Beauty professionals fight deregulation proposal, delegate drops bill

Published: Jan. 24, 2018 at 9:37 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2018 at 4:45 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Beauty industry professionals and salons in Virginia, concerned about a bill in the General Assembly to deregulate the industry - including hair stylists, nail salons, tattoo artists, and estheticians - have been writing and meeting with legislators and posting online to stop the bill.

It appears their voices have been heard. The office of the delegate who proposed the bill now says they will not push to pass it.

You've heard the stories in our 12 On Your Side Investigations over the years of local women who say they received infections from unsanitary conditions in some nail salons.

"It was a skin infection.  I was on an antibiotic for quite some time," said Kimberly Allmond, describing welts that developed on her legs after a visit to a nail salon.  "The one they did the biopsy on, I had stitches."

And last year, a Central Virginia woman won a $1 million lawsuit against a Henrico nail salon that she says gave her an infection that caused boils and scars on her legs.

A bill, HB892, was proposed this year to deregulate not only nail care, but barbers, cosmetologists, waxing, tattooing, body piercing and esthetics.  The bill would have abolished the Board of Barbers and Cosmetology, which oversees and licenses professionals in those industries.

When beauty industry professionals learned of the bill, they began posting comments on Facebook and, urging legislators not to pass it. They argue that doing away with licensing jeopardizes the professionalism and health standards of their industry.

The Virginia State Association of Skin Care Professionals tell us they met with Delegate Michael Webert (R - Marshall), who proposed the bill, last week, urging him to drop the bill.

Pat Heaney, co-owner of Mango Salon, wrote a letter to legislators, urging them to oppose the bill as well.

"I think we want our consumers to come to our salons and feel safe and know the professional is licensed and well-trained," Heaney told us.

He says licensing and regulation ensure that hair stylists, for example, are properly trained to safely use chemicals for coloring and treating hair.

"Consumers have an expectation that salons provide a minimum of sanitation. If you deregulate that, you open it up for anybody to do anything and that can create an unsafe, unsanitary space for consumers," said Heaney.

Delegate Webert's office now says they will not work to pass the bill this year. Webert declined our request for an interview.

Another bill, HB790, by Delegate Mark Keam (D - Vienna) is still in play to drop licensing specifically for blow drying, cleansing, and hair styling.

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