Hair braiding is a time-tested, safe practice that is deeply rooted in African cultural heritage and carries with it significant historical importance. The art and foundation of “traditional” or “natural” hair braiding is based on distinct techniques generally grouped together under “natural hair care” because they do not use any chemicals or other artificial hair styling.
But in New Jersey, officials have made it illegal for braiders to make money from their braiding skills unless they first spend thousands of dollars and attend thousands of hours of state-mandated and irrelevant cosmetology training.
The New Jersey Hair Braiding Freedom Coalition represents braiders from across the state who are focused on educating legislators and members of the community about the need to change this law. They are uniting to rally support for A4421 and S3136, state assembly and senate bills which exempt natural hair braiding from cosmetology licensing.
The US Constitution protects citizens’ right to earn an honest living without unreasonable government interference. The government can’t license something as safe and common as braiding hair. Additionally, the study Barriers to Braiding: How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape finds that licensing has nothing to do with protecting public health and safety. Instead, it just keeps braiders out of work.
Research demonstrates that when licensing laws exceed legitimate health and safety objectives, they cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder by creating artificial barriers to entry for entrepreneurs. These laws are often designed to protect industry insiders from new competition or boost tuition numbers for cosmetology schools. As a result, licensing boards and the insiders they represent use these requirements to reduce competition from newcomers.