The Air Force Just Made a Whole Bunch of Changes to Its Rules & Uniforms

by Liz Holland

The Air Force has put a plethora of uniform changes into place recently. The rules were implemented Friday, and give airmen and women a lot more freedom with their dress. One of the most interesting changes is a rule allowing cosmetic scalp tattoos to “create a natural hair appearance” for those with thinning hair. Additionally, airmen are now allowed another half-inch of hair length. Also among the changes these loosened rules allow is allowing airmen and women to put their hands in their pockets. Airforce members will also now be permitted to talk on the phone while walking. 

One of the most exciting changes for women is that pantyhose are now an optional part of the uniform rather than a requirement. One Twitter user, @AliceBarsoumian said of the change, “I don’t know why this pantyhose thing hasn’t gotten more press!! Time to throw out the one balled-up pair I have that’s completely held together with hair spray and clear nail polish!”

Rules Relax for Airmen and Women

Women will also now be allowed eyelash extensions, so long as the extensions match the wearer’s natural hair color. Additionally, headbands and scrunchies are now allowed to be up to 2 inches wide. PT shirts are allowed to remain untucked if the wearer desires, and hair dye is allowed for all service members. The only stipulation is that the hair dye must be a natural color. However, it does not have to be the service member’s natural hair color. The new Air Force rules say a mix of hair colors is okay, as long as the hair maintains a natural appearance. For example, a ‘salt and pepper’ look would be considered OK by new standards. 

When it comes to facial hair, rules remain the same about who is authorized to have a beard. However, the rules about who is allowed to give that authorization are now a tad looser. While service members are only allowed to have a beard for medical or religious purposes, new regulations allow medical officials to authorize the required waver. Previously, only commanders were authorized to grant such permissions based on medical advice. 

Air Force Service Members Weigh In

These changes are part of over 30 modifications made to guidelines. These changes are based on feedback and testing from service members. Additionally, reviews by the 2020 Air Force Uniform board played part in the decision. One Twitter account joked of the changes, ”UNTUCKED PT SHIRTS? So when … you’re on an 8-mile run you don’t have to trap all your radiant heat and perspiration?! Madness.” Another user commented recalling a past experience when they weren’t allowed to have their hands in their pockets, saying “ I was once waiting for my lift at about 0400 on Camp Leatherneck in the winter it was -10C. I had my hands in my nicely fleece-lined smock pockets when an Army WO decided to advise me from the warmth of his vehicle my hands shouldn’t be in my pockets.  Guess what I told him?”