Makeup Artist Vetoes Idaho's First Lady After Governor Vetoed Cosmetology Licensing Reforms

What goes around, comes around, governor.


Photo courtesy Sherry Japhet

When the governor called, Sherry Japhet answered.

Japhet is a freelance makeup artist from Boise, Idaho. She's worked in the business for more than 20 years, but without a license. That's never been a problem for her. She's landed gigs from coast-to-coast, working on television sets and for fashion magazines.

Some of those calls came from Idaho Gov. Butch Otter. Japhet has helped Otter and his wife, Lori, look their best for televised public service announcements and political ads.

No more, she says.

Japhet, a 41-year old who works as a stand-up comedian, laughed at a request this week that she work her magic on Idaho's first lady for an upcoming television appearance. After all, she said, the governor (and his wife) ought to know the law.

"I told them that I would be more than happy to do it, but her husband vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist or stylist to do so," Japhet says. "She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself."

In April, Otter vetoed a bill that would, among other things, have exempted makeup artists like Japhet from having to offering their services only in licensed salons. The bill would have legalized work freelancers like Japhet are already doing and opened the door to the stylist-on-demand services, where a smart phone app can bring a makeup artist to your front door, just like if you were ordering an Uber.

The common sense reforms sailed through the state legislature, but Otter caved in to opposition from the State Board of Cosmetology, which complained that "stakeholders" did not have enough input into the final version of the bill, he said in his veto message.

Japhet used her connections in the governor's office to try to convince Otter to sign the bill. She emailed the governor and the first lady personally to explain why it was important to let makeup artists practice their trade without getting an expensive and time-consuming cosmetology license from the state.

Idaho requires 467 days of training in makeup and hair-styling for a license (and an even more insane 630 days of training to be a barber), even if an applicant doesn't have any interest in doing hair-styling, which is why Japhet says she's never sought a license.

"I may be an outlaw," she told Reason in a phone interview Tuesday, "but I'm an outlaw that pays taxes."

Japhet's story is about more than just her rejection of Lori Otter. It also raises questions about why professions like cosmetologists and makeup artists are required to be licensed at all. If she's not licensed, but is good enough to be on the first lady's speed dial, then what purpose are those goverment-issed permission slips serving? The answer, of course, is that licensing in any profession—and particularly so in many middle and lower income trades—is not about guaranteeing quality or efficacy, but rather serves as a barrier to entry into that line of work. Japhet is a rare example of someone who has ignored that barrier and made a living for herself anyway, but many are not so lucky.

Idaho's ban on freelance makeup artists doesn't only hurt people like Japhet, but the ad agencies, production companies and photographers they work with. "Many of these businesses hire the Ad agencies that hire the production companies that hire the independent contractors like me for their marketing that helps keep them in business," Japhet wrote to First Lady Lori Otter before her husband vetoed the cosmetology bill, according to an email Japhet shared with Reason.

To be fair, Otter indicated in his veto message he would "consider legislation exempting 'event' makeup artists from existing licensure requirements," but said he was vetoing the measure because of "too many other flaws."

After the veto, the state legislature began working on a proposal to separate makeup artistry from the cosmetology license, but that proposal would create a new license for people like Japhet and would require 250 hours of training, according to the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a free market think tank that first publicized Japhet's story on Tuesday.

Japhet calls that "ridiculous," though she agrees that some training in basic sanitation is necessary. That's something that could be taught in a matter of hours and shouldn't require thousands of dollars in cosmetology schooling. The bill won't be considered until the 2018 legislative session.

If it makes it to the governor's desk, maybe next time Otter will think twice before vetoing it.

"It's clear that they didn't foresee how this would affect them," Japhet says. "I'm just abiding by the law, so they are reaping what they sowed."


NEXT: Trump to Tap Christopher Wray for FBI Director, ISIS Claims Tehran Attacks, Sessions Warns About 'Sextortion': A.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m still having a difficult time getting past that there’s a State Board of Cosmetology in the first place.

    1. TOP MEN came up with that one.

    2. I bet Lipstick Otter would have signed the bill.

    3. Only problem my niece had, was waiting 6 months after graduation to be old enough to take the test. In California and elsewhere nail and pedicure salons allowing fish to eat dead skin off a client’s feet. Bacterial infection as a result, a no brainier. Caveat emptor, for a bad haircut, not necessarily the only possible problem.

      1. The reason that the clients get infected is that the fish are un-trained and un-licensed! Allow MEEEE to be authorized to train and license the fish (at a hefty fee), and THEN the problem will be solved!

      2. And a quick dip in a peroxide solution doesn’t take care of that?

  2. 630 days of training to be a barber

    WTF? Are there three semesters of phrenology, or what?

    1. Well, there’s a semester of braids, which you have to take for “inclusivity”, but you are only allowed to use if you’re black. Otherwise that would be cultural appropriation.

    2. Do barbers still double as surgeons Idaho?

      1. Check your own state’s laws and I bet you have it as well.

  3. So did the Governor and First Lady obey the law? Or did they just hire someone else? An undocumented Mexican perhaps?

    1. She should have taken the gig, then called the police and the media.

      1. She would have been arrested/fined, not the governor or his wife.

      2. She should have accepted the gig, then cancelled at the last minute.

  4. “It’s clear that they didn’t foresee how this would affect them,”

    Because it won’t.

  5. Does Idaho have a referendum process? Can the citizens pass a law that politicians must have 125 years of training before they run for office?

    1. Finally, a “there ought to be a law” law that libertarians can get behind.

    2. We have an initiative process and can repeal laws via veto referendum. It’s not very common, especially compared to our neighbor Washington which is initiative-happy. If Labrador replaces Otter we could see more liberty-oriented laws approved…

  6. “”””Japhet, a 41-year old who works as a stand-up comedian””””

    Does she have her stand-up comedian licence? If not I expect that the Stand-Up Comedian Licence Board to send their SWAT Team to correct this Scofflaw!

    1. Does Otter have a stand-up comedian license?

  7. Three of 10 jobs require a government license. The reason for the stubbornly low labor participation rate is certainly a tough puzzle. They should do a study.

    1. They should do a study.

      No licensing reqs there, get to it people!

  8. Why does Idaho require makeup artists and barbers to go to training that is longer than the Army requires to become a combat medic?

  9. She should have accepted the request, then cancelled at the last minute, citing the law.

  10. “It’s clear that they didn’t foresee how this would affect them,” Japhet says. “I’m just abiding by the law, so they are reaping what they sowed.”

    Government is good at at least 2 things:

    1. Making things more expensive.

    2. Unintended consequences.

    I’m always happy when government actors have to deal with their evil behavior. It’s always possible some of them may learn!

  11. “I may be an outlaw,” she told Reason in a phone interview Tuesday, “but I’m an outlaw that pays taxes.”

    Sherry, outlaws don’t pay taxes. It’s one of the perks of being an outlaw. Stop doing that.

  12. I am surprised (or not) that “comments” are not simply filled with “Enough is enough, re-seat this whole government. A free-market system cannot be by definition, regulated. Thus it is proven that government are all morons and must go home immediately. Need more proof? It’s everywhere.”
    Society can do much better without this government, much better.

  13. I am a stylist in Western NY. Our legislature is looking into whether we should be required to take a course in recognizing when a client is in an abusive domestic relationship. This would be required to renew or to acquire a cosmetology license. The premise being the outmoded stereotype that stylists are all up in everyone’s personal business. Personally, I’ve never heard of anyone leaving a relationship because the stylist told them to. I have heard of abusive husbands busting into salons & shooting the place up, killing innocent people. But when I point that out to my fellow stylists who are determined to make a difference in the world, I’m told that I am mean and selfish. No one seems to see the irony of the state abusing its authority over my profession to bully me into activities that have nothing to do with my ability to practice my trade safely.

    1. “I have heard of abusive husbands busting into salons & shooting the place up, killing innocent people. ”

      Will the next required class therefore be a Tactical Speed Shooting Pistol Course?

  14. Good grief, a guy can get a FOOD HANDLER’S PERMIT in a few hours, including a bit of online review, taking the exam, paying a tiny fee, and getting the card in the mail or a download. Good for a couple years. NO formal training, class time, verified experience needed or required.

    But for someone to splat some gunk on someone else’s face (out of a bottle or jar manufactured and sold under excruciatingly rigid standards and instpections) one has to take hundreds of hours of classes in all sorts of things they’ll never work with?

    Yeah, the truth of this situation came out in the article… the State Cosmetology Board played their Big Boys Card, threatening to send Guido round to “help out” of Good Ol Boy Butch didn’t “play fair”.

    Corruption? Of course.

    Someone needs to get a bill going to outlaw all such licenses.

    1. The food industry is regulated, but not very heavily licensed, yet poses many times the risk. Mishandle a hamburger and someone can DIE. How many have ever died from some gunk spread on their face by a “coismetologist”, registered or otherwise? How many folks have gotten sick, even died, in direct result of contamination in the heavily monitored food production, processing, preparation, distributioni system? Thousands……

      This is stupidity on steroids. No wonder so many single Moms are on welfare.. nearly every door they might try and walk through in business is slammed shut in their faces. Remember that woman back in North Caroline, or Georgia, got some insane fine for brading her neices’ hair in their own homes, no charge, (being family and all….)?

      1. Handling food is pretty straightforward. Keep it cold. Don’t keep it long. When you cook it, cook it long enough. Don’t handle it with dirty hands. Don’t pee in the salad.

        Anything else?

  15. We Libertarians should oppose all occupational licensing. Quit pussy-footing around the issue, Reason magazine, with caveats such as the above, “licensing in any profession?and particularly so in many middle and lower income trades.” Which are the upper income trade licenses deserving of protection? They ALL NEED TO GO!

  16. As woman, become a make up artist must to be a professional. In the other we must compare a dress an make impression from style. Visit information from

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.