natural hair for military women

Natural Hair for Military Women: A Real Life Story

Interview with Air Force Sergeant Karla Chapman

ATTENTION! I miss saying that and can I tell you all a secret? I still have dreams in which I am marching soldiers and running during physical training in the morning. As an Army veteran I often think back to my days as a drill sergeant, and as a trainee, because it did shape me into the awesome person, I am today (speak positive over yourself at all times). Most of you may not know that I am an Army veteran. I served for over 13 years and traveled across the country more than twice. One thing I think about is the beating my hair has taken over the years. One of the biggest struggles I know a lot of female military members deal with is their hair. Countless women have gone to their beautician or stood in front of their bathroom mirror and commenced to cutting all of their hair off because, well, it just seemed easier to manage when serving in the Armed Forces.


The changes to military regulations don’t make it any easier. This regulation, which governs how individuals are supposed to wear their hair (when in uniform) seem to have gone anti-natural hair for a minute, but it didn’t take them long to come back to more reasonable guidelines after many became vocal about the changes made. (View Navy Female Hair Regulations) I realize there is a unique need for women who serve in the military to learn how to take care of their hair while staying within regulations properly. Due to policies being updated recently to guide female military members on how they are to wear their natural hair while in uniform, I have a service member sharing her experience and hair techniques. I can tell you from personal experience a whole guide can be written on the talent it takes to be able to keep your hair neat (and cute because female soldiers want to look feminine) while wearing a patrol cap, drill sergeant hat, a beanie, or kevlar. If you are thinking of joining the Army, I suggest you review the regulation for grooming and appearance for your particular brand of service to get an understanding on what you can and cannot do to your hair while you are wearing your uniform. Also, you should make sure you don't make a decision that can affect your appearance in uniform. For example, choosing a hair color which is not a natural hair color is a no go! If you shave the sides of your hair and rock a mohawk, you may be outside of regulation and won't be able to wear that hairstyle in uniform. Therefore, it’s essential for you to make decisions wisely.

Hair Force!

I am linking up with one of my virtual best friends Karla Chapman to get accurate explanations on Air Force policies which guide how women are allowed to wear their hair. Since a lot of women are deciding to wear their hair in the natural state, I know Karla will be able to shed light on the recent clarifications on how natural hair should look when females are on duty. Now, you know I don’t like to share my friends often, but I will share Karla with you this one time. I have a hair crush on her hair because her curls are always popping!

Get to know Karla Chapman

I'm honored to interview Karla as I believe she will help you get your natural hair all the way together. She is such an inspiration to me, and I know she will inspire you as well after listening in on our interview. Karla currently serves her country as an Air Force E-6, and she lives in Colorado. She is planning her retirement after 19 years of service to our country. Her interest outside of the military is establishing Radiate Her which is an initiative started a year ago to help women live healthy and powerful about mental illness and domestic violence. She shares her a piece of her life as one of the co-authors of the Brilliant Awakening anthology book. I recommend you follow her now to experience this natural beauty’s journey. Karla and I got to chat, via telephone interview, and I admire her openness and willingness to share her natural hair journey as well as her journey to edifying herself. You should know what time it is! Instead of pressing play on your favorite playlist, go ahead and press play to listen. After our discussion, I will share tutorials on how to create her favorite styles. You should know I won't leave you with sharing some awesome hair tips!

How do you find time to take care of your natural hair with such a busy schedule?

Karla’s answer to this question is necessary to help other women who believe it is too time-consuming to manage your natural hair and me. I know you are feeling as if taking care of your natural hair will take too much time and you are second guessing the decision. We are always on the go, and it seems as if we rarely have time for ourselves not to mention our hair. Before you talk yourself out of saying “hello” to those banging natural curls of yours let's discover how Karla fits hair care into her busy lifestyle as a mom of four, servicemember, author, and business owner. Karla provides enlightenment on how she connects self-care with her hair routine. Although she recognizes her schedule is extremely busy, she uses her time taking care of hair as a time to focus on herself as well. What part of her reasoning resonates with you?

When and why did you do the big chop?

She celebrates her big chop 7 ½ years ago and states she would never go back to relaxed hair. Just like me, she cut her hair because she knows its time for a change. I wonder how many hairstylists have clients sit in their seat and request the twa. Her approach is one I could relate to because I was so inspired by Sanaa Lathan, Taraji P. Henson, Issa Rae, and Anika Noni Rose that I cut my hair and tock my twa. I am concerned about the effects relaxers have on my hair as well as my health. During our interview, Karla echoes the same sentiment as she speaks about her reason for saying “bye bye” to relaxers. I know you can relate to scheduling your hair appointments every two weeks to keep your relaxed hair looking good. But after a while, your hair can become challenging to manage. Karla shares her journey from relaxers and weaves to wearing her hair natural.

What is your past relationship with your hair?

I think we all have a relationship with our hair. Karla explains hers by going into detail about empowering it is to cut it all off and start over. However, those feelings, for some only last a moment because regret starts to set in. Listen to her experience and give us a thumbs up in the comment section if this is you!

What is your relationship with your hair now?

Karla spills the tea on how she doesn’t even try to manipulate her curls anymore. She loves seeing her hair do its own thing and how she sees it as a symbol of freedom for her hair and her. After going back to the relaxer in the past, she states she has no desire ever to use one on her hair again! Have you been tempted to relax your hair? What stopped you from doing it? Comment below with your response.

What are your top three challenges with your hair?

She shares that even now she is still figuring out her curl pattern and that it is a mixture of three and four. Her first challenge is in her “bald” stage. She got to know who she was after the big chop. Her second challenge is the twa (teeny weeny afro) stage. During this phase, she did the big chop twice because it was hard trying to figure out her hair. The third challenge she shares is trying to find the right products. Karla suggests trying the smaller size of a product to see if it will work for your hair. I agree because my daughter has tons of regular-sized products just chilling in a drawer. She purchases products and if she doesn't like it or it doesn't work well on her hair she doesn't use it anymore. I opened that drawer one day and shook my head. Purchase the packets or trial sizes first to save money.

What are your favorite hair products?

She is in love with the entire line of Mane Choice products. Her product of choice is Carol’s Daughter Loc Creme for her two strand twist. One of her other favorites is a local company in Colorado Chubby Curls which she uses on her hair consistently. The one thing that excited me the most is when Karla shares her love for DIY hair care products. There are so many items in your kitchen you can use to add moisture and shine to your natural hair. Take a listen and share your “A-Ha” moment in the comment section. Check out the end of this article to find out my favorite two items I will use for any diy haircare product.

What is your hair routine?

She shampoos her hair twice a month and co-washes once a week. Her way to prevent damage is to minimize the amount of manipulation she puts her hair through.

What is the military regulation that covers the grooming of hair in the uniform and what does it explicitly state?

The following highlights provide an insight into the regulation: Hair cannot be shorter than ¼ and cannot be longer than 3 inches in bulk Headgear must fit properly Hair must be braided/twisted all the way to the end unless they are microbraidsParts cannot show more than ¼ inch Buns must be tight and neat The point is to look conservative while wearing the uniform. So, you will need to keep the fun and creative side of you on hold until you are on your own time.

How do you rock your hair in uniform?

Below are her go-to styles and instructions on how you can re-create them. Tag us in your photos and may see yourself on one of our social media pages!

Wash and go with a headband

The wash and go hairstyle is the perfect way to style your hair and let it do its thing throughout the day.


Detangling Hydration Shampoo Hydration Conditioner Mane Choice Type 4 Leaf Clover Leave-In Conditioner Jamaican Black Castor Oil Brush Eco-style Gel Wide-toothed comb Denman brush Spray bottle filled with water

Let’s get started!

1. Shampoo and condition hair 2. Section your hair into four sections. Clip up each part. 3. Detangle your hair with a wide-toothed comb 5. Apply your leave-in conditioner 6. Begin at the back section first and apply eco-style gel to your roots and smooth them. 7. Use gel and finger it through the hair to help create the curls 8. Use your spray bottle to add water to your hair as needed 9. Repeat the same process in the front of the hair as well

Flat twists with bobby pins

Supplies Hydration Shampoo Hydration Conditioner Mane Choice Type 4 Leaf Clover Leave-In Conditioner Jamaican Black Castor Oil Brush Eco-style Gel Bobby Pins

It’s time to style your hair. Let's get started.

You can skip the shampoo step if you are in a hurry by using your water bottle to saturate the hair. 1. Shampoo and condition your hair 2. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair 3. Apply leave-in conditioner. Apply oil to your scalp. 4. Part hair, in the center, from front to the back 5. Apply eco-style gel to your hair then brush your hair to smooth your hair 6. Flat twist one side all the way back. Flat twist the other side all the way back. 7.Take the end of the first twist and pin it up on the opposite side. Then take the end of the second twist and pin it up on the opposite side.

Puff (Pineapple) Hairstyle

This style is easy and a great go-to hairstyle especially after physical training.


Detangling Hydration Shampoo Choice Detangling Hydration Conditioner Type 4 Leaf Clover Leave-In Conditioner Jamaican Black Castor Oil Brush Eco-style Gel Fabric Stretchy Headband (in color similar to your hair color)

It’s time to style your hair. Let's get started.

1. Shampoo and condition your hair 2. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair 3. Apply a leave-in conditioner and apply oil to your scalp. 5. Part hair, in the center, from front to the back 6. Apply eco-style gel to your hair 7. Brush your hair to smooth your hair 8. Use a stretchy headband and wrap around hair twice. Slide your headband back to the desired position to ensure your hat fits properly. I want to thank Karla for sharing so much during her interview. Connect with Karla on Instagram @karlachapmandotcom and at I want to share additional information to help you make your hair look its best.

Benefits of coconut oil use for natural hair

Coconut oil is a staple for most of us who are natural. It keeps your hair healthy and shiny while it has exceptional anti-microbial properties. It strengthens your hair and conditions your scalp which encourages hair growth. If you suffer from alopecia, this oil is an excellent part of your regimen. Benefits of shea butter used for natural hair Shea butter is synonymous with natural hair and great skin! It serves as the perfect hair conditioner and can help with dandruff. For dry climates, like Karla’s, it is an essential product to use for your hair.

What is a Pre-Poo Treatment?

A pre-poo is a treatment done before shampooing or conditioning your natural hair. It helps to relieve dryness and tangles in your natural hair. To be honest, I have not done one yet so let me know your experience with it. I will be trying it shortly.

How to pre-poo your natural hair

Supplies Coconut oil Conditioner Plastic Cap Hair Clips Wide-toothed comb

Let's get started!

1. Part your hair into four sections. Part each section into two. 2. Spray water and apply oil on your dry hair and roots. Stretch the hair as you apply it. 3. Apply an ample amount of conditioner to the section 4. Detangle your hair starting at the and moving up toward the roots 5. Two-strand twist the hair. Repeat this process for each section. 6. Once completed you should have eight twists 7. Deep condition under the dryer for 15 minutes or leave on hair for 30-45 minutes.

Salute to our Military Women

It is an honor, as I said during the interview, to share information to help my military battle buddies! I know I speak for many when I say “Thank you for everything you do to keep us safe. The sacrifices you and your families make to answer the call of duty are many. Most of us could never imagine, and many of us have walked in your boots. This we’ll defend!” I am looking forward to interviewing more women serving in the military so please connect with me so we can keep the dialogue going. Private Label Extensions supports the Armed Forces and appreciates everything you do for our country. We want to see your hairstyle choices while in uniform. Please tag us on Instagram when you post your photos by using @privatelabelextensions and @latayedavis. Don't forget to click the link to listen to the interview! Listen in to the recorded call here:
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