Proposed regulation could break down economic barriers for hair braiders but challenges remain

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Urban News Staff Reports

The State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling Board is issuing a special rule adoption which creates a limited license to perform hair braiding services and a licensure requirement for hair braiding shops. 

The limited license requires 40 or 50 hours of training, depending on whether the applicant has three years of hair braiding experience at the time of application.  This is in contrast to the 1,200 hours of training required to obtain a full cosmetology license. Additionally, the rules increase the number of members on the Board of Cosmetology to 13 and provide that two members must own or operate a hair braiding shop in this State.

Hair braiders and their patrons primarily include African-American women and other women of African and/or Caribbean descent.  With the enactment of the special rule, the Legislature and Board seek to remove certain barriers to economic opportunity for individuals who might pursue work as hair braiders, while maintaining consumer protections for their patrons.

While the state says it's trying to make it easier for hair braiders to do business, some say there are still challenges. Justice Associate Director of Activism Brooke Fallon said in one interview that barriers remain.

“We’re concerned that 40 to 50-hour requirement is an additional burden for the braiders,” Fallon said. “Where is this training going to be offered? Will it be offered in languages other than English? A lot of the braiders speak French or Arabic. Also, how much will the training be? That can affect how accessible it is to these braiders. Many of these women have been doing this work since they were little girls, so now to have to sign up for classes and possibly travel across the state for them is definitely a concern.”

The proposed regulation, and information on how to submit a comment by January 31, 2020.

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