CAP Manual 39-1, Civil Air Patrol Uniform Manual

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Chapter 3. Grooming and Appearance Standards.

3.1. Personal Grooming Standards. This chapter outlines personal grooming while wearing the USAF-style or Corporate-style uniforms. Commander’s discretion may be used to determine if individual’s personal grooming is within standards of this manual. Commanders do not have authority to waive grooming and appearance standards except as identified in this manual. The personal grooming standards listed are minimum standards that represent common appearance issues and are not all-inclusive. Although members have the right, within established limits, to express their individuality through their appearance, this manual defines what is and what is not an acceptable, professional image for CAP members. Except for minor variations based on gender differences, all CAP personnel must comply with the same personal grooming standards dependent on the uniform they are wearing (USAF-style or Corporate-style). Commanders have the responsibility to determine compliance with the letter and intent of this manual and to correct the obvious violations regardless of whether the situation identified is clearly written in this manual.

3.2. USAF-style Uniform Grooming Standards. Members must comply with the requirements of this paragraph and sub-paragraphs to wear the USAF style uniform. All cadets must meet USAF-style grooming standards regardless of which uniform combination they wear.

3.2.1. General Requirements for Hair. Will be clean, well-groomed, present a professional appearance and allow proper wear of headgear and conform to safety requirements. Will not contain excessive amounts of grooming aids (e.g. gel, mousse, pomade, and moisturizer), appear lopsided, touch either eyebrow, or end below an imaginary line at the top of the eyebrows that is parallel to the ground. If applied, dyes, tints, bleaches and frostings must result in natural, human hair colors. The hair color must complement the member’s complexion and skin tone. Examples of natural human hair colors are brown, blonde, brunette, natural red, black or grey. Prohibited examples (not all-inclusive) are burgundy, purple, orange, fluorescent or neon colors. Wigs may be worn due to a temporary medical condition if they meet the standards of this paragraph.

3.2.2. Hair (Male). Tapered appearance on both sides and the back of the head, both with and without headgear. A tapered appearance is one that when viewed from any angle outlines the member’s hair so that it conforms to the shape of the head, curving inward to the natural termination point without eccentric directional flow, twists or spiking. A block-cut is permitted with tapered appearance. Hair will not exceed 1¼ inch in bulk, regardless of length and ¼ inch at natural termination point; allowing only closely cut or shaved hair on the back of the neck to touch the collar. Hair will not touch the ears or protrude under the front band of headgear. Cleanly shaven heads, military high-and-tight or flat-top cuts are authorized. Prohibited examples (not all inclusive) are Mohawk, mullet, cornrows, dreadlocks or etched design. Men are not authorized hair extensions. See Attachment 3 for sideburns, mustache and beard and for graphic examples of male hair standards.

3.2.2.1. Sideburns. If worn, sideburns will be straight and even width (not flared), and will not extend below the bottom of the orifice of the ear opening. Sideburns will end in a clean-shaven horizontal line.

3.2.2.2. Mustaches. Male members may have mustaches; however they will be conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and will not extend downward beyond the lip line of the upper lip or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from both corners of the mouth.

3.2.2.3. Beards. Beards are not authorized. Members requiring wear of a beard for medical or religious reasons will wear the Corporate-style uniform.

3.2.3. Hair (Female). Minimum length is one inch to a maximum bulk of three inches from scalp. Hair may begin to gradually taper from one inch in length to 1/4 inch in length approximately three inches from the hairline (no shaved heads, flat tops, etc.). Hair will end above the bottom edge of collar and any side of an invisible line drawn parallel to the ground. When in doubt, assess correct length of hair with the member standing in the position of attention. Except in the physical training uniform (PTU), hair lengths that would be below the bottom edge of the collar will be pinned-up with no loose ends. Hair will not touch either eyebrow, to include an invisible line drawn across eyebrows and parallel to the ground. If worn, hairpins, combs, headbands, elastic bands and barrettes must match the hair color (i.e., blonde, brunette, natural red, black, grey), but hair must still comply with bulk and appearance standards. Ornaments are not authorized (i.e., ribbons, beads, jeweled pins). Scrunches are not authorized. See Attachment 3 for women‘s hair.

3.2.3.1. The intent is for pinned-up hair to be styled in a manner that prevents loose ends from extending upward on the head. For example, when using a clip or hairpins, hair will not present the appearance of a “rooster tail”; when hair is in a bun, all loose ends must be tucked in and secured; when hairstyle based on a ponytail is used, it must be pulled all the way through the elastic band and may hang naturally downward and not extending below the bottom of the collar. As with all hairstyles, a neat and professional image is essential.

3.2.3.2. Braids, micro-braids and cornrows are authorized. However, they must be a natural looking color for human beings similar to the individual’s hair color; conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and not present a faddish appearance. A braid is three or more portions/strands of interwoven hair. When worn, multiple braids shall be of uniform dimension, small in diameter (approx ¼ inches), show no more than ¼ inch of scalp between the braids and must be tightly interwoven to present a neat, professional and well-groomed appearance. Braids must continue to the end of the hair in one direction, in a straight line, and may be worn loose or a secured style within hair standards in paragraph 3.1.3 above. Dreadlocks (defined as long strands of hair that have been twisted closely from the scalp down to the tips; heavy matted coils of hair which form by themselves, eventually fusing together to form a single dread; or unkempt, twisted, matted individual parts of hair), shaved head, flattops and military high-and-tight cuts are not authorized hairstyles for female members in the USAF-style uniform.

3.2.3.3. Hair color, highlights, and frosting will not be faddish and will be natural looking hair color for human beings, similar to the individual’s hair color (e.g. black, brunette, blond, natural red, and grey).

3.2.3.4. Body Hair. Female members will remove leg hair that is visibly protruding beyond the appropriate hosiery or causes a visibly uneven texture under hosiery.

3.2.4. Fingernails. Male members are not authorized to wear nail polish. If worn by females, nail polish will be a single color that does not distinctly contrast with the female member‘s complexion, detract from the uniform, or be extreme colors. Some examples of extreme colors include, but are not limited to, purple, gold, blue, black, bright (fire engine) red and florescent colors. Do not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors; however, white-tip French manicures are authorized. Fingernails must not exceed ¼ inch in length beyond the tip of the finger and must be clean and wellgroomed. Fingernails must not interfere with the performance of assigned duties. Fingernails must nothinder proper fit of prescribed safety  equipment or uniform items.

3.2.5. Cosmetics. Male members are not authorized to wear cosmetics. Female members may wear cosmetics; however, if worn, they will be conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and in good taste. Female members 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.

3.2.6. Tattoos/Brands/Body Markings. For purposes of this manual, a tattoo is defined as a picture, design, or marking made on the skin or other areas of the body by staining it with an indelible dye, or by any other method, including pictures, designs, or markings only detectible or visible under certain conditions (such as ultraviolet or invisible ink tattoos). A brand is defined as a picture, design, or other marking that is burned into the skin or other areas of the body. Body markings are pictures, designs, or other markings as a result of using means other than burning to permanently scar or mark the skin.

3.2.6.1. Tattoos/Brands/Body Markings (Inappropriate Contents or Excessive). Excessive tattoos/brands/body markings will not be exposed or visible (includes visible through the uniform) while wearing any/all uniform combination(s). This includes any combination of short sleeve, long sleeve, open collar uniform, utility uniform sleeves rolled up or worn down, flight duty uniform, etc. Excessive is defined as any tattoos/brands/body markings that exceed 1/4 (25%) of the exposed body part and are readily visible when wearing any/all uniform combinations(s). Members with tattoos/brands/body markings that tend to bring discredit upon CAP or the USAF must ensure that these are not visible in uniform. Additional guidance, if required, is available in AFI 36-2903.

3.2.7. Body Piercing/Ornamentation. With the exception of earrings for women (see paragraphs 6.3.1.1), all members are prohibited from attaching, affixing, or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the ear, nose, tongue, eye brows, lips, or any exposed body part visible while in uniform.

3.2.8. Dental ornamentation. Teeth, whether natural, capped, or veneered, will not be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials, etc. The use of yellow gold, white gold, or platinum caps (permanent or temporary) merely to add ornamentation to the teeth and not required by dental/medical necessity (such as braces) is prohibited. Waivers are not required for members with permanent yellow gold, white gold or platinum caps that were applied as a result of dental/medical necessity.

3.2.9. Body Alteration/Modification. Intentional alterations and/or modifications to a members body that result in a visible, physical effect that disfigures, deforms or otherwise detracts from a professional military image are prohibited.

3.3. Corporate-style Uniform and Member’s Wearing Civilian Attire at CAP Events Grooming Standards. Members must comply with the requirements of this paragraph and sub-paragraphs to wear the Corporate-style uniform. Additionally, even if not in Corporate-style uniform and wearing civilian attire, members are expected to comply with these guidelines when at CAP events or on official CAP duty. Cadets wearing Corporate-style uniforms are required to meet USAF-style uniform grooming standards.

3.3.1. Hair. Hair must be clean, well groomed and neat. If dyed, will look like natural hair color. If wigs or hairpieces are worn they should be of good quality and fit properly. Hair will not touch the eyebrows when groomed. Beards for males are authorized.

3.3.2. Nail Polish. Male members are not authorized to wear nail polish. If worn by females, nail polish will be a single color that does not distinctly contrast with the female member’s complexion,detract from the uniform, or be extreme colors. Some examples of extreme colors include, but are not limited to, purple, gold, blue, black, bright (fire engine) red and florescent colors. Do not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors; however, white-tip French manicures are authorized. Fingernails must not be excessive in length and must be clean and well-groomed. Fingernails must not interfere with the performance of assigned duties. Fingernails must not hinder proper fit of prescribed safety equipment or uniform items.

3.3.3. Cosmetics. Male members are not authorized to wear cosmetics with Corporate-style uniforms. Female members may wear cosmetics; however, if worn, they will be conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and in good taste. Female members 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.

3.3.4. Tattoos/Brands/Body Markings. For purposes of this manual, a tattoo is defined as a picture, design, or marking made on the skin or other areas of the body by staining it with an indelible dye, or by any other method, including pictures, designs, or markings only detectible or visible under certain conditions (such as ultraviolet or invisible ink tattoos). A brand is defined as a picture, design, or other marking that is burned into the skin or other areas of the body. Body markings are pictures, designs, or other markings as a result of using means other than burning to permanently scar or mark the skin.

3.3.4.1. Tattoos/Brands/Body Markings (Inappropriate Contents or Excessive). Excessive tattoos/brands/body markings will not be exposed or visible (includes visible through the uniform) while wearing any/all uniform combination(s). This includes any combination of short sleeve, long sleeve, open collar uniform, utility uniform sleeves rolled up or worn down, flight duty uniform, etc. Excessive is defined as any tattoos/brands/body markings that exceed 1/4 (25%) of the exposed body part and are readily visible when wearing any/all uniform combinations(s). Members with tattoos/brands/body markings that tend to bring discredit upon CAP or the USAF must ensure that these are not visible in uniform. Questions on this paragraph will be directed to NHQ/DP.

3.3.5. Body Piercing/Ornamentation.

3.3.5.1. Body Piercing/Ornamentation. With the exception of earrings for women (see paragraph 6.3) all members are prohibited from attaching, affixing, or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the ear, nose, tongue, tooth/teeth, eye brows, lips, or any exposed body part (includes visible through the uniform or clothing). The prohibition applies while wearing the Corporate-style uniform and while in civilian attire in attendance at a CAP event, while in civilian attire on CAP duty, and while in civilian attire on a military installation when there with CAP activities.

3.3.5.2. Dental ornamentation: Teeth, whether natural, capped, or veneered, will not be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials, etc. The use of yellow gold, white gold, or platinum caps (permanent or temporary) merely to add ornamentation to the teeth and not required by dental/medical necessity (such as braces) is prohibited.

3.3.5.3. Body Alteration/Modification. Intentional alterations and/or modifications to a members body that result in a visible, physical effect that disfigures, deforms or otherwise detracts from a professional image are prohibited in uniform or in civilian attire when representing CAP. Examples of prohibited conduct include (but are not limited to) tongue splitting or forking, tooth filing, acquiring visible, disfiguring skin implants, and gouging (piercing holes large enough to permit light to shine through.)