children's hair

Is it illegal to cut your children’s hair?

Cutting your children’s hair can be easier than taking them to the barber. It can also be a money saver, but is it illegal? Some people say you need a license. Other people worry about custody issues. In this article, I’ll answer this question and more.

It is legal to cut your children’s hair. As long as you are the parent or legal guardian it is OK. If you share custody with another person, it’s a good idea to tell them in advance and take their opinion into consideration.

Sometimes I find it hard to cut my kid’s hair because of how messy they get. I use basic baby shampoo, but if that doesn’t work for you, try HairStory. They have an alternative to the typical hair washes.

Is cutting your children’s hair illegal?

No, it’s not illegal to cut your children’s hair. This is true especially when you are the children’s caregiver biologically or through adoption. Another scenario where the children would be subject to your hair style decisions include power of attorney. However, it would be illegal for someone else to cut your children’s hair without your permission. In this case, you would have to be notified in advance as well as agree.

Benefits of cutting your children’s hair

  • Save money
  • No need to leave the house
  • Bonding experience
  • Maximum control of results

The first benefit to cutting your children’s hair is the saving money. You can use a pair of scissors you already own or invest in a hair trimmer set. You will quickly make up the cost of the trimmer within two or three haircuts. Second, not having to leave the house is a huge bonus. If you are antisocial like me, you can avoid the general public. Also, loading and unloading small children into car seats can be a hassle. Some children also have a fear of strangers and you will avoid having to deal with them misbehaving in public. Use this extra time together to teach your children about grooming.

Drawbacks of being your kids hair stylist

  • Not always easy
  • Quality not guaranteed
  • Some chance of injury

Unless you’re a professional kids hair stylist, cutting your children’s hair may not be so easy. There’s a good reason barbers and kids hair stylists go to school. If you haven’t gone to beauty school, it can be intimidating and even difficult. This is why we pay others to do work we can’t or don’t want to do.

Also by doing it yourself, you can sacrifice the quality you would otherwise receive by a professional. There’s an old saying in acting about not working with children and animals. Even the best behaved children can wiggle and make haircuts a challenging task.

Finally, there is an increased chance of minor injury. I’m not trying to scare or intimidate you in any way. My barber has been known to accidentally cause minor cuts during a shave or around my ears with a trimmer. If a professional can make a mistake, you are prone to similar issues while using sharp scissors. Again, these kind of mishaps are minor and even children would rebound quickly.

Why do people think it’s illegal?

Just as in every industry, there’s misinformation that circulates online. This is especially true when talking about social media. People love to spread controversial gossip and rumors. The general public are typically unfamiliar with the law. I don’t blame them. The law can be hard to read sometimes. It often doesn’t get any news coverage when it changes. Other times, the law can be particularly outdated. Some laws on the books today date back hundreds of years. Because of this, some of them go not apply and are not enforced. So, when someone says something is illegal it could be true, but it is irrelevant. In the end, without a solid knowledge of the law people often spread opinion as fact.

If you have a question about a specific laws or are just browsing, there are sites to check. One site I recommend to people is for general searches.

When it’s illegal to cut children’s hair

Legality of Kids HaircutsLegalIllegal
Biological ParentX 
Legal GuardianX 
Other Person with PermissionX 
No Custody / Guardianship X
For Money without License X
Emancipated Children X
For Pain or Embarrassment X
Other person without Permission X

If you do not have legal custody of a child, you would need the permission of the person who does have this authority. Permission from the child alone would not be valid unless they are an emancipated minor. In most places, you would need a business license in order to be a kids hair stylist for profit. This next one goes without saying but I’ll mention it anyway. Even if you have the legal authority to cut a child’s hair, if it can be proven it is done for the purpose of causing pain or embarrassment, it would be illegal in many jurisdictions.

As mentioned earlier in this article, there may be some outdated laws when it comes to hair-cutting that I am not aware. Small towns pass local ordinances all the time that defy common sense. In the 1960s, one town in California banned high heels taller than two inches.

Illegal not to wear shoes

There are many schools and employers that require a dress code that includes the grooming of hair. Often you will hear about lawsuits regarding discrimination based on this topic. As it relates to this article however, the school or business would not be permitted to cut your children’s hair. This being said, they may be allowed to require you or a professional groom the child. You have probably seen the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” signs in the window of certain businesses. Within reason, schools, employers, and businesses are permitted to refuse teaching, employment, and services in some situations.

Is an involuntary haircut assault?

One question highly debated is whether cutting someone’s hair could be considered assault. Someone may do this as a prank or for revenge. Yes, cutting someone’s hair without their knowledge or permission can be assault. Hair is considered a part of a person’s body. Depending on how the law is written where this happens, this could be assault or harassment. One reason some people don’t believe this is because hair would grow back. And they also suggest there would not be any monetary loss. But it could cost the victim time and the price of a trip to the salon.

Scissors can be considered a deadly weapon in some situations. However, in this case, the intent is not to cause serious bodily injury or death so it could not apply here. If you were to be charged with cutting someone’s hair without their permission, the punishment would probably be minor. I would anticipate as minor as a small fine or as significant as probation.

Civil and moral implication of unwanted haircuts

It can be stressful and embarrassing to have your hair cut without your permission. Because of this, a civil lawsuit is likely to be successful. The guilty party would likely have to pay for the victim’s legal fees, a court fine, costs to repair the damage, and possibly some money for pain and suffering. It is unlikely to find a judge or jury that would be sympathetic to someone who does this. It is not socially acceptable to touch someone without their acceptance.


In conclusion, please use common sense before you pick up the scissors. Often it comes down to reasonableness. If you have the right intentions and can give a valid reason, your actions are justified. As stated above, there are many benefits to cutting your children’s hair. While there are some drawbacks, it is your decision.

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