Licensing Regulations on Natural Hair Care and Styling?


“On August 18, 1999, federal court Judge Rudi Brewster (9th Circuit) ruled in favor of AHNHA plaintiff Dr. JoAnne Cornwell [80 Fed. Sup. 2nd 1101; Cornwell v. Hamilton Southern District of California], that braiders cannot be forced to go to cosmetology school where braiding is not taught, forced to learn from texts that do not teach braiding, forced to take a test on subject matter that does not pertain to braiding, forced to take additional courses in order to teach braiding, or forced to work or learn in a toxic chemical environment associated with a school or salon where chemicals are used, that have been proven to cause miscarriages, birth defects, infertility, cancer, and upper respiratory problems. On June 15, 2000, Governor Gray Davis signed SB-235 into law (effective 01/01/01), exempting hair braiders from the cosmetology laws in the state.” Source:

Since 1993, legislation has been passed and enacted to prohibit restrictions on individuals who practice hair braiding and natural styling as a profession to attain a board-certified license.  In many states, some pre-requisites included over 450 hours of cumulative training to be certified as a professional natural stylist. In addition to California, several other states have since determined that there is no way to adequately assess and regulate the practice of natural hair care and braiding.  Cosmetology boards across states do not express any enthusiasm in making an addendum to their course syllabi or offering instruction specific to natural hair care and styling.

What is this and why does it matter?

Let’s say you let “Kiki from down the street” braid your hair (knowing she does not have the credentials to professionally style your hair) because she’s fast and can hook you up.  For whatever reason this time, your hair begins to break off in a way it never has—you see scalp bumps and irritation from the stress of the hair being tightly pulled at the root. What do you do?  You have no protection, and no real leg to stand on in a court of law, considering that you put yourself at risk by entrusting your hair to the hands of an unlicensed stylist.

Better yet, Let’s say you go to a professional salon that boasts natural hair care products and services, yet they also serve a greater population of those who receive chemical treatments as well.  The board-certified salon owner and master stylist attempts to tame your wet and curly, kinky, or coiled tresses.  She either becomes very quiet and concentrated on how to detangle and get through this ‘unfamiliar terrain’ or becomes boisterous, to the point of embarrassment because you don’t have ‘good hair’.  Clearly her 20 years of experience at the best cosmetology school in the land couldn’t prepare her for this.  She does not have the skill set to carefully address the needs of natural hair.

Natural hair care, and the art of braiding is a tradition that has been passed down throughout generations of time, and its roots can be traced back to the skilled hands of African mothers who truly honed and crafted braiding as an art form.  Some things though, have become lost in translation, if you will. Maintaining the integrity and professionalism of natural hair care is necessary for those who depend upon visiting professional salons.  Safeguarding the creativity and innate skills of non-professionals who desire to share their gift can also be limiting.

A way to redress this disparaging ‘movement’ is to take our power back!  At Bear Fruit Hair, we believe that “The power of your hair’s health is in your hands!”  YOU have the power to undo the damage that has been done in attempts to regulate hair care for the natural community.  Invest in yourself, and learn the necessary skills to understand your hair’s health, and true worth.  Do not be afraid to experiment with your own hands, and use items in your ‘local refrigerator’ to achieve beautiful hair.  Within the gift of natural hair lies experience waiting to happen—an experience of growing with your hair, and adapting to it.  Bear Fruit Hair provides the information, education and means to become your own chemist.  Our unique blends of earthy herbs, fresh fruit and essential oils are blended to provide the moisture and protection your hair needs.

Look for this article and more thought leadership from Mimi King, Creative Director of Bear Fruit Hair, on the upcoming Bear Fruit Hair blog site. Contact her at to let her know what you’d like to see, and make sure to sign up for promotions notifications on to be informed about the blog site’s launch.




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  • Thoughtfulbaskets

    I am a Latino woman that was taught to braid by my grandmother. As a child we would braid our long curly hair in order to tame it. Once we became teenagers We were braiding in extensions, which was way before the gluing and clipping came into effect. Now that i am interested in using the skill that my family taught me as a profession i am happy to find this web site that assures me that it is legal to pursue my business and offer my services for a fee.

  • Wonderful!