Desairology: Funeral Cosmetology

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A desairologist is a state licensed cosmetologist or barber stylist who is a specialized caregiver for hair of decedents in a funeral home preparation room. Make up or nail care can be given upon family request. The official term used to describe this type of care is desairology.[1]

Desairology is a product of the practice of viewing a deceased person in their open casket prior to burial. If a viewing is desired, the funeral director will ask the family to provide a picture of the deceased showing a characteristic hair style and give the photo to the desairologist. A decedent's usual hairdresser may also be called upon.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's official view is that no certification is required to practice desairology. Care is left to the practitioners to perform as best they can, and the practice of desairology is legal, according to the "Decedents Bill of Rights."[citation needed]

The term "desairology" was coined in 1980 by author Noella Papagno, author of "Desairology: The Dressing of Decedents Hair."[2]

A person must be licensed—as a cosmetologist, funeral director, or embalmer—to perform cosmetic services on deceased persons. In many funeral homes, unless the family requests special services or a certain cosmetologist, funeral home personnel do the necessary cosmetic preparations. Most mortuary schools require a class on restorative art that includes basic hair styling and makeup techniques.

According to the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), no schools in the United States currently offer specific programs of study for mortuary cosmetologists. Many schools offer classes on mortuary services as part of their cosmetology curriculum, but states don’t require special licensing for mortuary cosmetologists beyond the standard cosmetology license, which is a requirement for cosmetologists in all 50 U.S. states.[3]


  1. ^ "Beauty Link - Volume 1, Issue 2 - The Less Common Road". Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  2. ^ "Arizona Funeral Cemetery and Cremation Association homepage". Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  3. ^ "Mortuary Cosmetologist Career". Retrieved 2016-07-31.

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