When I need my hair cut, I go to my local barber shop. My barber, Carol, is a lovely person and decent barber. She has better and worse days, but either way, my hair gets cut. She knows how I like my hair cut, and she doesn’t charge enough, so I always give her a generous tip. She doesn’t discriminate, and is more than happy to cut women’s hair for $14 too, but I can’t remember ever seeing a woman in her shop waiting her turn for a haircut.
In the back corner of her shop is a sink, one of those sinks with a cut out in the front to place the back of your neck so someone can wash you hair. I’ve never seen anyone use the sink. I’ve never seen anyone get their hair washed at the barber shop. I wash my hair before getting it cut. Carol doesn’t need to cut some guy’s dirty hair. Gross.
New York has a law pending to require that anyone who washes hair for a fee be a “shampoo assistant,” and have a license to prove it. It only requires a 500 hour course, half the 1000 hour course required for cosmetology. It’s being pushed by Democratic Legislator Carrie Woerner and Senator Jan Meltzer. What, exactly, could possibly fill those 500 hours is beyond my fertile imagination, Lather, rinse, repeat, taken literally?
Washing hair is the sort of thing that almost all of us learn to do as a child without much by way of training. Doing it to others, for a fee, might require some additional instruction. Maybe an hour or two, if one gets really fancy about how to properly drape a cover on a customer. Add in ten hours of diversity and cultural awareness training, and what else could be needed. I looked for some explanation of what could possibly be taught that took 500 hours and found nothing.
John Vezza, whose family has owned Astor Hair in New York City for 75 years,…told The Post. “A 10-year-old kid would be qualified enough to wash someone’s hair.”
But included in bills under consideration is a “justification” section, so at the very least, it would have to say why this 500 hour course in shampooing was needed to get a “shampoo assistant certificate.”
Currently all students who are enrolled in a Health Occupations licens- ing program are required to participate in a school supervised, clinical setting in a Health Care Facility (i.e. hospital, nursing home, long term care facility, etc.). They perform hands-on procedures that are an extension of the instructional program under the direct supervision of a licensed health care professional. This experience allows the individual to gain valuable employability skills and supports the career readiness skills needed for success in the world of work in their chosen career pathway. The exposure for cosmetology students has been limited to observation only work-based learning experiences in salons. Under the current regu- lations, they are not allowed to perform shampoo services on clients and salons are reluctant to hire students with this limitation. Observing advanced procedures and techniques in a salon setting allows students to gain knowledge and skills to better prepare them to successfully complete the licensing exams. This certification will also provide students with an opportunity to gain paid employment and will encourage them to follow through and complete the licensing requirements.
Are salons “reluctant”? Not as far as anyone else, like salons, say. The only way to get “certified” is to attend a school. The only schools that offer the required courses are for profit. In this instance, it’s the same schools that provide cosmetology training, which is 1000 hours, but only half is needed to be certified to shampoo.
The Senate bill’s explanation is a little less wordy than the Assembly’s, but includes the same words, “paid employment.”
To provide an opportunity for students enrolled in a cosmetology licens- ing program to gain hands-on salon experience and paid employment during such licensing program, while also expanding future career opportu- nities.
This makes it sound pretty darned thoughtful of the government to help out those inchoate cosmetologists by expanding their career opportunities to a future as a shampoo assistant, or at least get a gig washing hair while furthering one’s career with the second 500 hours of training needed for a full cosmetology license.
The cynical justification for this seemingly absurd requirement is that the schools that teach these courses occasionally give a campaign donation, and since the New York Times doesn’t often concern itself with ridiculous legislation by democratic lawmakers in New York, they can sneak this mutt through without anyone noticing. At worst, they only need to scream “Trump” and any detractors will immediately lose focus.
The S&S folks are going to bat for cosmetology schools, which charge upward of $13,000 for their programs and pay dues to the group.
And, as Betsy McCaughey noted on these pages last week, S&S’s lobbyist has donated thousands to the lawmakers sponsoring the bill.
“That New York is even considering a 500-hour training requirement to shampoo hair shows that . . . certain legislators have been captured by hard-lobbying cosmetology schools,” Institute for Justice senior attorney Dan Alban tells us.
Dan argues that this has nothing to do with public health and safety, but is just a means of making money for cosmetology schools. Other “regulated” occupations are said to have onerous entry requirements to keep out competition.
State licensing abuses extend to many other occupations, from hair braiding and makeup artistry to interior designer and landscape architecture. The goal is always to keep out competition.
This may be true, but lumping occupations together is fraught with false equivalencies, which doesn’t necessarily help to distinguish when some sort of public assurance of competence is needed from when it’s not.
Struggling to make some sense of this from a practical perspective, since no one could possibly believe that 500 hours of training are needed to learn to shampoo, and no one could possibly believe that anyone would pay $13,000 for a glorious future as a certified shampoo assistant, it finally clicked for me why this might be happening.
It’s a means of precluding anyone but those paying for the 1000 hours of cosmetology to nab that sweet “paid employment” as a shampoo assistant while continuing their 1000 hours pursuit of a cosmetology license. In other words, the shampoo gig is just a sweetener to keep paying for the next license by forcing salons not to hire fully competent 10-year-olds and only cosmetology students halfway through their course.
I asked Carol whether she plans to hire a shampoo assistant if this bill is enacted. She told me to tilt my head forward so she could cut the back of my hair, that I already washed at home before going to the barber despite my never having taken a course in shampooing.