Albany’s truly hair-brained requirement for shampoo assistants

As a child, how long did it take you to learn how to wash your hair? 300 hours? 500 hours? Not even close to that long, we’ll bet.

So why, then, are Democrats in the Assembly and state Senate pushing legislation to require salon workers who wash hair to complete at least half of a 1,000-hour state-certified cosmetology course to earn a new “Shampoo Assistant Certificate?”

It’s madness, especially when the industry, hit hard by lockdowns that keep people at home, is seeing reduced demand — and while there’s 15 percent unemployment in the state and 20 percent in Gotham.

Such nutty requirements exist for many industries in many states, usually pushed by the big boys in the business, who seek to lock out the smaller guys.

In this case, the bill is being pushed by the Salon & Spa Professionals of New York State, which claims it’s meant to make it easier for shampoo assistants — since, it argues, current law requires completing the full 1,000-hour cosmetology course to wash someone’s hair.

Yet if that’s the case, why not just get rid of that ridiculous law altogether? After all, salon owners say they’ve hired non-certified shampooists for decades without a problem.

One possible reason: The S&S folks are going to bat for cosmetology schools, which charge upward of $13,000 for their programs and pay dues to the group.

And, as Betsy McCaughey noted on these pages last week, S&S’s lobbyist has donated thousands to the lawmakers sponsoring the bill.

“That New York is even considering a 500-hour training requirement to shampoo hair shows that . . . certain legislators have been captured by hard-lobbying cosmetology schools,” Institute for Justice senior attorney Dan Alban tells us.

“Licensing shampooists has nothing to do with public health and safety; it only serves to raise barriers to entry and generate more tuition for cosmetology schools,” Alban notes. “Only a handful of states actually issue licenses specific to shampooists. Those licenses . . . don’t protect consumers.”

And none of the states with licenses mandates such onerous requirements. As of 2017, for example, West Virginia required just three hours of training for the position.

Let’s be honest: It doesn’t take a degree to shampoo hair safely. Requiring a 500-hour course, at a cost of thousands, will mean working-class New Yorkers will be out of jobs, just when they need them most.

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