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Consequences of Practicing Cosmetology Without A License

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Cosmetology is the professional study and practical use of beauty treatments. Being a professional cosmetologist or practicing cosmetology for compensation requires, by law, a license. Failure to attain a license is met with legal consequences.

Can You Practice Cosmetology Without a License?

No. You cannot practice legally without a license. The state-certified license of a cosmetologist takes time to earn and practitioners of the craft may be eager to get started, but they cannot practice cosmetology without a license. By law, any services done within the field of cosmetology for any form of compensation is illegal if done without a completed education and a license. If it is a specialized field and they have the license for that field alone, they may do so, but are not qualified for anything else.

What Are The Consequences?

As cosmetology requires a license earned over the course of thousands of hours of training and practice, there are consequences involved with being caught without the proper license or if it has expired and has not been renewed. The consequences will differ state to state, fines and misdemeanor offenses may be on your state’s list of consequences.

The process of verifying if a practitioner has a license is relatively simple and, if exposed for practicing without a license, every state has consequences for the absence of a license. These generally involve a fine, but there are more dire consequences and the practitioner could face criminal charges should someone be harmed in the process.

How to Practice Cosmetology Legally

Attaining a Cosmetology License

To start practicing cosmetology, you are required to attain a license from an accredited university or state-licensed beauty school. The basic courses are often supplemented with minor training in esthetics as well as other specialized areas but the general education provides the most expansive job opportunities.

Graduation from these schools usually requires over a thousand hours of practice as well as an exam that spans written and practical portions, and there will be programs to further your education so that your certification remains valid. It is a lifelong practice.

Can I Move With a Cosmetology License?

Licenses are not universal and, as such, require that if the license-holder wishes to continue their practice after leaving the state they have qualified to operate in, they must transfer their license.

The process of transferring a license varies depending on the states and their requirements when it comes to education within the field of cosmetology. In some cases you are only required to submit an application and fee, while others require another exam or extra hours in training.


In the end, attaining a license to operate as a cosmetologist is a necessity. There are ample opportunities to attain a license and open up an entire spectrum of careers by doing so. There is no reason to risk consequences from practicing cosmetology without a license.

About Sam

Sam has been covering the fashion and beauty industry for over 5 years. Since graduating from the School of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Sam has almost written exclusively for the web.

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