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Bill advances to exempt eyebrow threaders from state licensing

Juana Gutierrez threads the eyebrows of Pampha Tamang at s.h.a.p.e.s Brow Bar in Desert Sky Mall in Phoenix. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Victoria Pelham)

For eight years, Juana Gutierrez has made her living as a threader, shaping eyebrows using looped cotton thread to pull hair out by the roots. The training she received from her mother while growing up is something no cosmetology school can provide, she said.

“You need to have hands-on learning for threading,” said Gutierrez, district manager for several s.h.a.p.e.s Brow Bar kiosks in Valley shopping malls.

On Wednesday, Gutierrez was at the State Capitol to support a bill that would exempt threaders from having to be licensed.

HB 2262, authored by Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, would write into law terms of an October consent judgment involving Gutierrez and four others who sued the Arizona Board of Cosmetology when it demanded licensing for threaders.

Carter said she supports removing government regulations that interfere with earning a living.

“This is an issue that relates directly to economic liberty, and that’s a personal passion of mine,” she said.

Members of the House Commerce Committee agreed, endorsing the measure unanimously.

Eyebrow threading dates to antiquity and was first practiced in Eastern countries such as India, Iran and China. Today it is an alternative to waxing or laser hair removal and is most often practiced at malls. The price to get eyebrows shaped is generally between $5 and $10.

Under the bill, threaders wouldn’t be regulated if they take basic safety precautions, such as sanitizing their hands and using a new piece of thread for each customer, and as long as they don’t use chemicals to remove hair.

Tim Keller, Gutierrez’s attorney and executive director of the Institute for Justice’s Arizona chapter, told the committee that licensing threaders would be “useless and unnecessary.”

“Threaders were told they needed to attend 600 hours of school, which could cost $10,000 or more, and not one hour teaches threading,” he said.

Donna Aune, director of the Arizona Board of Cosmetology, said the board supports the change.

“Requiring hair-threaders to be licensed was part of our statutes and needed to be cleaned up,” she said.

Gutierrez said she is happy her battle will wind up helping even more threaders and is pleased to be able to continue practicing her craft.

“All I want to do is threading,” she said. “I love it and I don’t want this job taken away.”

Bill provisions:

• Threaders may use witch hazel or other over-the-counter astringent or powder to soothe customers’ skin.
• Threaders may use scissors if the trimming is incidental to the service.
• Threaders may anchor the thread around their necks or between their teeth in order to create tension.
• Threaders must not use chemical depilatories or wax.

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