A recently introduced bill will kill controversial licensing requirement for independent makeup and hair stylists

Time and time again, evidence has shown that occupational licensing often exists not to protect the public, but rather incumbent producers from competition. By discouraging new entrants, incumbents are able to restrict supply and charge higher prices for goods and services.

Consider this: just recently the state cosmetology board has threatened people that do styling and makeup services for weddings and other special events to get a salon license. Why anyone would need a salon license to do makeup for weddings is not clear.

But in 2018, the board arbitrarily ruled freelance stylists and makeup artists need to have a license, backing up its threat with enforcement action detailed by MPR.

The Minnesota Board of Cosmetology, a state board that handles licensing and salon inspections, issued a bulletin that said anyone getting paid to do freelance hair and makeup for special events would need the same license as a manager of a salon, which requires thousands of hours of training in cosmetology. The freelancers would also need a special events permit, according to the board.

Since then, the board has sent cease-and-desist letters to makeup freelancers who don’t comply and fined others thousands of dollars.

The new state regulation has created havoc for hundreds of small business owners, according to testimony at the legislature included in the publication Session Daily.

That decision threatens many business owners such as Cristina Ziemer who has done freelance and special event makeup for 12 years, never thinking it was illegal or that she would need to pay for hundreds of hours of schooling…

“Bridal makeup is my bread and butter,” Ziemer said [at a recent House hearing]. “If the law is not changed, I will have to shut down my business and so will over a thousand other women across the state. This is urgent and needs to be addressed now.”

Fortunately, a bipartisan measure introduced in both the Minnesota Senate (SF2898) and House (HF3202) essentially takes the Board of Cosmetology to the woodshed. It would nix the need for a mandatory permit and exempt makeup and hair services from state regulation.

She [Debbie Carlson] told committee members the cosmetology board’s actions have disrupted a “flourishing bridal and makeup industry in Minnesota” and that there are nearly 40,000 licensed beauty professionals in the state as of 2018.

“Shockingly, of that number there are only 37 licensed professionals holding [the permit] that the beauty industry requires for them to operate legally,” she said, noting that there are more than 10,000 bridal events that happen each year in the state.

An industry representative pushed back in favor of continued regulation.

But Jim Hirst, a representative of the Salon and Spa Professional Association, said his trade group has “deep concerns and reservations” about the bill.

“State policy is anything pertaining to cosmetology is best served by licensing the practice for the health and safety of the people,” he said.

No evidence of health issues resulting from makeup and hair stylists’ work prior to the imposition of regulations was presented at the hearing. But members of the state cosmetology board might need a little touch of makeup to cover their embarrassment if the proposed legislation becomes law.