Frequently asked questions: Cosmetologists

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Training and exams

I only completed my training in Washington State and didn’t become licensed. Will you certify my hours?
No, hours are only certified if you’re licensed.
Do I need to take a written and performance exam to get my license?
Yes, with the following exceptions:
  • Reciprocity — If you’re currently licensed in another state or country and you have passed the state-approved written and performance examinations, you aren’t required to re-take the exams to get a license in Washington State.
  • Instructors with an education degree — Instructor applicants who hold a degree in education from an accredited postsecondary institution and who are otherwise qualified aren’t required to take the written or performance exams.
Where can I take my written and performance exams?
All written and performance exams are given by National Testing Network (Ergometrics). For more information, please visit their website at
Who can I contact to learn more about the apprenticeship program?
You can contact the Washington State Cosmetology Apprenticeship Program.


For information about getting, renewing, or updating a license, see:

Master esthetics endorsement

How do I meet the grandfathering requirements for the master esthetician endorsement?

You’ll qualify to apply for the master esthetics endorsements if you meet the requirements below by January 1, 2015:

  • Have an active esthetician license in good standing.
  • Pay any necessary license fees.
  • Provide proof you have satisfied 1 or more of the following requirements:
    • A national or international diploma or certification in esthetics that recognized by the state of Washington.
    • A license in Washington as an instructor in esthetics for a minimum of 3 years.
    • Experience or education in medium depth peels and experience or education in laser operation:
      1. Provide proof of either 7 hours of training in medium depth peels or 35 hours of experience providing medium depth peels under the delegation of a licensed physician, advance registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant or other licensed professional whose license permits such delegation or supervision.
      2. Provide proof of either 75 hours of training in laser operation or 150 hours of experience working as a laser operator under the delegation of a licensed physician, advance registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant or other licensed professional whose license permits such delegation or supervision.
I’m a licensed esthetician who doesn’t provide laser services or medium depth peels. Do I need to complete any additional hours or get a master esthetics endorsement?
No, if you don’t use lasers or provide medium depth peels you don’t need a master esthetics endorsement and you won’t need to complete any additional hours.
Will the master esthetics endorsement increase my license fees?
No, the license fees will remain the same. A master esthetics endorsement is the same price as any other endorsement: $55. It will replace your current esthetician endorsement on your license.
If I’m enrolled in a 600-hour esthetics program before January 1, 2014, do I need to complete the 750 hour requirement to qualify for the exams?
No, if you’re in a 600-hour program before January 1, 2014, you’ll only need to complete the 600 hour requirement. If you enroll after January 1, 2014, you’ll need to complete the 750-hour requirement.
How do I know if the training I got in another state or country will qualify me for the master esthetics endorsement?
When you submit your application and documents, it will go through an administrative review. We’ll review each application individually for proof you have a license in good standing or a diploma or certificate from an approved association.

All licenses

Can I laminate my license?
Yes, as long as you make sure both the front and back are visible through the laminate.
How do I get an additional copy of my license?
Please see How to get a copy of your current WA license.
I’m moving and am currently licensed in Washington State. How do I get a license in another state?
Contact the cosmetology licensing board in the state you’re moving to. We don’t provide license certification letters, but the state where you’re moving can get your Washington license status at our online license search.
What forms of payment do you accept?
  • If you’re renewing online we’ll accept a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express debit or credit card for payment.
  • All other payments must be made with a check or money order, payable to the Department of Licensing.
When can I start working?
You can start working after you have received the appropriate license(s). The law requires all licenses to be posted. We’ll issue a license after we receive all required documents and fees (where applicable).

Health and safety

Why do I need to use a 10% bleach solution?
Household bleach is made of 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite (52,500 ppm); therefore, a 1% bleach solution is 525 ppm. Some experiments have shown that 200 ppm (or even less in some experiments) will inactivate most viruses. Therefore it would seem that a 1% solution of household bleach might be adequate. However, hypochlorite is substantially and quickly inactivated in the presence of organic matter. So, although 1% may be adequate for surface decontamination, a 10% dilution may be a better choice for inactivation of virus when one is cleaning out areas which have been infested by rodents. This 10% concentration is currently supported in Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Infection Control recommendations. For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.
How do I know what a 10% bleach solution is?
Special Pathogens Branch recommends a 10% bleach solution be used to inactivate hantaviruses. (A 10% solution corresponds to 1½ cups of household bleach per gallon of water, or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.) For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.
Is there an equivalent product that can be used instead of the 10% bleach solution?
Yes, you can use a product that is registered with the EPA as a disinfectant that contains demonstrated virucidal, fungicidal, and germicidal properties. For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.
How can I tell if a disinfectant is acceptable?
Read the product information on the label or on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for information on disinfection properties of the product. To be acceptable, the product must be an EPA registered, hospital-grade disinfectant with demonstrated bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties. For details see the state minimum safety and sanitation standards.

Technical assistance

Where can I get technical assistance?
The Cosmetology Section provides technical assistance to applicants and licensees if requested. To schedule an appointment, please email us at During a technical assistance visit you can learn about:
  • State licensing procedures
  • Compliance with regulation
  • Safety and sanitation procedures
  • Routine inspections
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