In more than half of the United States, professional African-style hair braiding is practiced freely.  The art of braiding this way without the use of chemicals in order to protect and beautify the hair is older than the country itself, and has been passed down for generations from one stylist (or relative) to another for centuries.  Unfortunately, to practice it professionally in Louisiana is next to impossible without setting aside hundreds of  hours for class and thousands of dollars in tuition.

A new lawsuit has been filed in order to correct this injustice aimed at salons and individuals that offer this ancient and popular styling.  Louisiana is one of 14 states that require a separate license to perform the tight-braided service, a license is very difficult and costly to obtain.

According to Forbes, out of the 50 cosmetology schools in the state - only 3 offer the courses to satisfy the states requirement for licensing.  Only one offers the state minimum of 500 hours of class, the others require 600 and 1,000 hours to complete the course.  A report from the Advocate places the cost of this training between $5,000 and $10,000.

The lawsuit filed by the Institute For Justice against the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology claims that the licensing requirement is unfair because it:

...infringes on their 'constitutionally guaranteed right to earn an honest living,' by imposing an 'arbitrary and capricious' license to work."

Proponents of the requirement say that unlicensed and untrained braiders could cause irreparable damage to their clients hair and scalp, including infections from unclean tools and permanent hair loss if the braids are too tight.

Currently, anyone caught performing this technique professionally could face up to $5,000 in fines per incident and could shut down any salon hosting an unlicensed braider.

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