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Makeup artist challenges makeup school licensing requirement

Esthetician Jasna Bukvic-Bhayani is suing the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Examiners because it won't let her open a school to teach hobbyists how to apply makeup. (Photo courtesy of Institute for Justice)
Esthetician Jasna Bukvic-Bhayani is suing the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Examiners because it won't let her open a school to teach hobbyists how to apply makeup. (Photo courtesy of Institute for Justice)

Jasna Bukvic-Bhayani wants to open a makeup school, but the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners refuses to give her a license.

Bukvic-Bhayani has been told she won’t be allowed to operate her cosmetology school legally. But if she were to make it an “esthetics” school, that would be OK with the state.

It’s not OK with Bukvic-Bhayani.

Now, along with the Institute of Justice, she is suing the board. (Watch video here of a news conference announcing the lawsuit.)

Earlier this year, Bukvic-Bhayani created a Facebook page announcing her plans to open a makeup school. Soon after she got a visit from an official with the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners.

Get a license, he told her.

The conditions for this license include following a mandatory esthetics curriculum, buying up to $10,000 in non-makeup-related equipment, and teaching more than 500 hours of non-makeup instruction.

But Bukvic-Bhayani doesn’t want to teach esthetics, which deals with the health and beautification of skin through techniques such as chemical peels, pore cleansing, and laser hair removal. She wants to teach advanced makeup skills to already-licensed estheticians and hobbyists.

“My students simply want to hear me talk about makeup, but North Carolina wants me to teach them skills they are not interested in learning,” Bukvic-Bhayani said in a press release. “I am teaming up with the Institute for Justice to challenge this law because no one should need a license just to talk about makeup.”

Bukvic-Bhayani is licensed as an esthetician. She has 600 hours of schooling and paid all of the fees legally required to apply makeup for a living. According to Bukvic-Bhayani, fewer than 10 hours were actually spent on makeup-related instruction. But, under the North Carolina Cosmetic Art Act, the cosmetic board makes no distinction between makeup artistry and esthetics.

Julie Goodall, a friend and prospective student of Bukvic-Bhayani’s, is also party to the lawsuit against the cosmetic board. As the Institute of Justice argues, Goodall isn’t interested in learning how to apply makeup for pay — only as a hobby.

“There is no reason why North Carolina should be banning Jasna from passing on her skills to other people,” Justin Pearson, a senior attorney at IJ, told Carolina Journal. “This helps no one. All it does is hurt Jasna because now she can’t open up her business, and it hurts her students like Julie who just want to learn more about makeup.”

IJ argues the cosmetic board is violating Bukvic-Bhayani’s First Amendment rights.

“North Carolina’s law is unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution protects the right to speak for a living — whether the speakers are authors, journalists, or makeup artists like Jasna — and it protects the rights of listeners to hear from those speakers,” Pearson explained in the press release. “We look forward to vindicating Jasna’s right to teach without getting government permission.”

Jon Sanders, director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, argues occupational licensing should be reserved to cases in which health and safety are of significant concern.

“With respect to what the state’s interest is, what is the actual consumer harm of getting bad makeup advice?” Sanders asked.

Sanders points to free-market solutions, including consumer reports and review websites such as Yelp as ways to show which businesses to trust and which to avoid.

“We have access to more kinds of reviews now than ever before, thanks to the internet and thanks to social media. You can get real-time reviews from people,” Sanders explained.

The N.C. Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners failed to respond to a request for comment.