Army Grooming Standards GuideUpdated: July 22, 2022
Editor’s Note: The Army modified its uniform and grooming standards in 2021 and added more authorized tattoos in 2022. Updates included significant changes to Army Regulation (AR) 670, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, and the new ALARACT 40/2021, U.S. Army Appearance and Grooming Modifications.
The Purpose of AR 670-1
AR 670-1 prescribes uniform and grooming standards for Army personnel. All soldiers in the Army, Army National Guard, Reserve Officer Training Corps and service academies must follow AR 670-1. Veterans and retirees must also abide by the same uniform regulations when they choose to wear their uniforms for events, funerals, ceremonies, national holidays or parades. It does not apply to the Chief of Staff of the Army or former Chiefs of Staff of the Army, who can wear what they want.
Why AR 670-1 Changed
The Army updated its uniform regulations in 2021 to promote diversity and inclusion in the ranks, according to a press release shared by the deputy chief of staff’s office in May 2021.
What Are the New Army Grooming Standards?
Significant changes include relaxed hair and makeup rules for female soldiers and accommodations for breastfeeding and religious uniform exceptions like facial hair, turbans and hijabs.
Army Hair Regulations
New changes to the Army’s hair regulations increase the variety of acceptable hairstyles for females to accommodate Black women and other soldiers with textured hair.
Ponytails And Braids
More approved hairstyles make it easier for women with long or textured hair to wear their military headgear.
Women can now wear the following hairstyles in every uniform, as long as it does not affect the way their uniform’s headgear fits:
- Buns (can not exceed three and a half inches).
- Single braids
- Double braids
Women must wear braids and ponytails down the center of their backs (not off the side or top of the head). Soldiers can keep their hair long, but the styles must be within length regulations. For example, braided hair and ponytails can’t reach past the bottom of a soldier’s shoulder blades when she is standing at attention.
The Army will also allow women to wear multiple hairstyles, including combinations of cornrows, twists, braids and locs.
Short Authorized Hairstyles For Female Soldiers
The Army removed its minimum hair length requirement for women, which used to be one-quarter inch.
Now, women can shave their heads or cut their hair in tapered styles conforming to the shape of their heads.
Women can part their hair and cut parts into their hair if it does not part naturally. Parts can’t exceed three millimeters in width (about 1/10 of an inch). Parts must also be straight; slanted and curved parts are unauthorized.
Hard parts must be cut in a natural fashion in an area where a hair part might naturally occur.
Highlights are allowed for men and women, but colors must look natural and blend naturally. (Platinum blond highlights on very dark hair, for example, may not blend naturally).
AR 670-1 also prohibits “extreme” colors – such as bright/fire-engine red, purple, blue, green, pink or other neon colors.
Army Male Hair Regulations
Most male Army hair regulations remain unchanged. Here’s what they are.
Soldiers must keep mustaches tapered and tidy. They can’t extend upward past the lowest part of the nose or down past the upper line of the lip. They also can’t extend past the corners of the mouth.
AR-670-1 prohibits handlebar mustaches and goatees and mustaches with a “chopped off” or “bushy” appearance.
Medical exemptions to the Army’s beard regulations must specify the maximum beard length the soldiers may wear. Soldiers with medical exemptions or “no-shave profiles” must follow specific length requirements.
Shaving profiles do not permit a soldier to wear a goatee or other unauthorized style.
Beards and Mustaches
Soldiers with approved religious accommodations to wear beards may grow their mustaches to connect with their beards but can’t style them in handlebars, goatees or other prohibited manners.
Beards worn under religious accommodation must remain shorter than two inches or kept at that length by tying and rolling them under.
Soldiers with approved religious accommodations may wear hijabs, as long as the hijab is in a subdued color or an ACU-compatible camouflage print.
Soldiers must wear hijabs under their required headgear and tuck the bottom of the hijab into their uniform tops. Commanders may require hijabs to be fire-resistant in some situations.
Turbans, Hair Under Turbans And Other Religious Clothing
Like hijabs, turbans must be in a subdued color that is compatible with the prescribed uniform. Turbans may replace other military headgear in some situations.
Soldiers should display their rank insignia in the same manner on their turbans as on their standard headgear.
Hair under turbans does not have to follow AR 670-1 regulation. However, hair can not touch a soldier’s ears or uniform collar or show below the eyebrows.
Additionally, soldiers with religious accommodations may wear the long-sleeved Army physical fitness uniform (APFU) top and subdued leggings under their APFU shorts.
Regulations on Army Eyeglasses, Sunglasses And Contact Lenses
Eyewear policies did not change with the 2021 update.
Soldiers still may not wear sunglasses indoors without a medical exception. Lenses must be black, brown, gray or dark green. Oversized, under-sized and trendy frame designs are unauthorized.
According to the regulation, that includes sunglass and eyeglass frames with initials or visible designs. You can wear eyeglass or sunglass restraints for safety purposes, but other chains and adornments aren’t allowed.
Contact lenses must be clear or match your natural eye color. You can’t wear lenses that change your eye color.
Army Jewelry Regulations
Soldiers may wear wristwatches and religious or medical ID bracelets, but they can only wear one visible piece of jewelry on each of their wrists.
The 2021 update allows women to wear one pearl, gold, silver or diamond post earring in each ear lobe. Earrings must match each other as a pair.
Soldiers may wear other body piercings when off-duty and off of military property. Gauges (ear holes greater than 1/16th of an inch) are prohibited.
Men can sport conservative-looking tie tacks and clasps in service dress uniforms.
Everyone can wear two rings, one on each hand. Wedding-ring sets count as one ring.
The Army bans extremist, racist and sexist tattoos, regardless of their visibility.
The Army also bans tattoos on the head, face, neck and hands below the wrist, except for the exceptions noted below. However, those with a previously approved memo allowing tattoos in those areas don’t violate the new policy.
And according to a new memorandum from Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, the Army now allows the following:
- One tattoo less than one inch in diameter on each hand
- Tattoos between fingers, as long as they aren’t visible when hands are closed
- One tattoo less than two inches in diameter on the back of the neck
Additionally, the Army still allows a ring-style tattoo on each hand. Women may wear conservatively tattooed eyeliner and eyebrow microblading.
Army Makeup Regulations
Female soldiers can wear makeup in all uniforms, but it should be modest and conservative. Women still can’t wear eyelash extensions without a medical prescription.
Army Nail Regulations
Men still can’t wear most makeup without a medical prescription.
They can wear clear nail polish to protect their nails in hazardous work environments but must keep their nails trimmed so that they don’t extend past their fingertips.
Women can grow their nails out to a quarter of an inch past their fingertips if they maintain them in a natural shape. Women can not file their nails into ballerina, stiletto, arrow or coffin shapes.
The AR-670-1 changes allow women to wear solid, neutral nail polish shades, including nude and light pink. Purple, white, yellow, gold or silver colors are not allowed, neither are neon, metallic, fluorescent or two-toned colors.
White-tipped french manicures still aren’t allowed, but American manicures, which use contrasting neutral tips, are authorized.
Accommodations for Breastfeeding Women
Under the uniform regulation update, women have explicit authorization to breastfeed anywhere the mother and child are authorized to be; they do not have to cover themselves or the child.
When breastfeeding or pumping, the mother can unzip or remove her ACU coat or other uniform items that are in the way. Mothers may also opt to wear a t-shirt designed for breastfeeding or pumping.