Who Should Be Allowed to Braid Hair?

Some in Oregon say you shouldn't have to be a licensed cosmetologist to engage in this age-old beauty practice. 

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A group of Portland-area lawmakers say they'll sponsor the Natural Hair Act in Oregon's next legislative session, the Associated Press reports. But don't let the name fool you -- it's not that African-American women's ongoing dialogue about the pros and cons of relaxers has taken a legal turn. Rather, the goal is to ease licensing requirements for people who braid hair. Currently, they must hold cosmetology licenses in order to engage in the age-old and often home-based practice, which means thousands of hours of beauty school and thousands of dollars in tuition.

Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer says right now the state is criminalizing hair braiders or forcing them to go to Washington.

The Oregonian reports (one of them is Amber Starks who started a hair-braiding business in Vancouver after she discovered she needed a cosmetology license to do the work in Oregon. That could mean spending up to 1,700 hours in a beauty school with tuition of more than $10,000.

Starks says braiding is a way for African-American women to start to feel comfortable with wearing their hair naturally, without chemicals.

Braiders typically do not use chemicals, heat or scissors.

Read more at the Oregon Statesman Journal.

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