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1/8 Inch to 1/4 Inch Military Beards: A Complete Guide

July 31, 2023
1/8 Inch to 1/4 Inch Military Beards: A Complete Guide

These two somewhat obscure beard lengths are often on the minds of men in the military. It’s no secret that many a bearded man has had to reluctantly reach for a razor in order to serve their country. 

In general, beards are strictly prohibited in the US military. But why do we often hear about ⅛ inch to ¼ inch beards being allowed? Is there any truth behind it? 

In short, for most men, clean-shaven is their only option. Exceptions for this are usually only made for religious accommodation, or if required for medical reasons

Certain skin conditions can be made much worse if the face is shaved regularly, and it’s in this remit where our ⅛ inch to ¼ inch beards come into play. 

If a “shaving waiver” is obtained for medical reasons or anything else, strict trimming rules still apply. These include the prohibition of styling and shaping, as well as a restriction on length

Yes. The length range of ⅛ inch to ¼ inch is considered the standard for these men.

Dare to venture outside of this range without a valid reason and risk punishment by superiors. 

I’ve often wondered what the big deal was with beards in the military. After doing a load of research I wanted to give you the cliff notes. 

Also, as an avid beard grooming enthusiast, I wanted to provide some grooming tips for men looking to adopt these beard lengths (whether they were in the military or not). 

I’ll go through what these lengths actually look like, what you could use to trim it, and also give you some interesting details on beards in the military. Let’s do it. 

If you’re interested, check out this article listing my most recommended stubble trimming and grooming products of the year.

What Does A ⅛ Inch Military Beard Look Like

If you’re a military man and happen to get granted a shaving waiver for whatever reason, you may have been given this length range restriction. A ⅛ inch to ¼ inch – it can be difficult to visualize if you haven’t seen it. 

A ⅛ inch military beard looks like this.

long stubble
From Shutterstock

It amounts to approximately 3mm stubble. It’s simple, sleek, and can look pretty darn stylish. The length falls within the medium stubble range. 

3mm stubble can be incredibly versatile and I genuinely love it.

There are very few contexts in which it wouldn’t look smart, and the beauty of it is that it doesn’t draw too much attention to itself. 

Stubble has a way of contouring the jaw and adding an air of masculinity that’s subtle yet striking. 

Plus it’s relatively easy to maintain stubble, the length range proven by science to be the most attractive

What Does A ¼ Inch Military Beard Look Like

This length is just on the border between heavy stubble and “short beard”. It’s such a fine line that you could very reasonably call it either. 

The 1/4 inch military beard looks like this.

From Shutterstock

It amounts to approximately 6mm in length. Although it may not seem like much, the 3mm difference between a ⅛ inch and a ¼ inch is quite obvious. 

A 6mm beard is still versatile but does require some extra grooming to keep it looking neat. If you are in fact a military man, it’s important to make sure these grooming habits aren’t in breach of any restrictions in place. 

Overall, if you can keep it looking sleek, it’s still a ruggedly professional-looking beard. 

A ¼ Inch And ⅛ Inch Trimmer I Can Recommend

When asked to strictly work within the ⅛ inch to ¼ inch beard range, it’s important to ensure you aren’t crossing those lines. It just isn’t worth the risk. Those rules exist for a reason. 

There are some great beard trimmers out there, but buying a stubble trimmer will ensure you intricate control over these very short lengths. 

If you are indeed a military man, please do ensure that if you need to use an approved trimmer, you do.

You may be looking for a 1/4 inch beard trimmer, or a 1/8 inch beard trimmer. Why not choose one that can do both? 

The Philips Norelco OneBlade QP6520/70 is a phenomenal stubble trimmer that does one thing and does it well; trim stubble.

You can check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

The maximum length you’ll be able to trim with this trimmer is 10mm. This is perfect for when you’re looking to trim within the 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch range.

Why Are Beards Generally Not Allowed In The Military?

The Army, Marines, and the Air Force all strictly prohibit beards except for the allowances outlined above. But why?

This one has two main answers. The first is practical, and the second is more abstract. Both, however, make sense when you really think about it. 

1. For hygiene and mask fittings

In harsh environments, personal care can sometimes take a backseat. It’s for this reason that shaving facial hair is seen as a method of minimizing the collection of dirt, grime, and germs

It’s simply a lot easier to wash a clean-shaven face than a full-on beard. 

Protective masks could mean the difference between life and death on the frontline. The risk of a poor seal caused by a beard is one that a military man simply cannot take. 

This is the reason that although facial hair may be allowed in certain circumstances, there will certainly be restrictions on length. ⅛ inch and ¼ inch aren’t just lengths plucked out of the air. You can be sure that some testing has taken place. 

Ultimately, it’s about safety

2. It instills a sense of uniformity and discipline

This one is a little more abstract. Not allowing beards is a simple, straightforward way to instill discipline. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line otherwise; at what point would a beard be “too long”? 

Ensuring a man shaves becomes just as important as clean shoes and attire.

Rules and routines are essential when forming a tightly-knit, well-oiled unit. 

Are Mustaches Allowed In The Military?

This one is less black-and-white. It’s important to check the exact regulations for the specific military force you may belong to. 

In general, yes, mustaches are allowed in the military as long as they are well-groomed. It’s quite interesting when you look into it. The rules surrounding them are strict, to say the least. 

Take the US army as an example. They require that none of the mustache hair crosses the line of the upper lip.

This rule should be universal, in my opinion. There’s nothing more unsightly than a mustache crawling its way into a mouth. 

You must also ensure that none of the mustache goes sideways past vertical lines drawn upwards from the corners of your mouth.

Also, draw a parallel line at the level of the lowest portion of the nose, and ensure that none of the mustache hairs cross it. 

Strict, but at least the rules are clear. 

Extra Tips For ¼ Inch To ⅛ Inch Beards

If you’ve opted to adopt a facial hair length within this range, good for you. It’s hard to go wrong. 

There are some tips you could follow to take it to the next level. Ultimately, we’re talking about grooming stubble. Yes, there are things that can transform average stubble into great stubble

Again, if you are a military man, do be sure that anything you do choose to do with any facial hair you may have doesn’t breach any rules. 

1. Make it as soft as you can

Softening stubble is an art in and of itself. I’ve written a whole article on it if you want the ins and outs. 

But tools such as beard oil, beard wash, and good ole’ fashioned moisturizers can make all the difference. 

2. Try and minimize patchiness

Patchy stubble can be the bain of a man’s existence. Overall, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done biologically to have it grow out thicker.

Don’t let anyone with a magic product fool you into thinking otherwise. 

But there are some tips and tricks you can use to make it look less obvious. Read this to find out more. 

3. Try and prevent stubble rash

By stubble rash, I mean the rash your stubble can cause around the mouth of whoever you choose to kiss. 

It’s important to remember that stubble is sharp. Sure, trying to soften it up will reduce the risk of causing stubble rash. But ultimately, the shorter facial hair is, the sharper it feels

If you do happen to give someone stubble rash, treat it well and try and reduce the risk of it happening again. You guessed it, I’ve written another article on the topic here

  1. Beard oil is still useful at these lengths

Beard oil is a magical, ultra-manly substance that has become extremely popular with this growing beard trend. 

Many men believe that at such short beard lengths it wouldn’t be of much use. I strongly disagree. Using beard oil on stubble has many benefits that are easily overlooked. 

It can make it softer, make it neater, and make it look thicker. Plus, it thoroughly moisturizes the facial skin underneath which is crucial when dealing with such short lengths. 

The beauty of it is that with ⅛ inch to ¼ inch worth of facial hair, you’ll only need to use a drop of beard oil each time. A single bottle of beard oil could last you a very, very long time. 


As you’ve hopefully gathered from this article, whether you’re in the military or not, ⅛ inch to ¼ inch beards are great. 

They’re versatile, easy to maintain, and stylish. The fact that they happen to comply with most military regulations (if you’ve got a shaving waiver) is fantastic.

Keep it neat and well-groomed and you could become an unstoppable force. 

I’ll finish off with another reminder to always be sure you’re complying with the rules if you’re a military man. Beards are awesome, but not worth risking your professional reputation over.