The Damaging Effects Of A Military Bun On Hair: Everything You Need To Know

Published by Goooooose on

As female service members, our hair is expected to look neat and professional at all times. That often means pulling it into a tight bun, coating it with synthetic products, and leaving it up for hours, possibly even days at a time. Naturally, these practices damage hair, and leave strands needing a lot of extra care.

In this article, I’ll outline the damaging effects the military bun has on your hair, and detail some ways to mitigate it. Full disclosure, this article contains affiliate links to Amazon, and I will make a small commission if you purchase a product through the link.

The Nitty-Gritty

The damage caused by a tight hairstyle can be summarized by four effects. While not fully preventable, there are some actions you can take to mitigate these side-effects.

Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia is the thinning and loss of hair along the hairline. It’s caused by pulling hair back too tightly, which damages the follicles along your hairline. This condition makes it look like you’re balding, and let’s be honest, it doesn’t look hot.

In most cases, your hair will start to heal and grow back normally once you stop putting your hair in a bun. So if you do one enlistment in the military, get out, and let your hair recover, the hair should start to rebuild itself to what it once was. However, there are some situations in which this kind of hair loss could be permanent. For example, if you’re a career woman and have your hair in the same style for 20 years, you might just be stuck looking like a before picture from the Bosley commercials.

But don’t fret! There are ways to mitigate hair loss. Here are some things you might want to try:

  • Instead of pulling your hair back extremely tight, try mimicking that tight look by simply flattening your hair and gelling it thickly. Leave the pony tail somewhat loose, but your hair will still look like you yanked it back. Make sure to use a heat protectant if you’ll be using a flattening iron.
  • Switch up how you part your hair to prevent hair loss in a specific spot.
  • Let your hair down as much as possible. Don’t consistently leave it up for days at a time.
  • Try using a balding cap to help regrow your hair. (This one is big money, so definitely a last resort.)


Breakage is going to happen no matter what you do. Whether or not you do a sock or a braid bun, you’re pulling it tight and sticking things (like bobby pins and hair ties) in your hair that shouldn’t be there. Unfortunately, this can lead to split ends and unruly looking hair. So what do you do?

Dried Hair

Using synthetic products, whether or not the hair style, will certainly dry out your hair. This will only exacerbate breakage, since dried hair will be much less stretchy. Dry hair is also the cause of split ends. When your hair is down, dried out strands will not only look, but feel unhealthy and far too wispy. To combat this, try some of these methods:

  • Use an alcohol-free gel. (Click here to see the best gels for the military bun.)
  • Use a hair mask before you shower to help condition your hair.
  • Try massaging your hair and scalp with coconut oil to prevent dandruff and moisturize your strands.
  • Use a leave-in conditioner before you put up your hair.

Flaky scalp

With hair-frying chemicals sitting on your hair all day, dandruff is a real possibility. Not only is it gross, but scratching at it can cause temporary hair loss. Dandruff, while harmless, is an embarrassing condition that no one wants, so make sure to take these measures to help prevent it:

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking of joining the military, you might be wondering if all this damage is worth it. There are other options, including just cutting your hair short to where you don’t have to put it in a bun. Luckily for you, I have the answer.

I think it’s worth mentioning that the military bun’s damaging effects don’t stop with hair health. Keeping your hair up tight like that can cause headaches, tension in your neck and back, and stretched out skin (which causes wrinkles.)

We’ve known for a long time just how bad the military bun is for hair, but no one really talks about it. I think it’s important to get the word out, and share tips for how to keep your hair healthy. What tricks do you use to keep your hair in good condition? Make sure to share them 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.