Getting Arrested for Braiding Hair In New Jersey Is Still Possible


On Monday, August 27th Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed the once approved a bill that made it legal to braid natural hair without licensing. The bill had received bipartisan approval from both the New Jersey Assembly and Senate.

The bipartisan approval means braiders can still be arrested for braiding hair unless they are licensed, cosmetologists. To become a licensed cosmetologist in the state of New Jersey the requirements are to at least 1,200 hours of training. Tuition can cost up to $17,000, and within the program, you are not learning much about braiding.

Gov. Murphy acknowledged the current licensing requirements as excessive in a 25-page letter. He suggested 40-50 hours of training for New Jersey braiders.

In the letter, he wrote:

“Those who operate without a license are exposed to legal risk, and those who could otherwise be productively employed as hair braiders who choose not to operate forego a readily available source of income for themselves and their families. In order to create a stronger and fairer New Jersey, it is important to remove or reduce barriers to economic opportunity. At the same time, it is important to balance opening economic opportunity with maintaining consumer protections. Just as those who provide hair braiding services are primarily African-American women and African- and Caribbean-immigrant women, the primary consumers who utilize hair braiding services are African-American women and African- and Caribbean-immigrant women. I want to ensure that, by rolling back regulatory requirements for hair braiders, we do not expose those who use hair braiding services to harm.”

I had my hair braided once by someone who I considered a friend who was not a licensed cosmetologist about four years ago. She always showed me photos of her clients and their braided protective hairstyles that she had done for them. I was excited and even intrigued by the thought of getting Senegalese twists done on my natural hair with added Marley braiding hair for length. I paid her to do my hair and the morning after barely sleeping and having a sore scalp and a head filled with heavy Senegalese twists I knew that something was wrong.

I confided in her about how sore my scalp was the next day and she told me that it was normal. She used almost 5 packs of Marley braiding hair to give my twists the illusion that they were supposedly thick. I popped close to six painkillers a day for the next three days until I realized that my edges had drastically broken off and my scalp was inflamed. Therefore, I had a horrible experience with a non-licensed braider.

I believe that it’s up to the potential and current clients of the unlicensed braiders to make their decisions on who they should trust with their hair and scalp. I also believe that braiders who are unlicensed are not a threat to anyone. If more people who are seeking out braiders in their area who are licensed or unlicensed especially on social media, then it is up to them to do their research.

There are now 25 states currently moving to reduce or remove restrictions on unlicensed braiders. Unfortunately, New Jersey is not going to do the same any time soon to become the 26th state. At this time there is no word on if a new bill will be submitted or when. In 14 different states, the Institute for Justice reduces or removes licensing requirements, stating the new proposal is still harsh.

In a detail press statement released, the Institute for Justice stated the changes could force braiders with existing shops to shut down shop or even partner with licensed cosmetologists. Hopefully, unlicensed braiders will continue to make their voice heard and obey the new law.