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February 6 2018

Blow-Drying without a License Can Carry Jail Time in Arizona

by Charlotte Hays

In Arizona, remarkably, blow-drying somebody's hair without a license could lead to up to six months in jail.

It takes about a thousand hours of training to obtain the license. The source of support for this stringent blow-drying requirement will come as no surprise: cosmetologists who seek to put up barriers to entry into their field and thus reduce competition.

Brandy Wells, the only "public member" (she is not a board-certified cosmetologist and has no connection to a cosmetology school) of the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology, threw her support to House Bill 2011, which would remove the blow-drying requirements. As Reason reports, the response was emphatic:

"I've been called a [deleted], a bitch, an ass, trashy, a puppet, a pawn, repugnant," Wells says. "And my favorite: 'your logic on deregulation of cosmetology is much like your hair, dull and flat.'"

. . .

Unlicensed blow-drying will "hurt society," said one salon-owner who spoke to the committee. "The possibility of a health crisis will rest on your shoulders, and your scalps," offered another. Other testifiers worried about the potential for burnt skin and damaged hair, and one went even further by reading the manufacturer's warning on a curling iron: "It could burn eyes!" It went on like that for well over an hour (watch the video here).

Donna Aune, executive director of the cosmetology board, warned the committee that delicensing blow-drying would allow untrained individuals to use dangerous chemicals on the scalps of unsuspecting consumers. She was either unfamiliar with the actual proposal or deliberately trying to mislead. The bill exempts only blow-drying, curling, shampooing, and other hair styling services from the state's cosmetology licensing requirements, as long as the service does not involve any chemicals—like those used for perms.

Diana Ellis, who said she had 34 years of experience as a hairstylist, put the cherry on top.

"If there are unlicensed stylists that work in these bars, they are going to take a lot of work from us," Ellis told the committee. "I think that's just really unfair."

What's really unfair is using the state, via frivolous licensing requirements, to eliminate competition. Whether it's charter schools, ride-sharing, or blow-drying, established providers tend to see going to the government for regulations as the way to handle newcomers. 

This reduces the options available to the public--and it keeps talented people who otherwise could get an entry level job on the sidelines. 

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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