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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

In General

The following answers to frequently asked questions focus on general licensing, regulatory and health, safety and infection control requirements of the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA) and Board of Cosmetology.
For answers to frequently asked questions focusing on the four individual fields of practice, please click on the links below.
If you have questions that aren't answered here, please contact OHLA at 503-378-8667 or ohla.info@state.or.us.
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Cosmetology Laws & Rules

Following are Board of Cosmetology laws and rules upon which these frequently asked questions are based.
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OHLA Regulatory Requirements

OHLA professions  
Following are laws and rules related to overarching administrative, procedural, licensing and regulatory compliance requirements for all OHLA-regulated professions.
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Applicant Identification

Q:  Can I provide an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of my Social Security number (SSN) when applying for practitioner certication or a facility license?
A:  Yes. OHLA revised its position on ITINs after further review and stakeholder feedback.
The ITIN is not used for identification purposes. It is used by the Oregon Department of Revenue for tax purposes and by the Department of Justice for child support enforcement.
Applicants may not use the ITIN number as an acceptable form of identification.  An ITIN or Social Security number is required in addition to acceptable forms of identification.  If an applicant has a Social Security card, the card may also be used as an acceptable form of identification.
For more information on OHLA's identification requirements, go to New Identification Requirements for Applicants.
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Boiling Tools

Q:  Can I boil my tools and implements to disinfect them?
A:  No.  Boiling tools is not an acceptable method for disinfection.
Requirements and Standards
(1) All tools and implements that come in direct contact with a client, shall be disinfected or disposed of after use.
(2) Only disinfecting agents that meet the criteria set forth in OAR 817-010-0005(34) and (39) are approved for use (see below).
(5) When used according to the manufacturer's instructions, each of the following is an approved method of disinfecting tools and implements:
(a) Complete immersion in the disinfecting solution of the object(s) or portion(s) thereof to be disinfected;
(b) Steam sterilizer, registered and listed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; or
(c) Dry heat sterilizer or autoclave, registered and listed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
(6) All disinfecting agents shall be kept at adequate strengths to maintain effectiveness, be free of foreign material and be available for immediate use at all times the facility is open for business.
Disinfecting Non-Electrical Tools and Implements
All tools and implements used within a field of practice shall be disinfected before use on each client. The method for disinfecting non-electrical tools and implements will be as outlined below.
(1) To disinfect all non-electrical tools and implements first:
(a) Remove all hair and/or foreign material;
(b) Clean thoroughly with soap or detergent and water;
(c) Rinse thoroughly with clear, clean water; and
(d) Complete process as outlined in section (2) or (3) of this rule; or
(e) Sterilize, using one of the approved methods listed in OAR 817-010-0065(5)(b) or (c).
(2) For all tools and implements without sharp edges or points, including but not limited to combs, brushes, rollers, rods, etc., totally immerse according to manufacturer's instructions in a solution containing l,000 parts per million (ppm) of a commercial quaternary ammonium compound or other low-level disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
(3) For all tools and implements with sharp edges or points totally, immerse in a high-level disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
(34) "High-level disinfectant" means a chemical agent, which has demonstrated tuberculocidal activity and is registered with the EPA.
(39) "Low-level disinfectant" means a chemical agent which has demonstrated bactericidal, germicidal, fungicidal, and limited virucidal activity and is registered with EPA.

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Care Facility, Services Within

Q:  I provide hair design and nail technology services within an assisted care facility.  Am I required to obtain a cosmetology facility license?
A:  Not if you "...are acting under the authority of a hospital or long-term care facility...or a residential facility..." as specified in ORS 690.025, Exemptions; rules (3)
If a person is independently leasing a space within a residential care facility from the building owner, and is operating as an independent business and not under the authority of the care facility, in that the care facility does not have any authority or control in restricting services to residents only, then the practitioner would need to hold a facility license. This would apply even if the practitioner independently chooses to provide services only to residents.
If a residential care facility contracts with, or otherwise makes available a licensee or other person to provide services, and the care facility restricts those services to being provided to residents only, and the care facility accepts the responsibility and authority over the licensee/person and business, then neither the licensee/person nor the care facility is required to obtain a facility license.
The Department of Human Services, Seniors and People with Disabilities Division, licenses residential, assisted living and nursing facilities.

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Clipper Blades Disinfection

Q:  Can you let me know what Oregon requires for disinfecting clipper blades and scissors, and how often? Do they need to be completely immersed for 10 minutes, or can they be sprayed?
A:  As required by OAR 817-010-0068(3), Disinfecting Non-Electrical Tools and Implements, use high-level disinfectant for all tools and implements with sharp edges or points, including clipper blades. Totally immerse them for at least 10 minutes or for however long the manufacturer recommends.
As you might know, keeping tools immersed for too long in high-level disinfectant may corrode the tool and doesn't necessarily make the tool more sanitary.
A high-level spray can be used on the clipper body and metal guides that the clipper blades clip onto, but not for the clipper blades themselves, which must be submerged in high-level for 10 minutes/length of time recommended by the manufacturer.

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Disinfectant Use

Q:  How often should I replace my disinfectant solution with new solution?
A:  While there isn't a specific regulatory requirement, OAR 817-010-0065, Requirements and Standards, states that you must follow the manufacturer's instructions:
(5) When used according to the manufacturer's instructions, each of the following is an approved method of disinfecting tools and implements:
(a) Complete immersion in the disinfecting solution of the object(s) or portion(s) thereof to be disinfected;
(6) All disinfecting agents shall be kept at adequate strengths to maintain effectiveness, be free of foreign material and be available for immediate use at all times the facility is open for business.

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Drinking Cups

Q: I have a high-end salon and don't want to use disposable cups to serve beverages.  Can I use porcelain coffee/tea cups or glassware?
A:  Yes.  The previous administrative rule requiring the use of disposable cups has been repealed.

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Facility Inspections

Q:  I just opened a full-service salon. What can I expect when my facility is inspected?
A:  OHLA has created a Facility Self-Inspection Checklist to assist practitioners and facility owners in preparing for inspections.
OHLA has also produced a Facility Inspections brochure that provides an overview of the inspection process.

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Facility Licensure

Q:  I'm looking to open a new spa at a golf course.  I would be the owner and would not be offering services myself.  Are there any licenses I need to comply with Oregon's laws?
A.  You’ll need a facility license to offer services, which can be offered only by certified professionals.  Under OAR 817-020-0005, Issuance of Facility Licenses:
(1) A facility license may be issued if the applicant:
(a) Is at least 18 years of age, if the applicant is a natural person, and meets requirements of ORS 690.055
(b) Has registered with the Corporations Division and received an assumed business name prior to applying for a facility license (unless doing business under the full name of the owner)
For complete requirements, go to OAR 817, Division 20, Licensing and Operation of a Facility.
While under ORS 690.015(c), Prohibited acts, a person may not "operate a facility unless it is at all times under the direct supervision of a practitioner," a non-practitioner may own and manage a facility.

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Facility Relocation

Q:  I’m moving my salon to a new location.  What do I need to do?
A:  You’ll need to obtain a new facility permit under OAR 817-020-0015, Facility Licensing Requirements:
(1) A facility owner or license holder shall meet the requirements of a new facility (refer to OAR 817-020-0011 and Facility Licensure, above) and submit a new facility application and required fees when any of the following conditions exist:
(c) An existing facility moves or relocates to a new physical address. Facility licenses are not transferable from location-to-location.

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Freelance Authorization

Q:  I’d like to provide services in a client’s home, or from different locations.  How do I provide mobile services?
A:  Under OAR 817-035-0050, you need to obtain a freelance authorization (previously certificate of identification) to perform barbering, esthetics, hair design or nail technology outside of a licensed facility. You must first be certified in any of the four fields of practice in which you will provide services. 
Applicants are required to take and pass the Oregon Laws & Rules examination to obtain an initial freelance authorization (unless they have passed the examination within the past two years prior to the date of application).
Freelance authorizations are issued as a separate document from a practitioner’s certificate and are not automatically renewable. Applicants for freelance authorization renewal must pass the Oregon Laws and Rules examination.  
Freelance authorization holders no longer are required to provide clients with a business card.  However, they must still provide each client with OHLA contact information to allow the client to comment on any of the services received or on any of the sanitary procedures followed while performing services.
Freelance authorization holders must also display their practitioner's certificate number and freelance authorization number on all advertising.
Freelance authorization holders are subject to all health, safety, and infection control rules and regulations and to random audits to verify compliance with safety, infection control and licensing requirements. 

The freelance authorization holder may be suspended or revoked if OHLA has refused to issue or renew, or has suspended or revoked, the practitioner's certificate.
For complete requirements, refer to OAR 817-035-0050, which can be accessed at http://www.oregon.gov/OHLA/COS/COSlaws_rules.shtml.
OHLA and the Board of Cosmetology no longer offer a mobile facility license, which previously allowed services to be performed in a vehicle modified to provide services and approved by OHLA and the Board of Cosmetology.

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Hand Washing

Q:  Is there a requirement for clients to wash their hands before services are performed?
A:  No.  However, under OAR 817-015-0030, Serving Clients:
(1) Practitioners shall observe and follow thorough hand washing with soap and water or other alternative hand-washing products, such as gel, aerosol spray, foam, or pre-packaged hand wipes, immediately before and after serving each client as needed to prevent cross contamination and/or transmission of body fluids, infections or exposure to service-related wastes or chemicals.
(2) Practitioners who have visible open sores or bleeding lesions on their hands or arms shall not have client contact until the lesions have healed to the scab phase and shall cover them with protective gloves and/or impervious bandages prior to contact with clients.
(3) Practitioners shall wear single-use disposable or cleaned and disinfected protective gloves when performing service or affecting a procedure that routinely involves body fluid exposure, such as during a facial where blood, pus, or weeping of the skin may be present or is likely to occur during the service.
(5) Practitioners performing service on clients with skin conditions that are wet or weeping shall wear single-use protective gloves. Single-use disposable gloves shall be used and discarded after use with each client.

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"National" Licensing

Q:  Is there a national license and/or a national examination?
A:  No, there isn't a national license.  Each state sets standards and requirements for regulated professions.  Practitioners must be authorized to practice in each state in which they provide services to the public.
While there isn't a national examination that is required of all practitioners nationwide, the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) offers examinations that multiple states administer.
Nearly 40 of 50 states administer one or more NIC written examinations, making it the most widely used examination for the cosmetology field in the United States.
OHLA offered the NIC examination from May 2006 until February 10, 2010.

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Towels & Linens

Q:  Do I need to use bleach when washing towels and linens?
A:  No.  Bleach is not required for washing towels and linens but can be substituted for high-level disinfectant to wipe up blood or bodily fluid spills.
Under OAR 817-010-0035 Towels or Linens:
(1) Clean towels or linens shall be used for each client.
(2) When using linens as arm cushions during nail technology service, the practitioner may use a protective disposable cover on the linen towel to prevent contact with the client.
(3) Clean towels and linens shall be stored in a clean area.
(4) Each facility or practitioner shall provide closable containers large enough and sturdy enough to store all soiled towels or linens after use. Chemically soiled towels or linens shall be stored in fire-retardant containers.
(5) Used towels shall be laundered either by regular commercial laundering or by a non-commercial laundering process, which includes use of commercial laundry detergent manufactured for the purpose of cleaning clothes, linens or other washable fabric, and immersion in hot water during the hot water wash/rinse operation.

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