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Military cut hair: FAQs and guidelines to be aware of

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What's the deal with military cut hair? Are soldiers actually required to shave all of their hair off and avoid facial hair? What does that mean for military soldiers?

In this article, we take a look at some of the guidelines attached to military cut hair and consider why you very rarely see soldiers with long hair serving in the military.

Do you have to cut your hair in the military?

The short answer to this is yes - if you join the military in practically any country in the world, you will need to cut your hair. However, each country's armed forces has its own guidelines and stipulations that you must meet during your service.

Take this from the US Navy as an example:

"You will be obligated to keep your hair neat, clean and well groomed." It also states that hair should be no longer than 4.0 inches and it must not touch the ears or collar.


Ultimately, when you serve in a country's armed forces, you will be required to look presentable. For most military personnel, this means short or faded hair cuts that look smart and are easy to maintain.

Do females have to cut their hair in the military?

While men usually have to cut their hair extremely short to undergo basic training in the military, the same is not true of female candidates.

In the US military, times are changing, and women are now permitted to buzz cut their hair. Historically, this was deemed to be a style choice and was not allowed, but recent army legislation changed things.

Historically, female military officers and soldiers were required to wear their hair in a tight, disciplined bun. This was akin to the military buzz cut that most men had to wear when serving their countries.

Due to many cultural changes in recent times and the increasing number of females enlisting in the armed forces in the US, women are now also allowed to wear highlights in their hair, and they are even permitted to use some makeup, which would have been unheard of just decades ago.


Why does the military cut your hair?

There are several reasons why the military cut your hair. Historically, it was the easiest way of dealing with lice, which were commonplace in barracks and within units deployed overseas. As a result, the buzz cut was the best way of dealing with sanitation in the field.

Today, the buzz cut is more about standardization - the military doesn't support fashion statements. Every one within a unit of the same rank is equal, and their hair cuts should reflect this.

A lot can also be said about the psychology of short haircuts. Military personnel with short buzz cuts look much more disciplined and are likely to strike fear into those they fight against. Though this isn't the main reason why military units cut their hair, it's certainly a by product of the process.

What exactly is a military hair cut?

When you think of a military haircut, your mind will probably be drawn directly to the buzz cut. This cut got its name as the unit's barber would grab some clippers and buzz all of the recruit's hair off to reveal a completely shaven head.

Today, there are modern takes on the military buzz cut, with lots of people favoring fades, undercuts, and even looks with a bit more hair on top, combined with a short back and sides.

As explained above, the traditional military haircut for women was a tight bun, but this has changed in recent times to permit women to cut their hair in slightly different ways.

However, if you go to practically any barber in the world and request a military-style haircut, they will almost certainly cut your hair with clippers, using the number 0 or number 1.

Are there any long hair military cuts?

A long military haircut is a bit of a contradiction of terms. After all, most armed forces stipulate that their soldiers and officers must not have hair longer than 2-4 inches, depending on whether the person is male or female.

As a result, you won't see any soldiers with hair any longer than this, unless they are no longer serving. Even when soldiers are on leave, they tend to keep their hair short out or habit, and due to the fact that they still want to upkeep their appearance as a military personnel.

What about facial hair in the military?

Most soldiers for countries around the world must also be clean shaven. Again, this is a personal hygiene thing and it also means that soldiers look uniform and part of a unit.

However, some militaries do allow their soldiers to have mustaches and beards of certain lengths. For instance, soldiers in countries like Austria, Belgium, and Croatia are permitted to wear "neatly trimmed beards."


The UK and US forces maintain their strict standards in relation to no facial hair, but this could certainly change in the future, given the modifications that we've seen in relation to men and women's haircuts in both militaries.

Final words on military cut hair

The guidelines for militaries around the world vary from country to country. Some require buzz cuts and no facial hair, while others are a little more open to how their soldiers look.

Still, you can use the guidelines above and if you want to model your hairstyle on those favored by military personnel, a buzz cut is undoubtedly the way to go.

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