Military haircut history and differences

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The trend among young men and women of the millennium age is to look spick and span even if that means copying some servicemen’s style. This is evident with the different military haircuts that most men now choose to wear. Click here and you can find why men love this haircut so much.

However, only a few people understand the history behind the different haircuts available today in the military, hence the need for this article. To have an in-depth understanding of the history and full evolution of the military haircuts, we shall approach the topic from the angle of the trendy hairstyle in the military at different points in America’s history.

America Evolution and Military Haircut of the day 

Founding of America

The history of military haircut dates as far back as 1776 when America was founded. The military officers who were available at that time were known to have powdered wigs on. However, this trend only lasted for a while before the haircut change, and varieties of facial hairstyles began to pop up among soldiers.

The Revolutionary War

Most men in the early 18th century fancied using periwigs instead of keeping their natural hair. These periwigs were also called perukes as at that time. It went down well with the men, but the military refused to share a unanimous thought about the periwigs. This was because the periwigs only made their heads hotter, not to mention that they were quite expensive and susceptible to infestation.  

This made some officers opt for a cheaper and more relaxed option. They made pigtail wigs from their hairs, while some also made it from the hairs of goats and horses. However, not all the soldiers subscribed to the pigtail wig option at that time. Some other ones chose to make the pigtail from their hair, while those who wanted to opt-out of the wig option could make pigtails, also called a queue, from leather. Those that made the queue from the leather ended up attaching the tuft in their hair for a long time.

The Early Republic

The revolutionary war only lasted with soldiers having options to choose. By the time the early republic set in, stricter regulations were imposed on soldiers, and they did not have much of a choice anymore. Major General James Wilkinson launched this at that time. He abolished the use of queue by the soldiers. The main reason behind this was not known as some claimed the pigtail had no place in the egalitarian republic at that time. Others also thought the General abolished the queue because he might have been unable to grow one.

However, the commanding General saw to it that this regulation was followed to the letter. The U.S. Army court-martialed anyone who did not comply with this new rule at that time. Worthy of mention is Lt. Col. Thomas Butler, who was found guilty of not getting rid of his pigtail at that time. However, he died before the sentence was pronounced on him and still refused to cut his pigtail off, even till his death.

The Civil War

The civil war in 1861 heralded a different trend among the military. At this time, the keeping of long hair already phased out and became more popular was the growth of facial hair. As much as there were strict regulations regarding hair and wears among the military at that time, this regulation did not extend to the facial hair, as several officers were seen keeping different facial hairstyles. Some officers kept it short, while the others decided to keep it in a not-so-refined state. This styling differences continued till the start of the first world war.

The world Wars

By the time World War I set in, several soldiers who fought the civil were already old, and it looked like the new generation had different opinions about facial hair. Hence, a regulation was pronounced at that time, which made shaving mandatory for every soldier. 

Apart from the fact that they wanted all the soldiers to keep an excellent sanitary practice, this regulation was also made to help keep the gas mask well sealed. Apart from introducing the clean shaving, the hair was not to be more than one inch long. By the time World War II set in, dirty fingernails already became a taboo in the military.

The Vietnam War

During the 1970s, the strict measures placed on soldiers in Article 15 of their regulation did not extend to the civilians. Many civilians were seen keeping long hairs at this time. The soldiers could not dare to keep long hairs, as their regulation was clearly against it. However, the clean shave instruction was a little toned down on the officers on Naval ships. This is because the Naval officers were allowed to keep their mustache and beards. In fact, in some of the journeys, beard contests were done on the ship to find out whose beard was growing more.

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who was the Chief of Naval Operations during this time, also encouraged longer hairs and beards among the naval officers. This he did by introducing the “Z-grams,” which was issued to help build recruitment and retention. The ‘80s also saw the rise of mustache, which is still allowed until today with strict regulations attached to it. 


Following the 9/11 attack to date, officers are now being made to follow strict orders concerning the keeping of long hairs, beards, fingernails, and other facial hairs. However, exceptions are made for those who have medical issues or others on missions that would keep their hair.

In conclusion, the military has always been around from the early days of American history, and it is no surprise that military haircut has seen many changes to date. The standard hair being worn to date is the high and tight haircut style. This is widely accepted, and most officers opt to do this hairstyle. While the norm is to keep it simple and natural, military officers, male and female alike, also have the liberty to add a bit of style to their hair using hair care products.

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