Amy Burks opened an eyelash extension lounge in Madison in 2013 and hired four employees. In 2019, the cosmetology board issued her a citation for operating an unlicensed salon, and said her and all of her employees would have to quit work and attend hundreds of hours of training.
Eyelash extensions are available for purchase in self-adhesive strips at most retail outlets. However, in recent years many customers have started paying lash technicians to apply individual false eyelashes, which results in a more natural look. This is a time-consuming and tedious process, but it is safe and easy to learn.
Mississippi law does not specifically require lash technicians to obtain an esthetician’s license. However, in 2019, the cosmetology board determined that applying eyelash extensions fell within its jurisdiction because it involved beautifying the face.
That determination meant that lash technicians would also have to obtain esthetician licenses, despite the fact that the required classroom instruction did not teach or test on eyelash extension application.
Amy teamed up with our Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI), which sent a letter to the board threatening to file a lawsuit. The state decided it would rather amend the law than face litigation.
“I am so thrilled to see this law passed,” said Burks. “My team and I have poured everything we have into this business for the past eight years. To think that it was all going to be taken away was so heartbreaking.”
House Bill 1312
The new law, House Bill 1312, was negotiated by MJI attorneys with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, before being passed by the Mississippi legislature and signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves.
The new law prohibits the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology from requiring any type of cosmetology license for persons whose practice is limited to applying eyelash extensions. It also prevents the board from imposing fines, civil or criminal penalties on unlicensed lash technicians or regulating the practice of those services.
The Mississippi Justice Institute is a nonprofit, constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.