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How Female Soldiers and Airmen can nail it

Regulations, trends and changes in nails

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Everyone in uniform is held to a certain level of grooming and hygiene, but for females the rules are a little more detailed. Obviously they cannot rock the famed Jersey poof or smoky eye (at least during duty hours)...but what about the fingernails?

According to Army regulations, the rules for female Soldiers, whether in uniform or in civilian clothes but still on duty, are:

Females will not wear shades of lipstick and nail polish that distinctly contrast with their complexion, that detract from the uniform, or that are extreme - for example: purple, gold, blue, black, white, bright (fire-engine) red or fluorescent colors. Soldiers will not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors to nails. Furthermore, nails cannot exceed a length of more than a ¼ inch from the tip of the finger.

Similarly, the Air Force requires the following:

Nail polish may be worn if it is conservative, single color, and in good taste. Nail polish will not contain any ornamentation.

"Many of our military clients have artificial nails in order to protect their real nails," said Jay Pham, manager of Studio 7 nails in Olympia. The nail salon, which lists at least 10 percent of its clientele as being in uniform, has also begun offering shellac manicures that are harder and typically last two to three weeks without chipping, not to mention they are available in neutral colors.

"We want to accommodate them and help them to feel pretty however we can, but know they need to follow the rules too," he said. "Sometimes they just come in to get French tips for a vacation or a weekend."

However, according to a recent article in the Army Times, some of the policies for grooming may be changing, including one that pertains to French-tipped nails on females in uniform. Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler posted the question on Facebook in late September ( in the hopes of getting feedback from the Soldiers who will be impacted by any modifications. More than 1,250 responses have been logged so far and further opinions are still welcome. Recommendations from the SMA will then have to be approved by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh.


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