Different hair clips serve different purposes. Some are designed to hold thick masses of hair, while others are made for fine baby strands. Hair clips come in several different forms — plain and simple to aid during styling or very ornamental and as costly as fine jewelry. Choosing the right hair clip depends on your style and fashion needs and the type of hair you are working with.
Many types of hair clips are called "barrettes", but at its most basic, a barrette is a hair ornament that is either a single piece of molded plastic that folds and snaps together or a single strip of thin metal bent into a flat clip. It holds hair in place, but is sometimes worn simply as an ornamental hair adornment. Small, colorful plastic barrettes are often worn by children and work best with fine hair.
The alligator or "gator" clip is a pinch clip with a spring that allows the clip to grip the hair lightly like an alligator's mouth. Often used by stylists to hold sections of hair during the styling process, there are also ornamental styles that can be worn as part of a finished hairstyle. Alligator clips come in different sizes and can be used on any type of hair.
Snap clips, also called sleep clips, are metal hair clips usually in a pointed oblong shape that lay flat against the scalp when shut. To open, the clip is bent backwards until it snaps open. When it is in place, it is bent down to shut. It can be used for thick or thin hair, depending on the size of the snap clip.
The French clip, also called the auto lock, is a larger barrette that is usually ornamental. The French clip has a metal bar with a tension design underneath the barrette that "locks" when closed, so the hair is held firmly in place. French clips work best with long or thick hair.
Jaw clips, also called clutch, claw, or butterfly clips, are spring-tension pinch clips that consist of two combs that clasp together when shut. Clutch clips can hold very thick hair and are often used to clip long or short hair into a bun or ponytail-type style.
The condor clip, along with variations like the a banana and flamingo clip, is an elongated version of the alligator clip, with pointed ends resembling a beak and a rounded top. These clips can hold a bun or up-do in place and are sometimes jeweled for a more formal style. Condor clips can be used on most types of hair, especially to hold longer hair.