The unkindest cut of all

Cosmetologists want Legislature to renew industry regulations

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Laws regulating the cosmetology industry could expire in July if the Colorado General Assembly doesn't pass legislation to extend them.

If the laws are allowed to expire, the effect could be especially powerful in Craig, home to a cosmetology school and an abundance of hair salons.

Under the Sunset Review, cosmetologists are required to obtain licenses to practice their trade.

"Just like any other licensed profession, people with licenses want the licenses to stay," said Karen Stillion, an instructor at Colorado Northwestern Community College Cosmetology School.

State Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, has introduced legislation that would extend the Sunset Review until 2015. The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee passed the bill Tuesday. It now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

Stillion doubted the General Assembly would allow the Sunset Review to expire, but Tracy Caddy, cosmetology director at CNCC, said there was a chance they would. If the regulations expire, she was concerned about what would happen to the school, which instructs an average of 20 students.

"It could have a tremendous effect, because no one would go to school to cut hair if they didn't need a license," Caddy said.

Cosmetologists take 1,450 hours of classes to obtain their licenses, which need to be renewed every five years.

Angela Balizet earned her license in Craig and works at Imagemakers. The book work was intense, she said. Students studied biology, chemistry and anatomy from the chest up.

Having a license is a safety issue, she said.

"We learn how to use shears that will cut you like you won't believe," she said, while dyeing Liz Campbell's hair Thursday afternoon.

Campbell said she would want her hair stylist to be licensed.

"You want your doctor to have a license," Campbell said.

Some of the most common safety issues concern bacterial infections, Caddy said. If cosmetologists don't properly sterilize their instruments, they could spread bacterial or fungal infections to their clients.

The expiration of the laws also could result in even more salons opening in Craig. If people think competition is stiff now, Caddy said, just wait until anyone can open a salon without any education.

But Caddy and Stillion thought that renewing the Sunset Review wasn't enough to protect their industry.

The state doesn't enforce the laws that are in place now. Although state employees inspect salons, they hardly ever drive to Craig to conduct inspections.

"We have so many salons in this state that are not up to code. We have salons in this town that are not up to code," Caddy said.

However, cosmetologists practicing without a license are not much of a problem, Stillion said.

Some lawmakers favor allowing the laws to expire because they want to save money, Caddy said.

A five-member advisory council costs the state about $4,000 annually. Neither Stillion nor Caddy thought the council needed to be continued.

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