Michael Halmon: Deregulation bill would put Florida dead last in cosmetology safety standards

cosmetology florida
"In the age of social media, those predictable horror stories would spread faster than a nail fungus."

It’s appropriate for state lawmakers to consider the proper role of government and eliminate excessive regulations that hold back Florida’s economy.

At the same time, it’s essential that elected leaders preserve the fundamental responsibility of government to safeguard citizens and avoid actions that have unintended consequences.

Shortsighted legislation currently making its way through the legislative process would violate both of these principles by introducing a safety threat and aggravating the very problem it purports to correct.

The professional deregulation bills – SB 1640 and HB 27 – are being promoted as making it easier for people to enter the workforce as barbers or specialists in skin care and nails, supposedly eliminating barriers to entry into these professions.

However, these bills would actually increase the barrier to entry and would put the public at risk of illness and injury from undertrained practitioners by giving Florida the lowest training standards in the nation for barbers, esthetician, nail technicians, and full specialists.

This legislation would reduce the number of hours needed to work as a barber to 600, less than half the national average.

Within that limited time, students would have to learn fully about safety and sanitation, including preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and fungal diseases and recognizing potential skin and scalp conditions – all while also studying the fundamentals of hair cutting and styling, performing delicate chemical procedures, and following applicable laws and rules.

There are more than 14,000 cosmetologists in the Tampa Bay area, working with more than 40,000 professionals and salons licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in the region.

Rather than making it easier to gain entry into these professions, reduced standards would create a serious financial and practical impediment. For instance, the proposed reduction in training hours for a full specialist, someone able to do both skin and nails, would eliminate the possibility of a Pell Grant – $5,000 in free federal money that many students use to fund their education.

Salon owners will also be less inclined to hire Florida-educated barbers, knowing that they are under-prepared to be successful, favoring practitioners properly trained in other states.

Spas, medical practices, and cruise lines that employ skin care specialists will not compromise on a high standard of excellence and would be reluctant to hire Florida-trained individuals.

And tourists have a right to expect the same level of training from a hair, skin, or nail practitioner in Florida that they enjoy back home. It would be a black mark on Florida’s important tourism industry if we developed a reputation as the place to avoid salons and spas because of incidents of disease and bad practice.

In the age of social media, those predictable horror stories would spread faster than a nail fungus.

Lawmakers must work to find sensible solutions to pressing problems, but this legislation is a poorly conceived fix in search of a non-existent problem. Florida should continue to set the standard for excellence in all things and not be the low bar for skin, hair, and nail professionals.


Michael Halmon is the President of the American Institute of Beauty, which has locations in Largo and St. Petersburg. He is also the current Chair of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools.

Guest Author


  • Kristen

    March 28, 2019 at 11:20 am

    As someone raised in Florida I understand the importance of skin care and receive regular skin treatments to battle the harsh affects the sun leaves on my skin. I would not be able to continue these treatments knowing the hours would be reduced to such low amounts, I wouldn’t be comfortable knowing the chemicals that are being placed on my face and not trusting the esthetician to know the proper protocols or proper sanitation techniques needed to ensure my safety.
    As a mother to a little boy I also would not feel comfortable taking my son into a barbershop knowing the limited number of hours they have received in their training…there are so many areas where this limited training could negatively affect my son. It is my job as a mother to protect my son and keep him out of harms way and this reduction of hours would not allow me to confidently take him to receive a hair cut at a barbershop.
    The well being and safety of the community should be the number one concern for our government and through these reduction of hours I feel this concern is being overlooked. I also don’t feel our representatives have thought this all the way through and the negative domino affect these bills could have not only on the safety of our community but also the industry and employees within it and tourists that use these services while visiting our great state.

  • Maura Scali-Sheahan

    March 28, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Re: SB 1640 and HB 27
    Florida’s education, training hours, and testing requirements for barber licensure are already some of the lowest in the country, making it difficult to obtain a license in another state through endorsement or reciprocity agreements; 69% of states require 1250 or more training hours and 94% require a hands-on practical examination for licensure. Conversely, Florida requires only 1200 hours and a written exam and no practical exam, which puts both our full licensed and restricted licensed barbers at a distinct disadvantage nationally as they do not meet the criteria necessary for reciprocity in 94% of the states. Further curriculum and training hour reductions for barber licensure will:
    • render graduates of 325-hour and 600-hour programs virtually unemployable,
    • compromise the health and safety of Florida residents and tourists,
    • eliminate any possibility of licensee mobility from state to state, and
    • marginalize the potential economic success of future graduates, independent workers, and small business owners throughout Florida.

    Maura Scali-Sheahan, Ed D
    CEO, National Association of Barber Boards of America
    (established 1926)

  • Neal R. Heller

    March 28, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I’m wondering if any of the Senators or Representatives responsible for this illogical and ill conceived bill to deregulate the educational requirements for Hair, Skin and Nails actually receive any of these services? Do they have a wife or daughter or son that gets a haircut, a manicure/pedicure or heaven forbid a facial? Do they simply think that allowing an untrained, unlicensed individual have the unlimited ability to use chemicals on one’s scalp face or hands and feet is sound law? Florida’s educational requirements in these professional fields are already among the lowest in the country. Lowering Florida’s standards would only weaken the very profession these legislator’s claim they want to enhance. Lower hours would not increase accessibility to these professions. It would make access to federal financial aid much more difficult as students in these programs that are less than 600 hours would be ineligible for a Pell Grant and could only receive a partial student loan. Furthermore, as Florida would have significantly lower hour requirements than most other states license portability would become impossible. We urge our legislators to think this through and understand that the reduction in hours for barber, skin care and nail programs is a recipe for disaster for a variety of reasons. Please kill Senate Bill 1640 and House Bill 27!

  • Annette Dejournett

    March 28, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Kill SB 1640 and HB 27 immediately!! I am an outraged licensed Florida Cosmetologist of over 40 years and want to know why is our senate and house even considering putting the very people that put them into office at risk by deregulating three industries, barbering, skin and nails? They promote these bills as making it easier for people to get a job in Florida, but with the reductions in hours and training they are considering, NO salon, spa/ medi-spa or cruise ship will even hire them! Florida already has some of the lowest training hours in these three fields. Of the 50 states the average hours of barbering is 1361, for nails it’s 368 and for skin care it’s 608. Our legislators should be doing something to IMPROVE these fields by bringing Florida UP TO THE REST OF THE U.S. STANDARDS!, not setting Florida back 30 years and putting dangerous chemicals and tools into the hands of barely trained individuals. If these two bills pass the legislature will be responsible for taking jobs out of the reach of any Florida citizen who may have been considering one of these fields.

  • Cheyrl Wilson

    April 1, 2019 at 8:37 am

    As a consumer, I am having such difficulty understanding why the state of Florida insists on setting the bar so low. What is wrong with having high standards? There are not many professions outside of physicians in which the person providing a service is permitted to physically touch you. I would appreciate anyone who would lay hands on myself, my husband, and my son have extensive training. I took the time to research what other states require in regards to training and was appalled that Florida would want to lower it’s training requirements. For Esthetician Alabama and Georgia require 1000 hours of training, California requires 1600 hours, Nevada requires 900 hours. Florida is already at a low of requiring 260 hours. Why such inequality in education? A lot of skin treatments are invasive, actually removing layers of skin. Barbers work with sharp objects and chemicals also and Florida wants to reduce training hours for them as well? Most other states require a minimum of 1500 hours of training. This is to the detriment of the potential barber and their customers. I did all this research because my husband and I have considered getting into the salon/barber/spa business. Limiting training hours is concerning because of the liability issues that will come along with it. As a business owner, I would most definitely hire the well trained Barber or Esthetician from Mississippi before I would hire a poorly educated graduate of a Florida school.

  • Beth Victory

    April 1, 2019 at 10:13 am

    I am a licensed facial specialist in the state of Florida. The esthetician program I attended had over 700 hours hours of training. I am very satisfied with my education and do not believe it would benefit the student or the client to shorten hours required for licensure. My concern is that the lack of education and training would increase the likelihood of the spread of disease or instances of misidentified skin conditions. For example, without proper education and training a staph infection may be mistaken for an acne breakout, as it can look similar on the skin. Staph is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Therefore, it can spread to other clients without the proper identification, preventative measures, and disinfection process in place. In addition, while an esthetician does not diagnose skin conditions- it is imperative that they know when to refer a client to see a dermatologist. For example, lack of training may cause an esthetician to mistakenly attempt to treat an area of hyperpigmentation that is actually skin cancer, a life threatening disease. Floridians are exposed to an excess of sun and estheticians in this state should be especially prepared to identify possible cases. My concerns are therefore the spread of infectious disease and the misidentification of skin disease resulting in the esthetician treating areas that should be treated by a physician instead.

  • GSQ

    April 1, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I can’t wrap my mind around why lawmakers would want to change something that is not broken…The beauty industry has changed my life over the past ten years of being licensed, if it wasn’t for the training I’ve received I wouldn’t be the successful “hairdresser-and-beyond” I am today.

    As a former cosmetology school instructor, the truth is that the standard 1,200 hours of schooling (the current for cosmo) is barely enough right now…at 1200 hours the future professional understands the basic fundamentals of hairdressing/safety procedures, resulting in salon owners stating they didn’t feel the individual was “salon ready”…With that said, stylists right out of school struggle with finding a good salon job due to NOT ENOUGH schooling…and yet the government wants to remove more time from the program?

    Beyond that…Floridians and tourists alike deserve to know that the hair, nail, and skin services they receive are safe and completed by trained professionals.

  • Sara

    April 1, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Less training=Less skill! Ridiculous!

  • Sara

    April 1, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Less training=Less skill! This creates an unsafe environment for anyone providing these services with less schooling.

  • Michelle Cuevas

    April 1, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    So basically no training or proper education = more mistakes

Comments are closed.


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