Victory for Eyebrow Threaders In Louisiana

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · July 19, 2018

Baton Rouge, LA—Today, after waging a two-year legal battle with the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology, a group of eyebrow threaders who challenged the state licensing requirement have received some of the first permits to thread eyebrows. Today also marks a moment when eyebrow threaders across the state are finally going back to work. That’s because the Board, facing the prospect of a long and losing legal battle, passed a regulation exempting eyebrow threaders from having to obtain a costly and burdensome esthetician’s license.

“Today’s a great day for hundreds of hard working Louisianians who want to earn an honest living in a time-honored profession many learned as children,” said Renée Flaherty, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents the threaders. “The new rule will remove pointless and burdensome barriers to working as an eyebrow threader in Louisiana. The state’s cosmetology board has done the right thing by ending its unconstitutional licensing scheme.”

The threaders’ fight began in 2016, when the Institute for Justice (IJ) sued the Board on behalf of the Threading Studio & Spa—a Metairie business, owned by Lata Jagtiani—and two of the threaders who work there, Ushaben Chudasama and Panna Shah. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that required eyebrow threaders to spend 750 hours and thousands of dollars to obtain a pointless esthetician’s license.

The Board initially moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but Judge R. Michael Caldwell of the 19th Judicial District Court denied the motion in February 2017, allowing the case to proceed. Rather than defend the law in court, the Board then began the long process of carving out an exemption for eyebrow threaders from the conventional cosmetology rules.

In May, the Board adopted a new permit for threaders under which they can legally work after passing an exam testing their knowledge of proper sanitation techniques for threading.

Eyebrow threading is an ancient grooming technique that originated in South Asia and the Middle East. The technique is simple. Threading, as it is commonly known, uses a single piece of cotton thread to lift unwanted facial hair from the follicle. Since its arrival in the United States, the popularity of threading has soared, offering threaders opportunities for entrepreneurship and a shot at the American dream.

“I am just so happy,” said Lata Jagtiani.  “I came to this country because it offered better opportunities to start a business and make my dreams come true. But for years, Louisiana worked to keep me and my employees from making a living. Now we can all get back to doing what we love.”

Threaders statewide may now obtain a permit by filling out a simple application on the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology website. The application includes study materials for a 15-question exam on sanitation practices. After threaders submit their application by mail, the Board will assign them a date to take the exam at the Board’s offices in Baton Rouge. Upon passing the exam, threaders are free to work.

“Eyebrow threaders don’t need licenses,” said IJ Attorney Wesley Hottot. “They just need to observe common sense sanitation practices. That is why, across the border, the Texas Supreme Court struck down an identical licensing requirement for threaders in 2015. It should come as no surprise that the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology backed down in the face of IJ’s lawsuit and changed its rules.”