Occupational Licensing

Do You Have a License to Braid That Hair?

Unnecessary state regulations add costly burdens with no real safety benefits.


Hair Braiding
Institute for Justice

A new Institute for Justice report titled Barriers to Braiding details the various occupational licensing rules that affect African hair braiders. The report shows that licensing African hair braiders has real-world costs—and no public safety benefits.

African hair braiding is a natural process of caring for hair that does not require scissors, heat, or chemicals. Yet, despite its substantial differences from cosmetology, 16 states still force African hair braiders to go through onerous, time-consuming cosmetology training programs. Getting a cosmetology license takes between 1,000 and 2,100 hours to complete and costs thousands of dollars.

Though cosmetology courses teach students how to cut and use chemicals on hair, a possible justification for some sort of licensing scheme, these skills are entirely unrelated to African hair braiding. This type of braiding is not even taught in cosmetology schools.

The District of Columbia and 14 states require specific licenses for hair braiders that are separate from cosmetology licenses. These licenses come with mandated training that takes between six hours and 600 hours, depending on the state.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are 20 states that do not require any licensing for African hair braiders (two have a simple registration system). The stated justifications behind occupational licensing schemes are always steeped in concerns for public safety. But if African hair braiding posed legitimate safety concerns, why are states with no training requirements not experiencing increased levels of braiding-related injuries or death? (Hint: because it is completely safe).

The full breakdown of hours of training and type of license required by state can be seen in the figure below:

Training Hours
Institute for Justice

The requirements to braid hair are completely out of line with the risks posed to the public. Among the states that make African hair braiders acquire a cosmetology license, the amount of training required is between three and 19 times greater than the hours necessary to become licensed as an emergency medical technician—a job that deals with life and death situations.

It should come as no surprise that these requirements create high barriers to entry. Data from 12 states and the District of Columbia show that the more training states require, the fewer people relative to states' black populations are professional braiders.

Braiders vs. Training
Institute for Justice

To highlight one example from the table, Mississippi mandates no training and had over 1,245 registered braiders in 2012. Neighboring Louisiana requires over 500 hours of training and, even though it has a larger black population, had only 32 licensed braiders in 2012.

As Diana Furchtgott-Roth and I chronicle in our book Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America's Young, these barriers to work have real-world consequences. When writing the book, we spoke to Melony Armstrong, the subject of the documentary Locked Out: A Mississippi Success Story. She recounted the six-year struggle she faced to work as an African hair braider.

After being forced to comply with numerous government-imposed hurdles, Melony filed a lawsuit against Mississippi to free herself and other hair braiders from the state's excessive licensing requirements. In April 2005, after a hard fight in the state legislature, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour freed hair braiders to practice their trade without the burdensome, pointless regulations. Now, all that is required to be a hair braider is a $25 payment and compliance with Mississippi's health and hygiene codes. As IJ's data show, there were thousands of people who followed Melony's example and registered to work as African hair braiders in Mississippi.

Occupational licensing is a common way to keep people out of work. Countless occupations, from handymen to interior designers, face barriers to work that do little to protect public safety. IJ's report shows that states with extensive licensing requirements should simply allow African hair braiders to work. And to anyone worried about public safety, I challenge you to find one incident of death by braiding.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

7 responses to “Do You Have a License to Braid That Hair?

  1. high capacity braids?

    1. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week.
      I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do… http://www.trends88.com

  2. i get paid over ?79.91 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over ?9185 a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,……

    ——->>>> http://www.CareerPlus90.com

  3. Makes you wonder what Alaska, Idaho, Montana and North and South Dakota are trying to accomplish.

    1. Well think about it. Based on the number of people with African hair in those states; how many people would you expect to know anything about how to braid it? If someone is going to get paid for braiding that hair don’t you think they should know what they are doing? If it’s just something that’s done on the side by my girlfriend’s sister’s cousin then the requirement isn’t going to be enforced. However if it’s going to be done in a legitimate barbershop then it better be done by a professional and be done right. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay a $bill for a do that looks like a ragmop.

  4. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week.
    I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do… http://www.trends88.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.