The Army on Tuesday unveiled its latest update to AR 670-1, its grooming and appearance regulation.

A summary of changes, effective immediately:

■ The Army has tweaked its rules for tattooed soldiers looking to go officer or make warrant. The revised policy makes clear that soldiers may request a commissioning or appointment so long as they have their commander's endorsement.

The Army tightened up its tattoo rules in its March 31 update of 670-1. The rules, which remain unchanged today, mandate that soldiers have no more than four visible tattoos (smaller than the size of the wearer's hand) below the elbow and knee. Bands must be no more than 2 inches wide. Sleeves on the legs and arms are also outlawed.

The March update barred soldiers who ran afoul of the rules from requesting a commission, sparking anger among many soldiers. The revised version of the regulation lifts that restriction.

Tattoos that have always been banned include those on the the face, head, eyelids mouth and ears. Racist, extremist, indecent and sexist tattoos are also banned and ineligible for grandfathering.

■ Female soldiers are now allowed to wear twists. The hairstyle, popular among black female soldiers, was outlawed in the March 31 update to AR 670-1. The Army has recanted.

Under the new rules, braids, cornrows and twists can be worn, with a diameter of no greater than a ½ inch. This rule expands the size of braids and cornrows, which had previously been limited to a ¼ inch.

Further, the Army has lifted a requirement that the braids and cornrows be spaced uniformly with no more than an 1/8 of an inch of scalp in between. Now the only requirement is that braids, cornrows and twists be evenly spaced.

Ends of these approved hairstyles must be secured "inconspicuously." The Army lifted the requirement they be secured with a rubber band.

Braids, cornows and twists do not have to start at the front of the head and go back. Rather, they can "follow the natural direction of the hair." However, a "zig zag" pattern is unauthorized.

A woman can wear a larger bun. The prior rules limited the size at 3 inches, when measured from the scalp. The new rule accommodates 3 ½ inches.

Braids and twists may be worn in pony tails during PT.

Dreadlocks or locks remain unauthorized, however the Army removed the words "unkempt" and "matted" in describing them. This language was deemed offensive and pulled from the reg as part of a Defense Department review of appearance rules across the services.

As part of the update, the Army tweaked or added the following definitions:

"Braids" are now defined as "Three or more portions/bunches of interwoven hair. Braids are worn free-hanging (loose) or against the scalp."

"Cornrows" are defined as hair temporarily rolled, twisted, or braided closely to the scalp producing a continuous, raised row of hair. Cornrows are worn against the scalp.

"Dreadlocks or locks" are defined as any permanently twisted, or locked coils or ropes of hair (or extensions) or hair.

"Twists." Temporarily twisting two distinct strands of hair around one another to create a twisted ropelike appearance. Only temporary twists (those that can be easily untwisted) are authorized. Twists are worn free-hanging (loose) or against the scalp.

"Neat" is defined as "orderly and tidy in appearance.

Regarding wigs, the Army added a line to say to that they cannot be worn to "cover up unauthorized hairstyles."

Other changes announced Tuesday include:

■ Body mutilations of any form are prohibited. However, the update clarifies that soldiers with "approved body mutilations" who entered service before March 31 can "request an exception to policy" from the deputy chief of staff for personnel. Mutilations prohibited by the regulation include anything from "elfing" one's ears to shaping one's teeth to "tongue bifurcation," per the update.

■ Soldiers may wear "one activity tracker, pedometer or heart-rate monitor" in addition to the one item (watch or identification bracelet) already permitted to be worn on each wrist.

■ Soldiers who are issued gold star or next-of-kin lapel buttons can wear them on service and dress uniforms. Wearers include "widows(ers), parents, and primary next of kin of Soldiers who lost their lives during identified conflicts," per the new regulation.

■ The new policy eliminates wear guidance for soldiers with Criminal Investigation Command that had instructed them to wear shoulder sleeve insignia of their respective commands as their SSI-former wartime service. The rule remains in the new guidance for trial defense soldiers.

■ Finally, a couple other updates to the glossary:

"Conservative" is defined as "Conventional, traditional, and moderate in style and appearance; not extreme, excessive, faddish, or intense."

"Optional clothing" has been tweaked to note that ballistic protective gear doesn't fit the definition, except for eyewear.

Print Army slides

Summary of hairstyle changes

Read the reg:

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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