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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hair Braiding Without a License Used to Be Illegal in This State, But Not Anymore!

Hair braiding Black woman's hair

Nationwide — Braiding hair without a cosmetology license used to be a crime in the state of Iowa, but as of July 1, 2016, it no longer is. Before the new law was in place, however, hair stylists without a license could face a misdemeanor charge and could be sentenced to prision for up to one year.

The law, which primarily affected African, African American, and Caribbean women, was aggressively challenged by two women activists, Aicheria Bell and Achan Agit. After grabbing the attention and the support of the Institute for Justice, they were able to file a civil rights lawsuit against the state.

Unreasonable and unfair requirements

Previously, the state required hair braiders to complete 2,100 hours of cosmetology training and pass a cosmetology licensing exam. The cost for this was astronomical – sometimes amounting up to $20,000. This made it ever difficult for women entrepreneurs who wanted to start a hair braiding business. And, the reason for all this according to state law was to “protect consumer health and safety.”

However, after the lawsuit was filed, Governor Terry Branstad responded by removing the stipulations in a veto, resulting in completely deregulating the work. “Licensing and regulations should only be mandated when necessary to serve public health or safety. Natural hair braiding does not require government mandates, regulations, or licensing,” he said in a veto message.

Aicheria Bell, one of the women who helped changed the law, comments, “I am grateful I can now pursue my passion and support my family without feeling like a criminal. This new law opens the door for so many braiders to start and grow their own businesses.”

Not just in Iowa

In 2015, the Institute of Justice won a major victory in federal court that struck down Texas’ attempts to regulate braiding schools as barber colleges. In response to their litigation, the state governments of Arkansas and Texas eliminated their licensing requirement for braiders.


Watch the video below: