PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota laws specifically let licensed cosmetologists perform scalp massages on their customers as part of caring for their hair, nails and skin. Likewise for licensed barbers as part of their somewhat narrower scope of care for hair, beards and upper body. But another 2003 state law explicitly prohibits licensed estheticians from performing scalp massages as part of their focus on skin care.

The state Cosmetology Commission regulates cosmetologists — a modern term for beauticians — as well as estheticians. A question now facing the five-woman panel is whether to recommend that the Legislature reverse the estheticians’ ban in its coming 2023 session and allow them to give scalp massages, too.

On Tuesday, the group agreed by consensus with a suggestion from commissioner Annette Petersen of Hurley to wait and now plan to make a recommendation at the September meeting. If the commission wants to pursue the change, the next steps would include discussion within the state Department of Labor and Regulation and potentially the governor’s office before offering it to the Legislature.

There are at least 175 licensed barbers in South Dakota and thousands of licensed cosmetologists and many hundreds of salon managers and owners who might have opinions to offer, too.

“I think it needs further discussion,” the commission’s president, Tami Stokes of Lead, said. “This is the first that I’ve had this. I don’t recall being part of a discussion where this was requested. This is a first.”

South Dakota was one of the last states in the nation to expand its beautician regulations and adopt a set of laws for estheticians in 2003.

The commission’s executive director, Bradi Stampe, said Tuesday that the current request came from Face Foundrie, a Minnesota-based retailer with a franchise on 41st Street in Sioux Falls.

“This company reached out to us,” Stampe said.

In their letter, the Sioux Falls location’s owners, Todd and Sherri Kanzenbach, said estheticians are allowed in Minnesota to do scalp massages.

“There are no products utilized during this service + we are gloved throughout its entirety ensuring sanitation. We are solely looking to massage the scalp without any treatment or change to the skin/scalp,” the letter said.

Stampe said she contacted each state’s cosmetology regulators and also looked at each state’s website. From that review, she said, South Dakota was the only one that “blatantly” says scalp massage wasn’t allowed for an esthetician. She also noted there weren’t a lot of direct yes or no answers from other states.

The delay will let the South Dakota commission members develop questions. “That gives us all a little bit of opportunity to do our own homework,” Stokes said.