Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

New Md. licensing makes way for drybar jobs

Any woman who has ever received a blowout can attest that it is the ultimate indulgence. With the emergence of dry bars, getting one’s hair blow dried has gone from hair appointment to a full social experience, with chick flicks and champagne.

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law that will create a limited license for people who want to enter that part of the beauty industry without spending the time and money to go to beauty school.

The new law will let people who want to work at these salons complete 350 hours of instruction at an approved cosmetology school and pass an exam administered by the State Board of Cosmetologists.

Under the current regulations, people who want to work at a dry bar salon must have a cosmetology license. In Maryland, that means working two years as a registered apprentice or at least 1,500 hours of instruction at a certified cosmetology school. The problem with that is, a dry bar offers a singular service: blow drying and styling hair. Instead of scissors and foils, these salons only use round brushes and hair dryers.

Maryland is the first state to offer a special license for blow drying. There are only a handful of dry bar salons in the state.

The legislation was led by Drybar, a California-based franchise that has locations across the country, including one Maryland salon in Bethesda. Drybar has several locations in Washington, D.C.

“It’s really a great opportunity for growth,” said Drybar founder Alli Webb, in a phone interview after Tuesday’s bill signing.

Webb hopes to get similar bills passed in the other states where she does business. Drybar has 60 locations nationwide.

“I have met countless people throughout the years who are naturally talented but don’t want to make the commitment to beauty school,” she said.

A lot of Drybar employees with cosmetology licenses split their time between working at Drybar and working at full-service salons, Webb said.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, and Del. Ariana B. Kelly, D-Montgomery County. The issue was brought to the General Assembly’s attention through Drybar field director Courtney Barfield.

In a hearing in front of the House Economic Matters Committee, Barfield told legislators that Drybar gets between 5 and 12 requests a day from people wanting to work at Drybar but do not have a cosmetology license.

Despite having only one location in Maryland, this wasn’t Drybar’s first experience with the General Assembly. In 2014, Drybar lobbied to get a bill passed that would let the salon serve champagne and wine to clients.

Drybar worked with Ashlie Bagwell, senior government relations associate with lobbying firm Harris Jones & Malone, LLC.

The bill passed both chambers without a hitch. There was no opposition, and hearings in both chambers wrapped up within 15 minutes each.

Legislative analysts said the new regulation will cost the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation an additional $18,000 in fiscal 2017 for programming and to create a new exam but general fund revenues will be able to cover expenses in subsequent years through licensing fees.

The new regulation goes into effect on Oct. 1.