Barbers' Concerns Cut Short Talk Of Cosmetology Bill

Feb 20, 2016

Credit Ian Ransley /

A Senate committee chairman postponed a vote Thursday on legislation allowing cosmetologists to shave their customers’ beards and mustaches.  The postponement came after barbers and committee members raised concerns about the lack of a training requirement in the bill.

An interpretation from the Indiana Attorney General’s office last year said state law bars cosmetologists from shaving customers’ beards and mustaches.  Legislation authored this year would allow that practice. 

But barbers, such as Chad Potts, say the issue is really about shaving with a straight razor.  He says the bill is written too broadly, allowing cosmetologists to use straight razors without requiring the kind of training barbers undergo.

“And it is more than cutting hair short,” Potts says. “It’s actually considered minor surgery because you’re actually removing the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin.”

But Indiana Cosmetology and Barbering Association president Keith Niehaus says many cosmetology schools already train their students to shave using straight razors.

“But in terms of passage of this bill, that all of a sudden cosmetologists do something that they haven’t done before isn’t true,” Niehaus says. “They’ve been doing this.”

After about two hours of testimony Thursday, Sen. Jim Buck (R-Kokomo) announced a vote on the bill would be postponed until next week, urging the measure’s author and sponsor to work on addressing concerns raised during committee.