The Air Force just made it a little easier for you to let your hair down.
Two of those changes will allow airmen to have a little more bulk in their hair. Men, whose hair previously could be no more than 1¼ inches from their scalp, can now have a hair bulk of 2 inches. Women’s hair bulk standard also increased from 3½ inches to 4 inches.
In a Tuesday release, the Air Force said that the changes take effect immediately, and are part of the service’s effort to create a more inclusive and diverse environment. The service previously lengthened the medical shaving waivers, primarily used by Black men, from one year to five years, and revised the dress and appearance regulations to remove subjective language such as “faddish” and references to complexion, among other changes.
The latest changes also clarify that all airmen, regardless of their natural hair color, are authorized to dye their hair to another natural hair color. Natural hair colors are brown, blonde, brunette, natural red, black or gray.
Men can now also cut, clip or shave a straight-line part into their hair on either side of their head, the Air Force said. The part must be above the temple, cannot be curved or slanted, and cannot exceed 4 inches in length or a quarter-inch in width.
These changes resulted from the Air Force’s second review of grooming and appearance rules, which was conducted by a diverse group of airmen from across the service, the release said.
The Air Force has focused on improving the lives of minority airmen in recent months, since the death of George Floyd prompted a nationwide reckoning with race. The Air Force also was heavily criticized for racial disparities in its justice system, as outlined by a May report from Protect Our Defenders.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.