Missouri Hair Braiding

Niang and Stigers v. Carroll et al
Missouri Hair Braiding

If you want to braid hair for a living in Missouri, you must spend thousands of dollars on at least 1,500 hours of cosmetology training that teaches you nothing about African-style hair braiding. That’s far more time and money than it takes to become a licensed EMT in the state.

Joba Niang and Tameka Stigers have been braiding hair for much of their lives and each woman owns a successful hair braiding business. African hair braiding is a centuries-old natural hair care technique that uses no dyes or chemicals; it is safe for the braider to perform and does not hurt the person getting their hair braided. But Missouri wants to turn the two women into criminals.

Licensing schemes like Missouri’s are exploding across the country. In the 1950s, less than five percent of the workforce was required to obtain a government license to do their job. Today, that number is over 30 percent. There are now more than 1,100 different occupations that require a government license in at least one state.

No one should have to hire a lawyer or lobbyist just to braid hair. The right to earn an honest living is an essential part of our nation’s promise of opportunity.

On June 17, 2014, the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to end the state’s hair braiding licensing scheme.

This case is one of three lawsuits IJ filed as part of its National Braiding Initiative. IJ’s very first case was an economic liberty challenge on behalf of African-style hair braiders to Washington D.C.’s cosmetology laws.


Essential Background

Audio, Video and Images

Backgrounder: Untangling Entrepreneurs from Missouri’s Cosmetology Laws

Client Video

Client Photos

Press Conference (June 17, 2014) 

Launch Release: Missouri Hair Braiders File Federal Lawsuit to Untangle State’s Cosmetology Scheme

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Complaint (June 16, 2014)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit: 


June 17, 2014

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri



None available

 Current Court: U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri


  Next Key Date:


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

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Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Op-Ed: Untangle African-style braiders from Missouri’s irrational cosmetology laws St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 24, 2014)
Article: Hair Braiders Challenge Cosmetology Licensing Laws in Lawsuit KOLR-TV (June 21, 2014)
Article: The Latest Target of Government Over-Regulation: African-Style Hair Braiders? The Blaze (June 20, 2014)
Article: Missouri Hair Braiders Sue Over Regulations KOMU-TV Online (June 17, 2014)
Article: Hair Braiders Sue Over Missouri's Licensing Requirement St. Louis Public Radio (June 16, 2014)

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