Occupational Licensing

Tennessee Decides It's Not Actually Dangerous for a Cosmetologist to Do House Calls

A salon owner complained about "highly disturbing" competition from an app, and the state cosmetology board threatened fines. That won't happen anymore.


JGI/Jamie Grill Blend Images/Newscom

Lawmakers in Tennessee passed a bill this week that would permit licensed cosmetologists to practice outside of salons, opening the door for on-demand services that connect makeup artists and hair stylists with clients who want service in their own homes.

This is common sense. Someone licensed by the state as a cosmetologist doesn't suddenly lose that knowledge and training—a lot of training, since becoming a cosmetologist in Tennessee requires 2,000 hours of classes—the moment he or she steps outside a salon. But such common sense didn't factor into the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners decision, nearly two years ago, to order a brand new on-demand beauty service to immediately shut down and pay a $500 fine.

The board targeted that business, Project Belle, after a brick-and-mortar salon in Nashville complained about its online ads. "I find this type of competition highly disturbing," the salon's owner wrote to the board.

Although the board eventually backed down from pursuing Project Belle, formally legalizing on-demand cosmetology services ensures that other startups won't face the same legal pressure over something as silly as competing with salons.

The bill passed the state Senate unanimously and cleared the state House with an 81–6 vote. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, is expected to sign it.

"Tennesseans will now have the right to enjoy concierge cosmetology services just like many other Americans," said Armand Lauzon, CEO of Belle, in a statement. "Beyond that, it grants tens of thousands of cosmetologists access to the American dream by legalizing entrepreneurship in the industry."

The convenience of something like Project Belle is the obvious selling point for customers, but Lauzon told Reason in 2016 that cosmologists using his service benefit too. They can set their own schedules, they don't have to pay fees to rent space in a salon or spa, and they determine their own pricing. Project Belle takes 15 percent off the top, similar to how Airbnb operates.

"This important reform," says Daniel Horwitz, an attorney who represented Lauzon in his dealings with the state board, "ensures that the Board of Cosmetology will be prevented from engaging in such lawless behavior ever again."

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  1. “This important reform,” says Daniel Horowitz, an attorney who represented Lauzon in his dealings with the state board, “ensures that the Board of Cosmetology will be prevented from engaging in such lawless behavior ever again.”

    It’s not really lawless though since the licensing board apparently had the legal authority to shut Project Belle down. That’s kind of the whole problem.

  2. Then Tennessee has decided that millions should die.

    1. “No just toddlers whose parents seek a second opinion”

      – UK

    2. Which is silly, because there are 6-7 billion humans on the Earth, and every single one of them will die no matter what the state of Tennessee does or does not decide.

  3. “…cleared the state House with an 81?6 vote…”

    Who are the 6 douchebags, and when do we start slut-shaming the salons their spouses work for?

  4. “I find this type of competition highly disturbing,”

    This sounds much cooler when Darth Vader says it.

    1. Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to style people’s hair in their homes is nothing compared to the force of law used to shut down competition against well-connected incumbents.

      1. Don’t try to frighten us with your bureaucrat ways, Lord Vader.

  5. Tennessee if being dangerous brazen with this policy. How can they vet cosmetologists to prevent serial killers and rapists from entering the homes of unsuspecting people??

    This is the same state that will marry 10 year olds.

  6. “Tennesseans will now have the right to enjoy concierge cosmetology services just like many other Americans,” said Armand Lauzon, CEO of Belle, in a statement.

    I don’t think this is what the Founders expected when they wrote about reserved powers.

    1. Who knows, though. Those dudes were into some weird shit.

      1. They all wore those wigs so they probably did their hairstyling by mail.

        1. “George Washington was in a cult, and the cult was into aliens, man.”

          1. “Just look at all the shit going on on a dollar bill. And it’s green, too.”

  7. “I find this type of competition highly disturbing,” the salon’s owner wrote to the board.

    Other kinds of competition are fine. She loves competition. Great stuff, competition. Just not this type.

    1. And she’s also an avid supporter of the first amendment, but…

  8. “I find this type of competition highly disturbing,” the salon’s owner wrote to the board.

    “By ‘this type,’ i mean ‘competition for me,” she clarified.

  9. “It’s a terrible idea! Say I see a fairly young, fairly attractive woman carrying a case and going into the home of a man who may possibly even be married, like my husband is, only to emerge between 30-45 minutes later? How do I know for sure this is not human trafficking but only a haircut!?! My toddler could be snatched next if it’s trafficking! OMG, government, do something! If it saves even one child, we must end this or else why do you hate children and want to ruin marriages?”

    ? crazed soccer mom

    1. This is the kind of posting that will lead to soccer being banned.

      (and that’s a good thing)

  10. Soliciting opinions on this guy.


    I like his commentary on the dollar very much. His bitcoin stance, less so.

    1. I’m following dat blawg, thanks Michael!

    2. So, are you like “actual old-ass Michael Hihn who got sick of Reason’s Hihn? dragging his name and rep through the mud” or are you a dude who just got sick of “Reason’s Hihn?”?

      1. Well. I’m not sure. That’s a good question.

        Michael has some good points. He tends to wrap them in mannerisms that look batshit to folks, and if they don’t react as he expects then he gets aggro as hell. Can’t say as I blame him solely, there’s lots of example to follow in disagreement immediately devolving into “your mother” and questioning the other’s intelligence. But by this time everyone – including possibly Michael – has forgotten there might have been some valid points buried in the odd presentation.

        I guess you could say I’m the guy that thought there might be a way to get him to take it down a skosh, and get everyone else to ease up off his back a bit. Free markets, bitchez. No one enjoys seeing the filthy ruthless competitor be rewarded. As for everyone else, maybe if I can associate the name of Michael Hihn with something thoughtful or funny to read, it will buy him a moment of breathing room where people are receptive. It’s a shame to let good points go to waste.

        1. I’ve got to admit that in the 8 months or so (?) he’s been posting here, I’ve seen at least one post that wasn’t deserving of crap.
          So I didn’t give him any. That time.

          1. You’re been interacting with Hihn for four years, actually.

            1. At least four years; that’s just a thread I happened to see earlier today.

              1. OK then, one post in four years.
                So, yeah, MichaeI Hihn, he deserves some slack.

                1. He doesn’t. He’s impossible to talk to, people react to him in an utterly predictable and rational manner, and it looks as if no one is enjoying this status quo. That’s the point. Maybe we can fix this. If we think of everything as math… Change a factor; change the product.

                  It probably won’t work and I’m being naif as hell, but it’s my time and effort, and this amuses me at the moment, so, yeah.

        2. We all have a little bit Hihn in us.

          1. That’s because he’s thousands of years old and is technically everybody’s ancestor.

    3. I think his predictions are wrong; we aren’t on the verge of WW3, the US will still be dominating the world stage (especially culturally) in 2025, and the USD won’t fall apart.

      I agree largely with his stances, though it isn’t necessarily true that a fiat currency is bad. We certainly don’t need a good standard. I also hate the term “petrodollar.” He also seems to be trying to be edgy; I don’t think that’s the best tact.

  11. But… but… that’s ANARCHY! You can’t let just ANYONE comb hair, right? It therefore follows, as night follows day, that The Political State can’t just cross its derelict arms and and let hair get combed just ANYWHERE, right?

  12. “This is common sense…”

    Al the more reason to outlaw it.

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