The simplest and best way to find a reputable beauty salon or slimming center is to ask friends, family, or coworkers for a recommendation. Someone we could trust.

As a consumer, we tend to forget one thing. Whether we select a beauty center through word of mouth or by advertising, or just take a chance on a new salon, take time to ask about the worker’s experience with all the services that interest you. Seek their professional opinion, but don’t let that be the final word. If you don’t feel comfortable with what the operator suggests, don’t feel pressured to get the service at that time. A second opinion can be just as important here as in other areas of your life. The best question ever is to ask them is, are you certified?

The beauty profession is one, which takes passion, creativity, and education and training to ensure consumer and professional safety. That is why right now, to become a licensed beauty professional, the operator must complete an educational program, pass certain training, courses and examination – to protect consumer safety. In Malaysia, the professional beauty industry is yet to be regulated. What does this mean? It simply means that the consumers aren’t fully protected, and we are the one who will be badly impacted with should something go wrong.

So, we are entering this adventure at our very own risk. Some may argue there is no real safety risk in deregulation market like Malaysia; that services can simply be provided to consumers at their own risk. Consumers’ trust that the beauty professional providing their service is educated, trained, and licensed – simply put, that they know what they are doing and are not putting them at a safety risk. Try explaining that theory to a woman who had the unfortunate experience of having her eyebrows waxed at a nail salon.  She suffered third degree burns, developed a serious infection, and is now awaiting plastic surgery to attempt to repair the damage done to her face. Speak to the consumers that have suffered from a chemical burn, or contracted a disease, a highly contagious and difficult to treat bacterial infection easily passed with sharp tools that have not been properly sanitized.

Besides getting the recommendation from a trusted friend on which beauty salon we should go, asking the operator about their certification is extremely important too.

As a dynamic professional person for example, you’d like a change but aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for. Maybe you’d like a permanent wave for your straight hair or a chemical relaxer for your curly hair. You might be thinking about getting a completely different hair color. Or maybe you’re thinking of getting artificial fingernails or having a relaxing pedicure. If you’re not sure what you want, the best thing to do is be observant. Look through magazines and cut out photos of styles and colors you find pleasing. Be a people watcher. If you see a hairstyle or color you like on someone, notice the wearer’s face shape or eye and skin coloring. Is it close to your own? Take notes so that when you decide to take that big step, you’ll have an idea of what you want and can discuss your options with your operator.

Talk with your operator before the service begins so that you both have an understanding of the desired results. Be honest. If you already have color or other chemicals on your hair, tell the operator. If you have had problems in the past with artificial nails, tell the manicurist. Tell the operator if you are taking any medications, since this could affect the outcome of the service. You know, nail salons are not all the same – just like restaurants there are the fine dining restaurants and then there are cheap fast-food outlets. And just like choosing a restaurant, choosing the wrong nail salon could result in pain, permanent damage or illness. Before agreeing to the service, look around the salon. Check the training certifications the operator had undergone, and ask her “Are you certified to do this and can I have a look at your certification please?” Don’t be shy. You deserve to know before taking a risk heading for that service from her. If she can’t produce one, then you need to have courage to walk away. Misadventure could’ve happen if you proceed.

When an adventure went wrong somewhere, as a consumer we still have the rights to report unsanitary salons for example, or misconduct, the spread of infection, injury, or any other matter of concern to the respective authority.  These authorities can conduct an inspection and administer appropriate sanctions.  However by this time, it is already too late as we can only do damage control.

When an industry, such as Beauty in Malaysia isn’t regulated, any well financially background individuals without any formal education or training can rent a space, open a beauty salon, hire several passionate but unqualified workers to run the operations and be ready to open for business. These individuals would have no idea what to look for regarding lice, open cuts/wounds, and the many other health hazards out there; would not know how to properly sanitize their space, or disinfect their tools; understand the proper use and application of chemicals on the hair, scalp, or skin; or, how to properly handle tools and use them on a client like us.

If a consumer is injured during a service they have the legal right to contact an attorney and file a claim for damages. In our industry, these operators need have insurance that cover these types of claims – just like a doctor would. While there are some who have that, many don’t especially those who aren’t licensed to provide the service. So, if a consumer were injured by untrained operators, without liability insurance, and filed that same claim, the consumers would be left holding the bill. If the operator gets sued, they will then have to take care of the damages themselves.

Consumers need to be careful. At the same time, industry players especially the licensed beauty operators need to play their roles as well. They need to elevate the industry through their best practices resulting from a formal education, training and certifications necessary to meet the needs and expectations of the consumer. Certifications exist to ensure a formal and proper training is in place, to protect the public.  Yes, today the consumer has the ability to file a complaint, and a salon can be inspected but prevention is always better than cure, isn’t it?

As a consumer we need to be very proactive. By asking this are you certified question, it will open the industry’s eyes to prioritize consumer protections. It will also push them to go for the right certifications. Accredited certification that is.

Why accredited certifications matters? While certifications will showcase to the consumers that the operators really know the job well and can deliver it with quality in mind, accredited certifications would then be a physical proof that the work delivered follows the best practices or certain standards of the industry. It will help these operators to improve their performance for the benefits of consumers. Accredited certifications will strengthen the quality by helping them to:

Access their services and find out where to focus their improvement efforts,
Develop standardized processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs,
Mitigate risk and support the uptake of best practices,
Build a culture of quality, safety and excellence,
Identify leading and commendable practices,
Publicly promote their commitment to offering safe, high quality services.

Remember when you graduate and look for a job, your first employer took into consideration the school you attended and if the government accredits it. If your degree is from an institution that has questionable accreditation, your employer will question the validity of your degree and your potential as a good job candidate. Similar to the beauty industry where we are the consumer, it is advisable to choose the beauty center or salon wisely. Remember to ask this question to that beauty salon,

Are you certified?

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