Beauty Salons Struggling to Meet Inspection Standards

Beauty salons in Koreatown are scrambling to meet strict regulations as the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) has amped up its inspection efforts recently. The BBC has been known for its strict regulations, but it has now increased the frequency of inspections.

“Even a single hair strand on a pair of scissors warrants a fine,” said an employee at a large scale beauty salon in L.A. Koreatown. “The inspections are so detail oriented that I presume none of the businesses could meet all of its regulations.”

The BBC conducts its inspections mainly on its required licenses and sanitary. Hairdressers who were licensed in Korea are not eligible to work in the U.S., while it takes considerable time and cost to obtain the U.S. license. For example, even the hairdressers with years of experience in Korea need at least four to five months in addition to an approximate cost of $2,000.

Hairdressers in the U.S. who work without a valid license could be fined up to $2,000. Moreover, a business that employs an ineligible hairdresser could also be fined $1,000.

“The fine is so big that businesses are leaning towards avoiding unlicensed hairdressers these days,” said a manager of a franchise hair salon in L.A. “That is why there aren’t as many Korean hairdressers in Koreatown compared to the last few years.”

The businesses in Koreatown are struggling the most to meet BBC’s sanitary restrictions. Even the simplest details, such as not placing soaps and towels by the sink or putting on a pair of scissors on the apron could warrant a $50 fine. Instead, the scissors must be placed inside of a covered case, while combs must be cleaned immediately after use. Furthermore, each inspection takes about an hour, during which the business is largely affected to operate sufficiently.

“The inspections have gotten nasty recently,” said Korean-American Cosmetology Association chairman Byung-duk Cho. “The inspections only occurred once or twice in a year in the past. These days, they’re inspecting every other month at times.”

Some businesses have consulted lawyers after they have felt that the inspections have been unjust, but even many of the Korean lawyers are not as well informed about the cosmetology industry.

“Our organization is providing BBC’s regulations translated in Korean,” said Cho. “Businesses can always consult us for advice.”

By Heejung Hong