Over the years, communities have banned everything from unusual haircuts for children in school to levels of undress in public. Our ideas of decency have morphed continually and our bodies of laws are in flux as we stretch our freedoms of expression. At first glance, these strange laws may seem totally bogus. A little research yields most are permutations of a real law… either past or present.

All joking aside, it’s a good idea to download a current copy of your city and state’s guidelines. Brush up on what’s changed. If you hear about a seemingly far-fetched regulation, do some research to see where the information originated and how it influences your business. As our body of regulations expands exponentially, the number of compliance issues for salons also expands.

It’s illegal to give your boyfriend a set of nail enhancements in Ohio. This one sprouted from Ohio’s list of prohibited acts, which says, “No person shall practice a branch of cosmetology, for pay, free, or otherwise, without a license.” Therefore, technically, it’s true, but it would also be against the rules to trade a manicure for a handbag if you don’t have a license. States have attempted to make it clear that they don’t tolerate unlicensed beauty businesses.

In Virginia, it’s illegal to have a window in the salon bathroom without a screen. Totally true! This wouldn’t be funny, except that there is no mention of where the window is located (height) or if the window can be opened. This probably started as a safety precaution, but one can’t help but wonder why screens would be unnecessary in other areas of the salon.

Now we know why all those warnings are on our tools. In case you didn’t read the warning against blow-drying your hair while taking a soak, here is an addition to common sense. In Pensacola, Fla., a woman can be fined (only after death) for being electrocuted in a bathtub while using self-beautification utensils. Most states have laws against suicide.

Be careful just how good you make your clients look. In Mobile, Ala., it is illegal to howl at ladies within the city limits. Now, you wouldn’t want to cause a disturbance, would you? While, the bad behavior of men on the street will continue to be prosecuted when it constitutes harassment, assault, or stalking, go ahead and help your clients “primp to perfection” — you are not doing anything wrong.

In Virginia Beach, Va., or Moline, Ill., you had better give really good directions to first-time clients or they could get a traffic ticket. Technically true. Both localities have ordinances against “cruising.” The law was enacted to help alleviate bottlenecks on the strip during the heavy visitor season. It’s against the law to drive by the same place on Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach within 30 minutes.

It’s against the law to fall asleep in salons in Florida and Ohio. Before you start looking for the police to start writing citations to your blissful pedicure clients who may have dozed off, realize that it’s all in the wording. The origin of this permutation of the cosmetology code can be traced to a clause that prohibits any person from sleeping in any room used, wholly or in part, as a salon or school of cosmetology. The laws were designed (in way-back land) to prevent prostitution and residential occupation of salons.

[PAGEBREAK]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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