Air Force gets to have longer hair. Now with tattoo parlors in the BX!

| October 5, 2020

ninja thought you all would enjoy the news coming out of Big Blue last week.

First, the Air Force put a tattoo joint on base. In the BX. Yes, they take the Star Card. What could possibly go wrong?

Since the American Tattoo Society opened its latest studio in a storefront northeast of Las Vegas last month, a common reaction from passersby has been disbelief, its owner said.

“It’s wild how many people walk by and they kind of look up and it’s like, ‘Holy … what am I looking at here?’” said Ryan Harrell, who owns the shop at the Nellis Air Force Base Exchange with his wife, Nicole. “’Is this really a tattoo shop inside the exchange?’”

Yes, it is. And Military Star Cards are accepted at the store, which opened last month. Its grand opening celebration begins Friday morning.

Though some U.S. bases have had visiting tattoo artists, the exchange’s tattoo parlor appears to be the first of its kind. No other Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine exchange has operated or provided space for such a venture before, according to several exchange officials.

Harrell hopes the Nellis location is the first of many on-base shops for his company and has sights set on Fort Bragg, just down the road from the couple’s flagship studio in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C., where they have run the All American Tattoo Convention for several years.

Don’t let it be said that the Air Force will limit its questionable ideas to one per week…

The Air Force is allowing both male and female airmen to wear their hair a bit longer.

The service approved a revision to its dress and personal appearance regulations on Sept. 15, the latest in a series of changes made in effort to “enhance inclusiveness” while at the same time maintaining professional standards, the Air Force said in a news release Tuesday.

Effective immediately, men are now approved to have hair 2 inches long from their scalp, a “hair bulk” that is ¾ inch longer than previously allowed.

The maximum length of women’s hair has been increased from 3 ½ inches to 4 inches.

In an additional change, men can have one front-to-back straight-line part — cut, clipped or shaved — on either side of their head above the temple. The part cannot be slanted or curved or exceed 4 inches in length or ¼ inch in width.

The Air Force also clarified that airmen can dye their hair any natural color, regardless the color of their own natural hair. It defines those colors as brown, blonde, brunette, natural red, black and gray.

Ah, yes, “inclusiveness”. What group of men has close cropped hair kept out of the service? First week in basic we all get shaved down to skin, just like the other branches.

We’ve never been the most professional branch with our lax grooming standards and terrible dress uniforms. Guess they’re just going whole hog on looking like slobs. Will this help retention or recruitment? I doubt it.

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Air Force, Guest Link, ninja

Comments (47)

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  1. When I was in Norfolk NOB, tat parlors were forboden in Norfolk at that time. Got first one in San Juan PR. Only ones that got them were people in the Military, Bikers and Ex Cons. I used to get looks from people while going home on a 72 and riding the E train to Hillside ave and catching the Q-5 bus.

    • SEAL TWO says:

      All of the tattoo parlors, “hey-Joe” shops, topless bars and locker clubs disappeared from the area of NOB from 1975-1985. Apparently, the city (and the navy) received so much pressure to clean the place up that DoD bought out the strip-joints, parlors, bars and locker clubs and bulldozed the entire area.
      By the way, for those who aren’t familiar with the military “locker clubs,” back in the day no one was allowed to enter or leave the base unless in uniform, so servicemen (hardly any women in the military at that time – and none on ships) rented lockers just outside the gate so that they could change into civilian clothes to go out on the town. However, in their infinite wisdom (of course), the “military grooming standards” made everyone in the military look like a total asshole in 1971, no matter what kind of clothes you changed into.

      • MarineDad61 says:

        SEAL TWO,
        It’s just like Amish Rumspringa!
        Put the bonnets, puffy shoulders, and black hats
        into the trunk of a parked van
        stowed miles from the farm in Pennsylvania,
        and jump into a 2nd (nicer) van
        and head for Wildwood, New Jersey.

        For those who stumble into drunk Amish at Wildwood,
        it’s like caged heat, out of the cage.

  2. Green Thumb says:


  3. KoB says:

    FFS! The inclusiveness of the Military should basically just include people that want to serve their Country by carrying the fight to our enemies, breaking, and destroying their sh^t in the process.

    Next thing you know, the Chair Farce will be turning perfectly good rifle and Artillery Ranges into golf courses and such. Oh…wait…never mind.

    Need to forward this to my retired Air Force Brother in Dakota. One of his Boys has a part time Tat Bidness. Maybe he’ll get the franchise for Ellsworth.

  4. Green Thumb says:

    I cant wait until the Commander gets a delinquent bill notice for a tattoo that Joe cannot pay for.

    Especially when he has a wife and a couple of kids at home while making the Private minimum.

    Not to mention the 20% interest and the fact the bill arrives before Joe gets home.

    With the services lowering / raising / lowering the recruiting standards, might be a nice play by the AF? Who knows.

    Yeah. This will turn out well.

    • Hack Stone says:

      Wondering what impact an on base tattoo parlor will have the competition. Sure, they accept the Star Card, but the Barracks Tattoo Artist accepts payment in Skoal tins.

      • MI Ranger says:

        I foresee the health inspector (is that still the Vetenarian?) shutting them down within a month.

        • Green Thumb says:


          Or Joe does not like his/her ink. Or cannot pay for it to be completed. I wonder if you have layaway programs for tattoos?

          And then word gets out and the shop closes for lack of business.

          The artist better be careful or the shop will join others held in “rare air” such as Charlies, Manchu Wok, Burger King, etc.

  5. Devtun says:

    New CSAF & CMSAF making a vital impact. Focusing on the essentials.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Awright, ’70s Air Force hair is back again!

  7. USAFRetired says:

    Well for my last couple years on active duty until this day I’ve has a single part in the middle of my hair about 4 inches wide. Doe that mean I’m out of standards now?

  8. 26Limabeans says:

    When are they going to allow pot shops on Base?

  9. PARANAH says:

    Just yesterday I saw on their FB page a West Point Cadet with a Tatoo on his left arm almost down to his wrist, now WTF is up with that??????????

    • Commissar says:

      That has been within regs for decades.

      Cannot be where it shows below the sleeve in uniform.

      And it cannot be offensive. Subjectively determined though a waiver process if there is any question whether it is offensive or not,

  10. FuzeVT says:

    As a Marine, I find the term “hair bulk” to be offensive and abhorrent.

    • FuzeVT says:

      And I find it extremely ironic that the Marine Corps the most strict of the services where it comes to tattoos. The days of the old arse gunny with sleeve tats that have faded with age are a thing of the past. Didn’t affect me since I don’t have any ink, but I felt we lost something when the tide started turning that direction in the 2010s+/-.

      • Anonymous says:

        Having hordes of kids with badly done grenade tattoos on the neck or Chinese character ones that actually mean “retard” on the forearm leaves much to be desired.

        • FuzeVT says:

          I always laughed at people who got Japanese (usually) characters tattooed on themselves and weren’t sure the exact meaning.
          My wife wanted the characters for “Little Sister” (妹) as her older sis was getting “Big sister” (姉). She asked me for it and I was at least familiar enough to know how to check and double check from a couple of sources.

          This is my go to Japanese lookup site:

      • BruteLarson407 says:

        Thought I was the last person with no ink! Everyone seems to have it locally.
        I once was tempted at about age 49-50 to get ‘Para Bellum’ put in Archaic Latin script on my right side of my right index. So small you’d need a weak magnifier to read it, and then catch what in hell it meant. ‘Para’ looks the same so it’d be easy to guess. Then maybe ‘Para Nares’ on the same hand, inside left on the pinkie. I could’ve hidden them any time by simply ‘marrying’ my fingers a bit. The woman I actually did marry threatened something involving Noctec(chloral hydrate) and pruning shears. Per the article, I always preferred my hair very short. I inherited maternally a curly blonde mess like Harpo Marx’s wig. It wasn’t a look I cared for so I never got gigged on that.

  11. OWB says:

    Never did trust having civilian businesses installed on military bases. It just ain’t right. And it causes all sorts of problems when bases are shut down to all but essential military traffic – like having folks dependent upon those food vendors for sustenance and being forced to do without food for a few days.

    Yeah, I have some heartburn about it because I was once one of those peoples without food and having uniforms locked up in the base laundry that I had no idea was run/owned by civilians. My saving grace was being housed off base at a hotel with a huge breakfast buffet, of which I could avail myself either coming or going from duty. The servers and cooks there made sure that I ate very well no matter when they saw me. Great people. It took a few days but we eventually got an office area system going bringing food in. Yes, the commissary was also closed.

    On the topic of hair – sure, let’s make it more complicated. That helps soooooo much.

  12. David says:

    Sure sounds like that hair regulation is aimed at one (1) part of the populace. Maybe I am wrong.

    • Sparks says:

      Well since pants pockets have been keeping Air Force hands warm since 1947, why not just throw the hair regs out as well.

      Someone else said it better, “This is gonna get out of hand. It’s gonna get out of hand and we’ll be lucky to live through it!”.

    • Sparks says:

      I think you are correct David.

    • Green Thumb says:

      Don’t take this this wrong way, but even with the reduction in standards, I imagine they will have a hard time recruiting in that area.

      In all fairness, and it pangs me to say it, the Air Force has always been the toughest or one of the toughest branches to get in. Particularly due to the need for extensive training and the skill set required (MOD dependent).

      A lot of folks would not make the cut, for whatever reason.

      • Sparks says:

        True that Green Thumb. The Air Force, like some jobs in the Navy, has high standards to even get in. Unless one goes as an Admin or cook. In my time in the Air Force after the Army, it was a culture shock, even in the early ’70s. The AF seemed far too lax xompared to the Army. Guys who failed their tech school, were offered either cook or security guard. Security Guard is not to be confused with Secuity Police (SP’s at the time) Security Guards (read that as Night watchmen) only carried a lethel flashlight and manned and on base gate to say, senior officer’s housing or a part of the tech facilities that needed night watching.

  13. Commissar says:


  14. rgr769 says:

    Does this mean the man-bun is acceptable under these new grooming standards? How about BLM fist neck tattoos? Has the Chairforce become “woke?”

    • Quartermaster says:

      The Air Farce has been woke for quite awhile. They just didn’t allow all the trappings of being woke.

  15. ninja says:

    Speaking of Air Force and Haaircuts: EDDIE Van Halen passed away at the young age of 65…😔😓

    Rest In Peace.


  16. Haywire Angel says:

    The “Good idea fairy” has struck again!

  17. A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

    It says that they’ll be accepting Military Star Cards, now some “Joe” can get a No Pay Due for not paying for his tattoo(s) on time just like I saw happening to Joes during my AD Army time when they didn’t make payments on their DPP at the PX!

  18. SteeleyI says:

    The article doesn’t mention what the BMT hair standard is.

    That said, there is no correlation between hair length and professionalism. By definition, a professional military member will ensure their hair meets regulation. Those regulations are really set more by society and culture than anything else. Some of the most high-speed, highly professional, elite forces have long hair. There are even long haired Rangers these days.

    When the Army let women go to Ranger school there was a lot of discussion about hair. The regulations simply stated that Ranger students would meet BCT standards, which simply stated that men will meet CIMT standards. This is all the reg says on it:

    d. All male Trainees will receive the standard “buzz cut” haircut. Female Soldiers who are not in compliance with AR 670-1 will be required to visit the hair salon.

    By the way, most people think the haircut is either for hygiene or Soldierization (breaking the troops down, making them all look the same, etc), but there is actually no reason given.

  19. AFCombatCAM says:

    Wow. As if grooming standards haven’t always changed with the times. Those damn hippies who fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars really didn’t have their shit together. The all mighty “high and tight” really brought about a dramatic change in professionalism of warfighters.

  20. ChipNASA says:

    Maybe despite my fat and injuries, I can reenlist.
    I haven’t had a haircut since Valentines Day and it’s the longest it’s ever been. I’m starting to resemble Frankee Cee (I know, “sp” variations), except the long curls in the back. My sainted Mother loves it and is jealous, and it’s long enough to put up in about a 2 inch ponytail…OK here come the tiny penis references…LOL
    Chip Hair Flip