A Soldier applies face camouflage paint in the field A Soldier applies face camouflage paint in the field

Hair & Appearance Guidelines

There are certain physical presentation requirements every Soldier must follow. Read below for more details.

A female Soldier in uniform stands at attention outdoors A female Soldier in uniform stands at attention outdoors

Modern Guidelines

Serving in the Army requires a well-groomed and professional appearance. The Army strives to be as inclusive as possible while making sure every Soldier can perform their duties as safely as possible. Appearance regulations are considerate of religious beliefs and many forms of cultural expression.

Haircuts & Hairstyles

Policies for women

  • Women in the Army do not have to cut their hair
  • Completely shaved or closely-shaved hair (may be tapered in appearance and if hair doesn’t part naturally, a straight part may be cut in)
  • Short or medium length hair (not extending beyond the lower edge of the collar when standing up straight, in uniform)
  • Hair may be worn in a ponytail or braid (must not interfere with the ability to wear authorized headgear)
  • Long hair worn neatly pinned above the lower edge of the collar
  • Long hair accessories used to secure your hair that aren’t distracting or decorative
  • Black rubber bands, rubber bands that match your hair color, and plain hair accessories used to secure your hair that aren’t distracting or decorative
  • Hair extensions that have the same general appearance as natural hair
  • Hair highlights with natural colors that blend together in a subtle and natural way
  • Hair dyes, tints, or bleaches that match a natural hair color
  • Wigs that look natural (may not be used to cover unauthorized hairstyles)
  • Hair worn in multiple styles, such as braided twists or locs with a side twist to secure hair, as long as style is neat in appearance and doesn’t impact proper wear of headgear

Not permitted for women

  • Hair that interferes with the ability to wear headgear or protective equipment
  • Dyes, tints, or bleaches that do not match a natural hair color
  • Steel hair picks
  • Trendy and exaggerated hairstyles, including shaved portions of the scalp or designs cut into your hair
  • Loose hair (while in uniform)
  • Extreme or dramatic updo styles (while in uniform)

Policies for men

  • Completely shaved or closely-trimmed hair (if hair does not part naturally, you may cut a straight part into the hair or style the hair with one part)
  • Sideburns that don’t extend below the bottom opening of the ear
  • Hair highlights with natural colors that blend together in a subtle and natural way
  • Hair dyes, tints, or bleaches that match a natural hair color
  • Wigs or hairpieces used to cover natural baldness or disfiguration

Not permitted for men

  • Braids, cornrows, twists, or locs (while in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty)
  • Shaved designs cut into hair or scalp
  • Styled sideburns that taper, flare, or come to a point

A male Soldier in uniform receives a medal at an outdoor pinning ceremony A male Soldier in uniform receives a medal at an outdoor pinning ceremony

Facial hair

  • Facial hair must be clean-shaven (while in uniform or on duty)
  • Mustaches must be neatly trimmed, tapered, and tidy
  • Well-groomed beards may be worn for religious reasons

A female Soldier does push-ups while wearing a hair-covering garment A female Soldier does push-ups while wearing a hair-covering garment

Religious garments (hijabs, turbans, kippot)

  • Religious headgear may be worn in solid, subdued colors that closely resemble assigned uniforms (generally black, brown, green, tan, or navy blue)
  • Soldiers wearing a combat uniform may wear a hijab, turban, or under-turban in a matching camouflage pattern
  • Hair worn under the turban is not subject to general standards, but may not fall over the ears or eyebrows or touch the collar while in uniform

Eyeglasses, sunglasses, & contact lenses

Permitted

  • Conservative prescription eyeglasses
  • Prescription contact lenses (except when health or safety considerations apply)
  • Conservative prescription and non-prescription sunglasses while working in a garrison (non-field) environment, except while indoors
  • Sunglasses worn for medical reasons, other than refractive error (except when health or safety considerations apply)
  • Eyeglass restraints (including bands) when required for safety purposes
  • Ballistic spectacle eye protection issued by the Army

Not Permitted

  • Eyeglasses or sunglasses with distracting initials or designs
  • Sunglasses with lenses in distracting colors such as red, yellow, blue, purple, or orange
  • Sunglasses that are so large or so small that they detract from the head while in uniform
  • Chains or ribbons attached to eyeglasses
  • Eyeglasses or sunglasses worn on top of the head while in uniform
  • Tinted or colored contact lenses (while in uniform), unless prescribed for eye injuries
  • Clear contact lenses that have designs on them that change the contour of the iris (while in uniform)

Jewelry

Permitted

  • Religious apparel, articles, or jewelry may be worn with the uniform, including the physical fitness uniform
  • One item on each wrist (like a watch, activity tracker, pedometer heart rate monitor, medical or religious bracelet)
  • Rings (no more than two)
  • Conservative stud earrings may be worn by women in all uniforms

Not permitted

  • Earrings worn by men (while on duty)
  • Attaching or displaying objects, jewelry, or ornamentation under the skin, tongue, or any other body part

Tattoos

Permitted

  • Tattoos that are not visible above the collar or below the cuff

Not permitted

  • Tattoos on the head, face, neck, or below the wrist
  • Tattoos that are extremist, racist, sexist, or indecent are prohibited anywhere on the body, without exception

Two female Soldiers in uniform hug in reunion Two female Soldiers in uniform hug in reunion

Nails

  • Women must keep nails no longer than 1/4 inch as measured from the tip of the finger
  • Women may wear nude and natural nail polish shades, such as light pink
  • Women may have square or rounded nails but pointed or exaggerated nail shapes such as ballerina, stiletto, arrow, and coffin are not permitted
  • Men must keep nails trimmed (not exceeding beyond the fingertip)
  • Men may wear clear nail polish

Female Soldier in uniform receives an honor during a ceremony Female Soldier in uniform receives an honor during a ceremony

Lipstick

  • Women may wear natural shades of solid lipstick or tinted lip gloss
  • Women may wear lip liner, but only with a matching shade of lipstick

Gear Assembly Diagram Gear Assembly Diagram

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