California is not abandoning licensing for salon professionals. There’s been a lot of misinformation and hysteria since the state board’s sunset review. As of July 1, 1997, the California State Board of Cosmetology is scheduled to be eliminated, and its duties will transfer to the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Many people have taken this to mean that licensing will no longer be required in the Golden State. But that is not the case.
The concern is not unwarranted. Last year, the DCA indicated, among other proposals, that it might lower educational requirements for cosmetologists. Recently, though, the DCA has backtracked. In a memo written in February 1997, DCA director Marjorie Berte states: “No deregulation is pending or planned by the DCA ...The DCA is not proposing any legislative changes to the Barbering and Cosmetology program at this time.” The DCA reiterates that its primary mission is public safety.
The DCA may not have the chance to do anything if Sen. Richard Polanco of California is successful. The senator has introduced a bill to overturn the sunsetting and reinstate the board. In a letter to the salon industry, Polanco said that ultimately sunsetting the board could “end professional salons as we know them.” The American Beauty Association and the Nail Manufacturers Council are also in favor of the board and believe that the current educational requirements are in the industry’s best interest.
Our industry has gotten a little jumpy about the “intrusions” of uniformed state governments. That explains the outcry about California. But, let’s hope that all the current commotion moves the industry forward: that if the board is abolished, then the DCA will be zealous in enforcing high sanitation standards and cracking down on unlicensed activity. If the structure is maintained, the industry needs to prove that it CAN police itself and then use this newfound attention on improving the lot of salon professionals.