From Buns to Braids and Ponytails: Entering a New Era of Female Military Hair-Grooming Standards

Jessica M. May Franklin, Wendi E. Wohltmann, Emily B. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Each of the US Military services imposes strict hair-grooming standards to ensure professionalism and the safety of servicemembers. Although in recent years there have been some progressive changes in grooming policies, they have not adequately accounted for the diversity within the US Armed Forces or variations in hair and skin types. Review of some antiquated grooming regulations resulted in the authorized wearing of locs across all 4 services over the last 4 years. The largest catalyst for improved grooming standards occurred in 2020 when former Defense Secretary Mark Esper requested that the Department of Defense review military policies for racial bias. To embrace diversity and inclusivity in the military services while addressing grooming-related health concerns, the US Air Force and the US Army recently authorized women to wear longer braids and ponytails. The updated hair-grooming regulations are anticipated to decrease the numbers of female servicemembers impacted by scalp symptoms and hair disease. This review highlights the history of female military hair-grooming standards and the most commonly CUTI associated scalp symptoms and disorders, including trichorrhexis nodosa (TN), extracranial headaches, and traction alopecia (TA).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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