The Army has revised the grooming standards addressing the impact of grooming on females in this service branch. A special panel made up of soldiers from across the service representing all ranks, units, ages, career fields, age, and races making up the Army met to review proposed grooming and appearance modifications in 2020. Army senior leaders approved the modifications in December 2020 that take effect in late February 24, pending an Army memo to be sent out Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, Army G-1, Uniform Policy Branch sergeant major shared.
The panel included psychologists and dermatologists to make changes in standards for females, noting that Soldiers are not Soldiers 24/7 and have roles outside of the Army.
Hairstyle standard changes for females that will be authorized are:
- No minimum hair length for female Soldiers – a change from the minimum hair length of ¼ inch
- Allow for multiple hairstyles at once – meaning braiding, twisting, or locs can be worn all at once
- Short and long ponytails allowed instead of a bun
- Long Ponytails allowed for Soldiers during physical fitness training and with the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), during tactical training where they are required to wear a helmet; Soldiers will be required to tuck long ponytails into the ACU blouse
- Highlights allowed as long as it presents as a uniform and natural appearance; the colors of purple, blue, pink, green, orange, bright red, fluorescent or neon colors are prohibited
Other grooming changes that will be authorized:
- Option to wear gold, silver, and diamond earrings while Female Soldiers are wearing the ACU
- Solid lip and non-extreme nail colors for female Soldiers
- Clear nail polish for male Soldiers
These changes in approved hairstyles stem from medical considerations as tight hairstyles can lead to conditions of the scalp to include hair loss, and tight buns prevent properly wearing the helmet allowing for full visual fields for females while wearing the gear. Female soldiers are currently able to wear earrings with service and dress uniforms, and these changes allow for the earrings to be worn with all uniforms. However, pearl earrings are still only authorized with the service and dress uniforms.
Extreme colors such as purple, gold, black, blue, white, fire-engine red, hot pink, yellow, and other neon colors will not be allowed for lip or nail polish colors for female Soldiers in uniform. The addition of the allowance of clear nail polish for male soldiers allows for men working in specialties that are in contact with harsh chemicals to protect the nails.
The grooming updates will be included in the next update to the AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.