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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 15, 2021

NEW: Coast Guard allows braids, ponytails for women

By Chief Warrant Officer 4 Allyson Conroy

The Coast Guard has revised its standards for women’s hair. Women in the service can now wear their hair in one or two braids or a single ponytail.

“First and foremost, my hope is that women around the Coast Guard will consider this a load off their minds,” said Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan, thinking of the buns, pins, or clips that have made for years of headaches, hair breakage, and dampness that lasted all day.

While reviewing this suggested change the Coast Guard’s Uniform Board reviewed recent changes by some of the other military services.

What are the new options? 

  • The bulk of the hair cannot be wider than your head, and if you decide to wear a single braid or ponytail, it needs to be centered – no side ponytails or side braids. 
  • If you decide to wear two braids, they will need to be evenly spaced, and look symmetrical when viewed from the back of your head. 
  • The length of your hair when worn in this manner cannot extend below the horizontal line centered between your shoulder blades.

What are the exceptions? 

If you work in an environment where it may be safer to pull your hair back, you will need to continue to do so. Examples include (but are not limited to) operating or being near hazardous machinery or equipment, power transmission equipment, rotary equipment, moving parts, hazardous chemicals, or flames. Also keep in mind that you hair cannot impede your vision. 

If you are in doubt, talk with your command. Safety continues to be key. 

Look for the updated policy in section 2.B. of Coast Guard Uniform Regulations Manual COMDTINST 1020.6L (Grooming Standards).

Also included in the board’s decision includes:

  • Allowing the Windbreaker to be worn in lieu of the Service Dress Blue (SDB) jacket ahead of formal events while transiting or moving around. The SDB jacket will be donned ahead of the event.
  • Replacement of the current light blue dress shirt with the new Air Force Herringbone material shirt. Also noted is that the pockets will be removed from the female dress shirts in line with the current Air Force design.
  • The Air Force skirt is authorized for wear with the Trops only. Cannot be worn with the SDB due to the slightly different color blue.
  • Members authorized to wear the Coyote colored ball cap with the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type III are authorized to wear subdued rank insignia.