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Do girls have to shave their head in the military?

The requirements for hair length and style for women in the military varies between different branches of the service. However, in most cases, women are not required to shave their heads completely when joining the military.

Hair Regulations for Women in the Military

Here is a quick overview of hair regulations for women in the U.S. military:

  • Air Force: Hair must be clean, well-groomed, and neat. It must not contain excessive bulk or be excessively long. Bangs can touch eyebrows but not cover eyes. Ponytails, braids, etc. must not extend past the bottom of the collar.
  • Army: Hair must be neatly groomed and cannot fall over the eyebrows or extend below the bottom of the collar. Styles like braids and cornrows must be uniform in dimension. Extreme or faddish styles are not authorized.
  • Marines: Hair must be neat and closely trimmed. It cannot touch the collar or fall over the ears or eyebrows. Faddish or outrageous hairstyles are prohibited.
  • Navy: Hair cannot extend below the lower edge of the collar, hang over the eyebrows, or touch the ears. Faddish, outrageous, or culturally inappropriate styles are not authorized.

As you can see, women generally can not have hair reaching below the collar in uniform. However, they are not required to shave their heads completely bald.

Are There Any Exceptions?

In some cases, women may opt to shave their heads completely in the military. Reasons could include:

  • Personal preference for a low-maintenance hairstyle.
  • To meet safety/helmet requirements for certain jobs or training.
  • As part of induction into an elite unit like the Navy SEALs.

However, complete head shaving is not a universal requirement for female service members. Many women choose to keep their hair at chin or collar length to stay within regulations.

What About Basic Training?

In basic training, it’s common for women’s hair to be cut very short. Reasons include:

  • To quickly provide a uniform, low-maintenance hairstyle.
  • To prevent the spread of lice in close quarters.
  • To start training recruits with standardized short hairstyles.

However, women generally do not have to shave their heads completely bald in basic training. The minimum allowable length varies between services. For example, the Marines require a minimum 1/4 inch length during basic training.

Are There Any Exceptions in Basic Training?

In some cases, women may choose to shave their heads completely bald in basic training. Reasons include:

  • Head shaving as part of becoming an elite forces recruit.
  • Opting for a zero haircut for low maintenance.
  • Having hair too short to pin up per regulations.

But again, a completely shaved head is generally not mandatory. Many women keep their hair cropped short but not entirely bald.

What About Deployments?

On deployments, women may choose to wear shorter hairstyles for practical reasons, like:

  • Keeping cool in hot climates.
  • Reducing time spent grooming.
  • Fitting under helmets and hats.
  • Avoiding hair becoming tangled or dirty in field conditions.

Some women do opt for very short “buzz cut” styles or shaved heads. However, most keep their hair within regulation minimum lengths.

Are There Cultural Considerations?

Some cultures have traditions around women’s hair. The U.S. military aims to balance cultural sensitivity with mission requirements. Accommodations may include:

  • Allowing conservative head coverings for religious reasons.
  • Making exemptions to hair regulations.
  • Respecting cultural practices like hair braiding.

However, operational needs ultimately determine acceptable hairstyles. Cultural practices cannot override safety and uniform requirements.

What About Medical Reasons?

In some cases, women may shave their heads due to medical reasons like:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Trichotillomania
  • Alopecia
  • Severe dandruff
  • Scalp infections

Commanders may grant temporary exemptions from hair regulations for medical conditions. However, service members must keep leadership informed of medical status.


In summary, shaving heads completely bald is generally not mandatory for women in the U.S. military. Regulations require keeping hair above the collar, but minimum lengths are allowed. Short hairstyles are common for practical reasons, but shaved heads are a personal choice. Cultural and medical exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis. However, operational safety remains the top priority in all hair regulations.