Haircuts In Air Force Basic Training

Haircuts For Men And Women During Air Force Basic Military Training

Man getting head shaved
••• Drew Angerer / Staff/Getty Images

Men who enter Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT) will meet their first on-base civilian within the first day or two after arrival at Lackland Air Force Base. This person will introduce themselves by cutting off all of your hair—well, most of it anyway. And on top of this, you will have to pay for the haircut.

The good news is that it will probably be about the fastest haircut you've ever had in your life. There's hardly any waiting! When you're in the chair, you can save clever comments like, "just a little off the sides." The barber has heard that and a hundred others a thousand times.

Does the Air Force Require You to Cut Your Hair?

When I went through basic, one of the recruits in my flight asked the training instructor (TI) if there was any way he could keep his hair. It seems his recruiter had told him that the Air Force no longer required hair to be cut short in basic training.

The TI looked at him, gave him a kind smile, and said, "Sure. Let me talk to the barber."

When it came his time in the chair, the barber quickly and unceremoniously cut off all of his hair. He then gathered it, put it into a small trash bag and handed it to the recruit. "Here. Keep it," he said. The T.I. made that recruit carry that bag with him at all times during the first two weeks of basic. He also earned the nickname, "Harry."

The process certainly makes for a great story, but today the barber's clippers usually are attached to a vacuum tube that sucks up the shaved hair, making the process even faster and saving the barber from having to sweep up all that accumulated hair over the course of the day.

After the first haircut, you'll receive a haircut once every other week while in AFBMT to keep the group neat, clean, and well-groomed.

For males in the Air Force, hair must be neat and clean in appearance. Hair cannot touch the eyebrows, ears, or the collar and the hair closest to those areas much be tapered.  You can block the hair at the neckline. However, it should still have a tapered appearance.  Obviously, when wearing military headgear, the length and bulk of the hair must not interfere with properly wearing the cover. 

Female Airmen and Haircuts in Basic Training

Women entering Air Force basic training, on the other hand, are not required to their hair cut if it meets grooming requirements. However, while in uniform—which is 90 percent of the time in basic training—you must wear your hair in such a manner that it does not protrude past the bottom of the collar.

You can braid your hair and/or put it in a bun, but at no point can the bulk of your hair, including that in a bun, exceed three inches. The Air Force relaxed its requirements for hairstyles for women in 2014. Today, female airman may wear their hair in Dutch braids, French twists, and two-strand twists. The change accommodates women of color with traditional hairstyles that do not impact the image of professionalism the Air Force requires airmen to present. Dreadlocks, however, are still prohibited.

Any pins or barrettes you wear must be approximately the same approximate color as your hair.

Bangs cannot touch your eyebrows, and your hair cannot interfere with the proper wear of military headgear. 

What Branches Allow for  Longer Hair?

During boot camp or basic training, the haircut standards are near identical for all branches of service - Cut it all off for the men and short cropped haircuts for women.  All branches of the military are fairly similar in regulations of haircuts after basic training. However, tradition tends to outweigh the regulations. In the military, the Air Force and the Navy are typically known to have more relaxed hair cut policies once out of basic training/boot camp. The Marine Corps and the Army tend to have higher and tighter haircuts than the other services.

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