Haircuts in Air Force Basic Training

It's Not All About Shaved Heads

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: the barber.

While there are specific guidelines for women's hair length, female recruits don't have all their hair shorn off (the men don't either, but it's pretty close). And the Air Force is one of the branches of the U.S. military whose hair requirements are considered somewhat lenient, once you're out of basic training.

Male Airmen and Haircut Requirements

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

Women entering Air Force basic training, on the other hand, are not required to cut 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 airmen 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 affect 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 and not interfere with any hats or other headgear you have to wear as part of your uniform.

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

How Often Do Men in the Air Force Get Haircuts?

After the first haircut, men receive a haircut once every other week while in Air Force basic training to keep them looking neat, clean, and well-groomed.

Do Some Branches of the Military Allow 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 haircut policies once men are out of basic training/boot camp. The Marine Corps and the Army tend to have higher and tighter haircuts for men than the other services, which are kept throughout a Marine or soldier's tour of duty.