Atlantic, Ocean - For many Sailors this year marks a somewhat surprising reform in the Navy’s female hair regulations. Rules that have stood for so long have been expanded or just plain changed. It’s a new era of styling hair for female Sailors, and, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, it makes for a more “inclusive environment.”

Like with any changes to Navy traditions, new regulations mean new challenges. Senior Sailors aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) know there will be a period of adjustment.

“Because the regulations are so new, a lot of Sailors are not completely familiar with them in regards to ponytails and natural hairstyles,” explained Damage Controlman 1st class Christine Doleman. “So it is very important to have the actual regulations on hand so Sailors can be positive about what is appropriate, instead of just assuming what’s right. If someone has doubts they need to make sure they have the ‘black and white’ to back up their hair style.”   

According to NAVADMIN 163/18, buns can now exceed the previously allowed three inches from the scalp as long as it is not visible from the front. An even more drastic change in policy is the authorized wear of ponytails outside of the Navy PT uniform. Female Sailors may now sport a ponytail or single braid in working uniform as long as no operational hazards are present or it doesn’t hinder the Sailor from being effective on the job. All ponytails must be no longer than three inches below the collar. Additionally, locks can now be shorter than the uniform collar.

For some female Sailors, these changes come as a relief. 

“It was always very hard on my hair having to continuously wear buns and use the bun maker,” said Legalman 2nd Class Jamie Warren. “It’s great to have the option to wear it in a ponytail or in little twists.”

Doleman added Sailors must be informed of all uniform and hair regulations to display a disciplined appearance, and to always remember what the uniform represents.

“We, as Sailors, are so separate from the civilian factor of life,” stated Doleman. “Therefore, we should carry ourselves in a professional manner.”