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Uniform Matters

Updated Hair Policies for Navy Women

New interactive viewer available

This week Navy wrapped up the review of its hairstyle policies for women. The almost yearlong effort was informed heavily by Fleet feedback and lessons learned from recent Navy and Department of Defense questions concerning hair and grooming standards.

The result of the review was an update to Navy's hairstyle policies to provide clearer guidance on what is and isn't allowed. The updated policies authorize a slightly broader range of acceptable hairstyles, while continuing to emphasize the need for a neat and professional appearance.

The Navy's review and new standards take into account the wide range and textures of hair, including curled, wavy and straight hair. The new regulations provide guidance on hair styles, hair coloring, wigs, and hair accessories for women.

Highlights of the changes and guidelines include:

- Hairstyles must allow for the proper fit of headgear and not interfere with the proper wear of protective masks or equipment.
- When in uniform, hair may touch, but not fall below a horizontal line level with the lower edge of the back of the collar. With service dress jumper uniforms, hair may extend a maximum of 1 1/2 inches below the top of the jumper collar.
- Layered hairstyles are authorized, provided that the layers present a smooth graduated appearance. No portion of the bulk of the hair (except the bun) as measured from the scalp will exceed 2 inches.
- The bulk of the bun shall not exceed 3 inches from scalp. The diameter of the bun will not exceed 4 inches. Loose ends must be tucked-in and secured. Buns must not protrude through the opening in the back of a ball cap.
- Angled hairstyles may not exceed 1 1/2 inches difference in length from front to back.
- All hairstyles must minimize scalp exposure.
- Two strand braids (a type of twist) are authorized. Braided hairstyles shall be conservative and conform to the grooming standard guidelines.

The updated policy in its entirety can be found by clicking here.

The Navy took to heart suggestions that grooming standard resources (pictures, websites, guidance) needed a facelift. To better inform Sailors and leadership, Defense Media Activity created a smart-device-compatible hair viewer that provides photographic examples of authorized hairstyles.

Click here to see the viewer!

The hair viewer page is divided into long hairstyles and short hairstyles and illustrates approved grooming standards such as hair dimensions, bulk of hair and width of buns.

This is an interactive viewer--clicking on any of the hairstyles from the home page enables a 360 degree view of the hairstyle. Moving the cursor left and right across a Sailor's photo rotates the head to show front, side and back of hair styles. Below each photograph is an explanation of the regulations that are specific to that particular hairstyle.

The online hair viewer should help Sailors better understand the regulation requirements. It is impossible to address every situation and every hairstyle. The ultimate judgment call still lies with commanders.

In addition to feedback on Fleet policies and Sailor resources, Sailors had suggestions about the hair policies for new recruits. Beginning January 2015, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) will initiate a pilot program to cease mandatory female haircuts at Recruit Training Command (RTC) and Officer Training Command (OTC). The pilot was established after receiving feedback that junior Sailors and officers are not taught proper grooming standards during their initial training. Grooming standards education will be incorporated into the curriculum, but will not impact other training. This will allow women to style longer hair in the same manner that they would wear it daily in the Fleet while providing the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the standards before transferring to the Fleet. If desired, women will still have the opportunity to cut their hair upon arrival and during training at RTC and OTC.

Sailor feedback and questions on the new hairstyle guidelines and other uniform policies are always welcome. As always, Sailors can reach out to the Uniform Matters Office by emailing or