Side-eye Of The Week: Virginia Deregulates Natural Hair Styling
Hello everyone! It’s been SUCH a long time since I’ve written about a topic that gets the side-eye from me. Although I find things to side-eye almost daily, not all of them make it to the blog. This story, however, written on June 19 2012 by Kenyada Jones at The Examiner makes the cut.
Different states usually have their own rules for obtaining a braiding or cosmetology license. In Tennessee, cosmetologists are required to complete 1500 hours of practice and theory at a school of cosmetology. To get a braiding license (also called a Natural Hair Stylist license), you must complete 300 hours of practice and theory at a school of cosmetology.
Note: The difference in the amount of hours required for Natural Hair styling vs. regular cosmetology got the side-eye from me too at first, but a Natural Hair license doesn’t include any chemical processes such as coloring, perms, relaxers, texturizers, etc. That made me feel a little better. On the other hand, the amount of traction alopecia that occurs as a result of braids and weaves that are much too tight suggests that those 300 hours may not be enough for some stylists. *SIDE-EYE*
In Virginia, the minimum requirement for Natural Hair Stylists was reduced from 1500 hours to 170 hours in 2004. New legislation effective July 1st 2012 states that there will be NO minimum requirement at all to perform hair braiding in Virginia. This legislation does NOT allow braiders to perform any chemical services, cleansing, or cutting of hair, so take a bit of comfort in that. This means that anyone can legally provide hair braiding and weaving services without having any education or experience. *SIDE-EYE*.
Now, you may ask “Holly, why does this get the side-eye? People have been braiding hair for years without licenses!”
This is true! In fact, I’ve braided, twisted, cleansed, and cut natural hair for family and friends without even a HINT of a license (they agreed to these ‘services’ at their own risk. lol!). I also know people without licenses that are very knowledgeable about natural hair care, and people WITH licenses that are clueless about it. I understand all of this, yet I still have questions.
#1. Why is there so little emphasis placed on education being required to style natural hair? Even if no chemical services are being provided, there still seem to be points that hair braiders don’t always seem to get about natural hair. Things like ‘Comb from ends to root’, ‘Never comb while dry’, and ‘DON’T BRAID TOO TIGHT’. Education is still needed, even if you’re ‘only’ styling natural hair.
#2. I think we all know what type of people usually pass legislation. What does a middle-aged white man (Governor McDonnell) know about natural hair, and how much education is needed/unneeded to style it?
#3. In the FAQ of this new legislation, it states that hair braiding was deregulated because “Based on complaints, no evidence of public harm supported the continued regulation of hair braiding”. To me, this sounds like people were mad a license was needed to legally perform braiding services, and since no one was apparently at risk of getting hurt by hair braiding (traction alopecia and the occasional scalp wound aside), they felt regulation was unnecessary.
What it really comes down to ladies and gentlemen, is that you MUST pay attention to who is styling your natural hair (also, we must VOTE when given the chance so that we can control legislation that affects our lives!). Whether licensed or not, are they treating your hair and scalp gently? Is the health of your hair improving over the time you go to this person? Are they listening to your requests and/or complaints? Do your edges remain intact when they do your hair? I always recommend going to a licensed professional when you want special styles, cut, or color, but at the end of the day – especially with varying regulations – it all comes down to results.
What do you all think of the new legislation? Should natural hair stylists be required to have the same credentials as ‘regular’ stylists? Should hair braiding continue to be a regulated profession?