Threading Licensing in Texas Tied Up in Debate, Lawsuit

By Monica Luhar, India-West Staff Reporter, March 28, 2012

Recent state regulations and citations issued to eyebrow threaders by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation have prompted attorneys and businessmen across the nation to challenge the constitutionality and definition of cosmetology in the eyebrow industry. 

For most individuals, facial threading is a quick, safe and inexpensive technique that removes unwanted hair. 

Many businessmen like Ashish Patel from Austin, Texas, one of eight plaintiffs in a 2009 lawsuit against the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, told India-West last week that he was forced to close down a co-owned business, Perfect Browz, in 2008, after he discovered that the state and department started enforcing cosmetology requirements and began issuing pricy thousand-dollar citations to threaders who were not licensed. Additionally, he was unable to find individuals who were licensed. 

Prior to Perfect Browz, Patel worked in the lodging industry but was drawn to the threading business because of its popularity. 

“I’m no longer in the eyebrow threading business because I can’t find people who have licenses and are willing to do threading,” Patel told India-West. 

“This is not necessarily about Ash Patel and his Perfect Browz business; it’s about thousands of threaders in the state of Texas who want to use their techniques they have learned back home,” he added.

Patel noted that most individuals are now forced to perform eyebrow threading underground, or having to move to other states like California, a state that doesn’t require a cosmetology license. 

“I know a lot of people who have left Texas to go to states like California,” said the Indian American. 

In recent years, Texas has been regulating and enforcing rules that require those practicing eyebrow threading to obtain a facialist specialty license or a general cosmetology license. Eyebrow threaders in the five states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona are currently exempt from state regulation and cosmetology licenses.

The state of California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology lists threading as one of three services exempt from cosmetology licensing. The other two services include natural hair braiding and wigs. 

On March 15, Arizona Governor Janice Brewer signed HB 2262, a bill that exempts threaders in the state of Arizona from obtaining a cosmetology license. The bill was drafted with the help of attorneys from the Institute of Justice and was sponsored by representative Heather Carter of Phoenix. 

In 2009, out of frustration and the wish to help other businesspeople faced with similar issues, Patel decided to approach the Institute of Justice, a civil liberties law firm, in Austin, Texas, where he met attorney Wesley Hottot. 

Eight plaintiffs, including Patel, filed a lawsuit Dec. 8, 2009, against the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in an effort to challenge the courts and determine whether the state of Texas and its “threading-licensing scheme” was constitutional. 

Recently, the lawsuit came before an appeals court in Texas. Originally, a trial court had ruled in favor of the government, but now, plaintiffs in the case are asking the court to reconsider and determine whether it violates the constitution. Hottot confirmed that the hearing had taken place and that in about three to six months, the court will issue an opinion regarding the constitutionality of the regulations.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation public information officer Susan Stanford said that threaders need to be licensed for health and sanitary reasons. 

“Threading is a cosmetology procedure as defined by Texas cosmetology law. Our position is that they need to be licensed not only for the protection of the consumer, but also for the protection of the person performing threading,” Stanford told India-West.

According to Stanford, a cosmetology operator, cosmetology aesthetician or a cosmetology esthetician manicurist can perform threading. 

Attending a beauty school and completing the necessary training is important, according to Stanford. “It ensures that they have a minimal amount of knowledge because they are required to take a test and pass the test to get a cosmetology license. They are also required to take continuing education which includes sanitation.” 

Hottot explained to India-West that eyebrow threading is a booming and popular industry in the state of Texas because it is cheaper, faster and much more effective than other western cosmetology techniques. But now, many individuals have been forced to shut down their businesses due to regulation and citations from cosmetology inspectors. 

“This is more than an inconvenience. It is the government telling individuals to leave their jobs for a minimum of four months,” Hottot told India-West.

Hottot explained that a general cosmetology operator license costs anywhere from $9,000 to $22,000, depending on the beauty school or program one chooses to attend. 

In order to obtain a cosmetology license, individuals must spend either 750 or 1500 hours at a beauty school, according to a report issued by the Institute of Justice. 

“The net effect is not to improve the safety of threading; it’s to teach threaders how to do conventional tweezing, masking, makeup, chemistry and waxing. All of these things have nothing to do with what threaders do,” said Hottot. 

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