Barbers v. cosmetologists

The battle between barbers and cosmetologists is one of those classic organized interest battles that most of us seldom notice. However, an Austin-American Statesman story highlights the clash over the regulation of the grooming industry in Texas. This debate is no small matter to the state’s 110,000 licensed cosmetologists and 13,000 barbers.

Floyd the barber

Floyd the barber

The fight is over the right to shave. Currently, only barbers can legally offer a shave. Cosmetologists are battling over the right to shave as well as the meaning of “shave.”  The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation regulates 29 occupations and industries in Texas (including both cosmetologists and barbers). The TCLR uses advisory boards from each profession to guide them.

Does Texas really need distinct categories for cosmetologists and barbers? Does Texas need any regulation of the people who tend to our hair? This may not be the sexiest of regulatory issues, but the conflict over who we trust to shave the public seems pretty typical in many regards.

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