There are some very specific and somewhat obscure (at least to the general public) laws regulating the world of beauty. At least in the state of California and inside and out of barber shops and salons.
First of all, comes the agency. In California, you have the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (“BBC”) which governs barbers, cosmetologists, and others in the barbering and beauty industry. Its mission is “[t]o ensure the health and safety of California consumers by promoting ethical standards and by enforcing the laws of the barbering and beauty industry.” On average, the BBC receives over 3,000 complaints a year, ranging from gross negligence/incompetence, sanitary issues, unlicensed activity, and misrepresentation or false advertising of services. Only a fraction of these complaints actually result in disciplinary action.
The laws are very specific over what types of hair styling can only be performed by a licensed professional. Under Business and Professions Code § 7316(b)(1), you need a license for “[a]rranging, dressing, curling, waving, machineless permanent waving, permanent waving, cleansing, cutting, shampooing, relaxing, singeing, bleaching, tinting, coloring, straightening, dyeing, applying hair tonics to, beautifying, or otherwise treating by any means, the hair of any person.” However, under subsection (d), a license is not required for natural hair braiding or for the styling of wigs.
There are situations where hair and makeup artists are not required to be licensed. There is a list of individuals who are exempt from the licensing requirement under § 7319 of the Business and Profession Code. For example, if you work in the theatrical, radio, television, or motion picture production industry, you do not need a license to perform hair and makeup.
Barber Pole
A more arcane laws seems like it would come write out of an absurdist novel. Take for example, barber poles – those striped cylinders outside of barber shops. Those are not purely decorative. Rather, displaying one without the proper licenses is a violation of the Business and Professions Code. Only an establishment that employs a state-licensed barber is allowed to have a barber pole in or on the outside of the establishment, otherwise it is considered an unfair business practice Under Business and Professions Code § 7349.1. An administrative fine can be assessed for this violation, according to the fine schedule of California Code of Regulations § 974(a).
And we won’t be seeing “fish pedicures” in California anytime soon. Fish pedicures involve live fish eating dead skin off of a person’s feet.  The BBC has determined that these types of pedicures violate the current health and safety regulations. Fish cannot be properly disinfected before use on each patron as required under California Code of Regulations § 979(a). As a result, under § 981(a), the fish would have to be disposed of after every use. The foot basin holding the live fish is also an issue as that too cannot be disinfected after each patron’s use and violates § 980.3.  Violating these sections can result in an administrative fine and/or disciplinary action. Disciplinary actions include probation, suspension, and/or revocation of personal as well as establishment licenses.
So what happens when you run afoul of these restrictions? Well, your wallet might be getting a hair cut – with most penalties resulting in fines. But many administrative fines can be avoided by providing the BBC with written proof that the violation has been corrected (BPC § 7409). Yet, some fines have been found to be un-waivable, such as the barber pole violation. Even if you take down the pole (which you should unless you want to pay higher fines for repeat violations), you still have to pay the fine.
Citations for disciplinary actions on the other hand, are appealable within 30 days of receipt and an informal appeal hearing will be scheduled with the Board’s Disciplinary Review Committee (BPC § 973.6). Licensees are allowed to be represented by legal counsel at these hearings.