Phillip Suderman · April 15, 2024


CONTACT: Phillip Suderman, [email protected], (850) 376-4110

BATON ROUGE, La.—HB 749 will appear before the House Commerce Committee this morning and will give state lawmakers the opportunity to expand hair braiding services by removing excessive regulations preventing people from joining the industry. Under current law, hair braiders must complete a minimum of 500 hours at a credentialed school along with passing an exam. Unlicensed hair braiders risk up to $5,000 in fines for every time they braid without a license.  The proposed law would remove that requirement and preempt local governments from prohibiting services.

In total, 33 states already exempt natural hair braiders from occupational licenses including neighboring Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. And evidence from those states confirms there is no link to the license and safety. For instance, during the first 10 years after Mississippi delicensed braiders in 2005, the state received zero complaints related to health or safety.

Meanwhile it is all but impossible for most people in Louisiana to obtain a braiding license. There are close to 50 cosmetology schools in the state, but only a handful currently offer the braiding course. Some of those schools require up to 600 hours of training, above and beyond the already excessive 500 hours required by the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology.

These licensing requirements also disproportionally impact women from the substantial Black population in Louisiana, which makes up almost one-third of the state’s population. 

Predictably, while braiding itself remains popular, interest in the state’s hair braiding license has been low—at one point there were only 19 licensed braiders statewide—in part due to the real-world challenges of obtaining the license. Pursuing the license is especially irrational for people with decades of experience braiding hair without incident.

“Training requirements should only be applied when the issue of health or safety are at stake,” said Meagan Forbes, director of legislation and senior legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice (IJ). “These restrictions fail on both counts. Hair braiders in Louisiana deserve the right to earn a living, and their clients deserve the chance to enjoy those services.”

For hair braiders like Ashley N’Dakpri, this legislation would open up new economic opportunities.

“There’s just no good reason to have these requirements,” said N’Dakpri. “I have more than 20 years of professional experience. What good does it serve to have me stop everything, go to school for 500 hours or more, and take a test just to prove what I already know and have been doing in a safe and responsible manner for decades?”

N’Dakpri is also currently working with IJ on a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the licensing requirements.  

The Institute for Justice

The Institute for Justice is the national law firm for liberty. Since 1991, IJ has worked to protect the right to earn an honest living. Its first lawsuit was filed on behalf of hair braiders in Washington, D.C. Since D.C. repealed its license, IJ has won another dozen hair braiding lawsuits, either when courts struck down or lawmakers repealed the challenged licenses. This latest legislative drive in Louisiana demonstrates IJ’s tireless commitment to freeing braiders nationwide and ensuring the economic liberty of all Americans.

#  #  #

 To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may contact Phillip Suderman, IJ’s Communications Project Manager, at [email protected] (850) 376-4110. More information on IJ’s work on hair braiding is available at: