonics, lotions, or creams, massaging, cleansing, stimulating, exercising, beautifying, or similar work, the scalp, face, neck, arms, bust, or upper part of the body, or manicuring the nails of any person.

A cosmetologist may hold themselves to be a Beautician, Beauty Culturists, Beauty Operator, Cosmetologist, or Hairdresser. 

  •  All tools and implements used on a client must be disinfected prior to each use.
  • Chemical services may include permanent waves, straightening, lightening, or coloring of the hair.
  • When receiving permanent wave services, a preliminary test curl may be taken to determine how the hair will react to the permanent.
  • For color services, a pretest may be done prior to the treatment to determine the development time, color results and the ability of the hair to withstand the effects of chemicals.
  • For all chemical services, a towel and/or other sanitary neck strip must be used to keep the full length protective covering (i.e., shampoo cape, drape, smock) from coming in direct contact with a client's skin.  The towel and neck strip will protect the client from solution that may drip during the service.
  • Chemical solutions must be removed from the skin immediately on contact.  If you feel chemicals dripping on your skin or any burning sensation, inform the cosmetologist immediately.
  • Some chemicals may have strong odors; they should not cause you discomfort.  Salons should have adequate ventilation to keep the odors from lingering.  If the chemical odor causes you any discomfort, inform the cosmetologist immediately.

"Barbering" means any one or any combination of the following practices, when done upon the upper part of the human body for cosmetic purposes and when done for payment either directly or indirectly for the general public, constitutes the practice of barbering, to wit; Shaving or trimming the beard or cutting the hair; giving facial or scalp massages or treatment with oils, creams, lotions or other preparations, either by hand or mechanical appliances; singeing, shampooing or applying lighteners or color to the hair or applying hair tonics; applying cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, powders, oils, clays or lotions to scalp, face, neck or upper part of the body; and removing superfluous hair from the face, neck or upper part of the body;

"Nail Technology" involves manicures and pedicures.   Manicuring is the practice of cutting, trimming, polishing, coloring, tinting, cleansing the nails, or massaging, cleaning, treating or beautifying the hands and feet of any person.

  •  Nail drills may be used to file artificial and natural nails.  Technicians must follow manufacturer's directions and disinfect the bits before use to avoid the risk of infection.
  • All sanitation and disinfection products used in cosmetology establishment require EPA approval.
  • Federal law prohibits the use of products containing liquid methyl methacrylate monomers (LMMM/MMA).  If these products are being used, you will detect a strong or strange odor.  The nails may be difficult to file and artificial nails may not easily soak off in solvents.  These products are toxic and could cause respiratory problems.   OSHA requires that products used in cosmetology establishments have an MSDS sheet that will list the product ingredients and health hazards to the product.  As a consumer, you may ask to view this information.
  • It should not be painful to have artificial nails removed.  If the process causes pain or discomfort, inform the technician immediately.
  • Diabetics receiving nail services should inform the technician of their condition so special precautions can be taken.
  • Pedicuring falls under the same practice as manicures but also includes massaging, cleansing, treating or beautifying the feet.
  • Never ask the practitioner to treat medical conditions such as ingrown toe nails or corns.   These should be treated by medical personnel only.

"Facial Technology" is the practice of applying make-up, skin care or beautifying the face or neck by use of cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, tonics, lotions, or creams.  Services include applying eyelashes or removing facial hair by tweezing, depilatories or waxing.

  • Chemical exfoliation known as "skin peels" is the process by which layers of facial skin are removed with commercial products.  Chemical exfoliation smoothes wrinkles, reduces scars and blotchy areas and `improves the overall appearance of the skin.
  • It is important to discuss all aspects of the exfoliation process with the facial operator, especially safety issues, hazards, skin types and any skin conditions that may increase risks.  Advise the facial operator of all medications you are taking.
  • Electrical Muscle Stimulators (EMS) devices supply electrical energy to the body surface through plates, pads or other attachments and cause stimulation and contraction of the muscles.   Facial operators may use these devices to help creams or lotions penetrate the skin during a facial.  However, only licensed medical practitioners may use the EMS device to relax a muscle spasm, prevent tissue atrophy, increase local blood circulation or promote muscle contractions.

A "Cosmetician" is a person licensed by the Board to perform patron services limited to hair arranging and application of makeup, including, but not limited to, using hairstyling tools and products.

The Cosmetician services must be performed in a licensed establishment to photo studios and cosmetic studios.

A "Hairbraiding Technician" is a person licensed by the Board to perform hairbraiding techniques and hair extensions.

The Hairbraiding services must be performed in a licensed establishment.

A "Demonstrator" is a person who is not licensed in this state to perform cosmetology services and who demonstrates any cosmetic preparation by use of a sponge, brush or other applicator for the public from open tester, sampler, or other open container.

The Demonstrator services must be performed in a licensed establishment.




Waxing is one of the most popular methods of hair removal because it is inexpensive, convenient and last for weeks.  There are some health precautions to keep in mind before receiving waxing/hair removal services.  It is very important that persons with diabetes or persons who have varicose veins or poor circulation not receive waxing or hair removal services because they are more susceptible to infection.  Also, users of Retin-A, Renova, Differin or Accutane are advised not to use hair waxing on the face because the medications tend to weaken the skin and may cause irritation or tearing when the wax is removed. 


The wax pulls the hair from the root.  This potentially opens a break in the skin that could be an invitation to infection.  This makes it important for the consumer to check the skin area to be waxed prior to receiving services.  The professional will also check.  Hair removal should not be done on areas of the skin affected by warts, pimples, moles or rashes.  Additionally, services should not be performed on areas of skin that is irritated, broken, chapped or sun burned.   


Once a stick or applicator has been placed into the product and touched the skin, it must be disposed of.  The stick should never be put back into a pot of wax because it could contaminate the product.


24 to 48 hours after waxing, you should not:

- swim (bikini or brazilin)

- wear tight clothing such as jeans, tights, stockings or leotards, as they may cause excessive perspiration (bikini or brazilin)

- sunbathe or have a tanning bed treatment

- use deodorant in underarm waxed area

- receive a chemical exfoliation service


The following Health and Safety Guidelines should be following in all establishments:

  • A valid establishment license should be posted in public view.  Copies aren’t acceptable.


  • Persons performing cosmetology services should have a valid license posted with current photo attached.  Copies are not acceptable.  Nail technicians are allowed to wax from the elbows down and the knees down only.  A cosmetologists and/or a facialists is allowed to wax any part of the body.


  • Establishments should be kept clean.  Work areas are to be cleaned after each patron.


  • Clean towels and linens are to be stored in a closed cabinet or container


  • A clean towel is to be provided for each client


  • Persons performing services should thoroughly wash hands before and after any service performed.


  • Soiled towels and linens are to be disposed in a covered receptacle or cabinet


  • Each work areas is to have clean items and equipment stored separately from soiled ones


  • Implements must be cleaned with soap and water, then disinfected with an EPA approved product.


  • No patron with open sores or lesions should be served.


Always be alert.  Are the wax applicators and wax strips disposable?  It only takes a few minutes of the professional’s time and may prevent you from having to make a trip to the doctor.


Do not have your hair done by a “kitchen” practitioner.  A “kitchen” practitioner is one who is not appropriately licensed and inspected by the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering for sanitation and safety.  You are risking your health and well-being by having any services done by an unlicensed person.  Ask to see the person’s license and their establishment license.  Persons can have shops in their homes, but they must be licensed and inspected.


  • Sanitized means cleaned
  • Cleaned means removing debris first and then washing with warm soapy water
  • Disinfection means to use a disinfectant
  • A disinfectant must be bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal and EPA approved for its intended use
  • After disinfected, implements and tools must be stored in a closed container
  • Antibacterial is not the same as disinfectant
  • Double dipping such things as creams and lotions is prohibited.  Product should be removed with a spatula.


Some Possible health conditions that could occur after an unsanitary/unsatisfactory and unsafe waxing/hair removal service:


  1. FOLLICULITIC:  this is an irritation – or worse, an infection – of the hair follicles which are exposed and inflamed following hair removal of any type.
  2. CONTACT DERMATITIES:  An irritation following soap, shaving, after-shave, or depilatory products
  3. BURN:  usually first or second degree in nature that could become infected if not treated properly. 
  4. SPREAD OF INFECTION:  hair removal and the consequent of tiny nicks, cuts and inflammation can expose a person to bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
  5. HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS:  this infection is unusual but this and other bacterial, fungal and viral infection can occur if safety and sanitation precautions are not properly taken and followed.
  6. BLEEDING:  pinpoint bleeding is rare but can occur and universal precautions must be taken as prescribed by State Board rules and regulations
  7. PINK EYE/COONJUNCTIVITIS:  spread by direct contact and caused by a herpes virus


What do you do if you have a problem with services received:


  • If you are unhappy with the services received at an establishment, discuss them with the license, manager and/or owner.
  • Many complaints can be quickly resolved this way and you may be given a refund or corrective service at no cost.  However, the license is not required to do this.  Be aware that many licensees are independent contractors who rent booth space and they may not be employees.  The owner may not have control over the quality of the services rendered or the authority to demand that they provide you a refund.  The Board does encourage that both parties try to come to a reasonable resolution.
  • If any licensee injures you, discuss the matter with them.  You should also speak with the owner of the establishment.
  • Seek medical attention if necessary
  • If you feel that the licensee has violated state health and safety guidelines, file a formal complaint with the Board.
  • The Board will review your complaint and determine the appropriate course of action to resolve the issued and to ensure the licensee is in compliance with the laws, rules and regulations of the State of Oklahoma.
  • As a consumer, you have the right to file a formal complaint to report unlicensed activity, false advertising or alleged fraud.

Health and Safety Guidelines

Q.    What health and safety guidelines should I watch for? 

  • Is a current facility license posted in public view?
  • Are valid licenses posted in public view?  Photocopies are not acceptable.
  • Are the licensees performing only those services for which they are certified/licensed?
  • Is the establishment clean?  Are work areas cleaned after each client?
  • Are clean towels and linens stored in a clean area?  Are soiled towels and linens put in a covered receptacle?  Is a clean towel provided for each client?
  • Do the licensees wash their hands before and after serving each client?
  • At the workstation, are clean items stored separately from soiled ones?  Are the combs, brushes, and instruments clean?
  • Are proper disinfectant procedures being carried out?  Instruments must be cleaned with soap and water, then totally immersed in disinfectant that has been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as having demonstrated tuberculocidal, bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal activity.   Items that cannot be disinfected must be disposed of.


Q.    What if I have a complaint about the service, sanitation of the salon or that the person providing the service is not licensed?
First discuss the complaint with the licensee or establishment owner.  Many complaints can be quickly resolved in this manner.

If you are injured, discuss what happened with the licensee.  Take photographs of the condition.  If necessary, seek medical attention and file a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering.

Q.    How do I file a formal complaint?
Contact the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering, 2401 NW 23rd St, Ste 84, Oklahoma City, OK  73107 (405) 521-2441.  The Board will mail a complaint form.   All formal complaints must be in writing with the complainant's signature notarized.

Q.    What will happen to my complaint when it is received by the Board?
An Inspector will be notified to conduct an investigation.  The Executive Director will review the findings in order to determine the appropriate course of action in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Q.    What if the person performing the services is unlicensed?
The Board has the authority to investigate allegations of unlicensed practice. A formal complaint may be filed with the Board.

The Bottom Line

If you are not comfortable with what you see in an establishment, the best thing to do is leave.  Cosmetology and barbering services do not hurt, injure, or put you at risk of infection.

Consumer's Bill of Rights

All consumers of cosmetology and barbering services offered by Oklahoma licensed professionals have a right to:

  • Receive competent professional services.
  • Verify the names, titles and credentials of professionals providing services.
  • Receive clear explanations of the services offered and costs for the services.
  • Refuse any services offered.
  • File a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering regarding a licensee, establishment, or an unlicensed individual.
  • Request reasonable accommodations to access professional services as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Be treated with courtesy and respect.
  • Have service options and consequences explained.