AFJROTC Grooming Standards

  • APPEARANCE & GROOMING: When a cadet wears the uniform, he/she is responsible for presenting a neat, clean, and professional military image. Appearance and grooming standards help cadets present the image of disciplined cadets who can be relied upon to do the job they are called on to do. A professional military image has no room for the extreme, the unusual, or the faddish. The standards for wearing the uniform consist of five elements: neatness, cleanliness, safety, uniformity and military image. The first four are absolute, objective criteria for the efficiency, health, and well- being of the force. The fifth standard, military image is also very important, military appearance is subjective, but necessary. People, both military and civilian, draw conclusions as to the military effectiveness of the Air Force by how they perceive those in uniform.

     DRILL TEAM, COLOR GUARD AND EXHIBITION UNIFORMS: It is important that AFJROTC cadets properly represent the Air Force during events and competitions. No later than 1 March 2016, all AFJROTC and NDCC drill team, color guard and exhibition uniforms must be a distinctive Air Force dress uniform. This means 1) a combination of the normal Air Force blue pants/skirts, light blue shirt, and/or blue service dress coat or, 2) the ABU. Normal blue or ABU uniforms are depicted in Chapter 7 of this Operational Supplement.

    Units may accessorize their blue drill team, color guard or exhibition uniforms with solid-color berets, ascots, gloves and one shoulder cord (left shoulder, blue shirt and service dress coat only) with non-AF funds. Blue pants may be modified to have a stripe on the outside length of the pants (silver, white, blue, black, or grey only) if desired, using non-AF funds. The color of the berets will be black, however the colors of the ascots, gloves and shoulder cords are locally-determined, but must be conservative and in good taste.

    ABU NOTES: ABUs may be worn only with the garrison ABU cap and sage green boots. ABU pants must always be properly bloused over the sage green boots. ABUs will not be worn with a shoulder cord or ascots.

    The uniform standards in AFI 36-2903 are influenced to some extent by military tradition, and they reflect the image the Air Force desires to project to the civilian community. The basic concept of the Air Force uniform is that it is plain but distinctive dress, with an absolute minimum number of badges, insignia, and devices authorized for wear on it.

     SPECIAL UNIFORM & APPEARANCE RULES: Here are some additional guidelines about uniform and appearance.

    Jewelry. Cadets should be modest in wearing jewelry. Avoid excessive and gaudy jewelry. Facial rings (nose, eyelids, tongue, lips,) are prohibited at all times for males and females. Males will not wear earrings while on duty in JROTC. Wearing jewelry in uniform will be in accordance with AFROTC Operational Supplement.While in uniform, you may wear a wristwatch and rings, but no more than three rings at any one time. You may wear one bracelet if it is neat and conservative. However, the bracelet must not detract from military image, must not be wider than one-half inch, and must not subject anyone to potential injury. You may not wear ornaments on your head or around your neck. Thumb rings are not allowed in uniform. Colored bracelets that support a cause are not allowed.

    Female cadets in uniform may wear earrings if the earrings are conservative and kept within sensible limits. For example, you may wear one small spherical (diamond, gold, white pearl, or silver) pierced or clip earring on each earlobe. The earring worn in each earlobe must match. Earrings should fit tightly without extending below the earlobes, unless they are clip earrings. Male cadets in uniform may not wear earrings.

     Eyeglasses or Sunglasses. If you wear glasses, they must not have any ornaments on the frames or lenses. Eyeglass lenses that are conservative, clear, slightly tinted, or have photosensitive lenses may be worn in uniform while indoors or while in military formation. When outdoors and in uniform, sunglasses and eyeglasses must have lenses and frames that are conservative; faddish or mirrored lenses are prohibited. Sunglasses are not allowed while in a military formation. Neither eyeglasses nor sunglasses can be worn around the neck while in uniform.

    Tattoos or Brands. Whether you are in or out of uniform, tattoos or brands anywhere on the body are not allowed if they are obscene or if they advocate sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination. Tattoos or brands that might harm good order and discipline or bring discredit upon the Air Force are also barred, whether you are in or out of uniform.

    Excessive tattoos or brands, even though they do not violate the prohibitions in the above paragraph, will not be exposed or visible (including visible through the uniform) while in uniform. Excessive is defined as any tattoo or brands that exceed one-quarter of the exposed body part, and those above the collar bone and readily visible when wearing an open collar uniform.

    The SASI may exercise discretion if a new cadet arrives with a tattoo that may not be in full compliance with the above guidance. The tattoo may be covered up with a skin- colored bandage while in uniform and still participate in the program. However, tattoos and brands should be discouraged. The cadet should be counseled on the fact that tattoos and brands may preclude him or her from serving in the military.

    Body Piercing. Cadets in uniform are not allowed to attach or display objects, articles, jewelry, or ornamentation to or through the ear, nose, tongue, or any exposed body part (including anything that might be visible through the uniform). Female cadets in uniform, however, are allowed to wear conservative earrings, pierced or clip style, in their earlobes.


    Hair: No minimum hair length to a maximum bulk of 3 ½ inches from scalp and allows proper wear of headgear. Hair will end above the bottom edge of collar and will not extend below an invisible line drawn parallel to the ground, both front to back and side to side. Bangs, or side-swiped hair will not touch either eyebrow, to include an invisible line drawn across eyebrows and parallel to the ground. See Figure 3.4. When in doubt, assess correct length of hair with Airman standing in the position of attention. Exception: While wearing the Physical Training Uniform (PTU), long hair will be secured but may have loose ends and may extend below the bottom edge of the collar.

    Hair accessories: If worn, black hair accessories (e.g., fabric scrunchies, hairpins, combs, clips, headbands, elastic bands, barrettes, etc.) are authorized regardless of hair color. Locs, braids, twists, micro-braids, french braids, dutch braids and cornrows are authorized. Locs are defined as portions of hair that have been intentionally or unintentionally fused together to form a loc or locs. A braid or twist is two or more portions of interwoven hair. If adding additional hair, it must be a natural-looking color, similar to the individual’s hair color. It must be conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and not present a faddish appearance. Hair must not exceed bulk and length standards and must not extend below the bottom of the collar. Headgear must fit properly.

    All locs braids/twists, when worn will be of uniform dimension, no wider than one inch, with natural spacing between the locs, braids/twists and must be tightly interwoven to present a neat, professional and well-groomed appearance. When worn, multiple locs/braids shall be of uniform dimension, small in diameter (approx. ¼ inches), show no more than ¼ inch of scalp between the braids and must be tightly fused/interwoven to present a neat, professional appearance. A loc, braid/twist must continue to the end of the hair without design and following the contour of the head, and may be worn loose or in a secured style within hair standards above. Exception: Micro-braids or twists are not required to continue to the end of the hair.

    Authorized Women’s Hair Styles
    Fingernails: Male cadets are not authorized to wear nail polish. If worn by female cadets, nail polish will be a single color that does not distinctly contrast with the female cadet’s complexion, detract from the uniform, or be extreme colors. Some examples of extreme colors included, but are not limited to, purple, gold, blue, black, bright (fire engine) red and florescent colors. Do not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors. However, white-tip French manicures are authorized. Fingernails must not exceed ¼ inch in length beyond the tip of the finger and must be clean and well groomed.

    Skirts: The length of your skirt may not vary beyond the top and bottom of the kneecap. Your skirt should fit smoothly, should hang naturally, and must not be excessively tight. You must wear hosiery with the skirt. Choose a sheer nylon in a neutral dark brown, black, off-black, or dark blue shade that complements the uniform and your skin tone.


     Hair: Keep your hair clean, neat, and trimmed. It must not contain large amounts of grooming aids such as greasy creams, oils, and sprays that remain visible in the hair. When your hair is groomed, it should not touch your ears or eyebrows, and only the closely cut or shaved hair on the back of your neck should touch the collar.

    Your hair should not exceed 1 1⁄4 inch in bulk regardless of the length. Bulk is the distance that the hair projects from the scalp when groomed (as opposed to length of the hair). The bulk and length of your hair must not interfere with wearing any Air Force headgear properly, and it must not protrude below the front band of the headgear. Your hair must have a tapered appearance on both sides and back, both with and without headgear. A tapered appearance means that, when viewed from any angle, the outline of the hair on the side and back will generally match the shape of the skull, curving inward to the end point.
    Your hair may not contain or have attached to it any visible foreign items. If you dye your hair, it should look natural. You may not dye your hair an unusual color or one that contrasts with your natural coloring. You may have sideburns if they are neatly trimmed and tapered in the same manner as your haircut. Sideburns must be straight and of even width (not flared) and end in a clean-shaven horizontal line. They may not extend below the lowest part of the outer ear opening. No extreme of faddish hairstyles are allowed. Hair may not protrude below the front band of properly worn headgear.