A hairy dispute: Lawmakers asked to remove sugaring from cosmetology regulations

bill that could settle a legal dispute over the popular ancient Egyptian form of hair removal called sugaring is getting a look in the Legislature.

The Kansas Justice Institute on Tuesday asked lawmakers to remove the practice of sugaring from the regulations of the state Cosmetology Board.

The institute is representing a Hays woman, who filed a lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court arguing that state regulations requiring her to get a license to practice sugaring are unconstitutionally burdensome.

KJI litigation director Sam MacRoberts appeared before Senate health committee on Tuesday during a brief hearing. The Kansas Justice Institute is part of the free-market-oriented Kansas Policy Institute.

MacRoberts said his client, Bryn Green, wants to start a sugaring business, but can’t because of the number of hours that are required to get a cosmetology license.

“There’s no need to require 1,500 hours of irrelevant schooling to learn how to perform sugaring,” MacRoberts said.

“Sugaring takes maybe an hour to learn and how to – if you don’t know this – wash your hands before you do it,” he said.

He said less than 1% of the cosmetology curriculum is devoted to sugaring – if it’s taught at all.

He said the practical examination to get a cosmetology license doesn’t test for sugaring, either.

“In order to become a sugarer, you’re going to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars  at an expensive cosmetology school to learn completely irrelevant things and get tested on irrelevant subjects,” he said.

There was no opposition to the bill at Tuesday’s hearing.

Considered as an alternative to waxing, sugaring involves using a paste made with a mix of sugar, lemon juice and water. It’s  applied to the skin in the direction of hair growth.

A cloth or fabric is applied to the paste. It’s then pealed off in the opposite direction of hair growth. The practice dates back thousands of years.

The lawsuit says Green can’t practice sugaring unless she gets a license, which would require her to complete 1,000 or 1,500 hours of instruction in a cosmetology or an esthetician school.

After completing the program, Green would have to complete two exams, neither of which have anything to do with the sugaring technique, according to the lawsuit.

Because the exams are written, the lawsuit said, students are not tested on the safe practice of sugaring.

The cost of going to school could be as much as $19,000.

The case is similar to one that the Kansas Justice Institute brought in 2020 on behalf of a Johnson County cosmetologist and her family over what they said were excessive regulations for eyebrow threading.

Jigisha Modi, her husband and mother-in-law filed a lawsuit alleging that state regulations for threading violated their state constitutional right to “conduct business free from unreasonable governmental interference.”

The lawsuit contended that the regulations kept Jigisha Modi from hiring her mother-in-law, who has 30 years of threading experience.

The lawsuit said 1,000 hours are required to become a licensed esthetician in Kansas, of which only 40 are devoted to hair removal.

The plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the lawsuit after the Legislature passed a law exempting the practice of eyebrow threading from the regulations of the state Cosmetology Board.

The bill allowed someone to practice eyebrow threading without being a certified cosmetologist.