Hair Braiding

Braider Opportunity and Freedom Act

African-style hair braiding is a common and safe practice that has existed for thousands of years. It also offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs in African-American and African immigrant communities to support themselves and their families, start their own businesses and become their own bosses.

Braiding is distinct from cosmetology. Yet to legally braid hair for a living, braiders in many states must spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on cosmetology training—training that has nothing to do with African-style hair braiding. Instead of getting their businesses off the ground, braiders get tangled up in senseless occupational and salon licensing regulations.

Since IJ launched its Braiding Freedom initiative in 2014, 21 states—Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin—have exempted braiding from cosmetology, hairstyling, or barber licenses.

IJ’s model braiding bill is based on the day-to-day practices of braiders and offers the best language from the various state braiding laws. Since 2015, IJ’s lobbying efforts have helped legislators in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, South Dakota and Wisconsin to enact versions of the model bill to exempt braiders from licensing laws.

No License Required for Natural Hair Braiding

The Institute for Justice advocates for exempting braiders from state licensing laws. Today, 32 states completely exempt braiders from licensure.

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming District of Columbia