Hair and fingernail standards and grooming policies

Found in Section 1.8 Page 3

Applies to Gender Both



a. Hair.

(1) General. The requirement for hair grooming standards is necessary to maintain uniformity within a military population. Many hairstyles are acceptable, as long as they are neat and conservative. It is not possible to address every acceptable hairstyle, or what constitutes eccentric or conservative grooming. Therefore, it is the responsibility of leaders at all levels to exercise good judgment in the enforcement of Army policy. All soldiers will comply with the hair, fingernail, and grooming policies while in any military uniform or while in civilian clothes on duty.

(a) Leaders will judge the appropriateness of a particular hairstyle by the appearance of headgear when worn. Soldiers will wear headgear as described in the applicable chapters of this regulation. Headgear will fit snugly and comfortably, without distortion or excessive gaps. Hairstyles that do not allow soldiers to wear the headgear properly, or that interfere with the proper wear of the protective mask or other protective equipment, are prohibited.

(b) Extreme, eccentric, or trendy haircuts or hairstyles are not authorized. If soldiers use dyes, tints, or bleaches, they must choose those that result in natural hair colors. Colors that detract from a professional military appearance are prohibited. Therefore, soldiers should avoid using colors that result in an extreme appearance. Applied hair colors that are prohibited include, but are not limited to, purple, blue, pink, green, orange, bright (fire-engine) red, and fluorescent or neon colors. It is the responsibility of leaders to use good judgment in determining if applied colors are acceptable, based upon the overall effect on soldiers’ appearance.

(c) Soldiers who have a texture of hair that does not part naturally may cut a part into the hair. The part will be one straight line, not slanted or curved, and will fall in the area where the soldier would normally part the hair. Soldiers will not cut designs into their hair or scalp.

(2) Male haircuts will conform to the following standards.

(a) The hair on top of the head must be neatly groomed. The length and bulk of the hair may not be excessive or present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. The hair must present a tapered appearance. A tapered appearance is one where the outline of the soldier’s hair conforms to the shape of the head, curving inward to the natural termination point at the base of the neck. When the hair is combed, it will not fall over the ears or eyebrows, or touch the collar, except for the closely cut hair at the back of the neck. The block-cut fullness in the back is permitted to a moderate degree, as long as the tapered look is maintained. In all cases, the bulk or length of hair may not interfere with the normal wear of headgear (see para 1–8a(1)(a), above) or protective masks or equipment. Males are not authorized to wear braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks (unkempt, twisted, matted, individual parts of hair) while in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty. Hair that is clipped closely or shaved to the scalp is authorized.

(b) Males will keep sideburns neatly trimmed. Sideburns may not be flared; the base of the sideburn will be a clean- shaven, horizontal line. Sideburns will not extend below the lowest part of the exterior ear opening.

(c) Males will keep their face clean-shaven when in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty. Mustaches are permitted; if worn, males will keep mustaches neatly trimmed, tapered, and tidy. Mustaches will not present a chopped off or bushy appearance, and no portion of the mustache will cover the upper lip line or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from the corners of the mouth (see figure 1–1). Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and beards are not authorized. If appropriate medical authority prescribes beard growth, the length required for medical treatment must be specified. For example, “The length of the beard will not exceed 1⁄4 inch” (see TB MED 287). Soldiers will keep the growth trimmed to the level specified by appropriate medical authority, but they are not authorized to shape the growth into goatees, or “Fu Manchu” or handlebar mustaches.



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(d) Males are prohibited from wearing wigs or hairpieces while in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty, except to cover natural baldness or physical disfiguration caused by accident or medical procedure. When worn, wigs or hairpieces will conform to the standard haircut criteria as stated in 1–8a(2)(a), above.

(3) Female haircuts will conform to the following standards.

(a) Females will ensure their hair is neatly groomed, that the length and bulk of the hair are not excessive, and that the hair does not present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. Likewise, trendy styles that result in shaved portions of the scalp (other than the neckline) or designs cut into the hair are prohibited. Females may wear braids and cornrows as long as the braided style is conservative, the braids and cornrows lie snugly on the head, and any hair- holding devices comply with the standards in 1–8a(3)(d) below. Dreadlocks (unkempt, twisted, matted individual parts of hair) are prohibited in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty. Hair will not fall over the eyebrows or extend below the bottom edge of the collar at any time during normal activity or when standing in formation. Long hair that falls naturally below the bottom edge of the collar, to include braids, will be neatly and inconspicuously fastened or pinned,so no free-hanging hair is visible. This includes styles worn with the physical fitness uniform/improved physical fitness uniform (PFU/IPFU).

(b) Styles that are lopsided or distinctly unbalanced are prohibited. Ponytails, pigtails, or braids that are not secured to the head (allowing hair to hang freely), widely spaced individual hanging locks, and other extreme styles that protrude from the head are prohibited. Extensions, weaves, wigs, and hairpieces are authorized; however, these additions must have the same general appearance as the individual’s natural hair. Additionally, any wigs, extensions, hairpieces, or weaves must comply with the grooming policies set forth in this paragraph.

(c) Females will ensure that hairstyles do not interfere with proper wear of military headgear and protective masks or equipment at any time (see 1–8a(1)(a), above). When headgear is worn, the hair will not extend below the bottom edge of the front of the headgear, nor will it extend below the bottom edge of the collar.

(d) Hair-holding devices are authorized only for the purpose of securing the hair. Soldiers will not place hair- holding devices in the hair for decorative purposes. All hair-holding devices must be plain and of a color as close to the soldier’s hair as is possible or clear. Authorized devices include, but are not limited to, small, plain scrunchies (elastic hair bands covered with material), barrettes, combs, pins, clips, rubber bands, and hair bands. Devices that are conspicuous, excessive, or decorative are prohibited. Some examples of prohibited devices include, but are not limited to, large, lacy scrunchies; beads, bows, or claw clips; clips, pins, or barrettes with butterflies, flowers, sparkles, gems, or scalloped edges; and bows made from hairpieces.

(e) Soldiers may not wear hairnets unless they are required for health or safety reasons, or in the performance of duties (such as those of a cook). No other type of hair covering is authorized in lieu of the hairnet. The commander will provide the hairnet to the soldier at no cost.

b. Cosmetics.

(1) General. As with hairstyles, the requirement for standards regarding cosmetics is necessary to maintain uniform- ity and to avoid an extreme or unmilitary appearance. Males are prohibited from wearing cosmetics, to include nail polish. Females are authorized to wear cosmetics with all uniforms, provided they are applied conservatively and in good taste and complement the uniform. Leaders at all levels must exercise good judgment in the enforcement of this policy.

(a) Females may wear cosmetics if they are conservative and complement the uniform and their complexion. Eccentric, exaggerated, or trendy cosmetic styles and colors, to include makeup designed to cover tattoos, are inappropriate with the uniform and are prohibited. Permanent makeup, such as eyebrow or eyeliner, is authorized as long as the makeup conforms to the standards outlined above.

(b) Females will not wear shades of lipstick and nail polish that distinctly contrast with their complexion, that detract from the uniform, or that are extreme. Some examples of extreme colors include, but are not limited to, purple, gold, blue, black, white, bright (fire-engine) red, khaki, camouflage colors, and fluorescent colors. Soldiers will not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors to nails.

(2) Females will comply with the cosmetics policy while in any military uniform or while in civilian clothes on duty.

c. Fingernails. All personnel will keep fingernails clean and neatly trimmed. Males will keep nails trimmed so as not to extend beyond the fingertip. Females will not exceed a nail length of 1⁄4 inch, as measured from the tip of the finger. Females will trim nails shorter if the commander determines that the longer length detracts from the military image, presents a safety concern, or interferes with the performance of duties.

d. Hygiene and body grooming. Soldiers will maintain good personal hygiene and grooming on a daily basis and wear the uniform so as not to detract from their overall military appearance.

e. Tattoo policy

(1) Tattoos or brands anywhere on the head, face, and neck above the class A uniform collar are prohibited. (2) Tattoos or brands that are extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist are prohibited, regardless of location on the body,

as they are prejudicial to good order and discipline within units.

(a) Extremist tattoos or brands are those affiliated with, depicting, or symbolizing extremist philosophies, organiza-

tions, or activities. Extremist philosophies, organizations, and activities are those which advocate racial, gender or ethnic hatred or intolerance; advocate, create, or engage in illegal discrimination based on race, color, gender, ethnicity, religion, or national origin; or advocate violence or other unlawful means of depriving individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, Federal, or State law (see para 4–12, AR 600–20).

(b) Indecent tattoos or brands are those that are grossly offensive to modesty, decency, or propriety; shock the moral sense because of their vulgar, filthy, or disgusting nature or tendency to incite lustful thought; or tend reasonably to corrupt morals or incite libidinous thoughts.

(c) Sexist tattoos or brands are those that advocate a philosophy that degrades or demeans a person based on gender, but that may not meet the same definition of “indecent.”

(d) Racist tattoos or brands are those that advocate a philosophy that degrades or demeans a person based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.

(3) Counseling requirements.

(a) Commanders will ensure soldiers understand the tattoo policy.

(b) For soldiers who are not in compliance, commanders may not order the removal of a tattoo or brand. However, the commander must counsel soldiers, and afford them the opportunity to seek medical advice about removal or alteration of the tattoo or brand.

(4) If soldiers are not in compliance with the policy, and refuse to remove or alter the tattoos or brands, command- ers will:

(a) Ensure the soldier understands the policy.

(b) Ensure the soldier has been afforded the opportunity to seek medical advice about removal or alteration. (c) Counsel the soldier in writing. The counseling form will state that the soldier’s refusal to remove extremist,

indecent, sexist, or racist tattoos or brands anywhere on the body, or refusal to remove any type of tattoo or brand visible in the class A uniform (worn with slacks/trousers), will result in discharge.

(5) Existing tattoos or brands on the hands that are not extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist, but are visible in the class A uniform (worn with slacks/trousers), are authorized.

(6) Finality of determination.

(a) Recruiting battalion commanders or recruiting battalion executive officers (0–5 or above) will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for Active Army and Army Reserve soldiers. This authority will not be delegated further.

(b) Unit commanders or unit executive officers will make determinations for soldiers currently on active duty. This authority will not be delegated further.

(c) Recruiting and retention managers (O–5 or above) will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for National Guard soldiers. This authority will not be delegated further.

(d) Professors of military science (O-5 or above) will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for ROTC cadets. This authority will not be delegated further.

(e) The Director of Admissions will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for the U.S. Military Academy cadets. This authority will not be delegated further.

(f) Determinations will be fully documented in writing and will include a description of existing tattoos or brands and their location on the body. A copy of the determination will be provided to the soldier. Unless otherwise directed by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, these determinations are final. If a tattoo or brand is discovered to violate this policy after an initial determination has been documented, commanders must submit requests for an exception to policy or for discharge through the soldier’s chain of command to the MACOM for approval. Appeals to the MACOM decision will be forwarded to the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1 for decision.

(7) Soldiers may not cover tattoos or brands in order to comply with the tattoo policy.