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Over the past year, kitchen beauticians have been catching plenty of heat from the law. Especially those who install cornrows and box braids, requiring them to obtain an occupational license to braid hair. In recent times, both The White House and organizations like the Institute for Justice have taken notice of the controversial issue, working to compromise on a fair and non-prohibitive solution for hair braiders when it comes to occupational licenses.

Now, hair braiders in Iowa have won the right to braid hair without the need of a cosmetology license. The new law took effect last Friday (July 1), now requiring braiders to only register with the state and take basic health and safety classes. Prior to the passing of the law, braiders were required to spend an upwards of $22,000 to take numerous classes that actually didn’t even teach the skill of braiding.


The Institute for Justice (IJ), which helped bring the issue to the forefront in conjunction with its Braiding Freedom Initiative, said the previous “burdensome requirements” prevented braiders from starting their own braiding businesses and earning an honest living in the state. “This is a major victory for African-style hair braiders in Iowa,” said IJ attorney Meagan Forbes. “These reforms have now put the American dream within reach for braiders across the state.”

Earlier this year, both Nebraska and Kentucky won decisions that removed the laws requiring cosmetology licenses, with the addition of Iowa. However, there are still over 20 states that still have the strict laws in place.

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