Industry News

Do Away with Your Licencia?

Carlos Valenzuela | March 1, 2013 | 9:21 AM

Do Away with Your Licencia?For most of the 38+years that I have been “fixing” hair, the do-away-with-licenses argument has been raging somewhere. This recent round is particularly menacing. I am trying to come up with a list of winners, or who would win from not having cosmetologist licenses? No takers. Comment below, por favor.

 There are several key players. The government wants to lower overhead and, as governments can, finds ample proof and witnesses to support its case, including claims of agency ineffectiveness. But, couldn’t we wander into most government offices and find the same? Mm, we just might. Cuidado.

The Board of Cosmetology offers that they exist to protect the public, and not to solemnly swear that a licensee has sufficient technical or artistic abilities; instead, they check that the examinee knows the safety procedures to protect the public. In all honesty, to determine a student fit to work with a 3-hour exam would be loco.

Schools get in the mix due to claims of too large a percentage of graduates leaving the field after the first year; and somehow this is traced back to the exam bar being so low in the first place. State Board, after all, establishes the number of hours to be taken on each subject, say the schools. You can guess what State Board would answer to that. Yes, it has been a long, repetitive catch-22. Here is one hombre’s opinion:

 In Mexico, Latin America and many European countries there is no license requirement, maybe a tax permit or a merchant number, and they have a thriving, advanced, trend setting industry. Tons of women cross the Mexican border weekly for beauty services. At first I thought it was price, but a haircut in the better salons starts at $20 US dollars. On the US side of the border, haircuts average $15. Nails were also more expensive in Mexico.

 Do Away with Your Licencia?How can this be? Very simple, the only way you make it is if you are good. And, guess what? Being good there is the same as here: You must daily bring your A game, go to classes, keep learning, and be suave.

But, I am not an advocate of a cream rises to the top system. Why? It’s unfair in the long run because success is a lot about opportunities. Who gets them? Who doesn’t? Some cream needs a little push to rise, other gets passed over for a number of reasons: a little flaw, wrong place, and wrong time.

 We, as a profession, must provide the official road to success. To be a doctor you need to go to college, med school, internship, and then you are a doctor. What would we say for hairdresser? Ah, well get yourself a pair of shears, a razor and some 40 volume for starters? No, we need to point to proven steps to follow, with the caveat that your efforts will be rewarded accordingly. Oh--yes, lack of inspiration leads to failure.

Finally, some school results may be debatable, but there are a number of schools that are doing a fantastic job, not withstanding huge governmental red tape and a challenging student population, we need to support them, not make their job totally impossible.

 Un momento: You have homework: make two calls. One to your State representative demanding licensing, next, call your area beauty school and offer to do a free class. Vamos!


Hasta la vista,


Carlos Valenzuela is author of i-Fabulous Life Skills, a Latino market consultant, educator, and motivational speaker. Contact Carlos at

Twitter: @getcarlos01

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