Hair, nail, waxing salons open across Colorado without required license

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DENVER -- Dozens of hair, nail and waxing salons across the state of Colorado are open for business without a license. The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) requires a license or shop registration for all cosmetology services offered by one or more people at a permanent or temporary location.

The registration provides DORA with contact information for the salon in case of safety issues or complaints.

A woman, who does not want to be identified, described a nasty infection she got at a Cherry Creek salon in Denver. She said, “It’s disgusting and embarrassing.”

The woman turned to us after picking up an infection after a pedicure. She said, “Around my toe nail was super red and … really sore.” Doctors say infections often spread through unsanitized manicure tools or dirty pedicure tub water.

The woman told us, “It just makes me cringe to think how disgusting it is…” We did some checking and discovered the salon where she believes she got that infection was not licensed.

HEIDI HEMMATSo, FOX31 Denver examined hundreds of records and discovered dozens of salons operating illegally with no license.

We took a hidden camera into a few unlicensed salons to see if their license was visible, since DORA requires that licenses be displayed.

One of those salons, Fancy Cuts on Sheridan Boulevard in Denver, did not renew their license which expired in November 2013. According to DORA, our producer captured video of a health code violation when an employee used her nails, rather than a sanitized tool, to push back the cuticles on her toes.

The owner, Mai Bui said they have tools to push cuticles and she had forgotten to renew her license.

Bui filed for her shop registration when FOX31 Denver told her it had expired but as of Tuesday, DORA said a new license for Fancy Cuts is pending because they are investigating this shop.

FOX31 Denver also went into Nail City in Lakewood since their license expired more than one year ago.

Our producer noticed another possible health code violation when she spotted old skin stuck to the pedicure tub. An employee, who claimed to be the owner’s brother, said the tub was cleaned and sanitized as state law requires.

DORA told us that failure to clean and disinfect multiuse items like pedicure tubs is the second most common violation they see. The salon got a license a few days after we confronted them.

Ofelia Duran with DORA said, “The whole reason why laws are created is for consumer protection. It’s the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

Duran oversees the salons’ licensing system and said owners who fail to license their shop often fail at other safety precautions. Duran said, “Are you properly cleaning multiuse implements, are they being cleaned and disinfected? If there is a single use item, is it being reused and if it is, that is a problem.”

The registration, as well as a license for each person, must be posted.

Duran said, “Even when it’s not readily visible, the consumer has the right to ask can I see your license? And they should be able to produce it.” If they can’t, Duran said, “They are violating the law.”

If you don’t see a license or if you notice something that could be a safety issue, file a complaint online. DORA is required by law to respond to complaints.

DORA’s most common nail salon violations include:

  • Not all persons properly licensed
  • Failure to clean and disinfect multiuse items
  • Single use items are not thrown away

Here is a link to DORA’s licensing database. When you get to the page, click on Barber/Cosmetology: Shop Registration.