Personal Freedom

Blow Dry Bars: Another Successful Example for Licensure Reform

Can a state be “open for business” if the government makes it too difficult to work a job?

Utah is referred to as a “Right to Work” state but has become riddled with a plethora of restrictive licensing laws. Utah even had the 13th most burdensome licensing laws in the country according to the Institute for Justice’s report. These laws make it overly difficult for Utahns in certain trades or skill sets to pursue a well-paying career.  

Professional licensing laws, such as those for cosmetology, add an increased financial burden to individuals who must not only attend unnecessarily long training programs, but also pay for said training, tests, and licensing fees. This financial burden may be detrimental and possibly an insurmountable roadblock to struggling families simply trying to improve their situation.

Restrictive licensing laws too often punish individuals who are well-qualified to perform their jobs. Jestina Clayton, who had been braiding hair since she was five, was even punished for not holding the proper cosmetology license. She sued and won her case on the basis of her constitutional right to earn a living.

But the fight to reform cosmetology licensing didn’t end there. That’s where the recent trend of blow-dry bars enters the scene. 

Women can have their hair washed, blown dry, and styled at a blow-dry bar. These services do not involve cutting, chemicals, or other treatment options — yet those providing this service are still required by law to pay a school and sit for hundreds of hours of classes they do not need or want.

Senate Bill 87, sponsored by Senator Curtis Bramble, gets to the very heart of why there is any occupational licensure. His bill cuts the requirements for these blow-dry bar services to a two-hour health and safety course. 

This legislation does not put customers in any danger, but it does create the ability for more individuals to become employed and avoid all of the challenges surrounding the lengthy licensing process.

SB 87 passed with flying colors (not before a lot of protectionist arguments were made against it) and has already been put into effect.

Senator Bramble isn’t stopping there. He is teaming up with Governor Spencer Cox to work on comprehensive occupational licensure reforms. The end goal will be to come up with a way whereby occupations that are overburdened with licensure regulations (like blow-dry bars), or that don’t need licensure at all, can be treated with a lighter touch to get more people working and get the government out of the way.