Keep in line with US Navy grooming standards

Jessica Evans
Updated onSep 12, 2023 6:15 AM PDT
3 minute read
navy grooming standards

(U.S. Navy photo)

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 28, 2016) Lt. j.g. John Smith grooms his mustache aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61). Smith participated in the popular November mustache movement aboard the ship to promote awareness for men’s health issues. Monterey, deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Jenkins)


The old standard is getting a makeover to address the needs of today’s service members. Here are the US Navy grooming standards.

Just like every other branch, grooming standards in the Navy are slowly evolving. What used to be standard is getting a little bit of a makeover to address the needs of today's service members. Even with the changes, restrictions are still in place for haircuts, facial hair, and body art.

Here is how to keep in line with U.S. Navy grooming standards

Hair Standards

Male Navy personnel must taper their hair around the ears and neck at least 3/4 inch. Hair cannot exceed four inches in length. It cannot touch the ears, collar, or extend past the eyebrows. It also cannot show under the front edge of headgear or interfere with the headgear. Your hair has to be natural-looking colors, too, since multi-colored hair is not permitted. Also, forget about wearing a plait or a braid.

Female haircuts must look professional. Headgear has to fit comfortably and snugly over hair. Hair must not be showing under the front of the headgear and can only protrude in the back if in a ponytail or bun. In uniform, hair may not fall below the lower edge of the back collar. Make sure your braids or cornrows are secured. Bangs must not fall below the eyebrows. Only natural-looking hair colors are allowed.

Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) Hawa Jenkins (left), a recruit division commander (RDC), instructs Seaman Recruit Cohlena Jones-Tipton, from Salem, Ore., on proper hair grooming standards. (U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Adam Demeter/RELEASED)

Facial Hair

You'll need a religious or medical waiver to grow a beard and sometimes those are hard to come by. Don't fret though because the Navy is fine with mustaches. You'll need to keep them clean and trimmed at all times.

Jewelry and Piercings

Only jewelry deemed “conservative” may be worn. Of course, what this means for each command might be different, so check with your CO if you have a question. Like always, safety comes first. So forget about dangling earrings, bracelets, or anything that might present a safety hazard. Guidelines for earrings depend on gender. So, these days, men may not wear earrings while in uniform, in civilian attire while on duty, while aboard any military vehicle, or in areas under military jurisdiction.

Women may wear one plain ball earring up to six millimeters per ear, on the earlobes. Female Officers and Chief Petty Officers are allowed to wear gold earrings in Working and Service uniforms. If you are E-6 or below, you can wear silver earrings in Working and Service uniforms. White pearl or diamond earrings can be worn in Dress uniforms. That means, you'll need to take out all other piercings while you're wearing your uniform, when you're aboard military vehicles, or in areas under military jurisdiction.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mark C. Webber, left, receives a haircut from U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Rick C. Hernandez. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kelly L. Street, 2D MARDIV COMCAM/Released)

Other Grooming Requirements

Male personnel have to keep short, trimmed nails. No polish is allowed. Conversely, female personnel's fingernails can't exceed a quarter inch from the fingertip and must be kept clean. As a matter of fact, the Navy says you can wear polish, so long as it's "conservative." Equally important here is to check with your CO for specifics. Don't forget that female personnel can wear makeup, as long as it's kept to a minimum. Of course, for both genders, fragrances are allowed so long as they are not overpowering.


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