Hairstyles for Black Women in the Military: Wearing Cornrows

Updated on June 4, 2017

When I joined the Navy, I had been natural for a couple of months. In the weeks leading up to basic training, I started to panic that I would be unable to keep my hair within regulations. My hair was at an awkward length — too short for buns and too long to be worn in an afro. I searched the web frantically for a solution to my problem.

Two days before I left for training in Great Lakes, I sat down and let my mom cornrow my hair. You might be in a similar situation in which you need a hairstyle to accommodate your awkward-length hair. Or, maybe you're looking for a different reason. Perhaps, you just want a simple way to keep your hair back and out of the way. Whatever your reason is, cornrows are a great option for keeping your hair within regulations.

They Fit Military Guidelines

From my own experience of being through basic training, and now living on the base in Pensacola, I have picked up on the rule that your hair cannot go past the bottom of your collar. Also, when wearing cornrows, they must be straight back and no thicker than ¼ inch. This prevents faddish patterns. Keep these guidelines in mind when getting cornrows if you decide to do so.

Cornrows Are Hassle Free

Cornrows are a great option because of their simplicity. After the initial installment of the cornrows nothing else has to be done. Your time at the mirror in the morning will no longer consist of combing, brushing and/or styling your hair. I had a great experience with cornrows while I was in Basic Training. During the week, I did basically nothing with my hair, other than moisturize and wash it. Then on Sunday, I would take it down, wash it and get it rebraided by one of my ship mates. Now that I am here in Pensacola I see a lot of females continue to wear cornrows for the same reason that i did, they are simple and easy to maintain. The thing to remember with cornrows, is even though your hair is tucked away it still needs to be taken care of! I always make sure to wash my hair with sulfate free shampoo and condition regularly. Its also important to keep your scalp oiled to avoid an itchy flaky scalp. My favorite products to use are Dr. Miracles, not only do they keep your hair healthy, but they also promote growth! My hair grew a lot while it was in cornrows and I attribute a lot of the growth to the care that my hair was getting with these products.

Look Good In and Out of Uniform

Everyone loves to look good both in and out of uniform. Cornrows give you a neat appearance when worn under your uniform covers, and are also cute while your wearing your civvies. Another plus to wearing cornrows is if you decide to take them out during the weekend, you can rock a curly fro with natural hair, or have a wavy look with straight hair. Because of their simplicity, easy maintenance, and good looks in and out of uniform, cornrows are a great choice for black women in the military.

Questions & Answers


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        jai 2 years ago

        With cornrows and it not being allowed to go past collar, did you put it in a low tiny bun or were you allowed to install extra hair and make it into a bun. My hair is natural if it were in cornrows the end would touch my collar a bit but it to short to pull the bottom up into a bun.

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        maya 3 years ago

        you saved me with this website. thank you so much!!


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