ASHLEY: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory Hackett.
JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. How does a state government transition from considering the complete deregulation of haircutting to proposing a hair-only license at 600 hours?
ASHLEY: As California’s SB 803 moves through the legislative process, amendments have drastically changed the landscape for beauty pros in California and beyond. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Well, Jaime, there’s so much happening with SB 803 it’s time for an update because this bill has totally changed.
JAIME: Well, we actually foreshadowed that. We predicted this bill would totally change and to caution people against freaking out prematurely.
ASHLEY: And boy did they freak out. It’s interesting. I think you can tell where our listeners and other members of our industry are getting their information just based on the response to this bill. But what was once a bill that was downright threatening has now turned into something that I think shows some really great progress for California, of course, but also for the future of the industry across the country.
JAIME: And for those who think, well, California is just one state. There are 49 other states. Let me assure you that no state is more important to manufacturers, to textbook publishers, to testing companies, to the federal government than California. So that’s why it’s so important that the discussion that happens around this bill and what eventually ends up being in the bill itself in terms of the language is what’s best for the industry for today’s consumers and tomorrow’s.
ASHLEY: And what’s happening in California really foreshadows what will potentially happen as the rest of the states begin to adopt this pretty progressive and new way of looking at our industry. Let’s go over the highlights of what’s changed and what we can expect as this bill moves through the assembly and potentially becomes law very soon.
JAIME: The three big changes that were proposed earlier were things that we discussed in a previous episode and the thing that most concerns beauty professionals, and I can understand why, was that there was a proposal to deregulate haircutting and we tried to reassure everyone that that’s not likely to happen. And in fact, there was some conversation around, well, maybe we would be able to get that back in the language if we were to let go of styling. You know, maybe we just have to resign ourselves to not having people who style hair, shampoo, blow dry, curl non-chemically, maybe we just let that go. And as it turns out, we got it all back.
ASHLEY: Which is amazing, and I credit those working behind the scenes and working in a collaborative way with the lawmakers to help them understand the ramifications of deregulation of haircutting and styling would really mean for the public and public safety.
JAIME: It would have been the most drastic deregulation of any state. No state allows for haircutting without a license.
ASHLEY: And I think once that was made clear to those sponsoring the bill and their staff, I think we saw some more level-headed amendments come through the process. So hooray. As the bill is written today, haircutting and styling are still regulated under the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
JAIME: Right, and mind you, none of this actually changed the law. This is still all in a proposal. It’s still a bill. And at the point that we are in this process, we’ve already gone through the Senate where the bill was first introduced and discussed. And now we’re in the assembly and the assembly has made some significant amendments to the bill that just came through officially on July 15th. So that was just a few weeks ago. And if you’re still operating under the impression that California is going to deregulate haircutting, that means you haven’t updated yourself and that’s what we’re here to do today is to reassure you that we are not currently at risk of losing haircutting and styling to deregulation.
ASHLEY: Definitely. There was discussion initially that SB 803 was a bill that included some things that were potentially pretty detrimental to the industry. But since the beginning, this bill has reflected something really needed for estheticians, which is an update in their scope of practice.
JAIME: Yes. The old language was developed in 1978 and hasn’t been significantly revised since. So if you can imagine what it was like doing skincare back then compared to what is available to us now in terms of procedures and products. There’s just so much more, and the fact that skin covers our entire body and up until this point, estheticians were limited as to where they could perform their services on the body. They were allowed to wax wherever, but other types of skincare services were limited to the upper body.
ASHLEY: I know there was some concern about lashing and all of those sorts of things under SB 803’s previous versions. What can we tell estheticians listening that might be worried that eyelash extensions are going to be deregulated as well?
JAIME: So with regard to the eyelash extensions, it would seem that the SB 803 language would deregulate makeup application. So this is something that’s still a possibility of happening and because the original law around makeup is where the eyelash extensions were first mentioned, and, of course, then it was meant to be strip lashes, because again, going back to 1978 and earlier, we didn’t have lash extensions like we have them now. So that was an oversight and that language has since been added back to the bill and actually expanded on it to include tinting and perming of lashes and brows, which up until this point was something that only cosmos were allowed to do, cosmetologists, because they have that within their scope. I should add barbers also are allowed to color and chemically alter hair in terms of either straightening or curling. But up until that point, we probably find it more likely as part of an esthetician’s practice to handle lashes and brows.
ASHLEY: Well, the big one is the establishment of a new hairstylist license, meaning a hair-only license for California. What does that mean and how is it being received?
JAIME: This is something the board has been asking for for years because they realize that when they do these occupational analyses of licensees, like they’ll go to the population of cosmetologists and ask them through surveys, what do you spend your time doing? Very few cosmetologists do skincare or nails. They are primarily doing hair. It is why they wanted to get into the industry in the first place. But because the only way they could get licensed to do hair was to take a full cosmetology course, they had no other choice but to do that 1600-hour course and get a cosmetology license, but in actual practice, they really want to focus on hair. So it would make sense that the state offer a hair-only license. So not only did we go from this bill possibly potentially deregulating cutting and styling all the way to where the board wants this bill to be, which is to offer this option to students,to pursue a hair-only license with a couple of significant catches, however. The main catch right now is the way that this is written, it would not include chemical services. That’s something we still need to negotiate.
ASHLEY: Ooh, okay. Interesting.
JAIME: And it’s only 600 hours, which when you compare that to the new curriculum hours proposed for cosmetology and barbering at a thousand down from 1600 and 1500 respectively in California. If cosmetology and barbering come down to a thousand hours, does it make sense to have a hair only license at 600 hours? How much can you accomplish within that 600 hours? Can you fit in basic competency for coloring and straightening, or perming, or any other sort of chemical service?
ASHLEY: Yeah. What would be the benefit of having a 600 hour hair-only license if it’s just for cutting and styling, where if you go for 400 more hours, you are a full blown cosmetologist? So that’s something I think still needs to be ironed out, but that will be fascinating to watch. And I know there’s additional language that was added, or restored with regard to externships and other things. What about the all important item we’ve talked about in a previous episode, the practical exam?
JAIME: That’s still going forward as being eliminated.
ASHLEY: So if all of these items in SB 803 were to pass, when would all of this become effective?
JAIME: This bill would be effective January 1st, 2022, which doesn’t give us much time to react to a lot of what’s being proposed. And again, we’re just at this point now. This is not the final version. We still have a number of opportunities to influence what it looks like. The next step for this bill as of now is for it to go through the appropriations committee also on the assembly side. And once it clears the committee, then it would go to the full house, the full assembly, and then it still has to bounce back over to the Senate so that the Senate has the last say that all of the changes that happened over the course of its process is okay with the house of origin, which was the Senate.
ASHLEY: Okay, so several steps yet. So if there’s something in this bill that someone listening either loves or really does not want to end up in this final bill, there’s still some recourse and there’s still some time for them to take action.
JAIME: There is time to take action and to contact their representatives, both assembly and Senate, to share their opinions. And I would urge that they revisit our advice on how to make contact, more important to do the research before you make contact, because you don’t want to be speaking to older versions of this bill. In fact, your comment would likely get dismissed out of hand if you’re not speaking to the most current version, because those other things they will have considered partially if not completely resolved already. So in other words, don’t argue about deregulating haircutting when that’s not even an issue anymore. We’re not talking about that anymore because that’s not part of the bill.
ASHLEY: Sure. Are there any other items that we should highlight on SB 803, just so that anybody listening who hopefully has listened to our previous episodes on SB 803 knows moving forward and has a good kind of operational understanding of the bill?
JAIME: Well, there’s some gamesmanship here that applies not just to individuals in California, but for beauty professionals across the country. One of those things is that if you were licensed in another state and wanted to seek a California license, the requirement was that you had to be active for three of the last five years, and your license had to be in good standing, and, of course, the scopes of practice had to match up. Like you can’t apply for a cosmetology license in California if in fact you had some sort of hair-only license from another state, right? Those scopes of practice wouldn’t align. But if this bill were to pass as it’s written now, the requirement that you be active for a certain number of years, that you have held your license for any amount of time really, would completely go away. So that means you could get licensed in Ohio and then the next day apply to California if you wanted to have a license to work in California also.
JAIME: That might give some people cause to reconsider a move or other things like where they might go to school if they’re not even licensed yet. Think about that. Think about the possibility of attending a beauty school in another state, getting licensed in that state, and then applying to California right away, and being licensed in California as if you had gone to school here and taken our exam.
ASHLEY: There’s a lot to unpack there.
JAIME: There is a lot to unpack there. And this is why so many of the schools are scrambling and the school owners are definitely freaking out because I think they see this as a means of diluting what they do when, in fact, I think the opportunity to serve more students if they had that hair-only license and could process a student through their program in 600 hours, I think that’d be awesome. I mean, they still would qualify for financial aid at the federal level because it’s over that 600-hour threshold. There is a lot to unpack. Or even just the choice of which program you enroll in. If you really, truly only wanted to do hair and you were thinking about starting a cosmetology program, why not just wait? Why not just wait a couple of months and do it in a thousand hours, and hopefully pay less money in doing so, and just focus on learning about the services that you want to provide, as opposed to getting started in a program where you’re locked in to 1600 hours because you will have already started it. That’s something we don’t know, like what is the state going to do with students who are already actively enrolled in a program.
ASHLEY: I guess that remains to be seen.
JAIME: How about taking your test? If you were graduating and you were going to get a test date. So for example, right now in California, if you were to apply for the test, you could take your written test right away because we know there are many facilities that offer that computer-based test. You still need to schedule a time, but much more accessible than just the two locations we’ve talked about previously that offer the practical exam. If you applied today, you likely would not get a date for your practical exam until late fall. Well, if January 1, you don’t even need the practical exam, why would you even bother? Why not just wait?
ASHLEY: Yeah, and just wait until, and that’s unfortunate because you could potentially be licensed in September, and ready to go, and yes, it is another hoop to jump through. But if you can’t wait those three months, yeah, that’s, that’s the thing about making such overarching sweeping changes to the laws that govern our industry is that what do you do with those people who are kind of in limbo, and moving their way through the process, doing it correctly, going by the book, and doing all the things they’re supposed to be doing just to have it not matter, you know, three weeks later.
JAIME: I would hope, and I would expect this to be the case, that the government will always err in the favor of the student. For example, like they’re not going to hold you to that 1600-hour course if at this point, they say you only need a thousand hours. I would hope that they would shift the burden onto the school to come up with a solution that gets students through the program faster.
ASHLEY: Okay. So as it stands right now with the current amendments that have been made and are moving through the assembly, what is the board’s position on all of this and how are they feeling about the changes that have happened?
JAIME: Well, the majority of the board supported the bill last go round with amendments and the assembly has essentially delivered on every amendment request that the board asked for, so there’s very little to discuss there. Most of what the board wanted is back in the bill. So that the practical exam did not come back, or is not being set aside as something that we can’t touch, that it will be eliminated, our industry has to realize this is something the board believes to be in the best interest of the industry is that there not be a practical exam.
ASHLEY: Well, and I think we know and have established in previous episodes that those that are loudest about the practical exam are those that gain financially from there being a practical exam. So dig a little deeper under the surface, you’ll likely find that most of the people that are against this bill with its current amendments have some sort of financial stake in maintaining the status quo.
JAIME: So when our board’s most recent meeting where these newer amendments were presented and the board was asked again, where do we stand as a board? They have the same position which was support with amendments. The subject that was not addressed in the previous version of this bill was language around externships. So now that that’s been added in through the assembly amendments, that was the focus of the board’s discussion at its most recent meeting was this language about how much time can extern spend working in a salon. Should they be paid or not? How much time overall of the program can be spent as an extern versus spending that time in the beauty school itself? These were all subject of discussion.
ASHLEY: And yet still maintaining support if amended status?
JAIME: Yes. So now what the board will do is go back and say, we still support of course, because you’ve given us everything we’ve wanted. Now that we have these new things to discuss, we’d like to see these amendments around the externship program.
ASHLEY: Oh, this is definitely not a quick process, even though this bill is moving quickly now towards the end of its life. This is something that has been in the works since 2018.
JAIME: It’s gone through a number of personnel changes on the legislative side of things because with each new legislative session, two-year session, the leadership can assign different leaders to the committees. So this started with one Senator, Senator Hill, moved to Senator Glazer, and now we’re on to Senator Roth. And so one of the myths we’ve tried to dispel is that somehow the language of the bill, that the bill exists at all, is due to the influence and financial support of corporations, whether they be chain salons or manufacturers, and that’s just not the case. We’ve tried to dispel that as much as we possibly can by pointing out that this is a sunset bill, and this is a process the legislature does on its own whether we have any say or not, whether we insert our opinions into the process or not, this would go forward.
ASHLEY: Yeah, this is something that was set in motion long ago and now that we’re all paying attention, it seems like most of our industry is still playing catch up on what the bill is currently. And so for anyone listening who is new to us or new to the subject of SB 803, what do you want them to know before we wrap?
JAIME: What I’d want them to know is that we have resources for you. Go read the bill for yourself. You could read the analysis to get background on how did we get here. Why is this happening? All that information is readily available. And it’s the sort of information that you need to arm yourself with because when you do start engaging with the board or engaging with legislators, you may have some great ideas, but if you don’t understand the process, if you don’t understand how the process is meant to play out, then you’re going to be at a great disadvantage. And we see that even in the board meetings when public comments are made, where people are complaining, well, you didn’t ask my opinion. I never heard about this. You’re not going to get an invitation from the board to submit your comments on this process. The legislature does not reach out to individuals unless you have made yourself what they consider to be a valued stakeholder. And this is why we have organizations. This is why we have outlets like Outgrowth to inform you as if you were already a valued stakeholder because you’re valued to us. We value you. This is why we dive into such detail on these subjects is because we want you to feel as if you have more information than the average beauty pro or salon owner.
ASHLEY: So much more to come on SB 803. We will, of course, keep everybody abreast of what’s going on, whether it’s through episodes like this or through our social media, namely our Instagram, which is where most of the conversation is happening. So please feel free to follow us there at @outgrowthpodcast and let us know your thoughts on SB 803 or any of our episodes.
JAIME: If you’re enjoying Outgrowth or learn something new, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts with one click. Just visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: And I’m not sure why that matters for the algorithm or whatever, but it definitely helps us reach more listeners and new listeners. So if you can take five minutes to do that, we would really appreciate it. More to come, like I said, on SB 803 and we will make sure everybody has the newest, latest, and most accurate information possible. Make sure you follow along for more on this and yeah, Jaime, thanks for the update.
JAIME: Well, thank you, Ashley.
ASHLEY: All right, everybody. Until next week, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.