In today’s Wall Street Journal, the editorial board profiled a victory for natural hair braiders in Iowa, secured by the Institute for Justice:

Incredibly, the Iowa law forced women who merely want to help other women braid their hair to spend as much as $22,000 and 2,100 hours in training. Some cosmetology schools don’t even teach hair-braiding, which is a skill often handed down from African-American mothers to daughters.

Aicheria Bell is a single mom who lives in Des Moines and uses her braiding practice to support her family. Achan Agit fled the Sudan civil war in 2001 and settled in Iowa. Last October the two sued the state Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences—yes, there really is such an outfit—with the help of the Virginia-based Institute for Justice. The suit caught the attention of Iowa politicians. The two are now free to braid.

This new Iowa law is just one battle in what The Wall Street Journal describes as “what should be a nationwide war on occupational licensing:”

We’ve supported IJ’s anti-licensing campaigns for years, and the good news is that some on the political left are finally discovering the problem. In 1950, 5% of workers required a license or certificate. Today that number is more than 25% nationwide.

A report from the Obama White House last year said the share ranges from 12% of workers in South Carolina to 33% in Iowa…

Read the entire editorial.

For 25 years, IJ has defended hair braiders from a thicket of red tape, filing a dozen lawsuits and writing three reports on the issue, including one that just came out today. Today, Iowa is one of 20 states that have freed braiders from licensing laws.

For more information about IJ’s fight for natural hair braiders, visit