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Military haircut: regulations and origin

The military cut is not just a matter of taste. This ultra short cut is obligatory for the French military and in many countries around the world.

Every year, several hundred young recruits join the troops and the first question is always the same. What is the regulatory cut authorized by the Ministry of the Armed Forces?

Return to the origin of this haircut and presentation of the rules set by the regulations .

Origin of the military haircut

An appearance at the time of the Roman legionnaires

Roman legionary
We have to go back to the beginning of the Christian era to see the appearance of the ultra short cut. It was the Roman legionnaires who started cutting their hair very short. Furthermore, long hair for the Romans was often a sign of mourning.

An evolution in the Middle Ages and under the Ancien Régime

military napoleon

During the Middle Ages and the Ancien Régime, the ultra short cut gave way to the long cut, more fashionable at that time. During the reign of Louis XVI , the military code specified that hair had to be at least six inches long, or approximately 20 centimeters. Later, during the Napoleonic era, soldiers (called hussars) had to wear kadenette hairstyles. This military cut was made of several braids protecting a priori from saber blows.

A return to the ultra short since the Modern Era

first world war military

The ultra short cut made a comeback in the army after the French Revolution. If during the First World War, poilus sometimes had long hair due to lack of access to shaving, this exception confirms the rule. Even today, this cut is the norm in the troops of the French army. New recruits are obliged to go through it and the regulations are strict about it. More than just a haircut, the ultra short cut of French soldiers embodies the order and discipline of the army.

Find out why French soldiers are called poilus

Why do soldiers have to have short hair?

short military cut

The military cut is not a matter of chance. If his style mainly depended on the fashion of the times, today, this choice is entirely justified by the French army. Three reasons for this ultra short cut: hygiene, safety and discipline.

A question of hygiene

Living and working conditions in the armies are not simple and access to hygiene is sometimes complicated. Lice and other scalp diseases are common in military camps. The ultra short cut not only avoids these parasites but also requires less restrictive maintenance than long hair. Thus, the short cut offers the soldier the possibility of going on mission for several months while ensuring correct hygiene.

Safety first

The ultra short military cut is also explained by the need for security in the armies. Long hair can easily get caught on machines, tanks and combat weapons. Worse, they can obstruct the soldier's vision during dangerous missions and make him more easily identifiable. Furthermore, the short cut allows the soldier to wear his headgear safely without it falling or leaving marks.

The embodiment of discipline

Military discipline is a commitment for every soldier. The ultra short and neat haircut is the epitome of this. Thanks to a short haircut, the soldier shows rigor, severity and seriousness. He thus embodies the main values ​​of the army from the moment he enlists. Besides, haircut is one of the first steps for new recruits.

If you want to know more about military recruitment, read our explanatory article on joining the French army!

Regulatory haircuts for military women

women's military cut

Military women do not have an imposed ultra-short haircut. However, the regulations impose several rules on its female recruits. Hair must be tied back, barrettes and elastics must not be visible. Hair must not touch the collar of the military shirt and not obstruct vision or the wearing of a helmet, kepi or beret.

When on land, wearing a ponytail is only permitted if it does not extend beyond the collar of the shirt. Any ostentatious accessory is strictly prohibited.

Regulatory male haircuts in the army

military cutting regulations

The rules are strict for French soldiers. The regulations in force at the Ministry of the Armed Forces stipulate that hair must not exceed a comb of 3 millimeters in order to facilitate the wearing of a helmet, kepi or beret. The gradient is authorized if putting a headband on the hair does not cause a spike. The hair in the neck should end halfway between the bottom of the ear and the collar of the shirt. The legs should be straight and thin and end halfway to the ear. Finally, the army prohibits the complete shaving of the head. An exception exists if the soldier's scalp is balding due to alopecia or advanced baldness. Also forget about coloring or discoloration that is too visible: white hair can be hidden but only with a natural color.

The soldier's beard must also comply with regulations. Indeed, wearing a gas mask requires a strict shave in order to guarantee tightness and the safety of the soldier. The only military personnel allowed to keep a long beard are those of the Foreign Legion and special forces operators.

Regulatory haircuts according to ranks

high ranking military cut

Regulations vary slightly depending on the rank of the soldier. If young recruits must adopt the ultra short cut, high-ranking soldiers can allow themselves a longer length. Despite everything, no extravagance is allowed. However, climbing the ranks in the military requires discipline, rigor and ambition. Simply wanting longer hair cannot be the sole motivation for a soldier to advance within the troops.

Headgear in the army

military headgear

In the army, different types of headgear are in force. Helmet, kepi without forgetting the famous beret: for every occasion, your headgear! Berets are the embodiment of French soldiers and their colors vary according to the soldier's regiment : green for the Foreign Legion, dark blue for the infantry regiments or even red for the Army.

Do you also want to acquire headgear worthy of a soldier? Discover our collection of military helmet , cap , bush hat , military cap , military balaclava or bucket hat to protect yourself from the sun .

If you want to wear patches on your military helmet, discover our explanatory article on the patches to put on your military helmet .

Previous article What are the different military ranks in France?
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Carole - February 29, 2024

Pour les femmes : l’armée de Terre demande une coupe de cheveux soignée. Les cheveux longs sont autorisés, coiffés et attachés afin de ne pas gêner.

Carole - February 29, 2024

N’importe quoi pour la coupe de cheveux des femmes !
25 ans d’armée !
Les cheveux ne doivent pas gêner le port de la coiffure. C’est tout !

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