Cosmetology regulations challenged

A Hays woman is challenging state cosmetology regulations that would require her to get a license to practice the popular ancient Egyptian form of hair removal called sugaring.

Bryn Green has filed a lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court arguing that state regulations requiring her to get a license are unconstitutionally burdensome.

“The only thing standing between Bryn Green and her dream business is the government’s unreasonable, arbitrary, oppressive and unconstitutional occupational licensing regime involving sugaring, a safe and effective temporary hair removal technique,” says the lawsuit filed on Green’s behalf by the Kansas Justice Institute.

The Kansas Justice Institute is part of the free-market-oriented Kansas Policy Institute.

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 defendant’s occupational licensing regime involving sugaring is unreasonable, irrational, arbitrary, oppressive, protectionist and not appropriately tailored to fit the practice of sugaring — it is unconstitutional.”

Green, who has a bachelor’s in agricultural business from Fort Hays State University, wants to practice sugaring to support her family.

“People shouldn’t be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars on irrelevant cosmetology school, and take irrelevant examinations, just to be able to use sugar, lemon juice, and water, to safely remove unwanted hair,” KJI litigation director Sam MacRoberts said.

“It shouldn’t be a crime to use sugar, lemon juice, and water to remove unwanted hair,” MacRoberts said in a statement.

“There’s no good reason for the state of Kansas to force someone to attend 1,500 hours of irrelevant and expensive schooling.”

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 says 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.