Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter Unbraids Arizona’s Cosmetology Licensing Laws for African Hairbraiders
The Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter helped secure a major economic liberty victory for Essence Farmer and other aspiring natural hairbraiders in Arizona when the state legislature passed in April 2004 a law exempting braiders from the State’s cosmetology licensing scheme.
Arizona’s Board of Cosmetology had required individuals who practice natural hairbraiding, but no other activity considered “cosmetology,” to obtain a full cosmetology license. This requires 1,600 hours of classroom instruction and at least $10,000 in tuition. Yet the Board-approved cosmetology curriculum does not include any instruction on natural hairbraiding. Rather, the curriculum requires extensive knowledge of practices that are antithetical to the principles of natural hair care.
The legislature took notice when IJ-AZ filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Essence in December 2003, seeking to have the scheme declared an unconstitutional infringement of the right to earn an honest living without excessive government interference. With the legislation freeing her to pursue her chosen career, Essence began the work of opening her own studio, Rare Essence Braiding Studio, in Phoenix.