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Instead of Ending New Jersey’s Strict Hair Braiding Rules, the Governor Proposes to Make Tweaks

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday vetoed a measure that would scrap the state’s policy requiring hair braiders to earn a state cosmetology license in order to give their clients African-style braids.

According to, Murphy instead suggested slight modifications to the legislative effort amid complaints that the state’s current¬†licensure rule is much too costly, time-consuming and doesn’t benefit braid stylists.

Hair braiding

New Jersey law requires all braid/hair stylists to have a license, which means paying for beauty school. (Photo by Terry Vine / Getty Images)

New Jersey’s State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling currently requires all hair stylists and barbers to be licensed. However, the hefty $17,000 price tag for beauty¬†school, along with the 1,200 hours of mandatory training has hair braiders shaking their heads, especially since much of the training isn’t devoted to hair braiding

Those who operate without a license run the risk of arrest, however. States like Tennessee, Iowa and Indiana have seen similar issues, with stylists risking their livelihoods because they simply don’t have the time or money to get a license.

Murphy is now proposing a solution that he hopes will benefit both braiders and consumers.

“I believe a more equitable approach to balancing regulatory relief with consumer safety is to reduce — rather than remove — the requirements necessary for hair braiding licensure,” the governor said in his veto message. “We can accomplish this by reducing the amount of training hours needed and by appropriately tailoring the scope of the training required.”

Under Murphy’s proposal, those who specialize in hair braiding would only have to complete 40 to 50 hours of training, a significant decrease from the 1,200 currently required.

The governor also suggested adding individuals with hair braiding expertise to serve on the state’s cosmetology board.

“The insights and understanding that individuals with a specific background in hair braiding can bring to broaden the perspective of the Board will inure to the public benefit — both in how the Board carries out its responsibilities in overseeing the practice of hair braiding and in how it deals with broader issues in the realm of cosmetology and hairstyling,” he wrote.

State Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, who helped sponsor bill legislative bill A-3754, applauded Murphy’s recommendations.

“I wasn’t upset at all,” Speight (D-Essex) told “I totally understand that there are some things that need to be changed on it.”

The rule requiring barbers and cosmetologists to have a license to operate has been in place since 1984, according to the paper.

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