Untangling Regulations

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Untangling Regulations:

Natural Hair Braiders Fight Against Irrational Licensing

By Paul Avelar and Nick Sibilla
July 2014


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Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many African, African-American and immigrant communities in the United States. Braiding is a safe practice because braiders do not use any chemicals, dyes or coloring agents and do not cut hair. Yet as this study makes clear, braiders in many states have to endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay thousands of dollars before they can legally work. That creates an enormous burden for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Untangling Regulations: Natural Hair Braiders Fight Against Irrational Licensing is a survey of braiding laws in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Across the country, braiding regulations vary dramatically:

  • Eleven states do not license natural hair braiders.
  • In the 39 states and the District of Columbia where braiders are required to obtain a license, the necessary hours range from six in South Carolina to 2,100 in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The report also ranks these laws based on the number of hours a braider must complete before she can work legally:

  • Twelve states earned an A or A-.
  • Three states earned a B or B+.
  • Washington, D.C. received a C.
  • Ten states got a D.
  • Twenty-four states earned an F.
  • Washington State received an incomplete, pending a recent lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice, because it had previously promised not to regulate braiders but then reversed its position without notice or explanation, leading to the lawsuit.


Press Releases

Related IJ Cases

none available

Washington Hair Braiding - Sylla v. Kohler

Missouri Hair Braiding - Niang and Stigers v. Carroll et al

Arkansas Hair Braiding - Earl v. Smith
Texas Hairbraiding - Brantley v. Kuntz

Related Videos, New Articles, and Links

Other Research
Article: Repealing bad laws can be better than passing new ones NewsOK.com (February 10, 2015)
Opinion: A Missing Link in the Civil Rights Movement Afro-American Newspapers - Washington DC Edition (October 1, 2014)
Opinion: Untangling Hair Braiding Regulation Wall Street Journal (July 25, 2014)
Video: The Fight for Braiding Freedom Report: License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
Video: Handcuffed hairbraider sues in federal court for right to teach

Report: The Power of One Entrepreneur

Video: Should You Need the Government's Permission to Work?


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