November 2012

Steve Sleeper

Beauty Insider| by Myra Irizarry


To Protect and Serve

What You May Not Know About Your State Board

The professional beauty industry is full of misperceptions. And the role and function of State Boards of Cosmetology is often right in the middle of them.

Maybe you've found yourself wondering how to handle a particular situation in your salon; maybe it involves a client, a product, or even a co-worker.

Who do you call? As a professional, you have already established a relationship with your State Board: you went there to get your license and go back every year to get it renewed. But, more often than not, conflicts and issues that arise for a beauty professional aren't in the realm of issues that your Board has any control over.

State Boards are established and given authority for one very important purpose: to provide consumer protection. In this role, a State Board oversees inspections of industry establishments and responds to consumer complaints. They also manage, if you're in a state that requires it, rules and guidelines for continuing education and work with state legislators on regulations and laws governing the industry.

How Changes Get Made: This is where it can get a little tricky. The authority given to a Board, who sits on that Board, and how they were appointed, varies from state to state. In some states, the legislature has granted their Boards more authority than others: Some Boards can change regulations while others must seek legislative approval.

For example, the Texas Advisory Board on Cosmetology is made up of eight appointed members who advise the Commission on education, exam content, and proposed rules and standards. The State Board in Ohio is actively working with a State Representative on House Bill 453, which would make substantial changes to cosmetology regulations in that state.

State Boards face many challenges, including fraud, license forgery, inspectors being locked out of an establishment or facing physical confrontations, lawsuits, developing standards on new and evolving services not currently under licensing regulations (hair braiding, threading, eye-lash extensions, etc.), and, with the onslaught of deregulation legislation coming from states across the U.S., proving the very need for the existence of a State Board at all.

Who Sits On Boards: The people sitting on State Boards, most of which are licensed professionals themselves, take on these challenges and accept the responsibility of ensuring consumer safety. And they do this out of dedication to the industry and to their craft.

Salon owner, licensed stylist and Georgia State Cosmetology Board member DRee Church-Krohn decided to get involved because she wanted to contribute to the industry in her state and learn about her profession from a different angle.

"It is a great honor and privilege to have this appointment," says DRee. "I am proud to play a role in bettering the industry in Georgia by informing and educating my industry peers and consumers on how it should be done."

But, DRee explains, as a professional she has faced hard decisions that she can relate to on a personal level. "The most challenging for me is listening to all the hardships from the economy or bad decisions people have made. Sometimes I have to make decisions and rulings from my head and not my heart."

Working Toward Solutions: Dedicated State Board members across the U.S. come together as part of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) to discuss solutions to industry challenges.

"The challenge is trying to be everything to everyone," says Betty Leake, NIC president. "Our goal is to provide guidance and help states connect with one another to stay informed."

Discussions among Board members at NIC's annual conferences include different hour requirements, license mobility, standardized continuing education requirements, how to regulate new services, fraudulent applications, lawsuits, outdated technology, and state budget cuts keeping boards understaffed.

Working with State Boards and other industry partners, like the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) and American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), NIC is seeking solutions to strengthen and add consistency to licensing and regulations across the U.S., for both consumers and professionals.

"Our industry serves millions of clients," says Executive Director of the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology Donna Aune. "It is our responsibility to protect the consumers, our families, and ourselves. We take that responsibility seriously."

Myra Irizarry is the Director of Government Affairs for the Professional Beauty Association. PBA's Government Affairs team works with law makers and members of the industry to promote fair legislation and to protect the interests of beauty professionals and consumers. Contact Myra directly at PBA membership advances the industry. To learn more, visit