Today, women play a very different role in the military than they have in the past, and military professions are becoming a popular career path for millions of women all around the world. In the United States, progressive new steps by the military ensure equality among all soldiers in service whether they're male or female. More women are taking on new roles, whether combat or non-combat. But one thing that will never change is the fact that most women are pretty careful and meticulous when it comes to their appearance. That can potentially cause some conflicts in the military.
Military women are expected to adhere to a strict set of rules, and many of these have to do with appearance. Whether it's their hair, face, or nails, almost every inch of a soldier's body is subject to regulations that must be followed. Hair must look a certain way, nails must be a certain color, and makeup isn't always acceptable. A quick look at some of the military's regulations shows us what is and isn't allowed when women go to war. Sometimes, it's surprising what the military allows, while other times it's more about what's banned from ladies' military makeup bags.
20 Skin Cleanser That Doesn't Require Water Is Important
Many women who are deployed overseas in the military find themselves in hot desert climates - places where water is at a premium.
These women often don't have the luxury of actually using water to do even the most simple things such as wash their faces.
Therefore, they must try to preserve water as much possible, using it almost exclusively for drinking. But as Marie Claire notes, this presents a problem, as most skin cleansers require water to mix and lather. But the publication also points out that there are cleansers out there that can be rinsed off with water or simply wiped away. Skin cleansers are essential not just for removing makeup, but also maintaining your skin.
19 Primer Is A Lifesaver In The Military
While makeup is allowed in the military for women, their options are incredibly reduced. Although the wording of the exact regulations is pretty vague, it's clear that there can be nothing too flashy or trendy. You won't be able to try anything too adventurous while you're enlisted, but savvy military ladies have found a perfect (and practical) solution - primer.
It's simple, looks great, and it plays an important role in daily makeup routines. According to Marie Claire, real military women claim that it keeps makeup looking great for long periods, as well as helps control oil in the skin.
18 Hair Gloss Keeps Your Hair Healthy, No Matter What
Something else most military women have to worry about is their hair. Most women who find themselves in the military, whether their roles are combat or no-combat, are under very strict instructions to keep their hair neat and tidy.
What this usually means is that women must keep their hair in a bun and tied up neatly.
As many of our readers are no doubt aware, the problem with buns is that your hair tends to suffer when you let it down after keeping it up for so long. According to Marie Claire, the solution is gloss or cream, which keeps hair looking healthy no matter how long it's been tied up.
17 Moisturizer Is Key When You're In The Military
Moisturizer is also incredibly important, and it's easy to understand why. Military women are under incredible stress, exposing themselves to hard conditions and unforgiving climates day in and day out. Stress, in particular, can seriously mess with the moisture balance in your skin.
This is even more so for military women who find themselves deployed to baking hot, desert-like environments. Their skin can easily dry out, but not if they're smart with their use of moisturizer. As Marie Claire points out, moisturizer is more important than makeup in many ways when it comes to making these tough women look amazing.
16 BB Cream Is Much Better Than Foundation In Many Cases
With the tough demands of a military career, is it any wonder why some women are ditching foundation altogether and going for a BB Cream instead?
It goes without saying that military women are much more active than the average person, often exerting themselves to their limits.
If you're just wearing plain foundation, it has the potential to become a cakey mess pretty quickly. That's why Marie Claire points out that tons of military women go for BB Cream or CC Cream instead. The dual-purpose products help moisturize, smooth the skin, and add a layer of pigment to cover up blemishes and imperfections.
15 Concealer For Outlining Brows Is A Total Score
We all know that brows can make or break a makeup look, and military women are certainly up to the challenge. The tough part is that military women can't pack too many things to bring with them on their tours and deployments, so they have to get a little creative.
Badly done brows can ruin anyone's day, but as Marie Claire reveals, some women have actually figured out how to outline their brows using only Q-Tips and some concealer. The result is surprisingly on fleek. Plus, it doesn't require extra makeup tools or products beyond what's permitted by military regulations.
14 They Can Only Bring Non-Alcohol Based Products To Basic Training
For most military enlistees, their first taste of what life in this new career will be like comes during basic training. This is when everything suddenly gets real, and both men and women must adapt their daily regimen to fit in with the military's way of doing things.
The first step is packing for basic training, which means following a strict set of instructions on what servicemembers can and cannot bring.
According to Military On Source, basic training has a strict policy about alcohol-based products, and they don't allow anything alcohol based into basic. Women have to find water-based or other alternatives when it comes to their cosmetics.
13 The Air Force Allows Nail Polish - But It Has A Lot Of Rules
According to official Air Force Memorandums, "If worn by females, nail polish will be a single color that does not distinctly contrast with the female Airman’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 fluorescent [sic] colors. Do not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors; however, white-tip French manicures are authorized."
This is pretty universal across other branches of the military as well, meaning nail polish is allowed- but only within specific and narrow parameters.
12 Cosmetic Tattooing (Permanent Makeup) Is Allowed
The Air Force Memorandum also states that "When not medically directed, cosmetic tattooing is permitted for women if done to apply permanent facial makeup (i.e. eyebrows, eyeliner); the cosmetic tattooing must have a natural appearance and be conservative, moderate, within reasonable limits, not excessive or extreme, not distinctly contrast with their complexion, and in good taste."
TL; DR: This means that yes, permanent makeup through tattooing is allowed!
Although this might be surprising to some, consider the fact that it's actually more efficient than applying makeup each day- and the military is all about efficiency. Still, you have to maintain a natural look, as the military wants to ensure uniformity.
11 Natural Toned Hair Dyes And Highlights Are Allowed
According to that same Air Force Memorandum, "Hair color, highlights, lowlights, and frosting will not be faddish or extreme and will be natural looking hair color, similar to the individual’s hair color (e.g. black, brunette, blond, natural red, and grey)."
This implies that dyeing your hair in the military is in fact allowed, as long as it looks natural. This is a common theme across other branches of the military as well. This is important because the military seems to allow women to personalize their hair to some degree, despite female servicemembers only being able to choose from a limited selection of haircuts.
10 Lipstick Is Allowed, But Not Certain Colors
Another section of that Air Force Memorandum states that "Female Airmen will not wear shades of lipstick that distinctly contrast with their complexion, that detract from the uniform, or that are extreme colors. Some examples of extreme colors include but are not limited to, purple, gold, blue, black, bright (fire-engine) red, and fluorescent colors."
The Air Force is actually one of the few branches that allow females to wear lipstick.
And even though the choice of color is pretty limited, it adds to what ladies are able to bring along regardless of where they're stationed or what their roles are.
9 The Marine Corps Encourages Women To Wear Scarlet Red Makeup To Complement Their Dress Uniforms
According to The Balance Careers, the Marine Corps is surprisingly generous when it comes to letting their women wear cosmetics, at least when it comes time to don their famous Dress Uniforms. The article points out that like other branches of the military, female Marines are instructed to only wear cosmetics that are natural and conservative.
But they are also given the option to wear nail polish and lipstick that will "harmonize" with the colors of the Dress Uniform. This means red nail polish and lipstick are acceptable because they match the scarlet detailing of the Marines' Dress Uniform.
8 Toner Is An Essential That Is Worth Bringing
When military women are out in the field or in their active roles, they mostly need to strip their beauty regimen down to the very basics. Still, toner is considered a necessity, and as such, many military women choose to bring it into the field.
Toner is very simple in nature as well, sometimes consisting of just a single ingredient like Witch Hazel or Apple Cider Vinegar.
While military women might not pack this on a combat mission, it'll probably be in their locker back at base. Plus, keep in mind that in basic training, you can't bring alcohol-based products. That might mean a change of toner is in order.
7 Eye Cream Is Definitely Worth Bringing
We all know that being in the military isn't the easiest job in the world, and the role comes with a lot of stress and responsibility. Sometimes it's hard to get a good night's sleep, and sometimes military exercises, drills, and missions keep soldiers up for much longer than would usually be deemed healthy.
For both men and women, the direct result of this stressful and busy lifestyle is the formation of dark circles and bags under the eyes. But with the right eye cream, this problem is easily solved, so under-eye creams are something a lot of women bring with them.
6 Eyeliner That Isn't Too "Extreme" Is Acceptable
The Army Regulation 670-1 states that "Females are authorized to wear cosmetics with all uniforms, provided they are applied modestly and conservatively, and that they complement both the Soldier’s complexion and the uniform."
Combine this with the aforementioned fact that females are allowed to wear permanent eyeliner makeup (tattoos).
Overall, it's pretty clear that eyeliner is in fact allowed in the Army and in other branches of the military, provided it's not too extreme and remains neutral-looking and in good taste. Of course, you'll have to skip edgy winged eyes and bright colors, but a bit of black eyeliner will likely make the cut.
5 Lip Gloss Is A Great, Simple Option
With the rules on lipstick a little vague in most cases, most women in the military choose to forgo it completely. Sometimes this isn't a choice, as their branch of the military doesn't permit lipstick, while other ladies just ditch it due to pure convenience.
As Total Beauty notes, a great way to still give your lips some love if you're in the service is to opt for something almost as good - lip gloss. This can give your lips some light color and shine, but it will always look natural while keeping your pout moisturized. Chapstick is an even more convenient and neutral option.
4 Mascara Can Be Acceptable In Some Cases
Mascara is something of a grey area in military circles. Some seem to think it's not acceptable, while others will apply this cosmetic product moderately. If we refer to a lot of the regulatory guidelines of the various military branches, they simply say that makeup is allowed as long as it's not unnatural and is in good taste.
None of the regulations say anything specifically about mascara being banned.
Although some might say that certain types such as winged mascaras are unacceptable. However, Total Beauty actually quotes real military women who say that they do use it.
3 Sunscreen Might Actually Be The Most Important Thing
Makeup might be allowed in military circles, but not even the heaviest of layers can hide a bad sunburn and the visible aging that can happen as a result. Sun damage is one of the worst fates your skin can suffer, and a lot of military women are being deployed in hot, desert-like locations where the sun beats down on them.
Because of this, one of the most important things to bring on tour is sunscreen. There are some moisturizers and other cosmetic products that have a certain SPF, so many women in the military rely on these for a streamlined beauty and skincare routine.
2 Hairspray Keeps Hair In Regulation And Is Allowed
Hairspray might be something we associate with elaborate, trendy hairstyles, but this cosmetic product is also quite useful among women in the military.
A lot of women in the service opt for buns and tied up hair, and keeping hair neat and tidy can sometimes be quite a battle (no pun intended).
Many women rely on hairspray to keep their hair looking clean and professional. This hair maintenance step is even more crucial for women who have naturally frizzy or curly hair that tends to pop out of place. Of course, aerosol cans may not travel as well as spray-top options, so consider this while packing your bags.
1 You Can Actually Wear Hair Extensions As Well
The Army Regulation 670-1 states that "Hair extensions are authorized. Extensions must have the same general appearance as the individual’s natural hair and otherwise conform to this regulation." While you won't be able to choose any edgy colors or unnatural length, being able to apply extensions may help your beauty routine.
This is another somewhat surprising allowance given to military women, and it's something that some of these female soldiers will probably rejoice over. Hair extensions are another way to personalize a hairstyle without getting too "out-there." It's an important consideration when you're weighed down by strict regulations when it comes to hair in the military.
References: Marie Claire, Military One Source, Total Beauty