The Ultimate Guide To Haircuts During BMT (NS)

Shave NS

Do you know the sure-fire way to tell if someone has just enlisted into BMT?

Yup, just take a look at their haircut! 

The presence of a short non-existent head of hair is usually sufficient enough to tell you if someone has just recently migrated to Tekong. As such, if you’re reading this, you probably already know that you gotta shave your hair before you enlist!

But with that you might have some questions in mind like – Should I shave my hair before I enter BMT? Is there really a barber on Tekong or will my Sergeants shave my hair? Do I have to be bald my entire NS life?

Having already undergone my mandatory 2 years, let me share with you what I’ve learnt!

Should I shave my hair before going to BMT?

This is probably one of the first questions that you might have – as you more than likely would have heard people mention that there are barbers in Tekong, so there is no need to shave your hair before BMT.

And that is very true! 

image 1
Source: ABTM

There will be barbers on Tekong and they are present on the day of your enlistment to assist you in your transition from civilian to recruit.

“As such, there is definitely no need to shave your hair before BMT.”

However, it is also perfectly acceptable to turn up on enlistment day with a completely shaven head. Thus, your buddies can shave your head for you before you enlist – if you think you trust them enough, that is.

Here are some important things that you should take note of:

  1. Even if you turn up on enlistment day with a clean head, you will still be required to undergo a hair check by your platoon sergeants – and if you are deemed not bald enough, you will be sent for a haircut by Tekong barbers.
  2. The Tekong barbers are NOT free of charge – their rates were at $2 per cut but that could have gone up with inflation so you may want to bring some spare cash along!

“Because of that, I would say that if you do decide to shave your hair – try to do it the day before your enlistment so that your hair doesn’t grow back.”

Furthermore, I do also highly suggest shaving your hair before enlisting even though it isn’t compulsory. The reasoning is that:

  1. There’s going to be a lot of people shaving their hair – so you might have to wait for a bit but if you don’t mind the wait, then I guess it’s not too much of a problem.
  2. Let’s just say, the barbers aren’t really going for a nice comfortable shave but a quick one so it might hurt a tad bit if you’re unlucky.
  3. Having your friends shave your head is actually quite fun.
  4. You won’t get to clean up post-shave till later in the night so if you don’t like that feeling of hair over you, shaving outside would not be a bad idea.

But ultimately, it is up to you whether you decide to shave before BMT, as it is not compulsory

Personally, I shaved my head before BMT because my barber decided to hook me up with a free trim.

What haircut length can I have during BMT?

The haircut length that you can have in BMT is commonly termed as “Botak 1” – & you should ask for this or “Botak 0.5” if you do decide to shave before enlisting.

The term “Botak 1”  or “Botak 0.5” will probably make no sense to you so let me share with you the different possible“Botak” lengths.

Botak 0The barber will not use the black guard when shaving – resulting in you being almost skinhead bald
Botak 0.5The barber uses the black guard when shaving – leaving small stubs of hair (acceptable if cutting a few days before)
Botak 1The barber uses the black guard when shaving – leaving small stubs of hair which are slightly longer than 0.5 stubs (the ideal length)

For visualization purposes:

image 2
Source: Todayonline, MSN

“As you can see, there is a difference between “Botak 0” and “Botak 1″ so don’t get the wrong one!”

Back in BMT, we were actually informed that getting “Botak 0” was a chargeable offence as it supposedly associated you with being part of a gang. Even though I’ve never actually seen someone get charged for it, I wouldn’t suggest taking that risk and finding out for us.

Should I get a “Botak 0.5” or “Botak 1” haircut?

image 3
Source: Imgflip

As I mentioned above that getting “Botak 0.5” was acceptable if you were cutting a few days before, you might then wonder why so and which one you should then go with.

Well, getting “Botak 0.5” is perfectly fine if you’re cutting a few days before, because it gives you time to allow your hair grow back slightly before you enlist. 

“So yes, surprisingly, there are actually regulations to how short you should have your hair cut.”

As such, I would say to go for: 

  • Botak 1” – if you’re cutting a day or two before enlistment
  • Botak 0.5” – if you’re cutting a few days (3-5) prior to enlistment

What kind of haircut can I have after BMT?

Fortunately, post-BMT you will be allowed to keep hair on your head, instead of shaving it off every other week.

“In general, the haircut that you can have is standardized to either 2 by 1 or 4 by 2.”

These numbers refer to the length of the hair that you can have on the top and side. So 2 by 1 for example, usually refers to 2 inches on the top and 1 inch on the side.

My personal opinion, however, is that you should always just go for a 2 by 0 because your sides tend to grow out slightly faster compared to the top.

image 4
You can imagine the hair length to be something along these lines Source: NS

The 2 by 1 haircut is enforced more strictly in Command School OCS or SCS – while the 4 by 2 cut is the style that is enforced when in unitas units tend to be slightly more lenient with haircuts (usually).

You can find out more about SCS here.

The general rule of thumb that my unit followed with regards to our haircuts was that:

  1. Our fringe shouldn’t be touching our eyebrows or fully covering our forehead
  2. Our sides should be neatly shaved without sideburns
  3. Our top should be neatly cut and not overly thick

As such, we didn’t really have to stick with the stipulated 4 by 2, but just had to ensure that our haircuts were prim and proper such that they didn’t raise the eyes of any higher-ups. 

Your experience may vary depending on your unit but overall, unit life is usually slightly laxer compared to BMT or Command School.


Hopefully, I have been able to answer any questions that you might have had or been able to share with you something new. Wishing you the best of luck with your BMT!

You can check out the full BMT schedule here.

Untitled design

If you enjoyed this content, do follow us on Telegram!

Want to earn some money while sharing your experiences in Singapore? We’re always looking for writers and you can join our team here!

Isaac Lim

Always looking to try new things and blogging is one of them!

Recent Posts