Should You Cut Your Hair Before Boot Camp?

Published by Goooooose on

Ah, the age-old question: keep it long, or chop it off? Are your precious locks worth all the extra time it takes to maintain it? You have very limited “free” time in basic training, and it takes a good while to make a nice-looking bun.

Overall, the answer to the question depends on your priorities. Worrying about your hair is a real pain, exponentially more-so due to the constant stress you’re under. It takes most of your free time to put it up, time which could be spent squaring-away your gear, fixing your uniform, studying, etc. I’ll cover both of your options in this article.

Chopping It Off

The quick answer is, yes, if you aren’t extremely attached to your long hair, I’d recommend cutting it short to a point where you’re comfortably within regulation. That way, you have plenty of buffer time for it to grow out and you don’t have to worry about being borderline out of regs during the first few weeks of training.


  • More time at night to do other things.
  • Less time spent doing minor fixes throughout the day.
  • It’s easier and quicker to wash.
  • You don’t have to worry if head gear will mess up your bun.
  • You won’t get in trouble for your bun looking bad.
  • Your hair will be healthier.
  • Your bun won’t get in the way of sleeping on your back (usually, you’ll put up your hair before going to sleep.)


  • You may not like how it looks on you.
  • Greasy hair will be more noticeable (gel in buns makes it hard to tell.)
  • It can get in your face or make it hard to put on head gear (for a bob style.)

If you’re going this route, get your hair cut at least a week or two before you ship out, so that you can get the hang out how to maintain it. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration – especially when you first get there. Not to mention, now that you don’t have to put your hair up, you can avoid the damaging effects of a military bun on your hair.

But wait, there’s something else to consider; you’ve decided to cut it short, but how short? Are we talking a bob, or a full blown, chop-everything-off up to your head? That all depends on what you think you’ll like the best for your look. If you can pull off the short-short, then more power to you. Pro tip: use a filter on Snapchat to get a rough idea of how you’ll look with each hair style.

Keeping It Long

Now, let’s say you’re just not comfortable cutting off your hair – that’s totally okay. I didn’t cut my hair off either. Because even though it would have saved me so much time, and I constantly asked myself why I didn’t cut it off, basic training wasn’t going to last forever. I thought about the long term, and how I really wanted to still have my long hair after training was over. I don’t regret a single thing.


  • Satisfaction of letting it down at the end of the day.
  • Military buns can look really cool.
  • It’ll be harder to tell if your hair is greasy (but still, wash it.)
  • You can still have your long hair when training is done.


  • Putting it up eats in to your limited free-time.
  • You’ll constantly have to check that it looks decent.
  • It takes longer to wash your hair and you can’t wash it as often.
  • Putting on a Kevlar will almost certainly mess up your hair.
  • You’ll get blasted (and IT’d if you’re a Marine recruit) if your hair looks busted.
  • Products and constant strain are bad for your hair.
  • You’ll have to sleep on your side to avoid laying on top of the bun.

There is always the option of cutting your hair for basic, and then growing it back out once you hit your job school. You’ll just have to go through the growing pains and make sure your hair is still in regs when it’s too long to be down, but too short to be in a bun.

Eventually, with some experimentation, you’ll find what works for you.

Did you cut your hair, or keep it long? Share your experiences in the forum.

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Hi! I’m the developer of this online community. I’m a Marine currently stationed in Japan, and I decided to finally actualize my dream of creating a space just for female service-members (including those that are looking to join).
Some of my hobbies, other than web development, are 
-Scuba diving
-Hiking (recreationally)
I hope to grow this into a far-reaching community, and that starts by engaging with members. Feel free to hit me up on email and I’ll make sure to get back to you.