Anonymous female servicewoman

Army and RAF reveal new rules on hair

Anonymous female servicewoman

The British Army and Royal Air Force have both confirmed changes to their rules on hairstyles.

Both services have announced new policies, stating a need to reflect modern-day personnel.

The British Army tweeted: "We have updated our hair policy to better reflect modern society. In working dress, servicewomen's hair can be worn in a bun, ponytail, plait or cornrows."

The new policy will "offer greater choice", according to the RAF, which tweeted: "The new policy reflects our diverse Whole Force whilst continuing to uphold the excellent appearance standards expected of serving personnel."

The Chief of the Air Staff said: "We are modernising how we look, empowering people with choice whilst maintaining the high standards we expect in @RoyalAirForce uniform.

"Watch this space; there will be more to come."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston also made reference to "Astra" – a campaign to create a 'Next Generation Royal Air Force'.

The British Army says its changes apply to all regular and reservist personnel, stating plaits, ponytails, twists, cornrows and locks are all permitted.

Male soldiers are allowed "well-groomed hair", including twists, cornrows and locks, provided it does not cover the face or touch their collar or ears.

In May, the Second Sea Lord announced that female personnel in the Royal Navy could wear their hair in a ponytail or plait while in working rig – job-specific dress worn at sea and ashore.

Service rules had previously outlined that female ratings with long hair may only wear it in a ponytail "secured with a non-synthetic (ie. not manmade fibre) tie when forming part of an emergency party so that breathing apparatus can be donned quickly without the need to remove hairgrips", apart from some exceptions on religious or cultural grounds.

In 2019, the RAF unveiled a new policy to allow its personnel to grow beards for the first time in more than a century, a move that brought the service in line with the Royal Navy on facial hair policy.

Meanwhile, in the British Army, only a select few positions are allowed to have a beard when on parade.

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