Although many of the old shops — those that provide nothing more than “hair-cutting services to males above the seventh vertebra” — are still around, many others provide services similar to those offered by the well-regulated cosmetologists. It’s an unfair discrepancy, cosmetologists complain.
Today, Alabama is the only state where barbers are not regulated, but that is changing.
Last May, the state Legislature approved a bill that would bring barbers under the watchful eye of the state Board of Cosmetology and require that barber shops and barbers be licensed.
While some see the new regulation as another example of government intruding into the affairs of business and the lives of individuals, this simply is applying reasonable regulations to a profession where sanitary practices are important.
Though the days of post-haircut neck-shaving for men (or any shaving, for that matter) are pretty much over, keeping a shop clean for the health and safety of customers is important. Many of the old practices — for example, dusting off hair clippings with the same brush, patron after patron, or welcoming customers into the seat still sprinkled with the previous customer’s hair — will become a complete relic of the past.
It will be awhile before the new regulations take effect, and barbers already practicing their profession are grandfathered in. But new barbers will be required to learn and apply rules that protect the public.
The industry has known this was coming and has been getting ready. Most shops already meet the standards for licensing, so few patrons are likely to notice any difference in the service. However, they will likely see a notice posted prominently telling them the grade their barber and his shop received when last inspected, much like patrons who view their favorite restaurant’s health-inspection score.
They can take comfort in that.