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Public servants, such as police officers and firefighters, have certain rules when it comes to appearance. Police departments usually have strict grooming standards that officers must follow. Perhaps you want to go to a police academy but you need to know- do police officers have to shave?

Generally speaking, police officers and those in training are required to shave. Individual department policies on facial hair grooming may vary. Yet in most cases, active-duty officers are restricted from growing full beards. Mustaches are allowed under certain conditions.

If you are considering police work and wonder if there are any exceptions, here's what you should know.

police officer

Can Police Officers Have Beards?

Policies about beards on officers in uniform can vary from state to state. Some departments allow facial hair, while many do not.

Most often the requirements for police officers is similar to those of the U.S. military. In other words, part of the uniform includes a clean-shaven face.

Still, there are some exceptions to the rules. In some cases, men may not have to shave their faces. A few examples include:

Typically, a police officer must complete documentation or provide proof to gain exemption from shaving requirements. A "No Shave Waiver" is an example of a medical excuse form that shows why a police officer cannot shave his beard.

Why Do Police Officers Have to Shave?

Rules about police officers and shaving go back decades. The pandemic has reminded officers and other first responders of one of the reasons for shaving.

Many first responders have to wear fit-tested N-95 masks. For the most part, the masks are not safe if they are worn over a beard. In April 2020, 25 police officers that refused to shave were put on leave for their safety.

Another reason that police officers are required to keep a clean-shaven face is for a professional appearance. On the job, cops want to look neat and respectable. The public could view officers with beards as unkempt.

Appearances and safety are two of the main reasons police officers are required to shave. Still, many disagree with shaving policies. Men can trim and brush their beards to appear clean and tidy. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even published a guide to facial hairstyles, proving that men can still wear an N-95 mask with some facial hair.

How To Get a Shaving Waiver

Officers in the police academy or police departments who cannot shave because of a medical condition, such as severe irritation or pseudofolliculitis barbae, should talk with a doctor about getting an exception. A medical form to show employers or organizations why an individual cannot shave is a shaving waiver.

To get a shaving waiver, the easiest and best way to get a shaving waiver is to book an appointment with a telemedicine provider. Online doctors who treat patients through video visits make it convenient to get a shaving waiver quickly.

A telemedicine appointment will include an exam and interview about the problems caused by shaving and a recommendation by a qualified physician. The doctor can then complete the form online and send it digitally to the patient. Thanks to telemedicine, patients can now see a doctor without leaving home.


A licensed healthcare provider is the only one who provides a medical excuse when needed. Police officers or those in the police academy facing strict shaving policies should talk with a doctor about the options. Telemedicine appointments are inexpensive and convenient.

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Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The information, graphics, and images on this site are not intended to substitute diagnosis or treatment by a medical professional. Always seek the advice of a licensed physician for any questions you may have regarding a specific condition.

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