Texas Threading Regulations Raise Eyebrows
India West, News Report, Sunita Sohrabji Posted: Dec 19, 2009
Editor’s Note: Eyebrow threading, which originated in India, is catching on in the United States. The state of Texas, however, wants threaders to carry a cosmetology license.
The Institute of Justice filed suit Dec. 8 against the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, saying the state is overstepping its bounds by requiring eyebrow threaders to undergo 1500 hours of training towards a license.
The ancient Indian art of threading has become an increasingly popular alternative to eyebrow waxing or tweezing, as salons and mall kiosks offering the service — for about $5 per brow — proliferate across the nation.
The chemical-free technique — in which a taut piece of cotton string is drawn across the brows, pulling out several hairs at once — has fewer side effects than waxing, which removes a layer of skin, along with the hair. It is practiced largely by South Asian and Middle Eastern women, many of them newer immigrants.
“The state is trying to shut down the industry,” Wesley Hottot, staff attorney at IJ’s Texas chapter, told India-West, adding that the costs of obtaining a license were prohibitive for many of the women in the profession.
“It’s $20,000 and a year of their lives,” said Hottot, referring to the cost associated with 1,500 hours of training at most Texas beauty schools. “If you’re an immigrant to this country, and want to (realize) your American dream, you’re at a real disadvantage.”
Moreover, the mandated training offers no instruction in threading, said Hottot, adding that women are instead taught nail and hair care, which are “irrelevant” to their profession.
The Institute for Justice, a national civil liberties law firm, is also seeking a temporary injunction against the state to stop it from levying fines on unlicensed threaders until the suit is settled. The Travis County District Court denied the request last week, saying it needed to see more evidence of injury to the plaintiffs in the suit.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation issued 42 citations to eyebrow threaders in the fiscal year 2009, with fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. It has already issued six citations for the fiscal year 2010, which began in September.
Susan Stanford, public information officer for the TDLR, told India-West the state is concerned about sanitation requirements for eyebrow threaders. “We’re very concerned with the health and well-being of our citizens,” she said.
Two of the 42 citations issued by the state last year were a result of consumer complaint, said Stanford.
Eyebrow threading is currently regulated by state law on cosmetology, under a section pertaining to the removal of superfluous hair, said Stanford, adding that a second section of state law pertaining to hair removal with tweezers or chemicals could also be applied to eyebrow threading.
Hair braiding businesses in Texas also required a cosmetology license until 2007, when the state allowed special certification for practitioners. Asked whether special certification could also be allowed for threaders, Stanford said that would be up to the Texas legislature.
Hottot said that requiring eyebrow threaders to obtain costly licenses was contrary to its reputation as a state that encouraged entrepreneurship and small businesses.
“The state is keeping out the competition,” he said.
The California State Legislature this June passed a bill removing threading from the purview of the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
“Threading is a much sought after and growing component of the health and beauty industry and remains a critical source of revenue for many small businesses and their communities,” said Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Norwalk, the author of the bill.
The process does not involve the use of heat or chemicals making it a quick and reliable procedure, said Mendoza, in a statement after his bill had passed the Legislature.
“This bill will serve consumers, businesses that offer the service and the economy in general,” he said.
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