In Tucson, a young man has been giving free haircuts to the homeless.
According to KOLD News 13, Juan Carlos Montesdeoca is being investigated for tidying up the unruly locks of Tucson’s downtrodden outside a public library last month.
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No license? Enter the hair police (again)
It seems Montesdeoca, who is studying cosmetology, had this idea to do a kindness for those in the community who often are invisible to many of us. He did it, he told a reporter, “Out of the kindness of my heart. Out of the memory of my mom, because she lost her hair.”
Enter the hair police: The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology.
I have run across this particular band of bureaucrats before.
A dozen years ago, they swooped down on a 23-year-old Glendale woman who was braiding the hair of African-Americans. The cosmetology cops informed Essence that she’d have to get a license to do that which she’d been doing since she was 13 years old.
To get that license, she would have to take 1,600 hours of classes at a state-approved cosmetology school, paying tuition of $10,000 or more to learn everything from how to cut and curl to how to manicure and massage. Everything, that is, but how to braid hair.
In the end, sanity prevailed. The Legislature threw caution to the wind and passed a law allowing people like Essence to ply her comb without state oversight.
A few years later, there was Juana, a 24-year-old who armed herself with thread in an effort to clean up Arizona’s eyebrows. Eyebrow threading is an ancient grooming technique in which a piece of twisted thread is used to pluck unwanted eyebrow hair. Juana had been doing it since she was 16.
That is, until the cosmetology cops got wind of what she was doing and ordered her to cease and desist. Such work, they said, could only be performed only by a licensed aesthetician. To get that license, she’d need 600 hours of state-approved classes, learning everything from laser safety to Botox theory, from how to apply chemical peels and how to tint eyelashes. Everything, that is, but how to remove hair with a thread.
After five years and one lawsuit, threaders are now free to pluck their trade without state oversight and somehow we have survived.
A ‘real risk’ – more than living on the streets?
Now comes Juan Carlos Montesdeoca and his unlicensed haircuts for the homeless – some of whom hadn’t had their hair tended to in a year or more, he told the TV station.
Cue the complaint: “On or about January 26, 2017, the board office received anonymous complaint alleging that Juan Carlos Montes De Oca requesting for local business and local stylists to help out with free haircuts (unlicensed individuals) which was held Saturday the 28th at Joel Valdez Public Library. … Anonymous complainant also alleging that Juan Carlos Montes De Oca is a student at a local Aveda Institute.”
Donna Aune, the board’s executive director, declined to comment to KOLD, saying the investigation into whether he broke the law is ongoing.
Indeed, state law (ARS 32-574) says a person who cuts hair has to be licensed and has to work inside a licensed salon, though it seems they can, at a customer’s request, go to a hospital, nursing home or the home of a person who is ill or disabled.