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State lawmakers consider how much training hairstylists need

Most people who aren't in the hairstyling business don't realize how much training and licensing is required to be able to work in an Arizona salon. Currently, a person must have 1,600 hours of training to obtain a cosmetology license.

One state senator who believes that if someone is content to "dry, style, arrange, dress, curl, hot iron or shampoo and condition hair" shouldn't need that level of training. Therefore, she proposed legislation that would ease requirements for those stylists.

That proposal was initially met with a strong backlash from cosmetology schools that offer this training as well as from stylists who have earned their cosmetology license. A key argument was that stylists without appropriate training could create a public health risk -- potentially spreading disease among customers.

The senator (Michelle Ugenti-Rita) and others in favor of the legislation proposed a compromise: All hairstylists would be required to take a class covering infection protection and sanitation to be developed by the Board of Cosmetology. The senator (Tyler Pace) who came up with the compromise said, "This will help protect consumers from infections spreading and also help those who are doing the blow drying identify any of the skin issues or potential infections or sanitation issues that they would face in this industry."

Late last month, senators approved the amended SB 1401. Sen. Ugenti-Rita acknowledged that the Board of Cosmetology had prevailed. She contends, however, that that the board can continue to make its own requirements for would-be stylists who don't seek a license -- such as how long this health and safety class can take and what grade is required. She said, "I'm going to trust that they're going to be reasonable...[and] develop a class that is designed to educate those who want to blow dry and style hair about infectious disease and sanitation but that doesn't go overboard and now becomes a barrier to entry."

The proposed legislation still has to be considered and voted on by the Arizona House.

Salon owners need to keep abreast of changes to the law to ensure that their employees meet the state and other training and licensing requirements to offer whatever services they're providing. Otherwise, they can find themselves at risk for fines and lawsuits. If you have questions or concerns, it may be wise to consult an attorney.

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