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December 18, 2014

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Makeup artists’ lawsuit doesn’t powder over dispute with Cosmetology Board

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Steve Marcus

Doran Arik, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, speaks during a news conference at the L Makeup Institute in the Holsum Lofts Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Makeup artists Wendy Robin and Lissette Waugh, with help from the Institute for Justice law firm, have filed a federal lawsuit against the Nevada Board of Cosmetology. The board doesn’t require makeup artists to get cosmetology licenses but requires makeup artist instructors to get licenses to teach cosmetology, they said.

Makeup Lawsuit

Makeup artists Wendy Robin and Lissette Waugh pose after a news conference at the L Makeup Institute in the Holsum Lofts Tuesday, June 19, 2012. The pair, with help from the Institute for Justice law firm, have filed a federal lawsuit against the Nevada Board of Cosmetology. The board doesn't require makeup artists to get cosmetology licenses but requires makeup artist instructors to get licenses to teach cosmetology, they said. Launch slideshow »

All Lissette Waugh and Wendy Robin wanted to do was teach the art of makeup application in the Las Vegas area.

But the state of Nevada said they couldn’t do so without first obtaining cosmetology licenses or having their businesses licensed as cosmetology schools, even though Waugh and Robin say their craft has nothing to do with cosmetology.

So now the two teachers are challenging the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology’s contention they need to be licensed as cosmetology or aesthetics instructors, saying the requirement is unconstitutional.

Waugh, who operates the L Makeup Institute in Las Vegas, and Robin, who opened the now-defunct Studio W in Henderson, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the state board.

The two are makeup artists, working mostly in television, films, advertising and modeling. They use specialized techniques, including the application of airbrushed makeup or special-effects makeup.

Both want to run schools to teach these skills to aspiring makeup artists, but doing so in Nevada would require them to be licensed as a cosmetology school, which comes with its own set of requirements, including a minimum 5,000-square-foot teaching space and the installation of equipment — like shampooing sinks — needed to teach the entire cosmetology curriculum, not just makeup artistry.

“The state board has told them if they want to teach makeup artistry, they must also teach Nevada’s entire cosmetology curriculum, including classes on how to cut and style hair, how to do facials and eyebrow waxing, manicures,” said attorney Doran Arik of the Virginia-based nonprofit Institute for Justice, which brought the suit on behalf of Waugh and Robin. “(These are) things that Lissette and Wendy don’t want to teach and that their students don’t want to learn because they have nothing to do with makeup artistry.”

The alternative, running an unlicensed makeup artistry school, could lead to daily fines of $2,000, which prompted Robin to shut down Studio W in 2011, only a few months after it opened. Waugh has managed to keep her downtown Las Vegas-based L Makeup Institute afloat by selling makeup kits to students and then “demonstrating” how the products are applied instead of “teaching.”

In the suit, Waugh and Robin allege that requiring them to teach the entire cosmetology curriculum in order to teach makeup artistry is a restriction of their First Amendment right of free speech and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.

They are asking the federal court to find the board’s requirement unconstitutional and grant them attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Vincent Jimno, executive director of the Cosmetology Board, said his agency was aware of the complaints by Waugh and Robin and was working to change state law to allow them to operate their makeup artistry schools without a full cosmetology instructor’s license.

“The laws, the ways they are drafted, currently don’t allow them ... to have a limited school,” Jimno said. “Bottom line, cosmetology is the application of makeup and the beautifying of skin. They do makeup, and that falls under the board of cosmetology.”

Jimno said portions of the state’s cosmetology law — which were written decades ago — are archaic and that his agency was working to modernize the regulations. But doing so requires a legislative process, which can’t be accomplished until the Legislature is back in session in 2013.

The lawsuit was unexpected, he said, and will cost his office money and resources to litigate.

He said his agency was concerned foremost with matters of public health, which is why cosmetology regulations are in place.

“Our primary goal is to make sure that no infectious diseases are transmitted by accident,” he said. “That people don’t burn their hair off or put makeup on skin that has medical problems. Without regulations, that’s what you can end up with.”

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  1. Chunky says:

    Ladies, suck it up and get the license! As instructors you should be held to a higher standard than the rank and file working HMUA. Frankly, Chunky is surprised all HMUA's are not required to be licensed since they're applying chemicals and sometimes prosthetics to actors who my spend extended periods exposed to those chemicals.

    For instance, in order to be a WORKING member of HMUA union, Local 706 in Los Angeles and work on a studio lot or union show, you'd have to qualify AND take a series of safety courses specific to your craft to obtain your Safety Passport. If you're teaching, you should be teaching the safety aspects not just the aesthetic aspects.

    In LA hair and makeup may be two separate positions on a big show, we all know that in Vegas you'll be doing hair and makeup. But then again, Chunky says he's never heard your names or seen your names on a call sheet in Vegas... ever!

    Chunky dislikes the government getting involved into any aspect of an persons life but when when one person is applying a chemical to another person under the auspices of a work environment it is not so bad.

    Why waste your time, our tax dollars and the court's time when you could invest that energy into study and becoming legit. Who knows, you might actually learn something!

    Once again, everyone on set is waiting for Hair and Makeup!

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  2. So sad that the Cosmetology Board has decided that a couple of aspiring entrepreneurs are being forced into litigation over a harmless enterprise to teach women and men to apply makeup. Most of these 'students' I am sure are doing it for their own benefit of for work in a department store (where they will be further trained in hygiene, etc). Not one of them will ever get a job in the industry because of closed Unions and most will never even get to work on a 'set' so what is the big deal? Does this mean that training sessions conducted by legitimate companies like Estee Lauder who come into town to teach their counter employees will be held to the same standard? I think not.

  3. They don't want to teach hair styling yet the board wants them to have a 5000 sq. building with shampoo sinks.

    There are THOUSANDS of Mary Kay women and Avon ladies running around putting make up on people all the time with NO training at all and no type of license.

    Why are these ladies being held to such high standards for something they don't even want to do?

    There are Hundreds of make up artists in this town, working the shows of Las Vegas that are not UNION and have no licenses of any type.

    Old laws need to be reviewed to keep up with the world today.

  4. Atlas is shrugging.

  5. Chunky...Nevada is a right-to-work state so there should be no barriers to practicing a trade by licensing or other means save a compelling public interest. These licensing boards are nothing more than legalized extortion performed by the public sector at the specific behest of private sector trades. Don't blame government for....the responsibility lies squarely with the private sector, their attorneys and lobbyist. It's restraint of trade pure and simple.