J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · May 19, 2020

A bill that would protect the livelihoods of more than 1,000 hair and makeup artists is heading to Gov. Tim Walz. Currently, anyone who wants to earn a living applying makeup or styling hair at wedding, proms, or other social gatherings can only legally work if they’ve obtained three separate licenses and permits.

But under SF 2898/ HF 3202, hair and makeup artists would be free to work as soon as they finish a four-hour course on health, safety, and infection control. Performing other beauty services, like haircuts and manicures, would still need a license.

“It has been my pleasure to work in a bipartisan way to help the makeup artists and hairstylists in Minnesota,” said bill sponsor Rep. Shelly Christensen (DFL-Stillwater). “As a result of their energetic self-advocacy and our willingness here in the legislature to work together, we have made a positive difference in the lives of these hard-working folks.”

Since December 2018, the Minnesota Board of Cosmetologist Examiners has been cracking down on beauticians, slapping them with cease and desist orders and heavy fines. Compliance is its own bureaucratic nightmare. Hair and makeup artists are forced to first obtain a license in either esthetics or cosmetology (which take 600 and 1,550 hours of training respectively), then must become licensed salon managers, before they can then acquire a special-events permit that lets them work at weddings and the like. Worse, cosmetology schools can charge upwards of $20,000 in tuition. In fact, Minnesota’s restrictions are so burdensome, they even triggered a civil-rights lawsuit against the Board.

“This bill means so much to me because when it’s safe for me to return to work, I will still have my business I’ve worked so hard for so many years at building,” said one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Cristina Ziemer, a bridal hair and makeup artist who owns Cristina Ziemer Beauty in Stillwater. “I will be so relieved to be able to pay my bills again and I’ll feel secure knowing I’m still able to provide for my family like I did prior to COVID-19.”

“By passing this bill, the Minnesota Legislature has protected hundreds of jobs and small businesses in the state,” noted Institute for Justice Legislative Counsel Meagan Forbes, who worked with lawmakers on the bill. “This important bipartisan reform will bring much needed relief to hair and makeup artists and create opportunity for many others.”