Hold the haircut: Women joining the Navy have new options

WASHINGTON — Give the scissors a rest for a while.  The United States Navy is trying out a new style.

Newly-enlisted women will no longer have to cut their hair short, under a pilot program in effect through March.

Joining the other armed services, the Navy will allow female sailors to choose the hairstyle that fits without having to chop off extra locks, as long as the grooming still meets uniform regulations. The previous requirement for female accessions was to cut any hair beyond the lower edge of the uniform collar.

Highlights of the changes and guidelines include:

  • Hairstyles must allow for the proper fit of headgear and not interfere with the proper wearing 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 a bun shall not exceed three inches from the scalp. The diameter of the bun will not exceed four 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 are to be conservative and conform to the grooming standard guidelines.

The Naval Service Training Command is looking at a similar pilot program for male recruits, who currently have to arrive with hair shaved down to an eighth of an inch.

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