Submitted by Elizabeth on 05/16/2013 - 11:31

Regulation and licensure of beauty professionals is a vital component to keeping the field professional, as well as safe and protected for the consumer. Many states are pushing for deregulation of industries, and the cosmetology professions are no exception. The stated goal of deregulation is to increase employment in the field and competition among providers. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate of at least 14-18% in the cosmetology professions by the year 2020.

In an effort to determine the mood of consumers regarding regulation and licensing of the beauty professions, the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) conducted a national poll in December 2012. The study was completed online immediately following the election of November 2012, and involved 1202 Americans who voted in the 2012 presidential election. The margin of error for the study was +/- 2.83%, which places the confidence level in the results at 95% or more.

The results of the poll were overwhelming: 94% of U.S. voters studied supported requiring beauty professional licensing and regulation. The main reason cited for this support was the need to protect the public from health issues, and to improve the quality and safety of the beauty industries.

The respondents generally did not understand the connection between public health issues and beauty licensing prior to the poll. However, when informed of the issues, 67% agreed the connection was important. 80% of voters studied knew beauty professionals attend a school to receive their license. They were less likely to know this training includes preventing disease and identifying health issues. Eighty-two percent (82%) of the respondents felt deregulation would negatively affect safety and quality in the beauty industry. Education, licensing, regulation and continuing professional education give standards and accountability to practitioners and businesses for cleanliness, sanitation and safety.

The study is highly valuable in that it identifies what messages are important to convey to beauty professionals and consumers. The most compelling message in favor of continued licensure and regulation is that of sanitation and public health. This message showed consensus among voters of all ages and political affiliations.

The PBA has launched a campaign among its members to increase pride in the profession and to reinforce the need for licensing and regulation. Called the "I Am" campaign, it encourages beauty professionals to share their pride in their profession. Beauty professionals should share the message of what licensing means and why it is important. They receive information and resources about the effects deregulation would have on the supply chain within the beauty industry. Manufacturers, distributors, salon business owners and the licensed beauty professionals would all be affected.

However, the consumers would be the ones carrying the most risk if beauty professionals were no longer required to be accountable to a licensing board. The state boards regulating cosmetology and other beauty professions have a consumer complaint resolution process, salon and business inspectors, professional testing requirements and oversight of operators within the professions. These all help protect consumers from negligent and unsanitary practices, untrained operators and shady business practices. Without regulation and licensure, beauty operators would no longer be required to attend a beauty school or pass exams to prove their skills. Obtaining beauty services would be completely at the risk of the consumer.