Attention female Marines: Lock and twist hairstyles are now authorized.

Marine Corps Uniform Board 215 determined the additional hairstyle options are professional and neat in appearance, and may be easier for some female Marines to maintain in an expeditionary environment. The commandant agreed; the new rules were announced in Marine administrative message 620/15, released Friday, and take effect immediately.

The changes were driven by the recommendations of Staff Sgt. Cherie Wright, who is assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force. She told Marine officials that "for some, this change is culturally liberating, has financial benefits, and is simply convenient."

The Marine Corps is the first service to allow locks. Lock hairstyles are defined as one section of hair that twists from or near the root to the ends of the hair, which creates a uniform ringlet or cordlike appearance. Locks may be worn with short, medium or long hair; partings must be square or rectangular to achieve a neat and professional military appearance.

Twist hairstyles allow two sections of hair twisted together, which forms a rope or cord-like appearance.  Twists may only be worn with medium or long hair, and can extend no more than 2 inches from the scalp.  Medium length does not extend beyond the collar's lower edge and extends more than one inch from the scalp. Long hair extends beyond the collar's lower edge.

Twists may only be worn with medium or long hair, and can extend no more than 2 inches from the scalp.

Photo Credit: Marine Corps

One- and two-twist hairstyles such as the French twist are authorized as long as a neat and professional military appearance is maintained and the hairstyle does not interfere with the proper wear of headgear.

Only braids and twists may be "secured" to the scalp (hair is continually added to the braid or twist as it continues to the hairline at the nape of the neck). This must follow the contour of the head from front to nape in one direction.  Individual braids, twists, and locks can be no more than 3/8-inch apart, cannot be more than 3/8-inch in diameter, and must remain tightly interlaced/twisted. New growth, which is defined as hair that naturally grows from the scalp and has not yet been braided, twisted or locked, cannot exceed ½-inch at any time.

Locks, multiple braids, and multiple twist hairstyles must encompass the whole head (with the exception of bangs. Mixing of styles is not allowed, and foreign material cannot be incorporated into or attached onto the hair.

A webpage is being created that will identify and graphically illustrate authorized and unauthorized male and female hairstyles, officials said.  This website is scheduled to be up and running within 30 days and will be added to the Marine Corps Uniform Board website.

The MARADMIN also put an end to two recommendations addressed in MCUB 214. A recommendation that the first set of Woodland Marine Pattern Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform be issued and require the wear of brushed brass pin-on enlisted rank insignia was shot down by the board and commandant. The Sam Browne Belt for officers met the same fate. The recommendation had called for them to be required wear with the Blue Dress "A"/"B," Service "A" and Blue-White "A"/"B" uniforms.

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