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Can You Survive a Spa Inspection?

By: Regina M. Tucker
Posted: May 1, 2013, from the May 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor’s note: The idea for this article came to light during the opening panel of the Advanced Education Conference Program at Face & Body® Northern California in October 2012. During the panel focused on regulation, the question about how to handle an inspection came up and it was suggested Skin Inc. run an article on this topic. Regina M. Tucker, a regular Business Solutions authors, attended the panel and offered to bring the topic to life. For more thought-provoking and inspiring education, make plans to attend the Advanced Education Conference Program at this year’s Face & Body, August 24, 2013, in San Jose, California. Register today at

It’s a typical day at the spa with clients coming and going. The spa manager is in the back office processing payroll, the front desk coordinator is multitasking, making appointments, and checking clients in and out. It’s business as usual until an unexpected arrival … an inspector from the state board of cosmetology, who is there to conduct an inspection. If this were your spa, how would the rest of the story unfold? Would your team panic or would it be prepared? You can ensure the latter with just a little planning.

The professional skin care industry is constantly facing new challenges. For example, according to the Tennessee State Board of Cosmetology, recent increases in communicable diseases have prompted strict guidelines on the utilization of sterilized equipment, gloves and goggles for all licensees when performing any type of service on a client. It is important that you not only stay up-to-date on expectations, but you and your staff should also be prepared should an inspector arrive unannounced at your door.

Understand the purpose of the visit

Although the laws applicable to professional skin care facilities vary from state to state, their underlying principles are the same. All states want to protect the safety and welfare of the consumer and, therefore, must ensure that spas are adhering to state laws and enforce penalties if they are not.

State boards require regular inspections of schools and spas. Inspectors are responsible for a region, and are assigned a territory and a certain number of facilities—at which they conduct inspections to ensure general compliance with state rules, and to investigate improper sanitation and unlicensed activity. The consequences for violations include fines, revocation or suspension of a license, or monetary penalties.