Raimondo holds ceremonial signing of hair-braiding bill


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo held a ceremonial bill-signing Friday morning to celebrate a new law deregulating the natural hair-braiding industry in Rhode Island.

Under the law, which Raimondo initially signed last month, braiders are exempt from having to receive a hairdresser or cosmetician license.

The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Anastasia Williams and state Sen. Ana Quezada, who were both on hand for Friday’s ceremony.

Williams, D-Providence, has been calling for the change for years, saying African hair techniques have been passed down for generations and do not require formal training.

“Forcing natural hair braiders to meet the same licensing requirements as cosmetologists is a clear injustice,” Williams said in a statement. “This bill rights a wrong and allows entrepreneurs — including a lot of women from low-income neighborhoods — to make a living.”

The law defines natural hair braiding as “a service of twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair by hand or with mechanical devices.” Braiders are allowed to use natural or synthetic extensions and other hair accessories, perform minor trimming, and apply products such as shampoos, conditioners and gels, but they’re not allowed to use any dyes, reactive chemicals or chemical hair-joining agents.

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