Nevada Makeup Artists Putting a New Face on Liberty

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · June 18, 2012

Arlington, Va.—May the government require teachers to obtain government licenses to teach an occupation that individuals do not need licenses to practice?

That is the question the Institute for Justice (IJ), a public interest law firm that fights for the rights of entrepreneurs nationwide, and two Las Vegas, Nevada makeup artists seek to answer in a new federal lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada challenging Nevada’s law requiring makeup artistry instructors to become licensed cosmetology instructors.

Lissette Waugh and Wendy Robin are makeup artists with over 40 years of combined experience. Both women opened up their own makeup artistry schools to train the next generation of makeup artists in the art and artistry of applying makeup for the entertainment and retail industries. But the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology has threatened to silence both entrepreneurs by requiring them to obtain cosmetology instructor’s licenses in order to teach—even though makeup artists do not need cosmetology licenses to work. The law also requires them to turn their makeup artistry schools into full-scale cosmetology schools. The requirements are so outrageous that Wendy has already been forced to shut down her business and Lissette’s school could be next.

Makeup artistry is not cosmetology. It uses different skills and techniques not taught in cosmetology schools. Forcing Wendy and Lissette to obtain cosmetology instructor’s licenses and turn their makeup artistry schools into full-scale cosmetology schools means they would have to spend hundreds of hours learning about things that have nothing to do with makeup artistry, teach irrelevant courses on things like hair coloring and facials and install useless and expensive equipment like shampoo bowls and manicure tables in their schools.

“The U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to speak freely and earn an honest living without arbitrary government interference,” said IJ attorney Doran Arik. “Makeup artistry is not cosmetology, so the requirement that makeup artistry instructors obtain cosmetology instructor’s licenses in order to teach and operate their schools as cosmetology schools is irrational. Anyone can practice makeup artistry in Nevada without a license, and anyone should be free to teach it.”

“I should not be licensed as a cosmetology instructor because I do not teach how to cut hair or treat the skin. I teach makeup artistry, which is not taught in cosmetology school,” said Lissette Waugh.

“Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, but instead of encouraging our small businesses they are trying to shut us down,” added Wendy Robin.

“For 20 years the Institute for Justice has been litigating to secure every American’s constitutional right to speak and to work in the occupation of their choice,” said IJ Senior Attorney Tim Keller, “but these constitutional guarantees are meaningless unless judges strike down laws, like Nevada’s cosmetology licensing scheme, that irrationally infringe on our economic liberty.”

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