The Navy has approved beards for sailors in uniform! There’s just one catch. The sailors have to be retired.
The service also has approved several other uniform policy changes designed to make life better for women, including making hosiery optional when wearing skirts or slacks.
Retired sailors are now permitted to have facial hair while wearing Navy uniforms for authorized ceremonial events, the service said.
“Facial hair must be neatly groomed and be in keeping with a professional appearance,” the Navy said in a new naval administrative message.
The update comes months after the Navy adjusted its beard policy for active sailors affected by razor bumps, officially known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, or PFB, so that those sailors could not be booted if treatments didn’t work, among other policy adjustments. But sailors undergoing treatment plans must still obtain temporary waivers every three months, or as prescribed by an attending military medical care provider.
Those who have curly facial hair are more likely to develop the condition when shaving, and the condition is found in up to 60 percent of Black men, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
The main obstacle to beards in the sea service is the Navy’s assertion, based on Naval Safety Center studies, that facial hair would obstruct the formation of an air-tight seal when sailors must wear face masks. But other scholarly studies have reached different conclusions, and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro instructed the service to launch a study in March to reexamine the issue.
Changes for women
The Navy also signed off on several new reforms for women’s uniforms, making hosiery optional for women wearing skirts and slacks.
“When hosiery is not worn, shoe liners or no-show socks are required to be worn for hygienic purposes and to avoid abrasions or blisters caused by direct contact and rubbing between the foot and shoe,” the NAVADMIN said.
Female officer and chief petty officer “summer white uniform belted slacks are re-designated as a basic component of both summer white and service dress white uniforms.”
“This policy change facilitates use of the same slacks for either uniform,” the NAVADMIN said.
The Navy also re-designated the beltless dress white slacks worn with the female officer and chief petty officer service dress white uniform as optional for wear and purchase, rather than mandatory.
The changes took effect May 27.
Although sailors will have to wait a bit longer, the service also said that a Navy Working Uniform Type III maternity top is in the works. It features shoulder patches consistent with the standard NWU Type III top.