Georgia cosmetologists fighting bill that gets rid of certain licensing for hair, makeup artists

A bill that would remove certain cosmetology licensing requirements is headed to a final vote in Georgia’s House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 354 would remove state requirements for licenses to provide certain services like makeup, shampooing, and blow-drying.

Recent cosmetology school graduate Jacky Gibson is worried about the possible public health implications.

"There are chemicals involved, people can get burned," Gibson said. "It’s very dangerous."

Gibson just completed about 1,500 hours of training at Style Mobb University Cosmetology School in College Park.

Style Mobb's owner, Tiffane Nicol, said there’s much more that goes into training cosmetologists than people often think.

"We have at least 400 hours that are invested in disease control, sanitation, understanding the anatomy of the body," Nicole said. "We are the only licensed profession that is allowed to touch the body outside of a doctor."

State Sen. Larry Walker, a Republican who represents the Perry district, said the bill is part of a broader initiative led by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones to cut government red tape.

"We want to allow people to get to the workforce quicker and eliminate any barriers we can," Walker said. "Georgia has some of the most onerous licensing requirements in the country."

Walker said he does not want to get rid of cosmetology licenses altogether, just for what he would consider more menial tasks in salons and barbershops.

"There is value to the training, clearly," Walker said. "But I see it as somebody who is low-income and can’t get to school right away, they can go ahead and start working."

However, Gibson pointed out there is a lot that can go wrong.

"You can get your hair done, and your hair follicles can close up because somebody used a dirty comb on you."

Nicol, who Walker pointed out has a financial incentive for the licenses to stay as-is, argued that the focus should be on assisting those low-income individuals to get the necessary training.

"It just doesn’t make enough sense," she said. "It sounds like you want workers, not professionals."

The bill is on the House floor for a final vote, before heading to the governor’s desk.

It’s not clear when that could happen.

Opponents of the bill plan to rally at the State Capitol next Friday.