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The Unexpected Virtue of Certification OR, “why you shouldn’t get your hair color done by a street vendor.”

Why are hair stylists and beauticians required to be licensed?  The average person looking for a haircut or color needs to know that the person working on them has passed the minimum standards for safety and hygiene.  One can expect:  that you are not going to pick up a “bug” from a previous customer; that your hair is not going to fall out, or turn blue from some newfangled product; that the stylist did not gain their knowledge from a DIY YOUTUBE video.  Most parents would never take advantage of a street vendor offering $5 haircuts, or $20 perms for their kids. When was the last time you saw someone getting their hair dyed at a street festival?  The risks are much too great that something could go horribly wrong.

 Yet, they will pop their children into the face painter’s chair without regard to the products being used, the insurance covering any potential mishaps, or the training that artist has received.

Face and body artists touch the skin (in some of the most private places imaginable), use a variety of products and tools that need to be safe and that are shared across customers, and are in a position to transfer communicable germs from one person to another.  Yet there is no licensing, no accountability and no specialty certification for this brand of makeup artistry in the United States.

The artists that do not support certification/licensure by a third party, state that it increases costs to the artist, with no guarantee of remuneration by the client.   However, if every artist was certified, then the cost of that coverage would be built into the prices for services, and it would be easy for the consumer to see the difference between those who desire to be accountable, and the cheaper hobbyists, who are not willing to do what it takes to be a viable professional.

Even beauty schools offer their services at a discount to the public, but the public KNOWS that the person providing the services is not fully trained, and as such, the consumer is made aware of any possible risks.  That’s why clients are asked to sign waivers when they get inexpensive services from a beauty school.  In that environment, the unqualified stylist is operating under supervision of someone who is fully credentialed.  There is no such watchful eye for inexperienced face painters, who are often hired, sight unseen, off the internet.

There is an international certification that artists around the world can obtain.  It is from The Face Painting Association, based in the UK.  In that country, you cannot obtain liability insurance as an artist, unless you are certified by FACE.  Any artists in the US can obtain certification by proving that they meet a minimum standard of safety, artistry and follow hygienic practices.  The certification is done through a “blinded” test, so that it is not influenced by friendship or competitive atmosphere.  You have to agree to use only skin-safe products…imagine that!  The cost is minimal to the artist, about $75/year, and with some preparation any accomplished face painter could pass the test.  But less than 50 artists in the US are certified.  Why? Because the customer does not know to demand it, so face painters don’t see the need to obtain it.  Why get a “seal of approval” from a third party, if no one ever asks you if you have it?

Until this changes, I continue to promote my credentials:  Competency Certified Member #459 since 2012, and trust that my customers benefit from the peace of mind they receive from hiring a certified artist, who cares about delivering on professional standards.

Bottom line

If you are looking for the very best quality, insure that your entertainers are insured, function as a business (not a hobbyist) and are certified.   You will be glad you did, since these entertainers have chosen to invest in their business and can bring you more:  more quality, more services, more professionalism, more worthwhile referrals to other artists, and more peace of mind.  Isn’t that worth paying more for?