Reps

Sentaor Oscar Braynon, Barbara Watson and Dotie Joseph.

Hair braiders and hair wrappers in the State of Florida are no longer required to be licensed to do hair.

After being mandated for over ten years to be licensed, a new law called “The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act” (HB1193) was proposed to end the requirement. 

For years, Florida has been recognized as one of the worst states in the nation for occupational licensing requirements, according to the Institute of Justice. 

Seeking to make changes to occupational requirements, lawmakers submitted HB1193. 

After several changes to the proposed bill, members from both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed it on March 12. 

State Senator Oscar Braynon II helped get the bill passed. He voted yes. “It was a big bill and a big priority for the governor. It had ‘A LOT’ in it. It changed so much all session. I felt it was making a mountain out of a molehill. The change removes and deregulates the licensure and training required for mentioned practitioners.,” senator Braynon II said in a message to The Miami Times. 

Not all lawmakers supported HB1193. Practitioners of the hair braiding and nail industry see training as a value to the profession. 

State Representatives Dotie Joseph and Barbara Watson did not, they voted against it.

“It was a bad bill, especially that section. I’m worried about the people on the ground and the consumer. We need adequately trained people doing hair. I voted against HB1193 due to health and safety reasons,” representative Joseph said.

HB1193 removes all licensure and training requirements for hair braiders, hair wrappers and even expands the scope of the services they can legally perform. They can now weave and interweave hair extensions. 

“As a former cosmetologist and salon owner in Miami, I knew just from reading HB1193 my vote was a firm no. Removing the training would result in the transmission of germs. Moreover, the training helps the operators be more disciplined and the license makes them accountable. As a result, it will help them to be more successful in theory and practice,” representative Watson said. 

Citing long overdue reforms, unnecessary barriers to entry and long-term cost savings, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB1193 into law on June 30. It revamped Florida’s occupational licensing system, for 4,882 hair braiders, and 1,183 hair wrappers.

It went into effect on July 1.

Hair braiders, wrappers and other practitioners were notified about the new law from the Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), the agency charged with licensing and regulating businesses and professionals.

Natasha ‘Braids by Tasha’ Cox, a hair braider for over 28 years, read about the new law in an email sent to her from DBPR. “I’m so excited about it! The license they required us to have came with so many restrictions and it didn’t teach theory or the history of braiding. Even though I attended cosmetology school years ago at Miami Carol City Senior High, I didn’t feel like braiders needed to have a license; we don’t do what cosmetologists do. Hair braiding is built from our heritage, it’s a natural craft,” Cox said.

HB1193 permits hair braiders, hair wrappers and other practitioners to perform services for compensation without having to do so in a salon. 

Portions of the bill also reduces the training hours regulatory requirements for barbers, body wrappers, makeup applicators and nail specialists too. 

Dana Cody, former owner of legendary Miami-based nail salon TippieToes Beauty Lounge, says healthcare and sanitation are important in the hair and nail industry - and even more important now that we are in a pandemic.

“If a person isn’t professionally trained it can cause more damage to the industry over a period of time,” Cody said in an email to The Miami Times. 

HB1193 puts an end to licensing requirements, those in the profession say knowing the basics is still necessary and sees the value in having a license.

“Having a license and being educated signifies expertise and liability. It is compulsory for the field. Without a license, any individual will be able to perform services, which will ultimately cause a decrease in pricing for the services,” Cody said. 

Instagram’s Miami Hair Braider says learning the basics about hair braiding is still needed. 

“I mean it is nice that we don’t have to worry about getting caught working without a license, but I think we need to learn the basics,” said ‘Miami’s Hair Braider’ (@ds_unique_styles).

Some hair braiding consumers say not being required to have a license to braid hair is a great opportunity.

Lawanda Williams, a frequent consumer of hair braiding says “I’ve been getting my hair braided for years. The unlicensed braiders do a better job anyway and they charge less money. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to work in salons and claim income.” 

“As hair braiders, it is important for us to still be educated about Florida laws, disorders of the scalp and HIV/AIDS training,” Cox said.   

Annmarie Clinton, a natural hairstylist, braider and loctician for over 25 years says “having a license makes the client feel more comfortable, reassured and makes the burden for the salon lighter.” Clinton is also the owner of Kinks Couture Natural Hair Salon and previously provided the required training for hair braiders and hair wrappers across the state. 

Both Clinton and Cox agree the training that was provided did not teach a person how to braid. 

“Getting a braiding license really doesn’t include teaching persons braiding techniques or prepares them to be a good braider, but mainly educates on minor trichology and cosmetology state board laws. Additionally, I don’t believe cosmetology schools really teach their students how to work with nappy natural hair and varied hair textures to work in a natural hair salon,” Clinton said.

Now that hair braiders and hair wrappers are no longer under the state’s jurisdiction, Cox is calling for the Board of Cosmetology to consider a “Braiders Board.”

“More Black women are wearing protective styles. We are the crafters of hair braiding. If we are to be regulated by a jurisdiction, it should be by braiders,” Cox said.

Florida’s Board of Cosmetology will host a telephone conference call on July 20-21, 9:00 a.m. All persons are invited, according to the meeting’s notice. To participate, call 888-585-9008; participant code: 241687833. More information is available here: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/View_Notice.asp?id=23345007.

Daniella Pierre is a native of Miami, with Caribbean Diaspora roots. She's been an active member of the NAACP for most of her adult life. Her advocacy work in affordable housing and social justice has been featured in various global media outlets.

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