P.E.I. hairdressers ask for regulation of other beauty businesses including nail, eyelash services

Hair stylists in P.E.I. are asking the provincial government to make licensing a requirement for all beauty providers. 

Currently only hairdressers on the Island must be licensed. 

Under the Hairdresser’s Act, hair stylists are also required to follow regulations including rules for health and safety. Now, the Prince Edward Island Hairdressers’ Association (PEIHDA) has started an online petition asking for that to change.

“What licensing is about is making sure that everybody has a minimum standard of training,” said Shelley Bell, president of the group. 

They would like to see licences required for barbers, nail technicians, eyelash technicians and estheticians. These groups provide services that often require close contact to eyes and other sensitive areas, strong chemicals and hot wax that can be dangerous if used improperly. 

Shelley Bell, president of the P.E.I. Hairdressers’ Association, is asking the provincial government once again to license and regulate all beauty-service providers on the Island. (Hannah Bryenton/CBC News)

The association says it has been in talks with government officials for several years asking for regulation of all beauty services, but decided it’s time to be more aggressive in its approach.

“There’s always a concern with an industry that touches people and is using chemicals,” she said. “Then we just came out of COVID, so there are other concerns with sterilization and sanitation.”

Bell said without licensing, anyone can open a beauty salon and there’s no way to regulate it.

Industry is ‘exploding’

Bell said when the PEIHDA approached the government about licensing in past, there may not have been such a pressing need because there were not many beauty providers on the Island. 

Now, she said, times have changed and the industry is “exploding.”

“It’s a growing industry,” Bell said. “That’s why we’ve gone back to the government to say we really need to look at this again.” 

So the organization’s executive director, Sherri Runighan, created a petition to improve public awareness. She says they’ve received positive feedback, including from estheticians, and hope to have the issue resolved before the end of the year.

Sherri Runighan is the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Hairdressers’ Associated. She hopes the petition she started will gain enough traction to make changes in provincial regulations for beauty service providers. (Hannah Bryenton/CBC News)

“We’re not looking to take away anyone’s livelihood,” said Runighan. “We’re looking for the support of the public. We’re looking for the support of all the other beauty providers.”

Sherri Runighan says most people mistakenly think beauty providers are regulated. She receives phone calls and messages daily with complaints from people who have had bad experiences at beauty salons.

“I do receive complaints and I do forward them off to the Department of Health and Wellness, because right now our hands are tied,” she said. “A lot of the public didn’t even realize that all these other beauty providers are not licensed.” 

Erin Ward, an esthetician and hairstylist at Freedom Hair Inc. in Charlottetown, agrees all beauty providers should be licensed for the sake of customers and estheticians as well.

“I know it’s an important industry for everybody,” she said. “I think it’s important for us to be able to be protected.”

She said it’s important to do research before booking a beauty appointment. 

“Look at reviews, ask people around, just so you know where you’re going,” Ward said. “I always say, make sure you do your research before you go to that place because word of mouth is pretty big for this industry.”

Current regulations

In a statement to CBC, the Department of Health and Wellness said it does not currently “have regulations for personal services.” But environmental health officers routinely inspect “facilities where the highest-risk services are offered, those which puncture the skin.”

The department said their inspections are in accordance with their “Guidelines for Personal Services Facilities,” which are under the authority of the Public Health Act.”

P.E.I. esthetician Erin Ward says she hopes that all beauty providers on the Island will be regulated and licensed. (Hannah Bryenton/CBC News)

The guidelines outline standards to help beauty providers prevent problems like skin infections caused by services. 

There is nothing in the guidelines specifying what happens if health hazards exist.

A spokesperson with the department said if inspectors find violations, they would provide education and direction to solve the problem.