Natural Hair Braiding Opportunity and Freedom Act
African-style hair braiding has been a safe and enduring practice for millennia. Today, it presents opportunities for entrepreneurs, especially in African-American and African immigrant communities, enabling them to own businesses, promote their cultural heritage, and realize their American dreams.
Natural hair braiding is different from cosmetology. But in some states, aspiring braiders face excessive cosmetology licensing requirements. These licensing laws compel braiders to spend substantial time and money on classroom training, often covering skills at which they already excel or, even worse, unrelated to braiding.
Instead of focusing on launching their businesses, braiders often are ensnared in unnecessary and bewildering occupational and salon licensing regulations.
What Can State Legislators Do?
The Institute for Justice offers the Natural Hair Braiding Opportunity and Freedom Act. It exempts braiders from state laws including occupational licenses and facility licenses.
IJ launched its Braiding Freedom initiative in 2014. Since then, 22 states have exempted braiders from cosmetology, hairstyling, or barber licenses. They are Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Of the 22 states, legislators in 14 enacted versions of this model without the support of IJ’s concurrent litigation. They are Kentucky and Nebraska in 2016, Indiana, New Hampshire and South Dakota in 2017, New Jersey and Oklahoma in 2018, Minnesota, North Dakota and Rhode Island in 2019, Florida in 2020, Massachusetts and Wisconsin in 2021, and Montana in 2023.
- Passed Reform
- No Reform