The rationale for the licensing of personal appearance professionals (and for the training their licensing requires) usually rests on concerns about health and safety — more precisely, the health and safety of consumers or providers of appearance services. This invites a question: how much of the curriculum required for licensing teaches prospective personal appearance practitioners about health and safety? This Article answers that question by analyzing the licensing curricula required by legislation and regulation of 38 U.S. jurisdictions for barbers, cosmetologists, and manicurists. It finds that, on average, roughly 25% of the barber’s and cosmetologist’s curriculum in these jurisdictions teaches prospective practitioners about health and safety; for manicurists, that figure is roughly 40%. More precisely:
Barbers on average must undergo 1,348 hours of training; the average percentage of health and safety training in their curriculum is 25.62%.2
Cosmetologists on average must undergo 1,491 hours of training; the average percentage of health and safety training in their curriculum is 25.45%.3
Manicurists on average must undergo 366 hours of training; the average percentage of health and safety training in their curriculum is 39.79%.4
These findings invite another question: what is the public benefit of the remaining portion of the curriculum — that is, the larger portion of the curriculum — if that remainder is unrelated to health or safety? If the only public benefit of these licensing requirements is public health and safety, and nothing else, then it necessarily follows that the vast majority of training that state licensing schemes require has no public purpose or value. Notably, a reduction in the training requirements that are unrelated to health and safety would presumably benefit the public by allowingan increased number of qualified personal appearance professionals to enter the labor market.
This Article summarizes the requirements for personal appearance training across the United States, provides a way to estimate and measure what portion of a personal appearance curriculum required for licensing is related to health and safety, discusses the results and implications of this measurement, and argues that other proposed justifications for such licensing — those that do not rest on health and safety concerns — are weak or empty. These findings imply that streamlining the licensing requirements for these professionals in order to focus on health and safety training will benefit both consumers and aspiring personal appearance professionals.
John Marshall Law Review