Proposal to reduce cosmetology licensure hours sparks backlash

Elektra Walraven, a licensed cosmetologist who owns a salon in Lynchburg, styling hair for a...
Elektra Walraven, a licensed cosmetologist who owns a salon in Lynchburg, styling hair for a client.(Beck Faircloth & Virginia Mercury)
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:51 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:55 AM EST
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The General Laws Subcommittee room was filled to the brim and unusually colorful on an afternoon in March 2022.

Approximately 50 cosmetology students, some sporting bright neon hair, had traveled from across the state to oppose a bill from Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, that aimed to reduce the number of training hours required for a cosmetology license.

“You should have seen the room packed with people like it was the hottest issue,” said Jonathan Melloul, CEO of Sylvain Melloul International Hair Academy, a school based in Lynchburg that has been in operation since 1969 and has around 75 students in a given year.

The legislation was narrowly tabled later the same day in committee — the fifth time since 2019 that a proposal to reduce cosmetology training hours had failed before the House of Delegates or the Senate. The committee instead left the decision in the hands of regulators.

Now, under Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, those regulators are proposing to reduce the number of hours needed for a cosmetology license in Virginia from 1,500 to 1,000. The administration says the decrease will spur job growth in the cosmetology industry, which includes professions such as nail, lash and wax technicians, estheticians, and hairstylists, and reduce financial burdens for students.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)