12 Different Types of Hair Clips for Any Occasion

Various kinds of hair clips on white linen cloth.

Today hair clips are a fashion accessory that primarily women use to style their hair and match their wardrobe.

Hair clips come in all shapes and sizes. From elaborate barrettes and headbands to the basic bobby pin, hairpin, or ponytail holder.

There is a hair clip appropriate for just about any occasion and any time.

Casual claw clips are a casual way to keep your hair out of your face, they have a function to perform. Meanwhile, clips, headbands, and barrettes are designed to make a fashion statement. They are often glimmering from diamonds, crystals, gemstones, and glitter.

This History of Hair Clips and Hair Accessories:

Hair clips have a long and impressive history.

One of the first hair accessories was the hairpin. Some of the earliest evidence of hair accessorizing can be seen in the “Venus figurines” such as the Venus of Brassempouy and the Venus of Willendorf.

There is evidence that the earliest hair clips were made of ivory, bronze, metal, and carved wood. From the graves of Egyptians, Greeks, and Etruscans, we see that many hair clips contained luxury objects that were valued by those that wore them.

Hair accessories took on a whole new life in the early 1900s with the invention of the spiral hair clip. This led to new types of hair clips being designed, and they took on an important role during the roaring ’20s, when the headband, often created with feather plumes was on every woman’s must-have list.

Think back to the 1950s and the starlets of the day that had magnificent wardrobes and fashionable hair accessories to match their outfits.

Even in the 1960s and 1970s when long straight hair was the style. Women would keep their hair back with a French clip or jaw clip as well as wearing their hair in ponytails. It was around this time that men also started to grow their hair long. And for perhaps the first time in history, they began using hairbands and ponytail holders to keep their flowing locks out of their way.

Types of Hair Clips

Today, there are so many hair clips available today, that it is rare to find women and men that don’t have a ponytail holder or trusty rubber band to hold up their long hair.

Side profile of a man with long hair and beard.

Many companies were created to sell fashion accessories, including hair clips. Brands like Claire’s Boutiques, Ulta Beauty, and Sally Beauty came about because of the demand for more distinctive and unique hair clips.

Take a stroll down any Walmart or Target store, and you will find aisles dedicated to shampoo, conditioners, and fancy hair clips made for those with think hair, fine hair, curly hair, or straight hair.

As a testament to the popularity of hairclips, Town & Country Magazine recently ran an article titled, “The 21 Best Hair Clips to Upgrade Any Outfit: Why hair clips are the best accessory to pull yourself together in 2021”

Going through this article, there is no doubt that the French clip, alligator clip, banana clip, claw clip, hair comb, and condor clip are here to stay.

Here are some of the most popular hair accessory looks today:

Hair Bows

A simple hair bow, has been popular for a long, long time. Just look at The Wizard of Oz and you will see Dorothy with her hair tied back with a hair bow.

Hair bows just never seem to go out of style. They are popular because they are so versatile and can be fancy with gemstones, or simple velvet ribbon. There is a bow style to complement just about any type of outfit.


The popular barrette has been a staple for just about any (or man) that wants to make a fashion statement. Today, you can find jeweled and gemstone encrusted barrettes. Even some top designers today have gotten in the business of creating barrettes that make a fashion statement.

Take a look at the next red carpet event and chances are you will see many celebrities adorning their designer gowns and shoes with similarly upscale hair adornments.

Hair Clips

There are so many types of hair clips that we could go on forever. Like other types of hair clips, they are used to update a look, for convenience, or to add a “wow” factor to your hair. For years women have used makeup to play up their facial features, and have worn clothing that accents their figure, but now, hair clips are making a fashion splash.

A popular type of hair clip today is adorned with precious stones and even the pearl hair clip is making a comeback. These are usually worn with fancy, formal wear to give the hair an upscale clip. They are often accenting an updo.

Hair clips are the generic term for just about any hair accessory, so if someone mentions a hair clip, it is wise to clarify the type of hair clip they are referring to.

Condor Clip

Condor clips may sound a bit frightening by they are a very popular type of hair accessory. They are very easy to use and are great at keeping the sides of the hair looking neat.

The condor clip is very similar to the alligator clip as they both have pointed ends, which some may say look like a condor’s beak. It is often used to hold a messy bun. More formal versions of the condor clip include jewels and elaborate designs.

Snap Clip

Snap clips in pastel colors.

Snap clips are typically no-frills clips that are used to hold the hair in place. They are also often called sleep clips. They are usually an oblong shape and holds the hair against the scalp when it is shut. Because they come in a wide variety of sizes, they can be used by those with both thick and thin hair.

Not to say that they don’t play a role in hair accessories, they are usually used in casual circumstances and are not usually encased in jewels like some of the other clips.

French Clip

Pearl hair clips on woman's brunette hair.

The French clip is a very popular style of the clip. They are also called the auto-lock, not a very attractive name! We’ll keep calling them the French clip. This type of barrette is usually used in the hair for its ornamental qualities.

Because they snap shut, they hold the hair well when they are “locked.” They come in all shapes and sizes. Because of their design, they work best with thick or long hair.

Jaw Clip

A bunch of jaw hair clips

The jaw clip is aptly named. They are called many names such as clutch clip, jaw clip, and butterfly clip. No matter what you call them, they are great for both short and long hair and are often used with a ponytail or bun-style hairdo.

They work by pinching together the outside of the clip, the teeth open around the hair. When you let go of the outside, the spring tension holds the jaws together and keeps the hair in place. They can be used along with a ponytail holder to get a casual updo or messy bun.

Alligator Clip

Woman's long blonde hair with alligator clips.

Also called a gator clip, the alligator clip is a spring-controlled clip that holds the hair lightly. They come in numerous shapes and sizes and are often used in multiples. They are most frequently used to hold sections of hair during the hairstyling process. They work great with any type of hair and are helpful to those that may be growing their hair out and have different lengths. They are also used when creating an elegant updo.

One great thing about the alligator clip is that they are versatile, they can be used while creating a hairdo, and also in the finished style.

Duckbill Hair Clip

Duckbill hair clips are a utility type of clip. They rarely get to see the light of day because they are primarily used to hold a section of hair out of the way when it is being styled. It is also used when a stylist is cutting and dying a patron’s hair. They are very easy to find in just about any store that carries hair supplies, and they are inexpensive.

Most people would not wear these clips as a fashion statement as they are very plain, metal clips. But that doesn’t mean they do not play an important role in creating beautiful hairstyles, much like the lowly hairpin.


Headbands are a godsend to anyone that had medium to long hair. They come in all shapes and sizes and are ideal for those with think or thin hair.

Headbands are a horseshoe-shaped band that is usually worn by those with long hair to keep the hair out of their face. It can be made from cloth, metal, or plastic. They are worn for utilitarian purposes, like keeping the hair out of the eyes, but they also can be designed with ornate gems, turning them into fashionable accessories to complement the wardrobe.

In the UK, they are also called Alice bands, as in the Story of Alice in Wonderland, in which Alice was never without her headband.

Hair Extension

Today more than ever, people are enjoying the versatility offered by hair extension. Hair extensions can be used by those that have thinning hair or are losing their hair.

Hair extensions can make hair look lush and full. They can be used to accent natural hair or as a fun hair accessory because they come in a myriad of different colors. So those considering a drastic color change can try out their new hair as a hair extension to see if they will like the final result.

Hair extensions have changed over time. Just a couple of years back, hair extensions were considered part of your permanent hair and would be sewn into a client’s natural hair. They would be left in the hair until it grows out and would then need to be replaced.

Today, hair extensions don’t need to be a permanent hair solution. They can be added to the hair with small clips that aren’t seen after the hair is styled.

Wedding Hair Accessories

Every woman wants to look her best on her wedding day. Today, more brides are opting not to wear traditional veils and instead, want their hair meticulously styled and accented with beautiful hair clips, hairpins, clips, barrettes, and even tiaras.

Brides with lovely hair accessories.

Some brides that want the best of both worlds have a hair clip or tiara designed that has a veil that can be removed after the ceremony.

Every woman wants to look like a princess on her wedding day, thankfully, many of the elegant hair clips and hair bands being designed today offer beautiful pieces that perfectly accentuate the brides’ hair, gown and flowers.

Couple posing against the nature.

Hair accessories have become part of our lives. With both men and women wearing their hair in long styles, men are now buying their own hair accessories or borrowing them from their wives and girlfriends.

As the fashion world looks for the next big thing, we have to wonder what types of hair clips we will be seeing on the runways, catwalks, and red carpets soon.


Answer Socrates: The history of hair clips

Town & Country: The 21 Best Hair Clips to Upgrade Any Outfit

WiseGEEK: What are Duckbill Clips?

LEAFtv: Hair Clip Types

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