Making Over the Beauty Industry

Marie Miller
Marie Miller  ·  December 1, 2022

Some occupations in the beauty industry have a long history, like African-style hair braiding and eyebrow threading, which are both centuries-old arts. IJ has represented practitioners in these occupations since our earliest days, fighting to help them practice their crafts without unnecessary or intrusive government regulation. But as the beauty industry has expanded with new niche services, including blow dry bars and eyelash extensions, unreasonable regulation has expanded along with it. 

When niche markets and practices emerge, they are often swept into ill-fitting regulations that govern existing professions. This happened in Oklahoma as the practice of applying eyelash extensions became a business unto itself. Suddenly, the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering required people who want to provide eyelash extensions to become fully licensed estheticians or cosmetologists. 

The problem is that none of the required training for estheticians or cosmetologists addresses eyelash extensions. There is a total mismatch between the occupation and the requirements to practice it legally. That’s why, in September, IJ joined an eyelash extension technician, Brandy Davis, to challenge Oklahoma’s nonsensical licensing requirements for her occupation.  

Brandy has extensive training in eyelash extensions, with more than 320 hours of coursework and years of experience practicing her craft. She had a flourishing eyelash extension business in Texas, where she was allowed to provide eyelash extensions without a government permission slip before she moved to Oklahoma for her husband’s work. But Brandy’s extensive training and experience didn’t matter to the Oklahoma Board of Cosmetology. The Board requires Brandy to complete at least 600 hours of esthetician schooling, not a minute of which addresses eyelash extensions, and pass two exams that test only practices that Brandy will never use. 

The result is a system of regulations that allow people with no training in eyelash extensions to monopolize the craft while shutting out people like Brandy, who are skilled and well-trained practitioners. That’s not just bad policy—it’s unconstitutional. 

The Oklahoma Constitution protects Oklahomans’ right to earn an honest living free from unreasonable government interference. What’s more, the Oklahoma Constitution explicitly recognizes an inherent right to the enjoyment of the gains of one’s own industry. With IJ by her side, Brandy intends to show the Oklahoma Board of Cosmetology that these timeless principles of economic liberty apply to all Oklahomans, whether they practice an ancient craft or a newly emerging one.

Marie Miller is an IJ attorney. 

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