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When you're on the front lines of battle, there's plenty to worry about. You have to be on constant alert for snipers, sneak attacks and hidden explosives. What you're not so concerned about is a bad hair day or a broken nail. Still, that doesn't mean beauty products and rituals have no place in female soldiers' daily lives. Earlier this year, the Pentagon removed its ban on women serving in combat positions. This groundbreaking ruling opened up more than 200,000 positions for women in front-lines jobs, such as tankers and infantryman

While women finally gained equal footing in the armed forces -- at least on paper -- clouds of doubt still hover over their ability to measure up to their male counterparts. To complicate matters, female Israel Defense Force officers made news this past summer for their petition to expand manicure options and polish colors. Though this may seem like two steps back for women and their place on the battlefield, women on the front lines defend their right to a proper mani. When we spoke to Army Lieutenant Colonel Candice Frost, Air Force Major Ashley Baer, Air Force Officer Sarah Peterson, and Army Medic Kristie Robson, they insisted that refusing to compromise society's idea of femininity -- even in fatigues, and even in battle -- empowers women.

"Some women may feel pressured to conform to a masculine standard at some point in their careers. But I believe all women eventually face a point where they decide what is comfortable for them in terms of how they look," says Army Lieutenant Colonel Candice Frost. Early on, I found it's possible to express my individuality and femininity in different ways." Whether that means wearing more dresses during time off or packing a curl amplifier when abroad, it's about feeling comfortable and confident in high-stress situations.

We may use the hypothetical desert island game to pare down our product picks to our absolute essentials, but these women have lived it daily. I took a look at the Army Regulation 6701-1 on Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insigina, and talked to theses servicewomen to learn how their usual beauty routine has morphed to meet army guidelines. For these women, it's not about hoarding products to cover up sun spots or make your eyes pop -- it's about taking everyday products and turning them into a source of comfort and empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated world.
products mentioned
Aveda Brilliant Emollient Finishing Gloss


As low as $19.00

Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo


Burt's Bees Super Shiny Lip Gloss


As low as $2.00

Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette


OPI Nail Lacquer


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