By: Richard L. Smith
A licensed cosmetologist and skincare specialist in Union County, Ms. Carolina Nunez, has been ordered to pay $22,500 in civil penalties for allegedly performing invasive aesthetic treatments typically conducted by licensed medical professionals, according to an announcement by Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs.
NJ Attorney General Platkin said Nunez, the owner of the now-closed Carolina Nunez Skincare salon, was accused of offering and performing several services exceeding the scope of her cosmetology/skincare license, thus practicing medicine without a license.
According to AG Platkin, these services included dermal filler injections, Botox injections, cosmetic tattooing, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments (commonly known as "vampire facials"), and the use of a hyaluronic pen. Moreover, Nunez allegedly offered cosmetology services in an unlicensed shop, violating professional rules for Cosmetology and Hairstyling.
To address these allegations, Nunez agreed to a Final Consent Order filed with both the State Board of Medical Examiners and the Cosmetology Board.
This order stipulates that Nunez must cease performing medical treatments and any services that exceed the scope of her skincare license.
She is also required to pay a $20,000 civil penalty assessed by the Medical Board and a $2,500 civil penalty assessed by the Cosmetology Board.
The ongoing enforcement actions in this area are designed to curtail unlicensed medical practice in "medical spa" settings, where procedures involving needles, syringes, and prescription medications like Botox and lidocaine are administered.
Several licensed professionals in the state have faced enforcement actions this year in connection with alleged unlicensed medical practice in these settings.
Carolina Nunez is the latest individual to address these allegations, with Marisol Cabrera and Isabella Dos Santos also facing enforcement actions earlier this year related to similar practices.
- In June 2023, Marisol Cabrera, a licensed cosmetologist who owned and operated the now-shuttered Marysol's Beauty Works in Union Township, was reprimanded by the Cosmetology Board and required to pay an aggregate civil penalty of $17,650 assessed by the Cosmetology Board, the Medical Board, and the Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy ("Massage Board") to resolve allegations that she exceeded the scope of her professional license and practiced medicine and massage therapy without a license. Cabrera allegedly performed numerous medical and non-medical procedures at her salon, including incisional drainage, lymphatic drainage massages, ultrasound, radiofrequency, and cavitation machines. Further, Cabrera allowed an unlicensed individual to perform cosmetology services in the salon, violating the professional rules for Cosmetology and Hairstyling.
- In February 2023, Isabella Dos Santos, a licensed cosmetologist and licensed massage and bodywork therapist who owned and operated the now-shuttered Katica Body Contour salon in Elizabeth, consented to a five-year suspension of her massage and bodywork therapy license and agreed to pay an aggregate civil penalty of $20,000 assessed by the Cosmetology Board, the Medical Board, and the Massage Board to resolve allegations that she exceeded the scope of her professional licenses and practiced medicine without a license. Dos Santos allegedly performed numerous medical and non-medical procedures at her spa, which included facial fillers, vampire facials, micro pigmentation, chemical peels, lymphatic drainage massages, ear candling, teeth whitening, and laser hair removal. Further, Dos Santos offered cosmetology services in a shop not licensed by the Cosmetology Board, violating the professional rules.
The investigation into Nunez's alleged misconduct began in April 2022 when the Division's Enforcement Bureau conducted a routine inspection of Nunez's salon.
Investigators observed and photographed injectable drugs, hypodermic needles and syringes, used needles in a sharps container, and other equipment not typical of a cosmetology practice.
Records revealed that services such as "lipo laser" and laser hair removal, which exceeded the scope of a valid cosmetology practice, were being performed.
Nunez was also found to offer platelet-rich plasma injection treatment and Botox injections, which are considered the practice of medicine and beyond the scope of a cosmetology license.
The matter was investigated by the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs. During the inspection of Nunez's shop, investigators contacted the Union Township Health and Zoning Department, resulting in the shop's certificate of occupancy being revoked.