Last week, I spent over 3 hours listening in on a virtual meeting with the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC). If you’re not familiar with the BBC, they are an agency that oversees consumer safety and gives direction to 650,000 California licensed beauty providers on how to safely reopen after months of being closed. In the past, the BBC agency has been known to be highly inefficient and quite outdated (i.e. until recently, their website hasn’t been updated in nearly three years) up until listening to the virtual meeting, I had no clue how bad the situation REALLY was.
One of the major highlights I picked up from the virtual meeting was how the BBC has no plans to monitor the beauty industry when it comes to social distancing, PPE, or anything related to COVID-19 reopening procedures. I'll give my two cents about this further down, but for now, let me give you an insight into what occurred over the past few months.
- April 28th: After nearly two months of being in lockdown Governor Newsom announces a 4-phased reopening plan - placing the beauty industry in phase 3 and says that it will take months, not weeks.
- April 29: PBFC (Professional Beauty Federation of California) meets with Deputy Cabinet Secretary and State Board Executive Officer to explain how additional months of lockdowns will be untenable and could undermine the very basis of our licensed, state-regulated industry (which resulted in devastated salon businesses, stylists' livelihoods, and students’ dreams).
- May 6th: PBFC informs the media of intention of filing a lawsuit against the state and BBC.
- May 7th: Governor Newsom responds with a bombshell assertion that the first community spread of COVID-19 occurred in a nail salon (this was news to our 39 million California residents including the health department and BBC, who Governor Newsome overseas. Until now he refuses to tell anyone where he obtained this information.)
- May 19th- Governor Newsom files a 242-page response to the lawsuit (fact: nowhere in the response is the nail salon allegation mentioned)
- May 22nd: The federal judge who was assigned this suit orders both sides to file closing arguments via 5-page briefs by Tuesday, May 26, at which time the judge will take into submission the case and shortly thereafter provide his ruling.
- May 26th: Prior to the judge's ruling, Governor Newsom suddenly announces the opening of hair salons and barbershops. (Governor Newsom's hasty decision to only open hair salons left behind approximately 45% of the beauty industry in the complete dark including the most qualified to reopen - ESTHETICIANS.)
Now, as for us estheticians... to start, we are in a completely different category than the rest of the beauty industry. Our knowledge of how to protect clients (and ourselves) from any communicable disease is beyond legendary. If you've never had a facial, you might not know this but wearing masks and gloves even when we have allergies is nothing new to us. Most estheticians are knowledgable, responsible, versed in biology and chemistry, with extensive knowledge in regards to sanitation. Not to mention that our field is becoming more and more sophisticated with advances in science and technology, especially when it comes to equipment! It's simply not realistic that we are governed by an agency that doesn’t even understand what we do or can keep up with the technological level we're on.
So, here we are, still closed. To make this whole situation even more ridiculous, clients are now crossing state lines to get their services (i.e. Californians traveling to Nevada). Also, as most of you know, keeping salons and clinics closed has forced many beauty professionals to go undercover, providing unregulated, in-home services increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, and putting everyone's health in jeopardy.
Estheticians are patiently waiting for the go-ahead on when we can re-open and the agencies who are supposed to be on our side are refusing to take action and being held accountable. The health department tells us to speak to the BBC and the BBC tells us that it is up to the health department.
For now, my OLSC team has created our own set of strict rules (following the CDC) but with additional steps that we feel are imperative. This includes sophisticated UVC lights, face shields, and of course, strict social distancing measures. If you are an esthetician reading this, it’s time to demand action - like creating our own agency with attorneys and the ability to lobby. While the PBFC certainly initiated a lawsuit in the past, it was not able to do anything for us specifically.
It’s time to advocate for ourselves. In the meantime, if you’re our client reading this (or a California resident), I advise you to look into your beauty provider's protocols and see if they are in line with the CDC guidelines. At the end of the day, politics and poor hasty decisions can influence the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals, specifically women. I urge you to join me in making our voices heard. It’s time to make a change.