Deregulation is on the legislative agenda - deregulation of certain things the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering is in responsibility of monitoring.
“I know and everyone knows, once they start deregulating stuff they keep going. They keep going, and they're just not looking at the fact that they are putting the general public at risk,” Formations Institute of Cosmetology & Barbering Director Autumn Overton said. “That’s our biggest problem (with the proposed bills), safety and sanitation.”
Authored by District 1 Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, Senate Bill 1166 would amend sections of the Oklahoma Cosmetology and Barbering Act. In addition to redefining the term barbering it is also removing certain treatments from the description of a barber, including treatments with oils, creams and lotions.
Terms such as cosmetic studio, cosmetician and hair braiding technician would be removed from the act entirely and would not be required to obtain a license from the board. Demonstrators would also no longer need a demonstrator license, according to the bill.
“The bill essentially states that a license is not necessary to demonstrate cosmetics, act as a cosmetician, shampoo hair or braid hair,” Bergstrom said. “To require a license for someone to perform these limited duties is excessive and unnecessary.”
The bill is essentially deregulating the use, manipulation and application of cosmetic tools and products that do not include reactive chemicals or preparations which alter the structure or composition of hair, according to the language in the measure.
“Cosmetology licensing, including for those who are using chemicals in working with customers, will not and should not be changed,” Bergstrom said. “The terms are clearly defined in the bill.”
According to the bill, manicurists, cosmetologists, facial operators, barbers and related instructors will still be required to undergo training, examinations and licensure.
District 99 Rep. Ajay Pittman introduced a similar measure, House Bill 3091.
Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering Executive Director Sherry Lewelling encourages people to call their legislators.
“The legislators work for the public,” Lewelling said. “We're trying to stay on top of it. And try to keep everybody aware. Whether they agree with it or they don't agree with it, they still have a right to speak up and voice their opinion.”
Cosmetic departments that sell open cosmetics and demonstrate the cosmetics within stores and malls are considered to be “cosmetic studios.” They are required to have an establishment license. Each person working behind the counter is also required to have a demonstrator license, according to Lewelling.
“The only requirements for that demonstrators license is a safety sanitation test, and it's open book. And the purpose of it (the test) is to make them familiar with our sanitation practices,” Lewelling said. “The biggest health risk is probably eye infections… There's ways they can sanitize those palette. But if they don't practice those and they're not aware of how they can do that, then it becomes a risk.”
According to Lewelling, health and safety are her biggest concerns. The hair braiding program use to be 600 hours but has been reduced to 40 hours of safety and sanitation training and exam for a certificate. Since most hair braiding is a cultural trade the technicians have done since they were small children, they don’t need to be taught how.
While health risks are minimal with hair braiding, Lewelling said she is also concerned that those technicians be properly recognized as professionals in the industry.
“Even though it's a cultural trade, those individuals are still part of the industry and they deserve the recognition as such,” Lewelling said.
The hair braiding certificate is optional and only needed if they want to work in a licensed establishment, according to Lewelling.
“If they're just working out of their kitchen or their garage, they don't have to have the certificate,” Lewelling said. “That's really where some of our biggest health risks come from, because they're not trained on safety and sanitation.”
Lewelling said she would like the public to know there is a place they can call with complaints or any issues with services they receive. To reach the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering call 405-521-2441.
Note: Phone numbers and email addresses of area senators and representatives are on page 4 of each edition of the Woodward News.