Background Information (this page is constantly evolving, so please be
patient as we continue to develop it)
While the Marine Corps allows some individuality when it
comes to hairstyles, all Marines are required to maintain their hair in neat
and professional MILITARY
hairstyles. There is a difference
between a neat and professional civilian hairstyle and a neat and professional
military hairstyle. The guidance below
is provided as a tool to help commanders and Marines decide what is within the
spirit and context of the Regulations and what isn't.
There are two guidelines you must keep in mind when deciding
how to style your hair. First,
hairstyles may not interfere with the wear
all uniform headgear, to include helmets.
If your hairstyle does not allow you to properly wear your headgear (in
your proper size), you will need to change your hairstyle and remain within the
hairstyle guidelines detailed in the Regulations. Second, there are “bulk of the hair”
limitations. As you hair lies flat on
your head it may not extend beyond 2 inches from your scalp. So, if you wear a hairstyle that adds a lot
of depth to your hair, you need to take into account the bulk limits. These limits apply to all hair textures and
styles. Buns cannot be wider than the
head or extend out more than 3 inches from the scalp.
Helpful hint: a CAC card is 3 inches long, you can use that
to determine if the bun is too big.
The pictures below are not all-inclusive, but just what has
been collected to date. It is impossible
to depict every hairstyle ever created, but if you are interested in one of the
below hairstyles or an element of a below hairstyle, you need to read the
regulations and if there is any doubt, contact the Uniform Board before you
commit to the style (provide a picture please), as there is a chance that the
hairstyle will be out of regulation. If
you have a picture you would like posted on this site, please send a digital
picture here (all facial features of the individual will be removed before
posting). This page is intended as a
tool to aid in the decision making process (to style or not to style) and to
aid in the enforcement of existing regulations.
Bottom line – If your hairstyle
does not fall within the guidance detailed in the Uniform Regulations you will
have to restyle it, and that might require you to take drastic action (i.e.
cutting the hair short to get back into the required standards).
(male hairstyle information is below the female information)
CMC decisions from Uniform Board 215:
Locks, twists and braids are now authorized hairstyles for all female
Marines. Some of these hairstyles will
be limited by hair texture (curlier hair textures works better with some
styles, as straight hair will not hold the style).
TWIST HAIRSTYLE: Two sections of hair twisted together,
which forms a rope or cord-like appearance.
LOCK HAIRSTYLE: One section of hair that twists from or
near the root to the ends of the hair,
which creates a uniform ringlet or cord-like appearance.
MUPTIPLE BRAIDS: Three or more
sections of hair interlaced.
NATURAL HAIR: Is authorized, no matter the
texture of the hair and must conform to all existing style regulations (to
include bulk of the hair, not to exceed 2 inches, and hair may not interfere
with the proper wear of headgear or protrude at distinct angles).
Multiple Braids (also known as microbraids
and cornrows) – authorized as long as the grooming regulations are
followed. A multiple braid is defined as
more than 2 braids. If you are going to wear multiple braids it
must encompass the whole head (except hangs maybe left unbraided). You may not inter-mix multiple braids with
locks and twists (only one style is authorized at a time). If you are wearing one or two braids, the
below “rules of thumb” do not apply.
Rule of thumb for braids:
1. Braids may be worn
in long and medium length hair only.
2. Braids must not
interfere with the wear of all headgear.
3. Braids must
continue to the end of the natural hair in one direction (no zig-zagging,
curving or ending before the end of the natural hair to dangle as a wisp or loose
hair-braids should go in a straight line, back to front) and should encompass
the whole head (except when bangs are worn).
Loose hair at the end of the braid must then be secured up in a manner
approved for long hairstyles.
4. There should be no
more than 3/8 of an inch visible scalp between each braid and the individual
braid diameter may be no bigger than 3/8 of an inch (you can mix the size of
the braids within your style).
Helpful hint: a standard pencil diameter is slightly
smaller than 3/8 of an inch, but is a good target size to shoot for. A standard paper clip’s width is 3/8 of an
5. Commanders have
the ultimate responsibility for determining when a hairstyle is eccentric or
6. Read the regulations before you commit to this
hairstyle to ensure you are within guidelines. Remember, it is a time intensive and
expensive hairstyle, do your homework before you get it styled. Do it wrong and you will have to take it out
and start over. Styles that exceed or
deviate from the established guidelines are not authorized.
A. B. C. D. E.
Notes: Pictures A and B depict authorized braid
hairstyles. Picture B shows long,
partial multiple braids that have been pulled up into a bun (notice the bun has
unbraided hair in it). Picture C shows multiple
braids that would not be authorized because it results in a bun that extends
more than three inches from the scalp. Remember, braids and extensions add bulk to
the hair and you must consider that before adopting the hairstyle. Pictures D and E would be unauthorized
hairstyles because the patterns in the braids/root area and the direction of the
Locks and Twists Per Uniform Board 215, CMC approved the wear of both
locks and twists. A properly styled
lock and twist hairstyle provides a military appearance similar to the multiple
braid a hairstyle and all three hairstyles have the same basic dimension
Rule of thumb for locks and twists:
1. Twists may be worn
in medium and long length hair. Locks
may be worn in short, medium and long length hair.
2. Locks and twists
must not interfere with the wear of all headgear and cannot extend beyond the
“bulk of hair” limits.
3. Locks and twists
must continue to the end of the hair in one direction (no zig-zagging, curving
or ending before the end of the lock or twist to dangle as a wisp or loose
hair) and should encompass the whole head (except when bangs are worn. Locks partings must be square or rectangular
in shape in order to maintain a neat and professional appearance.
4. Only braids and
twists may be secured to the scalp (hair is continually added to the braid or
twist (kind of like a French braid) as it continues to follow the contour of
the head, in one direction). When
secured to the head, individual braids and twist will be s mall in diameter (no
more than 3/8 inch) and will be tightly interlaced or twisted to present and
neat and professional military appearance.
The amount of scalp visible in “secured” twists and braids depends on
the thickness of the individual’s hair.
Individual lock/twist diameter may be no bigger than 3/8 of an inch (you
can mix the size of the locks/twists within your style).
5. Braids, twists and
locks can be loose (free-hanging, where no hair, other than hair extensions that
are attached at the end of the natural hair, is added to the braid, twist or
lock once it is started). When worn
loose, individual braids, twists and locks will be spaced no more than 3/8 inch
apart, will be small in diameter (no more than 3/8 inch), and will be tightly
interlaced/twisted to present a neat and professional military appearance.
6. New growth
(defined as hair that naturally grows from the scalp and has not yet been
braided, twisted or locked) will not exceed ½ inch at any time. Braids, twists and locks that do not meet
these standards and do not present a neat and professional military appearance
will not be worn in uniform.
7. Commanders have
ultimate responsibility for determining when a hairstyle is eccentric or
8. You may not mix
braid, lock or twists in the same style.
You may however braid, twist or lock your hair, then further secure it
into a French braid or bun (as depicted in picture C below).
9. Read the regulations before you commit to
thEse hairstyleS to ensure you are within guidelines. Remember, these styles are time intensive and
expensive, do your homework before you get it styled. While some locks can be undone with a lot of
time and effort, some cannot, so if you are not within regulations and can’t
repair the style to get within regulations, you will have to cut the locks
B. C. D. E. F.
Note: Picture A is a twist hairstyle (notice how similar in appearance it is to multiple
braids). Picture A depicts long,
loose/free flowing (not secured to the head beyond the initial twist location)
twists. If you have long twists, you
must further secure it up per long hair regulations (in a bun, in a French braid…). With hair this long and twists in the maximum
diameter (3/8 in), there is a lot of added bulk. If this hair were further pulled up into a
bun or French braid there is concern that both the bulk of the hair and bun
size standards would be exceeded, so you need to take that into account before
adopting the hairstyle. Pictures B and
C depict a Marine with a secured twist hairstyle further pulled up into a
bun. The twists are within the 3/8
diameter restrictions and because the twist is secured to the head (actually
attached to the head by adding hair to the twist as it continues down the head
to the nape of the neck, where it is then becomes loose twists), there is no
visible scalp restriction (this restriction only applies to loose/free flowing
locks/twists/braids). Pictures D through F depict authorized lock hairstyles in uniform. As you can see, a properly styled lock is
very similar in appearance (same 3/8 inch diameter restrictions) to multiple
twists and braids. Because the Marine in
pictures D and D has long locks she has to
further secure it up without exceeding the bun or bulk of hair
restrictions (the bun is close to exceeding the width of her head). Picture F
is medium length locks (the lighter color at the bottom is an issue).
Helpful Hint: The width of your CAC card is 2 ¼ inch. You can use the width of the card as a basic
measurement tool if you don’t have a ruler handy (keeping in mind that it is ¼
inch too wide).
Gallery of Authorized Female
Hairstyles (under construction)