Gov. Phil Murphy last week signed a new law that reduces the required training hours for African-style natural hair braiders in New Jersey from at least 1,200 to a maximum of 40 hours (50, if a braider has had no prior experience).
African hair braiding is a service that many New Jerseyans of color depend on both as a source of income and as a way to protect their hair. It’s a cultural practice many African-American women learn from family members and have done since a young age. Until this month, braiders were required by state law to spend at least 1,200 hours of training, at a cost of $17,000 and more, to obtain a cosmetology license. The new law exempts braiders from having to go through cosmetology licensing but it requires them to undergo training in sanitation, decontamination and infection control and calls for any hair braiding shops to register with the state. It also adds two members who have owned or operated hair braiding establishments to the New Jersey Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling.
The original bill, sponsored by legislators Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), Shanique Speight (D-Essex), and Arthur Barclay (D-Camden), would have removed the licensing and training requirements altogether but was conditionally vetoed by the governor.