The Army rolled out new grooming standards in February that included a set of significant changes to approved hairstyles such as ponytails with certain uniforms and buzz cuts for women.
Initially, female soldiers could wear long ponytails only while conducting fitness training and during field training to prevent their hair from interfering with the combat helmet. But after hearing feedback from the ranks, the Army has adjusted the policy to allow long ponytails with all uniforms, according to a news release the service put out Thursday.
"This new modification is more practical for our female soldiers," Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, Army G-1 Uniform Policy Branch sergeant major, said in the release. "It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison. This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp."
Many of the changes released in February were meant to prevent alopecia, a type of hair loss, and to stop hair damage stemming from wearing a tight bun.
Female soldiers should wear their hair so it is neatly and inconspicuously fastened or secured in either a bun, single ponytail, two braids or a single braid, according to the release. Multiple locs, braids, twists or cornrows may come together in one or two braids or a single ponytail.
Braids and single ponytails may be worn down the center of the back in all uniforms, but the length may not extend past the bottom of the shoulder blades while at the position of attention, according to the release. There is no minimum length for the wear of a ponytail or braid.
The only exception on the length of a ponytail or braid is that it should not hinder a soldier's performance or present a safety risk during tactical or physical training, the release states.
"Commanders will analyze the risk of a free hanging ponytail or braid and use commander's discretion to determine if long hair will be secured or tucked inside the uniform top," Sanders said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.