Industry Legislation

Strange But True Beauty Laws

Barbers banned from eating onions. Women barred from cutting their hair without their husband’s consent. No selling nail polish on Sundays. These wacky real-life beauty regulations certainly warrant a chuckle or two.

In Utah, applicants for licensure as a nail technician shall be of good moral character. Anyone out there ever had to send in character references? What would the criteria be? A peek at the licensing requirements for almost anything in this state reveals a similar requirement.

It’s illegal for owners of flamingos to let their pets into barber shops in Juneau, Alaska. Most localities have laws restricting pets from nail salons, beauty parlors, spas, and barber shops unless they are required by a patron for a bona-fide disability. So, taking a sea lion to get a manicure in a North Carolina salon would also be illegal. Some states, such as Oregon, specify that fish in aquariums are exempt. 

Salons in Oregon are not to serve coffee to clients in ceramic mugs. OK, that’s not exactly what the code says. It does demand that if beverages are served, it is done in disposable cups and then thrown away afterwards. If one reads through all 58 pages of rules you will find that a salon may be granted a variance from its safety and infection rules if it can show it will provide adequate public safety. Now that’s one of the sanest regulations around.

In Morrisville, Pa., it has been reported a woman must have a ­permit to wear cosmetics. Whoa, that could hurt retail sales in the salon. Not to worry, this was an old law dating back to Morrisville’s ­religious roots. Nobody is going to throw you in the slammer for painting your toenails or applying a swipe of lip gloss.

A woman is reportedly not allowed to cut her hair without her husband’s permission in Michigan. Cosmetologists aren’t worried about this likely hold-out from colonial-era law that held wives were property of their husbands, and women could not own property.

In Indiana, it’s illegal for a barber to threaten to cut off kids’ ears. Research in cosmetology halts at a dead-end on this one. You must look to the laws governing assault to realize that in most areas it is illegal to threaten to assault people with a weapon.

In Waterloo, Neb., it was illegal in 1910 for barbers to eat onions during working hours. While it’s probably a good practice, making it an ordinance seems extreme. Fortunately, you may now police your own onion-breath.

It is illegal to shave in the center of Main Street in Tylertown, Miss. Well, it’s illegal to do lots of things in the middle of the road and would technically include walking your elephant, training ants, or polishing your fingernails — pretty much anything that would impede the flow of traffic.

Technically, it is illegal to sell nail polish on Sunday in Paramus, N.J. “Blue laws” can be traced to 17th century religious roots and govern what type of enterprise may be conducted on certain days (mainly Sunday). Many such laws have been repealed or sit lonely on the books, unenforced. Pieces of the laws remain in the form of regulating what items (such as alcohol) may be sold during which hours of the day and on which days of the week.


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