Should Hair Braiders Be Required By Law To Have A Cosmetology License To Legally Practice?

April 3, 2016  |  

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

It feels like it was just yesterday that social media was in an uproar over the state of Nebraska requiring hair braiders to have a cosmetology license. Yes, practicing those same box braids and cornrows you learned how to perfect as a kid for money from chicks on your block would land you in serious hot water with the law. Until now.

Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed a bill passed by the state legislature that lifted the occupational cosmetology license on hair braiders. (The bill passed on a unanimous decision of 42 to 0.) Before, if you wanted to braid hair and make a some money from it in Nebraska, you’d be required to complete 2,1000 (nearly two years) hours of education, which could cost you nearly $22,000 out of pocket. Not to mention, if you didn’t comply with the law, you could be fined up to $25,000 and faced four years of jail time.

Now, hair braiders won’t have to worry such repercussions after July 1 once the new rules take effect. Hair braiding, in addition to the installation of hair extensions and topical treatments like shampoos and conditioners, will no longer require any sort of license in Nebraska.

Just last year, Texas ruled its own braiding laws unconstitutional after a nearly 20-year battle which also called for arrest and fines. However, there are only 16 states, now including Nebraska, that don’t have strict laws that require an occupational license to braid hair, according to Paul Avelar, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice who helped draft the bill.

Nebraska state senator Nicole Fox, who represents the third poorest district in the state of Nebraska, which also ironically has a staggering number of single females, is the one behind the new legislation. “For somebody who is a young single female, potentially a young single mom, who doesn’t have a lot [of] resources and is already struggling to make ends meet, cosmetology in the state of Nebraska is expensive,” Fox told the Daily Signal.

Avelar agreed with Fox’s statement offering, “In terms of things like braiding, what occupational licensing does is, it makes it more difficult for people to get into a field.”

Salim Furth, a research fellow in macroeconomics at The Heritage Foundation, also shared her opinion with the Daily Signal. “If you talk to women who get their hair braided, many of the braiders are unlicensed and thus work in the ‘shadow economy,” she said. “With that regulation out of the way, it’s easier for them to move into the formal economy, open a storefront, employ others, and teach their craft.”

As someone that gets their hair braided at least twice a year (maybe more during the summertime), I couldn’t imagine someone that has the talent of being able to braid not being able to profit off of it without a license. There’s plenty of braiders that have hooked me up with cute cornrows or braided styles out of their home. Most of the time I wasn’t searching for a license because they were all based off of trusted recommendations, but I wold probably want to feel secure about someone with a license tending to my mane.

What happens if they braid the hair too tight and that persons hair falls out? Is the braider at risk of being taken to court and sued? I can understand where a license may come in handy, but 2,100 hours of school for an already proven skill isn’t necessary. Maybe a test that costs no more than $100 and a passing certificate/license? There are other states that only require limited licenses to account for health and safety, but the extensive training, etc. is a bit much. I mean, these punishments for braiding are harsher than some violent crimes.

Both The White House and organizations like the Institute for Justice are taking notice of this controversial issue and are working compromise on a fair and non-prohibitive solution for hair braiders when it comes to occupational licenses.

What do you think?

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