The ISS and currently used spacecraft have toxic stuff (ammonia, propellants) that makes donning gas masks a life-saver in emergency. Beards may interfere with the seal.

enter image description here

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, NASA (Public Domain).

I'm interested in exact pointers to standing NASA/ESA/Roskosmos (and perhaps other spacefaring nations) rules that limit lower facial hair growth and perhaps stipulate which types of beards can and cannot be worn in space (and probably limit the length of mustache).

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Source: http://www.shavingstuff.com/archives/2006_12.php

  • $\begingroup$ A friend (bearded) had a chance to work on the Kuiper IR Flying Observatory en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuiper_Airborne_Observatory. He was given to believe that the problem was one of beard spontaneous combustion, not poor mask sealing... $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Nov 7, 2015 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ It makes me wonder what's so different from hair on a face to hair on a head regarding spontaneous combustion of a beard. Very intriguing. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Nov 7, 2015 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have a cite to hand, but I believe the problem is a combination of flammable waxes/oils applied to the beard, and the masks delivering pure oxygen... $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2015 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ I know you're asking about present regulations, but check out the rockin' beards on Skylab: armaghplanet.com/blog/skylab-everything-you-need-to-know.html $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2015 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ @JacobKrall - yup, came across them before posting the question $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2015 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


To some extent the protective equipment is designed around facial hair:

Additionally, the crew could not guarantee facial hair and eyeglasses would not interfere with the integrity of the face seal of the mask. A second design of mask was reviewed to eliminate those issues.

emphasis added, from International Space Station Ammonia Respirator Kit - NASA

It does not seem that there is much regulation around facial hair. Astronauts are allowed to maintain their own style within reason, and because of the astronaut culture (with many coming from the military) most are clean shaven or have a well trimmed mustache at most. I'm sure that practically there is a length limit, but I doubt there is regulation yet since it probably has not been an issue thus far.

  • $\begingroup$ But how do they shave? With specially developed vacuum sucking shaver machines? Or maybe properly with razors while inside the shower tube, letting it float around in the meantime before both it and they get hosed? $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Nov 12, 2015 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff There is an abundance of information on this: google.com/search?q=shaving+in+space&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Nov 12, 2015 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ Just like on Earth, according to Hatfield. I'm surprised. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Nov 12, 2015 at 17:29

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