Beauty Legal Group Pushes Back on Cosmetology Industry Misinformation Campaign

Phillip Suderman · February 15, 2024


ARLINGTON, Va.Senate Bill 354, a bill supported by the Institute for Justice (IJ), has been passed by the Georgia Senate and will soon be considered by the Georgia House. The bill would only exempt individuals who perform limited blow-dry styling and makeup application services from requiring a license. The use of chemicals and cutting by unlicensed beauty professionals would continue to be prohibited. Unfortunately, some cosmetologists have been misinforming lawmakers and the public about the scope of the bill in order to scare them into opposing it—even though a plain reading of the legislation makes clear that it does not do what the opposition claims it will do.  

Under S.B. 354: 

  • The use of chemicals by unlicensed beauty professionals is prohibited. 
  • Cutting hair by unlicensed beauty professionals is prohibited. 
  • Nails and manicurists are not addressed. 
  • Barbering and beard maintenance are not addressed. 

S.B. 354 only: 

  • Allows simple blow-dry styling without a license (e.g., an updo for a special event).
    • Expands Georgia’s licensing exemptions for makeup application in certain settings, such as at retail locations and film sets, to exempt the application of makeup in all settings. Georgia is tied with just two other states for having the steepest licensing requirements for makeup artists. 

“It’s outright wrong, what is being told to reporters and lawmakers,” said Meagan Forbes, senior legislative counsel at IJ. “They’re claiming this bill is going to exempt stylists who cut and color hair from licensing. Oddly, there are also claims this bill deregulates manicurists and barbering services when nothing could be further from the truth. The purpose of this bill is to create new opportunities for people to offer limited beauty services like blow-dry styling and makeup that are already being safely offered without a license in other states.”  

For many Georgians working in the industry, this bill would be a blessing, cutting through burdensome red tape.  

Angela Mackey, owner of Anjel Hair and Beauty Studios stated, “The women working in my salon are more than capable of blow-dry styling for clients without a full-service license, and they deserve to get paid for their services while they continue to add new skills and learn our craft.” 

Currently, Georgia law requires at least 1,140 hours of training to be licensed to blow-dry style hair, and 1,000 hours of training to get an esthetician’s license for people who apply makeup outside of a retail or film set setting. That training is largely conducted through cosmetology schools which collect fees from their students and have a financial incentive for SB 354 to not pass. Schools nationwide often oppose attempts to create alternative, more affordable pathways into the beauty industry, since that impacts the amount of tuition they collect.

“Cosmetology schools also notoriously overcharge their students and underdeliver on education, leading to poor graduation rates, high debt and dissatisfaction for students, and profits for schools,” said Rachel Gonzalez, an activism coordinator at IJ. “That’s not fair, and it’s not fair that beauty professionals who would benefit from the opportunities this bill would create may not get to experience them because of this misinformation.”  

If passed, Georgia would join a growing number of states that have sought to make it easier for people to work in the beauty industry. At present, thirteen states don’t require a license for makeup application and six states exempt blow drying and styling hair from licensure. 

The Institute for Justice is a nonprofit organization that has worked alongside beauty professionals and other workers nationwide for 30 years to help change laws that create unnecessary barriers to earn a living in a chosen industry. Its initiative, Beauty, Not Barriers, is dedicated to working with beauty professionals to change state laws that make it difficult and costly to work in the industry.  

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                     To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may contact Phillip Suderman, IJ’s Communications Project Manager at [email protected] (850) 376-4110. More information on the issue is available at:

Institute for Justice | | 901 N. Glebe Road | Suite 900 | Arlington, VA 22203 | Tel (703) 682-9320