Cosmetology exceptions survive senate committee vote
PHOENIX – Need a quick styling? Or has your “do’’ gone flat?
State lawmakers are moving to allow you to pay someone who doesn’t have a license take care of your problem.
Existing law requires those who want to work in beauty salons be licensed and regulated by the state. More to the point, licensing requires at least 1,000 hours of training at a state-licensed school, a process that Dina Uraine, a licensed cosmetologist, said can cost up to $20,000 at a private school.
SB 1401, approved Thursday by the Senate Commerce Committee on a 4-3 vote, would carve out an exception for those who “dry, style, curl, hot iron, or shampoo and condition hair,’’ as long as they’re not using “reactive chemicals’’ to permanently straighten, curl or “alter the structure of the hair.’’ Instead, those that want to open a business to do just that would simply have to post a sign spelling out for customers that their practice is not regulated by the state Board of Cosmetology.
Christina Sandefur, an attorney for the Goldwater Institute, told members of the Senate Commerce Committee there is no real need for state oversight, as there is no danger to public safety.
“After all, people shampoo, they blow dry, they flat-iron their hair in their homes with the exact same products,’’ she said.
But Jeff Koluch, who owns the Studio of Academy and Beauty, which trains cosmetologists, said the comparison to people doing their own hair misses the point.
“The idea that I can do something in my house, with my hairbrush, and be safe is completely unrelated to having one hairbrush pulled through 100 people’s head,’’ he said.
That’s why individuals don’t sanitize their own combs and brushes.
“It’s just my hair,’’ Koluch said.
“Whatever I have, I give back to myself,’’ he continued. “But do I want what 100 other people have or 1,000 people have to come in contact with that brush?’’
Karla Kestner-Clodfelter, representing the Arizona Cosmetology Association, was more graphic with lawmakers about the issue.
“I’ve dealt with lice, with scabies, with ringworm, open wounds to the scalp,’’ she said.
Kestner-Clodfelter, who also owns a business in Tucson, said part of the issue is being able to assess the client for his or her own health. And then there’s the danger to staffers and others, like MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that is resistant to many types of antibiotics.
She told lawmakers if they’re determined to exempt stylists from full-blown cosmetology training they should at least require they have some education on health issues before allowing anyone to hang out a shingle as a stylist.
This is the second bid by Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, to deregulate the practice. She told colleagues she sees the issue as one of economic freedom.
“It’s about job opportunity, getting individuals into the marketplace so that they can earn a living and provide for themselves and their family,’’ she said, all without having to go through the entire cosmetology school with its time and expense.
“Not only does that give them the resources they need to take care of themselves, but it also gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment and motivates them,’’ Ugenti-Rita explained. “That’s why working is so important for the individual.’’
And then there’s the personal angle.
“I actually use it semi-frequently,’’ she said.
The legislation is actually part of a long line of efforts to chip away when someone has to get a cosmetology license.
In 2004 lawmakers agreed that people who do nothing but braid hair for a living do not need state-mandated training and licensing.
Seven years later, facing a lawsuit, the Board of Cosmetology agreed to stop trying to enforce training requirements on those whose total practice consists of plucking eyebrows. That freed up people to open their own practices, often in malls, where they loop a piece of cotton thread around individual eyebrow hairs and pull them out, one by one.
But Clint Bolick, then an attorney for the Goldwater Institute, had no luck in asking judges to block the board from regulating what amounted to “fish pedicures,’’ where clients put their feet into tubs of water with small gara rufa fish – tiny carp with no teeth – to have the dead skin nibbled away. Bolick, who now sits on the Arizona Supreme Court, was unable to convince judges that the practice should be deregulated because it poses no danger to public health.