How to Make a Sock Bun (and Other Military Hair Tips)

Updated on April 23, 2020
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I am a mother of 2, EMT, Paramedic student, freelance writer, veteran, and so much more.

Learn how to make a sock bun, which is a female hairstyle that meets military regulations.
Learn how to make a sock bun, which is a female hairstyle that meets military regulations. | Source

What Is a Sock Bun?

There are actually many different ways to make a military bun. A sock bun is one method for females in the military to get their hair into a regulation style. Sometimes, a girl's hair is a big pain in the military. I've seen tons of females get yelled at beyond belief because their hair was a mess while they were ruck marching! Apparently, your hair still needs to be perfectly in regulation while busting your butt. A sock bun is the easiest way to do this. It looks sleek and professional, and it stays in place.

What You Will Need

  • Sock
  • Scissors
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Bobby pins
  • 2 hair ties
  • Hairspray or gel

Step One: Create the Sock Doughnut

The longer your hair is, the longer you will want the sock to be. This is because the longer the sock is, the thicker the doughnut will be that you create out of it. This makes for more area your hair has to cover and less extra hair to tuck away at the end. The concept works the opposite way for short hair and shorter socks.

If you don't want to make your own, you can buy products that are specifically for this purpose. However, the military-issue black dress socks work great for this. If you don't want to cut up your dress socks, you can buy a pre-made sock bun doughnut for really cheap on Amazon or eBay.

  1. Put the clean sock on your foot.
  2. Roll the sock down until you get to your ankle.
  3. Take the sock off your foot, keeping it rolled up.
  4. Cut off the toe part of the sock.
  5. Continue to roll the sock until it is in a full doughnut shape.

Step Two: Put Your Hair in a Ponytail

  1. Create a part in your hair if you would like one.
  2. Pull your hair back into a tight ponytail at the nape of your neck. Make sure it is low enough to leave plenty of room for your cover (hat) to be on properly.
  3. Pin bangs down with bobby pins.
  4. Spray your hair (except the hair in the ponytail) with hairspray and smooth it down.

Step Three: Secure the Sock

  1. Slide the hair of your ponytail through the sock doughnut that you created.
  2. Make sure the doughnut is all the way down, at the base of the ponytail.
  3. Flip your head over and spread your hair evenly over the sock doughnut in all directions. You don't want to be able to see the sock at all.
  4. If you have very thin hair, try to use a sock that matches the closest to the color of your hair. This will keep it from being obvious if it shows.
  5. Place another hair tie over the hair.
  6. Make sure it is tight.
  7. Readjust hair, if needed, to cover the sock.
  8. Make sure you keep your head down during all of step three until you have secured the second hair tie to keep your hair from moving out of place.

Step Four: Secure Your Hair

  1. Twist small sections of your hair and tuck them under the bun. This should be done all the way around the bun so all the ends are twisted in together. Start at one spot and move in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction around the whole bun.
  2. Once you twist the sections, make sure to wrap them around the bun to secure them in place. You are basically tucking them away out of sight.
  3. Pin loose ends into the bun with bobby pins.
  4. Spray your entire head with hairspray.
  5. Spray and pin down any extra hairs that are not securely in place.

An Alternative to the Sock Bun

Sometimes, if your hair is really long or thick, step four doesn't work out so easily because there is such a bulky amount of hair you are tucking in. If you're not able to make the sock bun work for you, there is something else you can try that is sleek, professional, and secure as well.

This is actually the method I used all through basic training. It never moved all day long and looked great. I always did it when my hair was wet to make sure it was as sleek as possible. While this did look good, I ended up with moldy-smelling hair. I would not suggest this in a field or training environment.

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 in the sock bun instructions.
  2. Put enough gel on the hair in the ponytail so that it is lightly covered.
  3. Grab the hair in the ponytail and twist it tightly all the way to the tip of the hair.
  4. Wrap the twisted hair around the base of the ponytail.
  5. Place a hair tie around the bun you created (you can use two to make it even more secure).
  6. Use bobby pins to secure any loose ends.
  7. Spray the final bun with hairspray.

Other Military Hair Tips

  • Be careful putting your hair in certain kinds of buns when it's wet. You can easily breed mold in there when your hair is wrapped up tight all day and there are no showers.
  • Think very long and hard before cutting your hair. Layers and bangs both make military buns more difficult. And, if you cut your hair too short, it may not make it into any kind of bun. That's fine if you want to deal with your hair not up while you are doing rigorous training, but I wouldn't suggest it.
  • Don't cut your hair short to look cute; I promise there is nothing cute about crazy hair in the field. You look cuter with a bun, done right!

I actually cut my hair in AIT to my chin and regretted it. I had to get up every morning and straighten my hair so it wasn't crazy. Also, waiting for it to grow back out was the worst. Then, there is the point where your hair is too long to be in regulation when worn down but too short to be in a nice bun. I always looked so sloppy when I was growing my hair out after cutting it.


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    • profile image


      22 months ago

      i think they provide it for you. But then again I'm still in middle school so what do I know.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I don't know about everywhere, but you are not allowed to bring hairspray to Marine boot camp.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This was super helpful! And it doesn't look that difficult. Thank you for the video and tips :)

    • Learning in Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Dodd 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. : )

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good for you for sharing your method with tips, and thanks for your service to our military as a medic!

    • rodney southern profile image

      rodney southern 

      7 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I always thought this style looked cool. I had a good friend when I was stationed in Baumholder, Germany that wore it like that and was always shocked at how long it was down. Great hub and video!

    • Learning in Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Dodd 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, it does look good as just an everyday hairstyle but its best for military because it doesn't move! lol

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 

      7 years ago from uk

      We have an ex navy nurse at work, this is just how her hair looks. I was amazed how long it was off duty. Wonder how long it will take me to grow my hair and have a go....This looks very useful, good stuff.


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