Holli Christensen is an entrepreneur and an expert at blow-drying and styling hair. But Arizona regulations kept her from doing what she loves — until she teamed up with the Goldwater Institute to take action.
Hairstyling has been a passion of Holli’s for years. “I’ve been doing hair and makeup for my friends since high school. I always had a knack for it. I would do my friend’s makeup for prom, beautiful updos,” Holli said in a new Goldwater Institute video. She loved doing hair so much that she worked to make it her career—but the state stood in her way. “I actually opened up a blow-dry bar, and quite frankly, it was a huge risk. I wasn’t able to work in my own business because I’m not a licensed cosmetologist.”
Blow-dry salons, where stylists wash, condition, and style a customer’s hair using everyday tools like blow-dryers and curling irons, are becoming increasingly popular. Yet every state except Virginia (and up until just last month, Arizona) requires a state-issued, full cosmetology license to blow-dry and style hair. This results in a regulatory mismatch, forcing a person who wants only to wash and dry hair to invest considerable time and money taking classes on a host of complex services they will not offer. And blow-drying someone’s hair without that license in Arizona was a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
The Goldwater Institute recently released a report about the overregulation of blow-dry stylists, drawing attention to the regulatory mismatch that these workers face, proposing the lowering of these unneeded licensing barriers, and successfully working with people like Holli to advocate for a change in Arizona.
On April 16, 2019, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a law sponsored by Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita that removed the requirement that blow dry salon workers must obtain a license to do their job. Now, entrepreneurs like Holli can get to work without being tangled up in unnecessary government red tape and regulation.
Blow-dry stylists aren’t the only professionals facing government-imposed barriers to employment. In the 1950s, only five percent of jobs required an occupational license. Today, roughly one in four jobs require government permission — and that prevents countless Americans from practicing their profession of choice and moving up the economic ladder. The burden of proving that such restrictions are excessive should not be placed on those who want to earn an honest living; instead, governments should bear the burden of justifying the restrictions, of showing they are needed to protect public health or safety. States should enact a Right to Earn a Living Act to protect freedom of enterprise. By doing so they will ensure that economic opportunity is not merely a promise but a reality.
Read our full report: Tangled: A Commonsense Solution to Stop Blow-Dry Bar Overregulation