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OHLA at 10 Years: Board of Cosmetology
Addressing emerging issues in long-standing professions
Cosmetology school
Back in 1897, when the Oregon State Legislature established the Board of Barber Examiners, barbers were no longer allowed to provide bloodletting as part of their practice.
Fast forward to 2009, when the use of lasers for certain cosmetic purposes such as laser hair removal has become common practice by estheticians.
As the oldest regulated profession of the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA), cosmetology is actually four distinct professions, each with its own scope of practice and regulatory issues.
The cosmetic professions of barbering, esthetics, hair design and nail technology are the largest regulated professional group overseen by OHLA, with approximately 30,000 individual practitioners, 7,000 independent contractors and 5,000 salons,
Some regulatory issues have taken center stage in the past several years, from health and safety concerns for nail salon customers and workers to emerging technologies such as lasers that pose new and complex regulatory challenges.
While continuing to find regulatory solutions to emerging issues, OHLA has provided a wide range of services benefitting both licensees and consumers, such as:
  • Same-day licensing allows qualified applicants to work right away.

  • Training workshops offer licensees in violation of health, safety and infection control requirements an opportunity to learn rather than pay a civil fine.

  • Public education campaigns such as Facial Forward and Safe Salons provide both licensees and consumers with valuable, practical information on the latest regulatory issues.

Central Issues in Cosmetology Regulation
Mike Snook
Mike Snook, Board of Cosmetology 2009 Chair
  • Nail Salon Health and Safety:  Oregon has avoided bacterial infection outbreaks that have plagued other states by conducting public education campaigns and monitoring salons statewide.  Participation in the Oregon Collaborative for Healthy Nail Salons (OCHNS) addresses nail salon worker health and safety.

  • Emerging Technologies in Skincare:  From partnering with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to collaborating with other state agencies, OHLA and the Board of Cosmetology continue to address how to best regulate emerging technologies such as lasers to protect the public.

  • Advanced Education and Training:  From recognizing post-graduate education and training for advanced practice to offering training workshops in lieu of civil fines, OHLA’s focus on education is a key strategy as professions quickly evolve.

Regulatory Timeline
Amplified massage
"Amplified massage" illustration, The Barbers' Manual (1911)
Oregon State Legislature establishes the Board of Barber Examiners.
Legislature establishes the Board of Cosmetic Therapy.
Board of Barber Examiners and Board of Cosmetic Therapy merge to become the Board of Cosmetology.
Board of Cosmetology becomes a health-related licensing board, one of a group of semi-autonomous state boards.
Board of Cosmetology becomes a non-autonomous board within the Oregon Health Licensing Agency.
OHLA launches a major public education campaign to educate consumers on health, safety and infection control issues in nail salons after hundreds of nail salon customers in California suffer from bacterial skin infections linked to improperly cleaned and disinfected foot baths used for pedicures.
OHLA offers onsite, walk-in electronic testing and established streamlined paperwork requirements for applicants to provide same-day licensing to a majority of applicants for licensure.
OHLA launches Facial Forward public education campaign to educate licensees and consumers about emerging developments in skin care.
OHLA launches Safe Salons in follow up to the 2001 public education campaign on nail salon safety and joins the Oregon Collaborative for Healthy Nail Salons.