beauty professionals deserve​


Not Barriers.

States force beauty professionals to spend too much time and money at traditional cosmetology schools before they can earn a dime.  Many go into debt, waste time learning what they don’t need to know or already know, or are left dissatisfied with their program. There’s no denying that beauty professionals deserve more flexible training options that cater to their specific needs.

There are alternative ways to regulate the industry that cost artists far less money and time, while still protecting health and safety.

We want to help make it less costly to work in beauty—and we want to know what you think.  Are there ways to improve the industry?  Tell us, and we’ll send you a free beauty gift!

It’s not Fair That Beauty Professionals must spend…


tuition to attend cosmetology school

Aspiring beauty professionals spend, on average, $16,000 to attend state-required cosmetology school. And after spending all this money, many still have to get additional training because their school didn’t teach them what they needed to learn.

average of

borrowed to attend cosmetology school

Students often go into a lot of student loan debt to afford school.  But programs rarely graduate students on time, delaying—or even blocking—aspiring beauty professionals’ entry into the workforce, and increasing their debt burden. 


hours to attend cosmetology school

States require up to 2,100 hours of cosmetology school.  Students have reported that they spend much of the practical instruction time standing around, waiting for clients.  A former student told The New York Times, “I would say probably 60 percent of our time was sitting around waiting […] I was literally just waiting. I had to finish my clock hours.”

And while in school, students usually must provide services to paying customers—and not earn a dime. 
The school profits twice: from the student’s tuition, and the paying customers. 
it’s 2024: it doesn’t make sense to require beauty artists to spend so much time in traditional, lengthy, costly programs, when there are so many othER, more affordable training options. but many cosmetology schools lobby to keep hour requirements high – because they profit off of every hour you pay for.

states can free beauty artists to

design their own careers,

save money and time, and start working and hiring. 

  • States can allow beauty artists to pursue apprenticeships, gaining real-world and paid experience, instead of forcing them to go to a traditional school.
  • States can allow beauty artists who want to provide narrow services that don’t involve chemicals to do so without a cosmetology license, while ensuring sanitation standards are met.
  • States can treat the beauty industry like the restaurant industry, where the restaurant is licensed but the chefs are not. This ensures customers are protected and gives employers the ability to hire and train as they see fit.
  • Most importantly, we want to hear about your experience and how you think beauty industry regulations can be improved!

Beauty professionals face steeper and more costly licensing requirements than many other fields.


Chefs prepare food that is ingested by customers, and aren’t required to get a license or go to school. They take a short, simple sanitation course, and the restaurant is subject to inspections. It’s up to the chef whether they want to go to culinary school.  


On average, cosmetologists must complete nearly 10 times more training than entry-level EMTs, who administer life-saving first aid.  


Personal trainers aren’t required to have a license. Tattooing is arguably riskier and more invasive than what cosmetologists do, but some states let artists work after only a few hours of training in bloodborne pathogens and communicable diseases.

The United Kingdom and 12 members of the EU don’t require licensing for beauty professionals at all. 

The UK has “voluntary certification,” which allows beauty professionals to decide which credentials they want to pursue. If they want to call themselves a “State Registered Hairdresser,” they have to meet certain requirements; but they don’t have to do this in order to provide services. 

While aspiring beauty professionals are in school—spending money and not making money—those in other occupations are learning on the job or practicing their crafts while earning a living from day one. That’s not fair.

Some states make it easier to provide beauty services.

Required hours of schooling differ state to state, even though beauty services don’t.  Some states allow services that don’t involve chemicals to be performed without having to go to cosmetology school first.

Some states allow beauty professionals to:​
  • Style hair
  • Shampoo
  • Apply makeup
  • Braid hair
  • Apply eyelash extensions
  • Thread
without getting a cosmetology license first.

Hear from beauty professionals who have benefited from changes to laws

Beauty professionals deserve more options and flexibility.

Not everyone wants to use chemicals or engage in all the cosmetology skills: some beauty professionals only want to provide narrow services.  

  • They may only want to do makeup artistry or special event hairstyling.
  • They may have brought an artistic skillset from another country, like threading or braiding. 
  • They could be single parents, caregivers, military spouses, or of modest means and can’t afford the time or cost of school. The expensive licensing system keeps them from pursuing their dreams, or dealing with debt.  
  • And there may be others who want to work in a salon just doing shampooing or blow-drying, but can’t because they are required to get a license.  This can keep out those with disabilities, recent immigrants with language barriers, and other vulnerable groups who may have a difficult time finding work.

The beauty industry runs on

uniqueness & creativity,

but these laws are stifling it. 

  • Are you a beauty professional who has faced challenges with your training, finding work, debt from school, pay, or hiring qualified staff?
  • Do you have ideas about how to help improve the way the beauty industry is regulated? 
  • We want to hear about your experience—whether you are currently working in the industry, you want to be a beauty artist, or you own a salon.


We want To Hear From You.​

We’ve worked alongside talented artists across the country to change these laws. We want to hear from you about your experience with the beauty industry to see if we can help.

We believe that beauty professionals deserve better.

learn More

Beauty, Not Barriers is an initiative of the Institute for Justice, a non-profit organization that works alongside beauty professionals and other workers nationwide to change laws that make it hard to earn a living.  So often, state laws require way too much to work in an occupation—like expensive training that can teach things that are not necessary.  

  • There are better, affordable, less challenging alternatives to these kinds of laws.
  • The alternatives would make it easier for existing and aspiring beauty professionals alike to work in the industry.  
  • We support beauty, opportunity, entrepreneurship, professionalism, and safety.  We are against barriers.