J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · April 28, 2021

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill (HB 1746) on Tuesday that will make it much easier for people to enter and work in the beauty industry. Previously, washing, cleansing, blow drying, brushing, or combing hair required a cosmetologist license, a credential that takes at least 1,500 hours of training and can cost tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. 

Under the new law, Arkansans will no longer have to become a licensed cosmetologist to perform any of those simple and harmless services. Instead, aspiring hair stylists who want to wash and style hair need only register with the Department of Health and pay a $10 fee. HB 1746 does not apply to cutting hair or any chemical treatments, like bleaching, coloring, or dyeing. 

“Arkansas has taken an important step to removing unnecessary barriers to work,” said Institute for Justice Legislative Counsel Jessica Gandy. “This reform will create more opportunities for entrepreneurs in the beauty industry and all Arkansans.”

In this area, Arkansas is now a leader in common-sense licensing reform. Only four other states–Arizona, Minnesota, Utah, and Virginia–exempt blow dry bars from cosmetology licenses, while just other 13 states don’t require a license to shampoo hair.

Unfortunately, for many other types of licenses, Arkansas lags far behind. According to a report by the Institute for Justice, Arkansas ranks as the third “most broadly and onerously licensed state” in the country, behind only California and Nevada. In Arkansas, the average license for low- and moderate-income occupations takes 642 days of education and experience, $246 in fees, and passing one exam.