A Guide to States With Textured Hair Training

A Guide to States With Textured Hair Training featured image
Rockie Nolan / Refinery29 for Getty Images

Late last year, New York joined Louisiana as the only states requiring formal testing on textured hair in their cosmetology state licensing programs. But there are 19 states that already require some amount of coursework, many of which are ready to follow Louisiana with bills of their own. Why isn’t the training these states already have enough? What about all the other states?

The fight against hair discrimination continues, with the CROWN Act pushing legislatures to protect those with natural hair styles. And now those same voices are pointing out that salons need training and education in textured hair. With data proving women have to travel further and pay more for natural hair care, ensuring that the care they do receive won’t damage their hair is paramount.

We take a deep dive into curly hair. Let’s see how states across the country handle textured hair and cosmetology licensing to learn how far we’ve come on natural hair care and how far we have left to go.

Featured Experts

  • Christine Hall is Esteé Lauder’s Head of R&D for Hair Care
  • Winnie Awa is founder and CEO of digital hair health platform Carra
  • Jamaal T. Bailey is the New York State Senator who introduced the bill requiring textured hair training

What Does Textured Hair Training Mean

“There is such a wide range of texture, from wavy all the way to coily,” explains Esteé Lauder’s head of R&D for hair care, Christine Hall. “And for some of us there are multiple different textures on one head. Just the other day I was having my hair cut and styled and my stylist pointed out a section that is apparently bone straight. I just never noticed it before because it was on the back of my head.”

Those differing textures have different needs. Coily hair is notoriously dry and prone to breakage, while looser curls may lose their volume and be weighed down by moisturizing products.

Founder and CEO of Carra, an AI-driven digital hair health platform for women with textured hair, Winnie Awa explains that consumers have been operating without any guidance for a long time. “Part of the reason why I got involved in hair care is because I had no idea what I should really be doing or using,” Awa says. “Products are not enough. They need guidance. They need professionals and people who understand what these products do to your hair at a scientific level. That’s why our hair coaches tackle myths directly to discern what people are using and what works.”

From state to state, what training looks like is vastly different. Organizations like The Texture Education Collective are working around the country to fill those educational gaps, teaching the appropriate way to care for coils, curves and waves.

New York and Louisiana Textured Hair Training

When Louisiana adopted its new rules in 2021 requiring training and testing on textured hair types, the excitement was immediate.

“You’re not a complete cosmetologist if you can’t service all people,” said Sharon Blalock, owner of Blalock’s Professional Beauty College in Shreveport told CNN. “We have Mexican friends, Chinese friends, Black friends, White friends and all those people want to look good and feel good. I feel like you should be able to service those people and not just a selective texture of hair.”

According to Edwin Neill, president and CEO of Aveda Arts & Sciences Institutes and chairman of the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology, they had no idea the rest of the country would be so quick to follow suit. “When we made a change in our testing in Louisiana to include textured hair we did not realize that it would spark a national movement,” Neill says. “New York’s new legislation is a step in the right direction to make sure hair stylists can accommodate clients of all hair types. Aveda Arts and Sciences Institutes have been teaching textured hair for years, and now all New York schools will as well.”

New York State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey (D), who introduced the bill, shared in a statement: “Hair is deeply personal. As a proud husband to my wife and father of two young girls, I want them to feel confident and beautiful when it comes to their uniquely textured hair—and in all the ways it is inextricably linked to our well-being, personal identity, and how we show up in the world. Individuals with hair of all textures deserve to feel welcomed, understood, and safe when they seek out hair care services.”

States That Require Coursework Hours

From state to state, there are completely different requirements for a cosmetology license. Louisiana was the first to formally put a section on natural hair on the board exam. But several states already require some amount of coursework on textured hair during cosmetology school.

That coursework varies wildly though. Some of them only need to take the equivalent of a week of classes, while others, like Rhode Island, require 1,500 hours. South Carolina, for example, only requires 6 hours of training on natural hair in an online course.

Some states, like North Carolina, have specialty programs in order to be licensed as a natural hair care specialist, where they require 300 hours of training on coily/curly hair types.

States Where No License Is Required to Braid

Some states, like California, don’t recognize natural hair styling (including threading, braiding and wig styling) as a regulated cosmetology service, meaning anyone can perform them without a license. If it seems surprising that California is in this list, that’s because their training requirements were struck down in 1999.

During Cornwell v. California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, natural hair braiders argued that the mandated training was economically prohibitive (requiring about $5K in fees). The training itself taught Westernized methods that damaged African hair. Braiding, they argued, was a cultural art that could not be regulated.

“California had required that African hairstylists spend nine months (1,600 hours) and at least $5,000 at a government-approved cosmetology school before sitting for the state licensing examination, which allowed braiders to legally practice their craft,” explains the Institute for Justice.

At this time, the natural hair movement was beginning to gain ground, but many women still felt pressure to straighten their curls with harsh chemicals. These chemicals were used in the required coursework for the state of California.

“African hair styling is distinct from the type of styling taught in cosmetology schools in that it rejects the application of harsh chemicals to the hair of African-Americans,” the lawsuit states. “These chemicals can cause long-term damage to the hair.”

In the end, the natural hair techniques used in African styling were recognized as a cultural art that could not be regulated. You do not need a license to practice on natural hair in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington or West Virginia.

States With No Coursework Requirements

Others require no specific coursework or training on natural hair, braiding, weaving, threading or wig styling. In theses states, you still need a cosmetology license to braid hair and perform natural styles, you just don’t necessarily have to learn how to do that in school.

And among states with few or no requirements, many have already filed bills that follow the New York and Louisiana model.

Related Posts

Find a Doctor

Find a NewBeauty "Top Beauty Doctor" Near you

Give the Gift of Luxury

NewBeauty uses cookies for various reasons, including to analyze and improve its content and advertising. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more about how we use this data. By continuing to use this site, you agree to these policies.