New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Wednesday announced two dozen felony charges against the former owner of an Albuquerque beauty salon who illegally provided "vampire facials" to unsuspecting clients, two of whom later tested positive for HIV after paying $100.
Maria Ramos de Ruiz, 59, former owner of VIP Beauty Salon and Spa, was charged with racketeering, fraud, practicing medicine without a license, money laundering, tax evasion, and willful failure to collect and pay taxes.
The case came to the attention of investigators at the New Mexico Department of Health in August 2018 after a complaint by a person newly living with HIV who had recently visited the VIP Salon and Spa for a vampire facial. The person had no known risk factors for HIV. The Albuquerque Journal reported that when investigators visited the spa, they found a horror house of unsanitary conditions, including dirty needles, blood dumped in a kitchen sink, illegal prescription drugs, unlicensed equipment, and more. Agents for the Department of Health also noted bogus certificates and diplomas adorning the walls, including a fictitious degree from the University of Phoenix. Ramos de Ruiz did have a cosmetology license, but it expired in 2013. Health officials closed the VIP Salon and Spa in September 2018. A second client was found to have tested positive for HIV in 2019.
The "vampire facial" procedure is highly popular within celebrity circles. Kim Kardashian famously underwent the procedure, although she later expressed regret for what she described as a very painful experience.
The process involves extracting blood from the patient and, using a centrifuge to separate regenerative platelet-rich plasma. The patient’s skin is the subjected to microdermabrasion and then covered with a mask made of PRP.
While the description and pictures of the procedure look frightening, many experts say the procedure is safe when conducted properly by qualified and licensed medical providers. According to Balderas, though, Ramos de Ruiz was neither licensed nor qualified.
“Individuals who jeopardize the health and safety of New Mexican families must be held accountable,” Balderas said in a statement announcing the charges. “We look forward to presenting this case at trial.”