Two hairstylists have filed suit against the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology over the right to earn an honest living and unconstitutional protocols. Since 2003, the board has required natural hair braiders to get a license permit. Braiding is an ancient natural hair style that is part of the African culture and it dates back to 3500 BC. Because this is a natural hair style, “You don’t need any extra tools or any chemicals to do any braiding” says plaintiff Ashley N’Dakpri.

Plaintiff Lynn Schofield is the owner of Afro Touch Braiding Salon with locations in Gretna and LaPlace. The veteran braider told the local news, “I’m originally from Africa and we’re braiding each other’s hair since we were younger.” She explained licensing costs have put a major financial burden on hair braiding businesses and stylists throughout the state.

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Schofield said hardship the 2003 protocols caused her saying, “When it happened, it cost me a lot. It cost me a lot to lose all my shop and my braiders because the braiders couldn’t braid without a license. So I lost a lot, a lot of money.” Her niece, Plaintiff Ashley N'Dakpri, manages one of her aunts Afro Touch Braiding Salons and this is a natural hair style, “You don’t need any extra tools or any chemicals to do any braiding” she said.

Schofield and N'Dakpri took their fight against the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology, all the way to the 19th Judicial District Court. They are seeking a court decision to remove expensive barriers, that include unnecessary licensing for your hair braiding entrepreneurs.

To obtain a state license permit, braiders must complete 500 hours of training and and pass the state exam. Without the license, a business and its workers can be fined up to $5,000. The Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology released a statement in regard to the lawsuit:

“The minimum educational requirements for a permit include training in bacteriology and sanitation, and infection control. Basic knowledge of these subjects is necessary to protect the customers from injury and illness… Customer safety is paramount. Without proper training, customer safety is at risk.

While both plaintiffs agree that training in technique and sanitation is necessary to protect customers, they refuse to obtain permits. One plaintiff let her permit expire and the other who completed her cosmetology education in another country refuses to apply for licensure.”

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However, The Institute for Justice Attorney Keith Neely, representing the hair braiders pushed back on that statement saying, “But the problem is that natural hair braiding is completely safe. There is nothing to suggest that natural hair braiding is a risk to the public health, and nothing in the permit requirement actually seeks to protect the public health.”

So far the court has denied both sides during the motion for summary judgment. No trial date has be set as the Institution for Justice is not planning to go to trial. For more info on hair braiding school click, HERE.

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