Licensed nail technicians and nails-only schools and their students were notified by letter in mid-April that the Alabama Board of Cosmetology was reviewing the provisions and authorization of Alabama’s managing manicurist, manicure instructor, manicure salon, and manicure school licenses.

The investigation began in 1995 when state auditors and legal counsel working on Alabama’s continuing sunset review process began to question the way the state had used its administrative procedures act to issue the licenses.

“... I have reviewed Title 34, Chapter 7 of the Alabama Code in an effort to find the actual authority for the agency to issue the above listed licenses... while Board Rule 250-´-2 sets fees for the issuance of such licenses, those fees are not included in the Code of Alabama 1973, Section 34-17, which lists the fees the agency can charge,” states Randy Reaves, Alabama Board of Cosmetology legal counsel.

Lora Hill, executive director for the Alabama Board of Cosmetology explains further: “Alabama’s administrative procedures act doesn’t allow for the creation of a licensing fee structure. That can only be done by law. Even though manicuring is under the cosmetology umbrella, there is no provision in the current law for the state to create a fee for licenses that apply directly to manicuring.”

Based on Reaves’ legal findings, the board decided to suspend the issuance of new licenses and return all new applications until the state legislature passes a bill that makes the licenses part of state law. It started doing so on April 6, 1998. “We regret this action,” says Hill, who notes that manicure apprenticeships and manicure student licenses will remain valid and will continue to be issued.

Alabama nail technicians are concerned that if the licenses are not reinstated and the policies and procedures not updated, nails in Alabama could return to pre-licensing status. “We used to have to work under a ‘managing cosmetologist’ license just to do nails,” explains Tina Ciesla, owner/nail technician at Blooming Nails in Birmingham, Ala. “Doing away with these ‘specialty’ licenses puts nail technicians right back in the corner of a hair salon like Madge,” says Ciesla.

“It is frightening that our own [state legislature] doesn’t seem to recognize the differences between hair and nail salons — so much so that they would try to impose rules for cosmetologists on us,” says April Hall, a managing nail technician at In The Nails in Huntsville, Ala.

For now, concerned industry members, such as Ciesla and Carol Helms, a nail technician and independent educator who works for CLM Distributors in Birmingham, are helping to create a set of guidelines for the nail industry that will not only protect the licenses, but help upgrade the entire profession.

They plan to include more school hours for a license, continuing education standards, outlawing MMA use on nails, improving salon air quality, setting drill use guidelines, and upgrading the licensing exam.

The state legislature doesn’t come back into session until Spring 1999, unless the governor calls a special session. “All current licenses are considered valid until the next renewal, which is in the fall of 1999. At that time, we will be required to have a managing cosmetologist on the floor full-time to operate our nails-only salons unless the guidelines are set and a bill is passed,” says Ciesla. Because the state legislature will not yet be back into session, this does not seem likely, and so Ciesla and others in her situation play a waiting game to see what will happen next.

“This licensing situation should have been addressed in 1995 when the sunset review began,” Hill says, “but now I hope we can address these concerns with a well-written set of guidelines that can be included in a bill that we can send to the legislature.”

Nail professionals willing to volunteer their time or expertise to develop the set of guidelines that will be proposed to become Alabama law in 1999, should write to the Alabama Board of Cosmetology, RSA Union Building, 100 N. Union St., Ste. 320, Montgomery, AL 36130-1750, or call Carol Helms of CLM distributors at (800) 262-0337 (or e-mail her at for more information).

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