No client should ever be turned away from a salon because the stylists don't know how to work with their hair texture, but cosmetology schools rarely require this type of education and stylists often have to seek this education separately during their career. New York State aims to change that with Bill S6528A, a new law that requires textured hair education to be part of required curriculum in cosmetology school.
Bill S6528A was first introduced in April 2023 by Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey. It was carried in the assembly by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages and was officially signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 17, 2023. It will go into effect in the Spring of 2024.
“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," shares Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-36). "The current standards in the cosmetology industry often do not adequately prepare professionals to work with diverse hair textures. This knowledge gap disproportionately impacts women and girls of color with textured and diverse hair who face challenges in seeking out services that meet their needs. My bill, S6528 seeks to change this by empowering cosmetologists to work with all hair textures and requiring that education and testing for cosmetologists or natural hair stylists includes the provision of services to individuals with all hair types and textures. This is an important step towards greater access and inclusion."
This success is a result of TEC’s collective efforts to build upon an existing 2017 law spearheaded by New York State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-79) which mandates New York to appoint a professional hairstylist onto the NYS Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee to advise the State on matters concerning curriculum inclusive of the maintenance of all hair types and textures. The new law demonstrates the importance of having a professional hairstylist on the Advisory Committee and will help to ensure that hair education is systemically more inclusive in the State of New York.
“This is a huge step in advancing hair inclusivity in the State of New York. As a result of this law, stylists will now receive comprehensive, inclusive hair education that will help to foster safe and positive experiences for all customers to feel welcomed, valued, understood and seen when receiving hair services," says Myra Reddy, Government Affairs Director for the Professional Beauty Association. "We greatly appreciate Governor Hochul, Senator Bailey, Assemblywoman Solages and Assemblyman Pretlow for their dedication to close this much needed education gap. We look forward to bringing this important progress to other states soon.”
The purpose of S6528A is to give all students, regardless of race, the education they need to work on all hair textures. For many years, this has been an important topic in the professional hair community, but real change has been slow.
According to the law, as part of their licensure, student will receive "education and testing regarding the provision of services to individuals with all hair types and textures, including, but not limited to, various curl or wave patterns, hair strand thicknesses, and volumes of hair."
Cosmetology schools in New York must change their curriculum if they don't already have this type of education to include it. As part of licensure, students must have education on natural hair texture and be tested on it.
But the curriculum isn't the only element that will need to be changed in NY cosmetology school. New instructors or training may need to occur if current staff do not have the skillset to teach natural hair texture.
As many will attest to and as Keya Neal discusses in our Nov./Dec. issue, the salon (like the church) has been a place where separation of races has continued. This has been propelled by lack of education on hair textures in school and lack of requirements by individual states and salons for stylists to have this education. This most certainly is a step for a brighter, more diverse salon future.