Air Force Surgeon General authorizes 5-year shaving waivers

Staff Sgt. Antoine, 13th Intelligence Squadron intelligence analyst, raises his head as Lt. Col. David Gregory, 9th Medical Group flight surgeon chief of medical staff, inspects his neck and face during a shaving waiver course at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., March 15, 2018. The most common reason Airmen request shaving waivers is due to pseudofolliculitis barbae, which is also known as shaving bumps or ingrown hairs. Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – In a memorandum dated June 18, Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Surgeon General authorized five-year shaving waivers for Air and Space professionals diagnosed with Pseudofolliculitis Barbae, effective immediately.

Driven by feedback from the field, the change is intended to provide more time for skin to heal and prevent a recurrence.

The previous policy required PFB waivers to be updated annually. The change allows shaving waivers to be valid for five years from the date of initiation. The waiver remains valid regardless of the member’s deployment or new permanent change of station location.

Once diagnosed with aPFB, members are instructed on proper shaving methods to prevent a recurrence. Red bumps associated with this condition can cause a secondary infection and excessive scarring. PFB is most common in men with hair that curls when cut.

The policy on the length of facial hair remains the same and cannot exceed one-quarter of an inch.

Facial hair must be grown out naturally. Any shaping or styling of facial hair is not allowed, and facial hair cannot interfere with the wear of personal protective equipment, such as a gas mask. Members must be able to perform required duties.

This new authority will be updated in Air Force Instruction 44-102, Medical Care Management; and AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, and will be standardized across the force.