15 Types of Hair Clips and Pins + How to Style Them

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Different sizes and types of hair clips are placed on a wooden and mirrored table

Hair clips and pins go a long way back.

Prehistoric people used sticks and small rocks.

Ancient Greeks and Romans used twigs. African people used bones. Ancient Chinese used metal sticks. The list goes on and on.

The point is, our ancestors have experimented with ways to keep their hair out of their faces.

And this hair accessory has evolved ever since: from sticks and stones, hair clips soon became more complex, functional, and decorative.

Because of its uses today, different types of hair clips have become a staple in hair styling. They have different hair clip names too. 

From claw clips, comb clips, snap clips, and alligator hair clips to French pins, banana clips, and even duckbill clips — yes, it gets overwhelming!

“Can’t I just use any kind of clip? They all look the same to me!”

Well, each of these clips comes in various shapes, colors, sizes, and specific uses.

And when you know how to use different hair clips the right way, you can broaden your styling techniques with your knowledge!

You’ll have the power to transform your hair from a plain mane to an impressive one!

Hair Clip vs Hairpin: Is There a Difference?

While both are used to style and decorate hair, there’s a bit of a difference between the hair clip and the hairpin.

Most hairpins appear invisible. Their main function is to secure the hairstyle and let the hairstyle be the star of the show while it usually works “backstage.”

On the other hand, while hair clips also work as a fastener to hair, they are visible and ornamental. Hence, they offer additional pizzazz to the hairstyle.

15 Types of Clips and Pins for Hair

You’ll find lots of names of hair clips and pins all around, and some may even refer to the same thing.

We get that this can be confusing. So we’re here to help you identify these different hair clip names and explain their uses!

Hair Clip Types for Accessorizing

This first set of hair clips is commonly used as decorative hair accessories. They come in many designs and colors.

1. Claw Clip

Do you remember the colorful butterfly clips from the ’90s?

The claw clip is similar to that, except that it has no butterfly wings. This is made of two combs with very large teeth hinged together with a spring.

You can use a claw clip to put your hair back. It’s a great replacement for hair ties because it’s more comfortable and won’t crease or snag your hair.

This clip can also be used for any hair type.

Style Idea: Mermaid Claw Clip
  1. Create beachy waves with a curling iron or wand.
  2. Gather the top half of your hair at the back and secure it with a metal hair claw clip.

The design of your claw clip may add to the mermaidy feel. This glam look is very easy to do!

2. Snap Clip

Speaking of the ’90s, here’s a trend that keeps on coming back. You might have seen Dua Lipa and other women sporting this look recently.

The snap clip is formed out of a single piece of metal and uses an easy snapping mechanism to fasten the hair.

Its main purpose is to keep your hair out of your face. You can use it to place bangs to the side or tidy stray hairs away.

Snap clips are perfect for any hair length. Aside from being easy to use, it also comes in bright colors and different sizes, so it’s great for kids.

It can also be plain or decorated with jewels and other cute details to liven up your hairstyle.

Style Idea: 90s Look

  1. Straighten your hair.
  2. Part your hair down the center.
  3. Use a snap clip (or 2 clips for extra bling) on each side of your part, just above your eyebrow, to hold back the sections of hair.

If you have naturally curly hair and don’t want to straighten it, then just snap on the clips and you’re good to go!

3. Banana Clip

Let’s go further back in time because the banana clip from the ’80s has resurfaced!

A banana clip is curved like a banana (hence the name) and has teeth on both sides that lock together on one end.

There are different types of banana clips for hair:

  • Clincher
  • Fishtail
  • Round

You can use this clip to make a ponytail instead of using scrunchies or elastics. Banana clips give the illusion of longer hair when you wear it.

This comes in different sizes, and the larger ones are ideal for textured, long, and thick hair.

Style Idea: Low Ponytail
  1. Neatly comb your hair back.
  2. Gather all of your hair into a low ponytail.
  3. Place the opened banana clip of your choice over the top of the ponytail.
  4. Clasp the ends in place.

If you just got out of bed and have no time to shower before your Zoom meeting, then this hairdo can save you.

4. French Barrette

Here’s something you might have liked playing with as a kid.

The French barrette is a clip that’s usually adorned with a ribbon or patterned cloth on top.

It’s a small metal clip that has a tension bar and fastener underneath. When you use it, the tension bar pops into place to secure the hair.

You can place hair barrettes on top of your hair as fashion accessories or to keep the hair on one side.

If you have thick hair and you want to keep the barrette in place, you can slide a bobby pin underneath for added hold.

Style Idea: Side Tuck
  1. Part your hair toward the side.
  2. Tuck the thinner side behind your ear and clip it with the French barrette.

This is an easy way to look extra pretty!

5. Minimalist Clip

Less is more. That’s the minimalist approach. And it can also be applied to hairstyling.

One of the newest trends in hair accessories today is the minimalist clip, which is thin like a bobby pin but the front has a geometric or other simple design.

You can use this for a dainty look.

Style Idea: Twisted Half-Up Hair
  1. Gather the hair from your hairline up to ear level in 2 wide sections.
  2. Twist each section.
  3. Secure the sections at the back of the head using the minimalist clip.

6. Comb Clips

Another vintage accessory that’s making a comeback is the comb clips, also known as the side comb hair clip, hair comb clip, or comb hair clip. It looks and works like a comb but looks like a clip when placed on the hair to create a sleek hairstyle.

It technically doesn’t “clip” hair, but looks and somehow acts the part.

And not only is it functional; it’s also stylish because it usually has jewel embellishments. Brides usually have these on!

Style Idea: Half-Up Prom Hair
  1. Grab a section of your hair from the top of your head and hold the section back with your hand.
  2. Twist the section once and hold the jeweled comb, teeth facing down.
  3. Push the teeth firmly into the twisted section to hold it in place.

4 Different Types of Clips for Hair Styling

The following types of hair clips are used mainly as hairstyling tools and not as accessories. They’re usually removed when the style is done.

1. Alligator Hair Clips

When you’re at home and you don’t want to be distracted by hair strands, what do you do?

Most will grab a scrunchie and tie their hair, but here’s another option: alligator hair clips.

This is a pinch clip with teeth at the top half and has two springs that can adjust to hold thick amounts of hair. This makes it perfect for dense and coarse hair.

You can also use the alligator clip when hairstyling to section your hair. You can even use it to keep your hair back while you’re washing your face.

Style Idea: At-Home Updo
  1. Gather your hair up into a ponytail.
  2. Twist the hair into a bun.
  3. Clip the ends of the hair to the back of your head using an alligator hair clip.

You can try this hairdo when you’re busy doing house chores so your hair will be out of your way.

2. Duckbill Clip

Do you get your hair done at the salon often? Then you might have seen this clip used on your hair a lot.

The duckbill clip is similar to an alligator clip, but it has no teeth. What it does have is a pointed end that makes it easy to section hair without a comb.

That’s why it’s a hairdresser’s best friend.

It’s commonly used as sectioning clips while coloring or cutting hair.

Style Idea: Colored Hair
a woman is applying bleaching hair color to a girl with a duckbill clip to separate hair sections
  1. Prepare the hair dye mixture.
  2. Brush your hair and separate it into 4 sections using duckbill clips.
  3. Apply the dye to your hair in sections.
  4. Wait for the hair dye to process according to the instructions.
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly.

Duckbill clips will make hair treatment services easier for you.

3. Single-Prong Curl Clips

This clip has the same mechanism as the duckbill clip but is much smaller. Therefore, it also grips only a small amount of hair.

You can use this when doing pin curls. It smoothly glides through the hair and holds the curls in place.

Plus, you can also use this clip to hold cute small bows on hair.

Style Idea: Pin Curls

Flaunt a vintage look with pin curls. Watch this video tutorial to learn this retro technique yourself using single-prong metal clips.

You can also set your curled locks with hairspray to make them last longer.

4. Double-Prong Curl Clips

Like a single-prong curl clip, this clip also holds sections of curls or finger waves in place. The difference is it can be used for larger bows and it can hold more hair.

You can also use this to secure the hair on the rollers.

A double-prong curl clip can be used for all hair types and lengths.

Style Idea: Volumized Curls
  1. Apply a styling product to your damp curly hair.
  2. Lean out to one side to make your hair hang off your scalp.
  3. Grab a small section of the hair and clip using a double-prong curl clip.
  4. Clip near the scalp in a way that the roots stand straight up.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for other hair sections (the more sections, the fuller).
  6. Wait for your hair to dry completely before removing the hair clips.

This is a favorite among people with naturally curly hair.

5 Types of Hair Pins

1. Bobby Pin

The bobby pin is the pin you might be most familiar with. This is the smallest and simplest pin but also the most popular and useful.

One side of it is smooth and straight and the other is grooved so it works well in securing the strands. Its ends are rounded so you can easily slip them into your hair.

It’s such a versatile tool because it helps put up different hairstyles.

Some people prefer it hidden under the hair while others use bobby pins with different colors as hair accessories.

Style Idea: Front French Braid
A blonde woman is sitting in front of a mirror while her hair is being braided
  1. Section off some hair along your hairline.
  2. Twist the section into a French braid.
  3. When you reach the hair behind your ear, use 1 or 2 bobby pins to secure the braid.

2. U-shaped Pin

Did you know that bobby pins are not the original hairpins used in the early days? Surprise, surprise!

The pins used in the Regency and Victorian eras for their elaborate hairstyles are not bobby pins but these U-shaped pins.

Though they were called bobbing pins and looked a bit like bobby pins, they’re not the same. Just like what the name says, this pin is shaped like a long U.

It doesn’t need to be opened so it’s easier to slide through the hair.

You can use it to make complex modern or historical hairstyles. You can easily tuck the hair in place and keep the pin hidden.

Style Idea: Bridgerton Bun
  1. Curl your hair.
  2. Gather your hair into a high ponytail and hold it with thin elastic.
  3. Divide the hair into 3 sections, the middle one being the thickest.
  4. Grab the middle section and twist it into a bun.
  5. Hold the bun in place by pushing U-shaped pins like a fork from the bun to your roots.
  6. Get the other sections of your hair and pin them into curls in different areas around the bun.

3. French Pin

This is a larger and more decorative version of a U-shaped pin. It’s also called a French fork. It can lift more hair so you can use it to style creative buns. 

However, using this pin takes some getting used to because you don’t simple slide it into the hair. There are flips and turns that you have to do to secure the hair.

Style Idea: Simple Donut Bun

Here’s a tutorial on styling your hair using the French pin. There are 4 hairstyles shown in the video, and our favorite is the simple donut bun.

4. Hair Stick Pins

Aside from jeweled hair combs, Oriental traditional hairstyles commonly use sticks as a pin. But contrary to what you might be thinking, they don’t use chopsticks for their hair.

They have a specific type of hair stick which is a smooth pointed stick with jewels or ornaments at the top.

It’s a great tool for putting the hair up, but like the French pin, it can be confusing to use. You have to try it a lot of times to get the hang of it.

Style Idea: Chinese Hair Bun
  1. Hold your hair in a ponytail.
  2. Place the hair stick pin under the hair. 
  3. Wrap your hair around the stick a few times.
  4. Take the top ends of the stick and pull it down.
  5. Push the pointed end into the back of the wrap you just made.

5. Spin Pins

Have you ever styled using too many bobby pins and felt your hair get so heavy? You can use the spin pin to avoid that issue again.

This spring-looking pin is a versatile hair accessory that has the power of 10 bobby pins!

It’s perfect for creating buns and French twists.

Style Idea: Space Buns
  1. Brush your hair.
  2. Part your hair from the center.
  3. Gather one section and twist it loosely into a bun.
  4. Insert the first spin pin in a twisting motion (like a corkscrew).
  5. Insert the second pin from the opposite direction.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 in the other section.

Frequently Asked Questions

What hair clip is best for toddlers?

The hair clips we recommend for toddlers are snap clips and claw clips.

We know how hard it is to make toddlers sit steadily for a bit, so these two clips are perfect because they don’t take much time to put on.

Plus, snap clips and claw clips are comfortable and won’t hurt the kids.

When were hair clips invented?

The popular types of hair clips you see today like barrettes and snap clips were invented in the early 20th century.

However, hair clips and pins in general go way back to ancient times as people from early civilizations already elaborately styled and decorated their tresses with different types of hair clips.

infographic about different kinds of hair clips

Accessorize Your Hair With Clips and Pins

Now that you know the different types of hair clips, you can finally experiment with more gorgeous hairstyles. Your hair won’t be boring anymore!

There are specific kinds for every styling need, as well as different shapes and sizes to fit every personality.

So don’t underestimate the power of these little things because they can absolutely make a huge difference to your look.

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  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Kelly Goforth

    With ten years in the beauty industry, Kelly Goforth has mastered the art of hair and makeup. Trained at The Redken Exchange in NYC and mentored by industry legends like Sam Villa and Lauren Hagan, she's a sought-after bridal specialist in Colorado Springs. From managing a Denver salon to now offering bridal hair, makeup, and airbrush spray tans, Kelly's expertise shines.

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