Hairstyles for Men, Both Authorized (and Unauthorized) Multiple hairstyles are now permitted in the United States Army as long as they retain a tidy professional look and do not obstruct the usage of headgear. Mohawks, horseshoes, and "landing strips" are examples of forbidden haircuts under this criteria (see below). The Chief of Staff may grant an exception to this policy if he/she determines that such action is necessary. For more information on legal issues related to hair styling, see Legal Issues Related to Hair Styling.
In the early 20th century, many men in the United States military took their cues on how to style their hair from Hollywood stars. To keep up with the trends, many officers grew out their hair very short or shaved it entirely off. When World War II broke out, many men wanted to join the war effort and avoid being drafted, so they kept their hair short to try and pass as civilians. After the war ended, only men who wanted to be singled out for decoration were allowed to have hair too long for military regulation. So the army began letting men grow out their hair until it was around their ears or even longer if they were lucky enough to be able to afford a haircut every few months.
During the Vietnam War, many young men with long hair protested the war by wearing it in a peace symbol known as a "mohawk".
Men's haircuts in the United States Army must meet Army standards. The hair on top of the head must be nicely maintained and may not be fashionable, spiky, or untidy. Men are not permitted to wear wigs or hairpieces unless they are intended to conceal natural baldness or hair loss caused by accidents or medical treatments.
In general, men will be asked how they would like their hair styled. They can choose from several different options including clean-shaven, sideburns, beard, moustache, soul patch, or any other style that does not violate good grooming practices. If a man decides to grow out his hair, he should try to keep it out of his eyes and ears.
Men are given an Army haircut to maintain uniformity of appearance. Hair length is not considered important for males since they can shave if needed. However, hair must be neatly trimmed around the face and neck so that no part of the head or face is exposed. This is necessary because military regulations require that all males appear physically fit at all times. If uncut hair grows beyond the desired length, the man will be issued scissors to ensure an acceptable appearance.
Men are also given haircuts to promote health and safety. For example, long hair tends to get caught in machinery so men are advised to shorten their hair before entering the workforce.
Army Haircut Guidelines Men's haircuts in the United States Army must meet Army standards. The hair must be trimmed and fit to the shape of the head, as must the neckline. The ears must be pierced for earrings.
Hair length should be above the collar. Long hair can be tied back or braided. Short hair can be cut around the house with a military-style haircut available at many grocery stores and salons.
Women are also allowed to wear their hair in a neat and conservative style. It must be clean and not smell bad. Women cannot have their hair down all the time while on duty or in uniform. They can let it hang loose from under a hat though.
Black women were originally allowed to wear their hair in natural shapes but this was found to be too distracting so now they are only allowed to wear it in smooth lines back and sides. The top can be short or long depending on the officer's preference.
Asian women's hair is usually kept very short. The only exception is those who work in a heated environment may keep their hair longer.
White women are allowed to wear their hair in any way they like as long as it doesn't show dirt or sweat.
Finally, troops are now allowed to wear cornrows, braids, twists, and locks as long as the breadth is less than 1/2 inch. Male troops are not permitted to wear wigs or hairpieces.
In conclusion, yes, males can have braids in the army too!
They would have told you, very properly, that Mohawks are expressly prohibited by military haircut guidelines. And they'd be completely accurate. In the garrison, Mohawks are not permitted. Outside the garrison, especially if you're in California, where many soldiers' hair grows fairly long, it's not a problem.
The first written reference to this prohibition is in a 1775 letter from George Washington to the governor of New York. He had just received his annual haircut and was displeased with the result: "My hair has been cut off near my shoulders for the second year running...I hope this will not be considered as a breach of discipline." The following year, the rule was still in place; according to one account, the commander in chief was so upset by the appearance of some soldiers on hand to greet him after their return from war that he ordered them all shaved bald.
It wasn't until 1806 that the regulation was changed to allow for an exemption to be granted "for reasons of religion or custom". From then on, Mohawks were permitted to wear their hair in a single tail down to their backs.
In 1866, the regulation was revised again to prohibit men from wearing their hair in any style other than short back-and-sides.
Hair grooming regulations are required to preserve homogeneity throughout the military personnel. As long as they are tidy and conservative, many haircuts are allowed. Army Regulation 670-1 controls hair and grooming habits, as well as religious accommodations. It is divided into three chapters: General Orders; Grooming Standards; and Religious Accommodations.
Chapter 1, "General Orders," includes instructions on how to dress and act in an official capacity (for example, how to address officers), as well as general orders for the benefit of the entire command. These include regulations on appearance, attire, hygiene, and personal hygiene products that are not available within the military community at large. For example, soldiers are prohibited from wearing certain types of clothing that could identify a special interest or job field while out in public view.
Chapter 2, "Grooming Standards," covers topics such as facial hair, hair style, hair length, hair color, and makeup. Soldiers are expected to maintain a clean-shaven face except when on duty with an officially recognized unit uniform. Hair must be kept short enough to show skin when standing at attention. Hair can be any color, but it should not contain shades of gray or black. Soldiers are expected to wear their hair in a manner that will not distract others while performing their duties.