July 18, 2019

Arizona’s requirement that its blow-dry stylists obtain an unnecessary and expensive license to do their jobs is about to be a thing of the past, and Arizona salon owner Anthony Dynar thinks it’s about time.

“States are implementing stringent requirements for extensive, expensive schooling and licensing perform entry-level tasks,” Dynar writes in a new paper. “These antiquated regulations are stifling the creative entrepreneurial spirit that is the heartbeat of the beauty community.” Dynar, who is also a licensed cosmetologist, writes that it’s clear to see how overregulation hurts these stylists, keeping them from earning an honest living.

Opponents of the deregulation—signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in April, making Arizona just the second state without a license requirement for blow-dry stylists—maintained that the regulations were in place to protect public health, but what they really did is just “line the pockets of state governments, cosmetology schools and salons.” Training costs a lot of money and time. Before the new law was passed, Arizona blow-dry stylists were required to receive 1,000 hours of training, learning many skills they never use on the job. These hours of training were greater than the training required for law enforcement officers or EMTs—professions which have a clear and undeniable connection to public safety.

And furthermore, these regulations “reinforce[e] a cruel cycle of poverty…prevent[ing] hardworking people from earning an honest living.” As Dynar points out, the cost to attend a state-licensed school averages a whopping $15,000. The standard entry-level wage for these stylists is about $15,000 per year—so it’s challenging to make the case that pursuing styling as a career is financially worthwhile when the barriers to entry are so high.

The Goldwater Institute has been at the forefront of pushing this licensing reform for blow-dry stylists. Earlier this year, we released a paper urging states to eliminate the license requirement for these stylists while still proving for government oversight. As Goldwater’s Jenna Bentley and Christina Sandefur show in the paper, most states’ licensing requirements on blow-dry stylists create a “regulatory mismatch”—forcing stylists to invest significant time and money taking classes on a variety of services they won’t even offer. While Arizona has since moved to end this requirement, there remain 48 states with blow-dry licensing requirements still on the books.

Arizona’s new blow-dry law will take effect in late August. With the Grand Canyon State leading the way at doing away with this unneeded government permission slip for stylists, other states would be wise to do the same. “Instead of punishing an industry predominantly filled with female workers, we should be embracing the entrepreneurial growth and the jobs that go along with it, as Goldwater encourages,” Dynar writes. “Blow-dry bars increase competition, which drives down costs for clients. These shops also give aspiring stylists a tangible way to enter the industry and build their skills.”

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