Eyelash Extensions– The New Frontier of Hair



If you have to get a license to blow-dry a client’s hair, shouldn’t you have to get a license to apply eyelash extensions? The state of Maryland passed a law last year allowing you to become a limited-license Cosmetologist. You are not allowed to provide a simple blow-drying service without the limited cosmetology license. Instead of taking a 1,500 hour full cosmetology course, you can get this license with only 350 hours of training.


This new policy raises a new question. What about eyelashes?


Eyelash extensions pose more concerns and threats for contamination, infection, or skin troubles than blow drying someone’s hair. Even the Food and Drug Administration warns consumers not to share eye makeup since it can transmit diseases, while there are no warnings about blow drying. Some claim that servicing eyelashes requires as much, or perhaps more, proper training than blow drying someone’s hair. From an economical perspective, there are more places providing eyelash extension services than blow drying salons. So, why is it that eyelash services are left unregulated while blow drying is?


There are different answers depending on who you ask. Some say it is the lobbying skills of Drybar, who previously lobbied for the laws to allow the service of complimentary alcohol in salons. Some believe it is the conventional salons–who felt threatened by the rise of these new blow out bars, that drove the policy. But, the most convincing answer might be that it has more to do with the fact that there’s not an easy answer about which category of cosmetology eyelashes fall under.


Eyelash Extensions Will Fall Under The Category of WIgs

The eyelash extension, similar to hair extensions, fake beards, or mustaches, belongs to the wig category. Despite the effort by some states to regulate wig servicing as a separate specialty under the header of cosmetology regulations, the wig industry is way too old and stubborn to change. The majority of people who are already servicing wigs usually have a life-time, or many, many years of hands-on experience without licenses. Wigs pose very little concerns for public safety. Another possible reason is the challenge in implementing the regulation with limited manpower.


The states of Texas and Mississippi both require anyone servicing wigs to be licensed as a Wig Specialist or Wigologist. Under their regulations, the Wig Specialist must also learn how to apply and care for eyelash extensions.


Regulations often bring unnecessary inconveniences, and it is understandable that wig shop operators prefer not paying extra taxes to renew their licenses every year. But in the case of eyelash extensions, wig shops and beauty supply stores are losing an exclusive business opportunity to the nail salons and individuals.


Losing Business Rights

Despite the fact the hair extension and braid services are under the wigs service category, the wig shops and beauty supply stores have lost their business opportunities in both services. This is mainly due to the merge of wig shops with beauty supply stores. While traditional wig shops include wig fitting services when selling wigs, the beauty supply store mainly focuses on retailing the wigs without the services.


Consumers have mostly welcomed this change since they can purchase  wigs at a wholesale price without the service fees at the beauty supply stores. Wig factories have also adapted to the change and manufactured more complete, ready-to-wear wigs. Over the last 3~4 decades, the existence of wig services has become a thing of the past.


Time to Rethink

Most beauty products require some form of specialized service. It is obvious that cosmetic stores must provide some form of make-up service to promote sales; likewise, some chain beauty stores, who mainly target caucasian consumers, enjoy the benefit of offering skin care services to increase their retail sales.


Beauty supply stores, as the main wig service shops, should consider adapting or promoting new regulations on wigs that include eyelash extensions. While retail profit is about a dollar or two, service profit is about ten times that. In most cases, regulations can be hectic and many will avoid them when possible. But in business, the regulations protect both the customer’s health and your businesses potential for growth and opportunity.