My Life As A Hairstylist

Salon owner, hairstylist, educator, product maker, photographer

Licensing and Regulation of Hairdressers



Firstly, let me state that I am not a fan of deregulation. I believe if a state or province is currently regulated then it should continue to be. There is no reason to do anything but raise standards that are already in place if there is no added cost to the taxpayer.

But governments should not consider regulating an industry without evidence that said industry requires regulation. This evidence cannot be anecdotal.

Twelve years ago the British Columbia government decided that hairdressing was not an area that required government oversight and that resources could be put to better use. And in the 12 years since deregulation, membership in the formerly governing association, now called the Beauty Council, has become voluntary. Membership has obviously plummeted, from about 20,000 to under 4000. And many of those members are aging and only keep up their membership out of habit. As they retire or leave the industry, the numbers continue to diminish.

Since deregulation, The Beauty Council has constantly made claims of increasing complaints of injury and poor service and that the public has been put at risk. This is also what pro-regulation advocates in the United States claim would happen if they were to deregulate.

I recently asked the Beauty Council if there were any statistics to support their claims and the only evidence given to me was a newspaper article from several years ago with an interview with the then Chair of the Beauty Council stating that they were inundated with calls from consumers every day with complaints. Not a single actual statistic or evidence to support the claim, just like the latest article on the subject, linked below. And I would also argue that the consumer would likely never actually reach out to the Beauty Council or any governing body if they were unhappy or injured. A bad experience would likely result in a negative Yelp review and an injury would likely result in a call to a lawyer, not an organization that the majority of consumers is unaware even exists.

So there are absolutely no statistics or evidence to indicate that standards in the beauty industry in British Columbia have degraded in any way, in cleanliness or injury. And as an aside, cleanliness and hygiene standards have always been and continue to be the role of the municipal health board and they absolutely still monitor the industry. All salons are surprise inspected regularly.

But more importantly, to say that clients never had their hair damaged or issues during licensing is disingenuous and ridiculous. There have always been inexperienced stylists entering the industry as well as countless bad hairdressers screwing up people’s hair. And there always will be.

The upside is that the beauty industry is and has always been self-regulating. If a salon is dirty and gross and the stylists aren’t meeting hygienic standards or they aren’t good at what they do, then people will not go there and the salon will close. And all new hairdressers generally suck at hair and if they never get better then they will not succeed and will likely leave the industry.

I was not a fan of deregulation initially but now that we are 12 years into it and since there is literally no evidence of difference in what the consumer can expect in service, it is ridiculous to try to force regulation for the sake of regulation. Government should only be involved where they are needed, and hairdressing is now proven to not need any additional government regulations.

The Beauty Council, and all other associations should be looking for ways to make people want to be involved first and foremost.  I attended the 2015 AGM of the Beauty Council. It was in a beautiful location in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The city of Vancouver has at least 800 licensed hair salons, about a quarter of those in the downtown core. There were exactly 3 Vancouver salons represented that day, and maybe 30 people total.

Attempting to scare the public is not the right way to make membership. Rebuilding relationships and trust, while creating exciting new opportunities for membership is what is needed. Show members where their money is going and what the upside of membership is. Show potential members what they can expect in return from joining. Forcing people to comply will only breed resentment.

I hate fear mongering and this CBC article and interview is nothing but that.

5 thoughts on “Licensing and Regulation of Hairdressers

  1. Another intelligent post – thanks Michael. Also very timely as there is a loud and, I think, largely illogical argument being waged here in the UK by the Hair Council for mandatory registration of hairdressers.

    I think licensing places an unnecessary financial burden on salons and fails in its aims to protect consumers – if we want higher standards the blame for failure currently lies neatly at the door of training providers and the way vocational qualifications are funded and structured.

    Furthermore, I don’t believe in a paternalistic approach to regulation on this matter. Consumers need to be able to make their own choices based on reliable and transparent information – if they want to take a chance on a salon with a poor reputation it isn’t the job of regulation to step in.

    I was, in fact, a State Registered Senior Hairdresser for three years. I was never asked to produce my registration by a customer, neither has any customer asked to see my qualifications. Our work speaks for itself, and our insurance company has enough rules in place to protect staff and customers.

    Rant over.
    Phil x

  2. I would think customers think a hairdresser is qualified to be a hairdresser when they work in a salon hence perhaps why customers don’t ask. I wish the industry was regulated because currently we have a retired hairdresser cutting people’s hair in his 1 bedroom condo without a license, doubtful that the City of Vancouver would agree to giving him a licence operating in this location anyway. It shouldn’t be allowed and customers cause a nuisance parking in the driveway entrance of our parking lot. We do have bylaws forbidding home based businesses however thought council members are aware they have don’t nothing to stop it. His customers get cheap hair cuts and are not interested in what is right either.

    • This is a totally important issue but has nothing to do with licensing and regulation. He could very well be a licensed stylist. I am because I went to school more than 15 years ago when it was mandatory. I’ve never had to renew anything since then.

      The issue is with him performing a likely cash business in a residence, certainly without a business license. This truly degrades the industry and also hurts our population because it’s all under the table and not taxed I’m sure.

      Call the city and complain. Get him fined.

  3. We have a retired hairdresser working out of a one bedroom condo in our building in Vancouver. He can see up to 8 women per day. He has clients coming during this pandemic- doesn’t appear to care that there are many in this building who are in the at risk group. There should be some regulating to stop such people from operating. The selfishness of the women coming to our building is another issue.

    • Hi Renita,

      I’m sorry this took so long. The best thing to do is call the city on him. He likely doesn’t have a business license and is working illegally. The city will fine him.
      And also complain to the landlord or strata council.
      I strongly dislike home salons as I believe they degrade my industry.

      Good luck.

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