New Lawsuit Wants To Legalize Wedding Hair And Makeup In Minnesota
For years, Minnesotan beauticians have styled hair and applied makeup at weddings, proms, and other major social gatherings where people want to look their finest. But now a crackdown threatens to throw about 1,000 hair and makeup artists out of business.
Last December, the Minnesota Board of Cosmetologist Examiners declared that applying makeup at special events could only be done by licensed salon managers, a credential that can take over 4,000 hours of training. To enforce its rules, the Board has ordered makeup artists to cease and desist and slapped them with thousands of dollars in fines. Violating the law can even risk criminal penalties.
Yet the law is filled with loopholes. The Board doesn’t require a license to offer hair or makeup services for fashion, film, media productions, photoshoots, TV, or the theater. (Selling makeup at retail counters is also exempt.)
In other words, a makeup artist doesn’t need a license to work on bridal photoshoots, a reality TV show about bridesmaids, a new staging of The Marriage of Figaro, or a romantic comedy that ends with a climactic wedding scene. But without a license, it’s illegal to do a bride’s hair and makeup before her real-life wedding.
Minnesota’s regulations are not just ridiculous, they’re also unconstitutional. Last month, several hair and makeup artists, along with a Minneapolis-based makeup artistry school, filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Board of Cosmetologist Examiners. (The Board has declined to publicly comment on the case.)
Represented pro bono by their attorneys V. John Ella and David Asp, they claim that the state’s onerous regulations violate their “right to pursue a chosen livelihood and operate a lawful business without arbitrary and unreasonable governmental interference.”
Typically, advocates for occupational licensing claim it’s necessary to protect the public’s health and safety. But that’s hardly an issue with hair and makeup artists, since they use beauty tools found in almost any American’s home, like blow dryers, brushes, and combs. It doesn’t take thousands of hours to learn how to wash your hands and clean your tools.
Moreover, as the artists’ lawsuit argues, “any legitimate government interest defendants may have in protecting public health and safety is wholly undermined by their broad exemptions for services.”
Doing hair and makeup for photoshoots and media appearances is unregulated, while offering the exact same services at a wedding or other special event is illegal unless the artist has completed thousands of hours of useless training, a distinction that is “manifestly arbitrary and fanciful.”
Since “there is no natural and reasonable basis” to license makeup and hair services for brides, but not bridal photoshoots, Minnesota’s wildly unequal treatment infringes on the Equal Protection Clauses of both the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions.
Bride preparing for wedding with make-up artist
Make no mistake: The state’s licensing requirements are incredibly onerous. Before they can legally work at special events in Minnesota, makeup artists need at least 3,300 hours of classes and experience, while hairstylists must finish 4,250 hours of training.
First, a makeup artist must become a licensed esthetician, which requires at least 600 hours of coursework. Artists who also want to style hair face an even steeper challenge and must complete 1,550 hours of training for a license in cosmetology, a program that can cost as much as $20,000.
Worse, according to the lawsuit, the vast majority of those classes are “irrelevant,” since “at least two-thirds of the cosmetology and esthetics curricula do not relate to special event hair and makeup services.” After finishing the useless classes, both hair and makeup artists then have to pass three separate exams.
License in hand, a hair or makeup artist then needs another license, this time as a salon manager, before they can obtain a special events permit to perform at weddings and other major social gatherings. Becoming a salon manager requires working 2,700 hours in a salon, even if that work has nothing to do with the types of services an artist would provide at a wedding. After all, special events, almost by definition, rarely happen in salons.
Consider Melanie Rivers. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Melanie has been a licensed cosmetologist since 2012, after she took out $40,000 in student loans to attend cosmetology school. But even after finishing 1,550 hours of cosmetology courses, she still can’t legally do hair and makeup at special events. To earn her salon manager license, Melanie had to take time away from growing her business to work part-time cutting men’s hair at a salon—a far cry from bridal beautification.
Requiring little capital, running a hair and makeup business has been especially popular for aspiring female entrepreneurs (in jurisdictions where it’s not illegal). Demand for their services at weddings isn’t going away any time soon.
According to The Knot, which surveyed more than 14,000 couples married in 2018, two-thirds of bridal parties opted for expert makeup services while nearly three-quarters got their hair done professionally. Among those surveyed, the average wedding spent $225 hiring professional hair and makeup artists.
Unsurprisingly, weddings are one of the most popular types of special events. One of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, Cristina Ziemer, has offered hair and makeup services at special events for over 12 years. Weddings are her main focus, generating around 90% of her income.
But ever since the Board sent out its bulletin, Cristina is afraid her business will be fined and shut down. And she doesn’t have the ability to stop working to take thousands of dollars’ worth of cosmetology classes. To fight back, Cristina is also working with the Institute for Justice on a bill that would fully exempt styling hair and applying makeup from licensing laws.
“I spent years building my business. I love what I do and feel like a piece of me would be missing if I have to shut down,” Cristina said. “I am fighting to protect my business and the right of all Minnesotans to earn a living doing what they love.”
This content was originally published here.