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US Navy serviceman dresses and grooms himself as he prepares for his next mission.

Personal Grooming in the Navy

As a member of America’s Navy, there are several policies you’ll have to follow. Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions regarding personal care requirements, including how to dress when off duty, what kind of body art and piercing regulations are in place, and the basic guidelines for grooming, facial hair and haircuts.

 

 

Q: What kind of haircut can I have? Do I have to wear a buzz cut?

A: While buzz cuts are not necessary, males are obligated to keep their hair neat, clean and well-groomed. The bulk of the hair cannot exceed approximately two inches.


Q: Can I have my hair colored?

A: Yes, you can color your hair, but it must look natural and complementary.


Q: Can I wear sideburns?

A: Yes, sideburns are allowed as long as they are neatly trimmed and tailored in the same manner as your haircut.


Q: Am I allowed to have facial hair, such as a beard or mustache?

A: Your face must be clean-shaven unless a shaving waiver is authorized by your Commanding Officer for medical reasons. Beards and goatees are not permitted, though mustaches are authorized as long as they are kept neat and closely trimmed.


Q: Can I wear a wig or hairpiece?

A: You can wear a wig or hairpiece, while in uniform or duty status for cosmetic reasons only (i.e., to cover natural baldness or physical disfigurement). If you’re a Reservist, you can wear a wig or hairpiece while engaged in training.

 

Q: What kind of haircut can I have? Can I wear my hair in a ponytail or have braids?

A: You will be obligated to keep your hair neat, clean and well-groomed. Your haircut and style should present a balanced appearance. Ponytails, pigtails, widely spaced individual hanging locks and braids that stick out from your head are not allowed. You can, however, have multiple braids.


Q: Can I have my hair colored?

A: Yes, you can color your hair, but it must look natural and complementary.


Q: Can I have beads or other materials in my hair? What about clips and bobby pins?

A: You are not permitted to have beads or any other decorative items braided in your hair. You can wear a maximum of two small barrettes, combs and/or clips as long as they are similar to your hair color. Additional matching bobby pins or rubber bands may also be used to hold your hair in place, if necessary. Fabric elastic bands are not authorized.


Q: Can I wear a wig or hairpiece?

A: You can wear a wig or hairpiece, but only while in uniform or duty status and only for cosmetic reasons (i.e., to cover natural baldness or physical disfigurement). If you’re a Reservist, you can wear a wig or hairpiece while engaged in training.


Q: Can I wear makeup or other cosmetics?

A: Cosmetics may be applied in good taste so that colors blend with your natural skin tone and enhance your natural features. You may wear lipstick and nail polish as long as the colors are complimentary and conservatively worn. You are not permitted to wear long false eyelashes while in uniform.  

 

Q: Can I have a tattoo or any other body art?

A: No tattoos, body art or brands are allowed on your head, face, neck or scalp. Tattoos, body art and brands elsewhere on the body that the Navy would find prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale are also prohibited (i.e., those which are excessive; obscene; sexually explicit; or advocate or symbolize sex, gender, racial, religious, ethnic or national origin discrimination). You are also not permitted to have tattoos, body art and brands that advocate or symbolize gang affiliation, supremacist or extremist groups, or drug use. Tattoos, body art and brands must not be visible through your uniform clothing.


Q: Can I have any body piercings?

A: Body piercings, brandings and intentional scarring considered excessive or eccentric are prohibited. Some examples are:

  • A split or forked tongue
  • Foreign objects inserted under the skin to create a design or pattern
  • Enlarged or stretched out holes in the ears (other than a normal piercing)
  • Intentional scarring that appears on the neck, face or scalp

Q: Can I have any dental ornamentation (i.e., caps, veneers, etc.)?

A: You are prohibited from any use of gold, platinum or other veneers or caps for purposes of ornamentation. Your teeth, whether natural, capped or veneer, cannot be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials, etc.

 

Q: What kind of clothing can I wear when off-duty?

A: Your clothing must be in good taste, clean, in good repair and pressed. You must ensure your appearance is appropriate for the occasion. Profanity, pornography or references to drug usage on clothing is not allowed. Clothing cannot be sexually provocative or suggestive, depict racial comments or vulgarities, or display offensive language. Undergarments may not be exposed at any time. Tank top shirts, white or tie-dyed undershirts, cut-off shorts, and shower sandals are appropriate attire only for occasions such as picnics, athletic events and other daytime events of an extremely casual nature.


Q: When and where can I wear civilian clothing?

A: You can wear civilian clothing when leaving or returning to ships or stations, awaiting transportation, on authorized leave of absence or liberty, or in any off-duty status onshore.


Q: Can I wear any pieces of my uniform when off-duty?

A: You may wear only articles of the military uniform that do not present a unique marking or a distinct Naval appearance, such as shoes, socks, gloves, and underwear, with civilian attire.