Utah cosmetologists fight against hair styling deregulation bill

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The Utah State Legislature is considering a bill that would deregulate certain styling services in Utah salons. (Hannah Miner)

The Utah Legislature is considering a bill that would deregulate hair styling services that previously required a license to perform.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. SB87 would take certain styling services such as washing, blow-drying and curling hair and open them up to individuals without a cosmetology license.

The bill would still require stylists without a license to receive a hair safety permit from a hair safety program.

Cosmetologists around the state rose up to oppose the bill, staging a protest on Jan. 31 at Washington Square Park in Salt Lake City. Many felt the bill would cause significant harm to both customers and stylists.

Devin Johnson, a licensed cosmetologist at Haus of Flint in Draper, felt the bill would cause major concerns to health and safety of customers. “Our education covers many things, it isn’t just technique,” Johnson said. “We learned human biology and anatomy as well as how to curb infectious disease.”

Bramble did consider these concerns on the legislature floor. “A facility that would be exempt from the cosmetology licensing would still be subject to the regulation of the department of health,” he said.

A Lehi-based libertarian group called the Libertas Institute expressed support for the bill. “The cosmetology industry is one that is highly burned by licensure — and the existing licensees, including the schools that are paid to train them, fight efforts to reduce these legal requirements. Over the years, they have fought reductions in licensure burdens in order to protect their economic status quo,” the institute wrote on a blog post. “Requiring 1,600 hours of classes at a cosmetology school does not make sense for all situations.”

Johnson disagreed, explaining her own time in cosmetology school did not feel like enough. “There’s a lot of things we need to cover and a lot of education we need to receive in order to be successful.”

The bill would be specifically helpful to blow dry bars, an urban trend beginning to make its way to Utah. Stylists at these salons simply wash, dry, and style the client’s hair without performing more complicated skills like cutting and coloring.

The bill has passed 5-1 through a Senate committee and will now continue despite the fight from many cosmetologists.

“What I would say to someone who doesn’t have a strong opinion on the topic is that it’s important to listen to professionals no matter what. We’re professionals for a reason,” Johnson said. “They should probably ask what their stylist thinks.”

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