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June 11 2019

Minnesota Permanently Untangled Hair Braiders from Regulations

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

To braid hair in Minnesota, entrepreneurs need not jump through unnecessary hoops any longer. Lawmakers have seen the light and repealed the requirements for hair braiders -- a big win for women, especially black women.

This week, both chambers passed legislation that eliminates the licensing fee for hair braiders and exempts the practice of hair braiding from regulations by the state’s board of Cosmetologists.

This is a win for women - particularly black women - who dominate the hair braiding industry. Anyone with the skills and experience can now braid hair for profit without getting tangled up in costly red tape.

Hair braiding as an occupation can be lucrative and provides women flexibility and independence.

Some consider the intricate designs and hours of weaving strands together an art form passed down for generations. Some women learned the skill from their mothers and aunts.

Braids are popular right now as black women embrace what they call “natural” hairstyles. Going natural forgoes the application of chemical products to straighten or curl hair for styling. A client’s natural hair is braided by itself or with other sources of hair.

Unlike traditional hairstylists, hair braiders don’t touch dyes and chemicals or use heat or scissors.

You wonder then, why they are forced to spend hours learning styling and hair dying techniques and chemical applications? Some states require they take hundreds of hours of instruction on scalp disorders or sanitation to gain a license.

Across the country, hair braiders face onerous requirements to obtain a license to work. Add to that tuition and fees for exams and the license itself.

Proponents of the license requirements claim public safety is at risk. But that argument doesn’t hold up when we consider how few complaints there are against hair braiders precisely because they do not employ techniques and services that could pose a safety risk.

The Institute for Justice found in a report that complaints against hair braiders are so rare, “a person is 2.5 times more likely to get audited by the IRS (8.6 in 1,000) than a licensed or registered braider is to receive a complaint of any kind (3.4 in 1,000).”

The licensing just serves to limit the number of people who can get into the business. This keeps prices high for customers and cuts off opportunity for newbies.

Thankfully, states like Minnesota are scaling back or even repealing license requirements for hair braiders.

However, each state treats the occupation and requirements differently. For example, some states have a specific hair braiding license such as Georgia, New York, Florida, Alabama, and Nevada. Whereas others like New Jersey, Arkansas, and North Dakota require hair braiders to become licensed cosmetologists.

Not surprisingly, becoming a cosmetologist generally requires a lot of training (at least a thousand hours), whereas states with specialty hair braiding licenses require no hours of training at all or in a few states a dozen to a few hundred hours.

It’s time states stop tying the hands of these women who just want to work with license requirements that are an unnecessary burden.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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