12 Different Types of Hair Clips and Hairpins

By: | Last Updated: July 21, 2021

A statuette named “Venus of Willendorf”, one of the oldest surviving works of art, revealed that hair accessories date back to 24 000 BCE. [1]

Early humans used sticks, bones, and beads to decorate their hair. Back then, these accessories symbolized their social status or religion. [2]

Today, we decorate our hair with different types of hair clips and hairpins of various shapes, colors, and sizes. Just like any fashion statement, we use these accessories to express our individuality.

In this article, you will learn more about: 

  • difference between a hair clip and a hairpin
  • different kinds of hair clips and their uses
  • different kinds of hairpins and their uses

Hair clips versus Hairpins

Hair clips or hairpins? 

We often use these two terms interchangeably, thinking that they’re the same thing.

Well, they serve the same purpose, but they are not the same. 

Knowing the difference between these two will help you better identify what kind of hair accessories you need.

On one hand, hairpins are usually made from thin metal wire, usually bent in half, and are used to keep hair in place. They are especially useful on intricate updos such as crown braids or chignons. 

Usually, hairpins are plain in design to camouflage in the hair and appear invisible. However, some hairpins nowadays are also used for the sole purpose of decorating the hair.

Hair clips, also known as hair clasps, on the other hand, are made of plastic or metal. They have a mechanism that helps them keep the hair in place. This mechanism usually includes spring hinges and combs. 

Unlike hairpins, hair clips are bigger and more visible, which is why they are often decorated.

Now that you know the basic difference between a hair clip and a hairpin, read on to know the different types of hair clips and hairpins and how to use them properly. [3]

Different Types of Hair Clips vs Hair Pins

What are Hairpins Used For?

Hairpins are very useful and versatile. We can use it on any hairstyle and any occasion. But what exactly is the purpose of hairpins? Why is it useful and versatile?

We use hairpins to hold our hair in place. More than that, we also use hairpins to secure other hair accessories, such as headbands or crowns, among others.

Hairpins are flexible, which means they can be bent and twisted to suit your needs.

They usually come in black, brunette, and blonde, which makes them less obvious when used. But they also come in bright, attention-grabbing colors.

There are different kinds of hairpins for every occasion. [4]

On a romantic date, you can use bobby pins to secure your half-up hairdo. 

At a wedding, you can use pearl-embellished hairpins to secure your chignon while decorating it at the same time.
Briefly, we use hairpins mainly to secure all kinds of hairstyles and to help hold other hair accessories in place. 

What are the Different Types of Hair Clips and Pins?

To make things simpler, we’ve divided it into 2 parts: Hair Clips and Hairpins.


1. Claw clips

Claw clips are the most common kind of hair clip. These are clips with two curved plastic “combs” joined together by a metal spring hinge.

These come in different colors and sizes. We usually use bigger claw clips to hold up the hair into a casual, laidback updo.

Similarly, we use smaller claw clips to style the hair by holding or separating small chunks of hair.

Claw clips are great alternatives for scrunchies or hair ties that eventually cause headaches when worn for too long.

2. French barrette 

French barrette hair clips are made of thin yet flexible metal.

They are usually thin and long.

Since they are big enough to be visible, they are often decorated with bows and stones to look stylish.

It has a unique mechanism to help secure the hair.

Unlike claw clips which use spring hinges, French barrettes have a tension bar and an arm that locks a metal bar in place. This mechanism tightly secures the hair, which guarantees a neat updo even after long hours.

3. Hair setting clips

Hair setting clips, also known as creaseless hair clips, look and work a lot like alligator hair clips. The only difference is that hair-setting clips are toothless and are much more lightweight than alligator clips.

Hairstylists use these to keep hair in place during make-up application. These clips do not leave creases on your hair which is why it is perfect for securing heat-styled curls or waves.

Some people use it for the sole purpose of styling their hair.

Even when casually worn, it looks fashionable because it gives a “model-off-duty” vibe as if you are waiting backstage for your make-up artist to finish your makeup before a fashion show.

4. Alligator Hair Clips

Alligator hair clips are made from light metal shaped like an alligator’s mouth, hence the name.

To open the alligator’s mouth, one has to pinch the two pieces of metal entwined by a spring hinge.

Hairstylists often use big alligator clips in holding sections of the hair when doing a hairstyle or haircut. For this reason, big alligator clips are usually plain in design.

You’ll often see small alligator clips decorated with bows or beads. They can be used to hold small sections of hair or to simply decorate the hair. 

5. Snap clips

Snap clips are popular among children and adults alike. These are hair clips that bend and snap to secure the hair.

Since it can only hold thin strands of hair, we cannot use it to hold chunks of hair for a long time. We usually use it only to keep hair or bangs away from the face.

Snap clips are embellished with rhinestones or cute bows and come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. These clips are very easy to use and will surely never go out of style.

6. Duckbill clips

Duckbill clips can get confused with alligator clips because they have the same shape. The difference is that duckbill clips have finer teeth than alligator clips.

They are usually made of steel or plastic. Hairstylists commonly use them to hold hair sections while hairstyling. They can also be used to temporarily hold heated hairstyles so that the hairstyle would last longer.

For example, when curling your hair using a heated curling iron, you would want to maintain the curl’s shape as you let it cool so the curls would last longer. In that case, using small duckbill clips is a good option.

7. Banana hair clips

Banana hair clips look like two curved combs that can be latched together to hold the hair in between. These clips were big in the 1980s and became popular again recently.

The most common hairstyle that uses banana clips is messy, laidback ponytails.

Unlike a hair tie that tightly compresses your hair together, a banana clip evenly spreads your hair vertically. This makes your hair look thicker and longer than it actually is.

Banana hair clips come in different sizes and lengths to accommodate all hair types. 


1. Bobby pins

Bobbie pins are, without a doubt, the most common hair accessories ever. They are very versatile and useful. No wonder why they are the crowd’s fave.

They are often used to secure intricate hairdos, from updos to braids. Since bobby pins are made of flexible wires, they can hold a good chunk of hair in place.

However, they only work well with the help of other bobby pins. One bobby pin cannot hold a thick hair chunk for too long.

Since their purpose is to secure rather than design, bobby pins usually come in black. But recently, bobby pins have come in colors that camouflage with other natural hair colors, such as blonde or brunette.  

2. Decorative pins

Decorative pins are usually pushed into the hair vertically. They have two prongs made from thin wire and are usually decorated with beads, pearls, or stones.

We usually use these as finishing touches for hairstyles. Although they can somehow secure the hairstyle, they are more likely used as decorations.

These pins come in different lengths, colors, and designs. 

3. Tiara pins

Although commonly used on bridal hairstyles, tiara pins are, without a doubt, classy and stylish. Tiara pins usually have comb-like pins that help secure the hair and have a cute tiara in the front.

These can help secure other accessories on the hair, such as the veil that brides wear.

However, since tiaras only look good when placed on the crown of the head, we cannot use them to hold sections of hair upwards or sideways.

Its main purpose is to give your hairstyle a classy princess vibe.

4. Hair Stick Pins

Hair stick pins look like a single chopstick. People commonly use these pins in pairs, but you may also opt to use them alone. Hair stick pins usually secure tight buns on long hair.

Using hair stick pins is not a good idea for those with short or thin hair.

If you have long hair, it may take some practice before you get a good-looking bun using these sticks, but it will surely be worth it. 

5. Spin pins

Spin pins are like bobby pins… but spiral.

People with curly and unmanageable hair use these instead of basic bobby pins.

For those with curly or thick and unmanageable hair, you might want to consider using spin pins instead of bobby pins to keep your hair in place.

Types of Clips for Hair Bows

Hair bows are a trend that goes back to the 1800s, in which rich men tie their long hair back with a bow. [5]

Up until now, we still decorate our hair with bows of different sizes and colors.

You might be wondering which hair clip would go best with hair bows.

Well, the two most used clips for hair bows are alligator clips and French barrettes.

An alligator clip is one with two toothed metal bars that you pinch open using your thumb and forefinger. [6]

In comparison, the French barrette is the one that has “arms” which you pinch to release the metal bar from the tension bar.

These two clips are usually decorated with bows because they can both secure the hair tightly, even for a long time.

Both have enough space for decorations like big bows or sparkly stones. And, unsurprisingly, both are cheap and very easy to use.

These come in different lengths and sizes. The amount of hair they can hold depends on their size. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What clips are used for bows?

We usually use alligator clips and French barrettes for bows since they are easy to decorate and can tightly secure hair.

What are duckbill clips used for?

Duckbill clips are used for holding small sections of the hair during hair styling. Hairstylists also use it to hold curls in place.

For example, when curling using a heated hair curler,  you would want to keep the curled shape of your hair until it cools using small duckbill clips. This way, the curls would last longer. 

What are alligator hair clips?

Alligator hair clips are toothed hair clips that look like an alligator’s mouth. Usually, it comes with a spring hinge that allows the “mouth” to open and close.

The amount of hair that alligator clips can secure depends on their size. Big alligator clips are used to hold and section hair during hairstyles, while small alligator clips are often used for decorative purposes only.

What are flat hair clips called?

Flat hair clips are also known as creaseless hair clips or hair-setting clips, are clips that are designed to keep the hair away from your face without ruining the existing hairstyle.

They do not leave creases on the hair because they are flat and toothless.

Even so, they are strong enough to hold the hair in place.

Recently, flat hair clips have become a trend because celebrities often wear them, plus they come in cute pastel colors. 

What are hair-setting clips?

Hair-setting clips, also known as creaseless hair clips, are commonly used to hold the hair away from one’s face, especially while putting on makeup.

These clips are flat, toothless, and lightweight, making them ideal for temporarily securing heat-styled hair. 

What is a French barrette clip?

French barrette clips are clips with a unique mechanism. They have a metal bar, and a tension bar parallel to each other. These bars are held together by short prongs called “arms.”

One can just pinch one of the prongs to open the clip and slide it into your hair.

Often decorated with huge bows or small beads and shiny stones,  French barrettes come in different sizes and colors.

These clips are one of the most common among women. They are used to secure updos or half-up hairdos. 

Express Yourself Through Your Hair!

As mentioned earlier, ancient people use hair accessories to convey their social status, religion, etc.

But nowadays, we use it to convey our unique style and personality.

Now that you know the most common kinds of hairpins and hair clips, you can already experiment with these fun and stylish hair accessories. 

Now go and represent your individuality in style! 


  1. Zygmont, B n.d., Venus of Willendorf, Khan Academy, accessed 20 July 2021, <https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/prehistoric-art/paleolithic/paleolithic-objects/a/venus-of-willendorf>
  2. Basada, E 2019, It’s Time To Wear Your Heart In Your Hair: A Brief History of Hair Accessories, Dismantle Mag, accessed 20 July 2021, <https://dismantlemag.com/2019/04/29/brief-history-hair-accessories/>
  3. The 15 Different Types of Hair Clips That Exist, n.d, Hairstyle Camp, accessed 21 July 2021, <https://hairstylecamp.com/types-of-hair-clips/>
  4. 19 Different Types Of Hair Pins and Clips, 2019, Styles at Life, accessed 21 July 2021, <https://stylesatlife.com/articles/types-of-hair-pins/>
  5. Basic Hair Bows: Your Guide to sizes and uses of all our Basic Bows, 2016, The Hair Bow Company, accessed 21 July 2021, <https://www.thehairbowcompany.com/blog/basic-hair-bows-your-guide-to-sizes-and-uses-of-all-our-basic-bows/>
  6. Alligator Hair Clips, n.d, HairBow Center, accessed 21 July 2021, <https://www.hairbowcenter.com/hair-hardware/alligator-clips.html>

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