TN bill looks to deregulate natural hair industry

TN bill looks to deregulate natural hair industry
Updated: Feb. 9, 2018 at 5:52 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A bill making its way through Tennessee General Assembly would make it so hairstylists would no longer need a license to work with natural hair.

The natural hair movement is all about embracing your natural roots, and hairstylists say it can be a very tedious process. That's why the proposal to remove regulations on the industry is receiving mixed reviews.

"My first thought is, 'Oh my gosh! That's going to be an issue,'" Queen Clower, owner of Ashe Natural Hair Salon, said.

Clower has been styling natural hair for more than 20 years. She knows just how important it is to take proper care of natural hair customers.

"You're supposed to know the ins and outs, the goods and the bads, what to do, what not to do, how much product to use, the different shampoos..." Clower said.

From curls to coils, kinks to braids, Clower said styling natural hair is different than styling relaxed or straight hair. She said the activity requires proper training.

That's why she's not in favor of Tennessee House Bill 1809 and Tennessee Senate bill 2233, both would eliminate the need for stylists to be licensed in natural hair.

"It's the same thing to me like being a doctor. Would you rather have a certified doctor or a doctor with a license?" Clower asked.

In the black community, hair has been a huge part of the culture, and because of that, some women said they don't think the legislation would change anything.

"I don't think it's going to make a difference, because we do it every day when we don't have the funds or we're on a budget. I think it's as simple as that," Watosha Frison said.

State legislators in support of the bill said deregulating the profession seems to be a trend across the country.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance said it favors the legislation because " decreases regulation on a substantial number of people who only wish to provide these services, which do not have the public safety and health concerns of other cosmetology and barber services."

If the bill passes, natural hair stylists would not be required to follow sanitation or safety rules created by the state cosmetology board.

That's a change that Clower thinks could cause some major consequences.

"They're going to have a lot of lawsuits because you're going to have a lot of people's hair coming out. You're going to have a lot of diseases, a lot of infections," Clower said.

The bill would also combine barbering and cosmetology into one licensed trade.

If passed, the bill would go into effect January 1, 2019.

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