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Cosmetologists protest bill eliminating certain licensing requirements

Protesters gather at Washington Square Park Jan. 31 to protest a proposed bill that would allow anyone to perform certain hair treatments without a cosmetology license. (Annie Barker, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Cosmetologists and other protesters gathered at Washington Square Park on Sunday to object proposed legislation that would allow a person to perform certain hair treatments without a cosmetology license. 

The bill would exempt an individual from licensure if that person were only to dry, style, or wash hair — so long as they obtain a safety permit and post signage indicating they aren’t licensed. However, cosmetologists argue the legislation would result in deregulation of the cosmetology industry. 

“Cosmetologists have worked hard to upkeep an industry-standard, rigorous schooling, and the safety of our clients,” wrote Devin Johnson, a licensed cosmetologist and master instructor, on the protest event Facebook page. 

Sen. Curtis Bramble, who sponsored the bill, questioned the need for a license, arguing Utahns can blow-dry and style their hair at home. 

“The reality is shampooing, blow-drying and conditioning hair — that’s something every one of us is familiar with,” Bramble told Dave and Dujanovic Thursday. “But as soon as you get paid, then it becomes a problem with public health and safety. That’s a disconnect for me, and licensing was never intended to protect turf.”

In response, Johnson shared a slew of petitions, including one that would ensure salons remain a professional workplace.

“By signing this, we all pledge to never hire unlicensed individuals to do the job that WE are trained to do,” Johnson wrote in a post. “Senate Bill 87, sponsored by Curt Bramble, is an abomination. And we question whether his intent is based on monetary gain.

“These are our ELECTED officials, and they must listen to the people they represent. We will not stop, I will not stop, until our industry, the clients we serve, and our beauty comrades are safe and protected.”

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