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Black Women in the Military- Hairstyles Within Regs

Updated on March 01, 2016

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5 Options to Keeping Your Hair in Regulation

Black Women in the Military: How to Keep Your Hair in Regulation

During my time in Navy basic training, I constantly struggled with keeping my natural black hair in regulation. It’s a little harder to conform to the military’s grooming standards, when your hair isn’t straight and sleek! In this article I would like to cover five black hair style options for females that will keep your hair within regulation, and keep you from struggling on your own like I had to!

Option #1: Braids

Braids are a great choice for black women,they seemed to be the most popular choice while I was in Basic Training. Many females came in with their hair in cornrows and would either re-braid it themselves on Sundays, or get a shipmate to do it for them. This option can be done with either permed or natural hair. There are two varieties of braids that you can experiment with. Cornrows and Individual braids. Cornrows are braids made straight to your scalp, while individual braids hang from your head, and can be styled into many hair styles like pony tails and buns. The plus side of having your hair in braids is that they are easy to maintain and are a very hassle free option. With braids you spend little to no time on your hair every morning, and only have to invest time in putting them in and taking them out.

Me rocking my TWA
Me rocking my TWA

Option #2: TWA

Teeny Weeny Afros are another great no-nonsense choice. I rocked a TWA for a while, back in 2011, when I did the Big Chop (B.C.) after deciding to go natural. Many females wear a TWA, a black natural hairstyle, in the military simply because it is very easy to take care of, looks cute, and is easy to keep within regulation. This hairstyle looks great with any African American hair texture, and has the least amount of styling time as you can do a quick wash-and-go or just pick and shape it.

Permed hair can look cute, with or without your cover!
Permed hair can look cute, with or without your cover!

Option #3: Relaxer

Many African American females, in and out of the military choose to perm their hair for manageability. The plus side to having a perm in the military is that, with straight hair, your hair can easily be pulled back into a bun or work down in a haircut within standards. Perming is a good option because with straight hair, it is easier to work with and style into a hairstyle that is within regs.

Weave can help you achieve length, without having to wait for your hair to actually grow!
Weave can help you achieve length, without having to wait for your hair to actually grow! | Source

Option #4: Weave

I like this option because of its versatility. With weave, you can have whatever kind of hair you want, and can easily keep it in regulation. Whether by having weave long enough to go in a bun, or short enough to be worn down. This option allows you to keep your hairstyle of choice without having to change your own hair. Many girls with hair too long for regulation, would braid their hair braiding in cornrows and wear either a wig or a sew in. I would also see girls, with short hair who used weave/wigs to have long hair without having to wait for their hair to grow.

Option #5: Natural Hair

If you’re like me, and love your natural hair and the beautiful things it can do, then this may be the option for you. There are no rules keeping you from having natural hair in the military, though it may seem hard. There are many options for styling your hair naturally that fit within military regulations. You can also use natural hair with any of the other five options, except for the perming of course. Natural hair is a beautiful thing, and with patience and the right tools and products it can be a fun to experiment with.

Though military regulations can seem difficult to follow when you’re an African American woman in the military, there are actually many options to wear your hair. Any of these five options will give you beautiful hair that meets both your own and the military’s standards for uniform and grooming.

Natural hair, when long enough can be slicked back into a bun. This allows for a proffesional appearance without chemically altering your hair.
Natural hair, when long enough can be slicked back into a bun. This allows for a proffesional appearance without chemically altering your hair. | Source

Which Is Your Favorite Option?

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    • mintinfo profile image

      mintinfo 3 years ago

      Hi DC, this is a great article on the dilemma of managing the African hair. Geep writing and soon your scores will get up there.

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thank you for reading my article! I appreciate it :)

    • Ana 3 years ago

      Can women have highlights in the military? Nice article.

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Highlights are allowed. However they have to look natural and have to be complimentary. For example you couldn't have black hair with Blonde highlights. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • adrian 3 years ago

      When getting a sew in does it matter if you get a bang or not?

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Hello Adrian. You can have bangs, the rule of thumb with hair is that it cannot interfere with your headgear. For bangs, they cannot show beneath your cover. I had bangs for a while, and when I had long ones, I pinned them to the side when in uniform. With short bangs they were fine and didn't show when I wore my cover. Hope this helps! Thanks for reading :)

    • JAMILASANDERS 3 years ago

      Thank You

    • Robinson 3 years ago

      Norris from Pensacola ??? You were in my duty section. This is weird !

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Your welcome Jamila, hope it helped!

      Robinson? I don't remember you, but Im sure I probably was. I'm still here in PCola

    • Johanna 3 years ago

      Is okay to wear a wig in the Army when you're headed to Basic M. Training?

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Yes! You can wear a wig. As long as it fits within the hair regulations for your branch.

    • MacayBrown 3 years ago

      Okay, i ship for the Navy in 30 days. Ive been natural for a year and my afro is pretty big at this point. I don't want to use chemicals in my hair, and i was wondering your opinion on whether cornrows would be okay for basic training. I also considered a weave cut to regulations but ive heard horror stories about it being taken out and them cutting your hair. My current protective hairstyle is a wig but i heard that wasn't allowed either. What is best for bootcamp? and do hair regulations change after bootcamp?

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Cornrows are fine for Basic. When I went through, myself as well as several other girls had them. I also knew a lot of people who had wigs or sew ins, as long as it looks natural and is in regs you should be fine. Good luck and congrats on your decision to join the Navy!

    • kami 2 years ago

      I have a short very kinky afro under my current style medium size individual braids. Would that be ok? I don't want to have to deal with mi fro during basic...i can just throw these in a bun but I don't know how well the navy accepts weave...my natural hair is in regulation but just hard to manage

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      As long as the braids are uniform in appearance( all the same size) you can pull them back into a bun during your enlistment. During bootcamp, however, they are known to cut braids. For basic training have short hair that does not touch your collar to avoid getting your braids cut down short. Your best bet would be to either wear your short afro, or to put it in cornrows. If you go in with any hairstyle that is long, they will cut it. Whether it is braids, weave, or your natural hair.

    • Saquonna Wheeler 2 years ago

      Not many options on wearing your hair natural except for the TWA. I am currently in the Navy Reserves and get hassled about every DWE for my twists (which disguise my locs) both of which higher ups insist are unauthorized due to a statement on the NPC website in the FAQ section.

    • Nona 2 years ago

      Hi DC. I will be going to basic training for the Army soon and want to make sure that I do the right thing in regard to my hair. My hair is permed but is very short (stingy ponytail short). I normally wear weaves especially since I am trying grow my hair back, but considering the conditions, I was contemplating small box braids. At least then I would get through the duration of basic training. Is this correct? I've heard about women having to take their hair out. Also, are micros allowed? I was told that they weren't.

    • Lindsey 2 years ago

      Hey there! I was recently told that a weave is a no go because they need to be able to check your hair for lice during reception. My hair is in an awkward in between stage (the front is ear length and the back/middle is at my collar bone....when I put in it a bun it looks crappy as some of my hair can't stretch far enough to tie back) My head looks huge in braids and I can't imagine going back to permed hair. What would you do!

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Well great news Saquonna the Navy hair regs were recently updated, and two strand twists are now authorized! Look it up :)

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      As far as having to take your hair out you should be fine. The issue I saw girls having was if the braids were too long, they were cut. Make sure your braids aren't too long since you won't be allowed to wear buns or ponytails.

    • DanielleCherise profile image
      Author

      Danielle Cherise Norris 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Weave is perfectly fine. I've seen many people go through boot camp with it. The length of your hair sounds perfect for going through, since it falls within regulations. You won't be allowed to wear ponytails or buns until you graduate.

    • Brionna 7 months ago

      I was thinking about getting box braids before I leave for bmt, is that allowed?

    • Alexus 7 months ago

      I ship out for boot camp in about 5 months. My recruiter says the only thing we're allowed to wear are really small braids. I'm very hesitant because I don't want to have any problems with weave but I'm natural which can be a hassle without proper products and things so I don't know what to do. HELPPPP

    • Deanna 7 months ago

      Can you have crochet braids?

    • Debra 6 months ago

      Hi, I was wondering would I be able to wear a fake bun for basic training due that my hair is really short and can fit in a tiny bun ?

    • Sam 5 months ago

      Originally, I was planning to wear a pull on,pull off wig for basic training (BT) . Now, I've decided to sew it in because it's going to be a lot of jumping etc.

      My BT and AIT is over a year long. I was wondering if we are able to leave the compound anytime during BT and AIT ? I would like be able to go to a hair dresser to have my hair beneath the wig washed and my sew in redone.

    • Danielle 4 months ago

      Hi, I plan to retest for the military in a few weeks. I have a tapered cut, and I plan to cut the longer part before basic. Am I allowed to have this style...I've seen white females with the tapered cut before while in the military, but never a black female...Would I be allowed to keep my tapered cut?

    • Mya Gibson 4 months ago

      I have JROTC, and I want to get box braids but I don't want them to be small... I wanted to know, how large will I be able to get them so my bun won't touch my collar? Please help me!!? ( I plan on getting them in the middle of my back at least)

    • Meisha 3 months ago

      Good evening. From reading I see that most people are within the navy ... My assumption is regardless of where your enlisted army regulation is army regulation. My hair is permed on the end only about 3 inches of so natural...i was debating between getting cornrows for basic or just getting my hair relaxed m my hair is Halle Berry short and I Probobaly won't be able to bring proper hair supplies to maintain the perm...or so they have this at the store there? I am stuck on what to do...there are not many black women to ask during my drill. I leave in just 20 days and need to make a decision fast...what do you suggest?

    • tajah brooks 7 weeks ago

      hey im going to the army soon i would like to know if wearing lace closure is in military regulations ? and should i wear it ?

    • Naturalista 5 weeks ago

      For those of you considering wearing natural styles or your twa it's not as easy as you do nothing get up and go. The styles are allowed but you still have to look groomed and neat and even then your leadership can not approve. Also wearing weave to basic training might not be the best idea, you won't be able to properly take care of it

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