Connect with us


Pennsylvania Needs Regulatory Reform

A liberty-minded policy analyst examines regulatory absurdities in Pennsylvania and how they affect people, and calls for reform.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Pennsylvania road map

Katie Walsh owns and operates two businesses: a tattoo parlor and a spa. If she could, Walsh would merge her two businesses. Pennsylvania’s onerous regulations, however, force Walsh to maintain separate business licenses and pay rent on two different but connected storefronts.

Moreover, Pennsylvania’s licensing requirements are wildly different and serve no practical purpose. On one hand, licensing requirements for makeup artists cause many headaches for Walsh and her employees – with no benefit to customers. On the other hand, Walsh’s tattoo artists simply agree to apprentice under a shop owner and complete training on bloodborne pathogens.

“Some tattoo artists apprentice for two to five years sometimes before they’re out on their own,” said Walsh.

Such apprenticeships offer affordable on-the-job training and an employment pipeline for business owners needing skilled labor.

But for makeup artists, no such functional apprenticeship exists. Pennsylvania requires a license to apply makeup professionally, but there isn’t a direct pathway to becoming a makeup artist. Aspiring makeup artists must obtain licensure in either cosmetology (including hairstyling, manicures, and pedicures) or esthetics (focusing on skin care techniques).


State-mandated requirements are expensive and time-consuming. A cosmetology license requires 1,250 hours of training, while an esthetician license requires 300 hours. In addition to licensing fees, aspiring makeup artists must pay $3,000–$9,000 in tuition for an esthetician program or $12,000–$17,000 for cosmetology school.

“If you don’t have that kind of money, you’re going to be stuck working some crappy job when you could be making tips each hour – way more than you could be making anywhere else,” said Walsh. “[These costs] can hold you back.”

Thousands of dollars and months of training might make sense if it prepared students well, but for makeup artists the state-required training fails there, too. Pennsylvania’s cosmetology and esthetics programs rarely address makeup in their curriculum.

“Literally, I was in class, and they said, ‘Alright, use your partner’s makeup on them, so we do not have to teach you how to sanitize it.’ What’s the point then?” said Walsh. “If you are going to (require them to go to school), then teach them important things. But if you are not teaching them important things, then who cares?”

Loopholes are abundant in this occupational space. Walsh learned to apply makeup when she lived in New York. She could teach makeup artistry without a Pennsylvania license, but practicing makeup artistry without a license is illegal.


Fortunately, there is growing interest in Harrisburg to tackle nonsensical occupational licensing and modernize state regulations by regularly reviewing their impact on Pennsylvanians.

For example, the “Fighting Chance Act,” Senate Bill (SB) 259, would instruct agencies to identify unnecessary regulations and reduce the overall number of regulations by 25 percent in three years.

Another initiative, SB 726, would establish the regular review of regulations, empower legislators to repeal rules harming Pennsylvanians, and enhance transparency in the permitting process.

In the state House, House Bill 591 would exempt “niche beauty professionals with limited scope of practices,” such as makeup artists, from licensing requirements.

Both sides of the aisle recognize the growing problem of red tape. In fact, Gov. Josh Shapiro recently launched a “money back guarantee” if your state permit takes too long to approve.


Pennsylvania is long overdue for regulatory review. Decades of regulatory restrictions hold job creators, like Walsh, and her employees back. A recent Commonwealth Foundation study estimated the Pennsylvania economy would increase by $9.2 billion a year if Pennsylvania were to reduce 36% of its regulatory requirements.

Walsh just wants the rules to make sense. For example, even though she must maintain two separate outdoor entrances, an interior door connecting the businesses is always open.

“It’s really dumb,” she said.

Walsh’s experience is a perfect example of how the proliferation of state regulations makes it more difficult for everyday Pennsylvanians to do what they love.

This article was originally published by RealClearPennsylvania and made available via RealClearWire.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Director of Policy Analysis at | + posts

Elizabeth Stelle is Director of Policy Analysis of the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank.


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x