Occupational Licensing

Connecticut Implements Mandatory 'Inclusivity' Training for Cosmetologists

Supporters say the measure will uphold “social justice,” but research shows licensing requirements don’t always work as intended.


Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont last month signed a law mandating that cosmetologists in the state receive training on how to cut hair in an "inclusive" way.

"It's about social justice, it's about inclusivity," said state Sen. Patricia Billie Miller (D–Stamford), who championed the bill. "It's about making sure there is equity because I was one of those individuals where doors were closed on me."

The new law, set to go into effect on July 1, directs the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health to establish "minimum curriculum requirements for barber schools." These requirements include "education and training in the provision of services to individuals with textured hair," defined as hair that is coiled, curly, or wavy.

Connecticut cosmetologists already have to complete an approved training program—including 1,500 training hours—to receive their licenses. That is nearly 40 times the amount of training time required to earn a private pilot's license or a driver's license in the state.

"By mandating inclusive hair education for cosmetology licensing, we ensure that all hair types and textures are properly cared for," Lamont explained in a written statement. "This law supports our diverse communities and sets a new standard for excellence in beauty services. I am proud that Connecticut is leading the way."

Connecticut is not—or at least, not exactly—leading the way. With the passage of this bill, it becomes the third state to implement "inclusive" hair legislation, joining Minnesota and New York. The latter already requires 1,000 hours of training to become a cosmetologist. Some states mandate more than 2,000 hours

The cosmetology license requirement is one of 145 such requirements that Connecticut imposes, according to research conducted last year by the Archbridge Institute.

"Right now, hairstylists in Connecticut need almost a year of education before they can work at their trade," Darwyyn Deyo, a professor of economics at San Jose State University, tells Reason. "Although efforts at improving inclusivity and equity can improve outdated state-mandated curriculum, SB 178 could also make it harder for aspiring hairstylists to afford their training by increasing the cost of education."

Research from the Institute for Justice, published in November 2022, found that "too many licensing burdens are excessively onerous or entirely unnecessary" because "red tape forces aspiring workers to waste time and money or, worse yet, shuts them out of work." 

One of the authors of that study, Kyle Sweetland, a research analyst at the Pacific Legal Foundation, tells Reason that the new Connecticut law is no exception. "While everyone loves to get a good haircut," Sweetland says, "requiring beauticians in Connecticut to spend more hours in training—as Public Act No. 24-53 will do—is unfair to debt-burdened beauticians in the state and could lead to higher prices for customers."

"If there is an unmet demand and high prices for cutting a certain type of hair," he adds, "salons have a strong financial incentive to train their beauticians on cutting this type of hair—or to hire beauticians who know how to do so already."