North Dakota committee opposes bill allowing for freelance cosmetology

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Amber Hill has gone through the 1,800 hours of cosmetology school, exams and continuing education requirements needed to legally do her job as a stylist at Feathered Beauty Studio in Bismarck.

“We go through training and education and inspections to make sure that we are meeting industry standards for the health and safety of our clients,” Hill said.

She says those standards set by state law keep customers safe, and rolling them back now, doesn’t make sense.

“Deregulating at a time when health concerns are at the highest is very confusing to me,” Hill said.

A new bill would eliminate the need to have a cosmetology license to do freelance hairstyling and makeup — instead, you could become a “niche beauty services provider” with a certificate and a four-hour course in safety and infection control.

“I think this bill is offensive to stylists’ education and career and it’s also extremely dangerous to consumers,” Feathered Beauty Studio Manager and cosmetologist Phoebe Horner said.

Veteran cosmetologist Debbi Schwan-Hegney agrees.

“I don’t think we should let all the freelancers have free reign,” Schwan-Hegney said.

Her 49 years in the business, and experience as a salon owner and instructor have convinced her the schooling is necessary.

“This isn’t a barbie doll world. There are going to be people who come in with pathology issues on their scalp … and you have to know what you can do and help and treat and what you cannot do and refer to a doctor,” Schwan-Hegney said.

But Fargo freelancer Raven Dybedahl disagrees. She said she got into the industry to do makeup for special events, not work in a salon — so it didn’t make sense to her to spend thousands on cosmetology school. She says the law ties the hands of freelancers on the border who can legally work in Minnesota, but not in North Dakota.

“There’s been definitely times where I will have the Fargo Moorhead side will have a bride over here, while I have her friend who’s getting married, but she wants to get married in Fargo, so it’s like, OK can you rent a hotel in Moorhead so we can do it?” Dybedahl said.

Dybedahl also says the concerns over safety are overblown.

“It’s kind of a made-up fear we’re putting out there. We have many years of moms and grandmas putting make-up on their daughters, and friends doing each other’s makeup, and just because they’re not getting paid to do it, it’s safe,” Dybedahl said.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill last month by a vote of 86 to 7. The Senate Business Industry and Labor Committee gave the bill a “do not pass” recommendation, and it will be up for a vote by the whole Senate Wednesday.

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