Hair pins can be used in a plethora of ways, from holding hair in intricate updos to pinning back bangs that are growing out. Knowing the difference between a bobby pin and their U-shaped cousin, the hairpin, and how to use them properly, will lead to an array of styling opportunities.

Bobby Pins

A bobby pin is a double pronged, closed hair pin made of metal that usually come in colors designed to blend in with the hair, such as black, brown, and gold for blondes. One prong is ribbed to help the pin stay in the hair, while the other end is straight. To use one, insert the pin with the wavy side against your scalp. By keeping the pin closed as you insert it in your hair, the pin will keep a tighter grip on the hair it has caught.

Hair Styles Using Bobby Pins

Because bobby pins provide such a strong hold, they are great to use to keep elaborate updos in place, but they can also be the focal point of your hairstyle. For a modern yet casual look that’s perfect for painting the town with friends, try this edgy take on a side sweep. First create a deep side part. Then, slick back the side with less hair with a bit of water and some hair spray, and secure it with a vertical row of decorated bobby pins. The pins should begin right above the ear and go back into the hair a couple of inches. Finally, place more bobby pins in a criss cross pattern over the vertically placed pins, leaving the fuller side of your hair flowing freely.


Like the bobby pin, the hairpin is double pronged, but its prongs are open, making a shape like the letter “U,” which is why it is often called a U-shaped pin. Both prongs of a hairpin have ribbing to help it stay in the hair and keep the style in place. If your hair is extra soft and fine, look for hairpins that have textured prongs instead of the traditional sleek metal prongs.

Hair Styles Using Hairpins

Hairpins are great for styling delicate updos because they are light and disappear into the hair better than bobby pins. To create a modern, messy bun with hairpins, first gather hair into a pony tail anywhere on on your head. Keep in mind that your ponytail placement will determine where the center of the bun will be. Next, tease the ponytail by backcombing it in one-inch sections. The texture will help the hairpins stay in place. Once completely teased, wrap the ponytail around the base and pin in place, holding the hairpin perpendicularly to your head and catching about an inch of the hair that’s in the bun. To secure, flip the pin flat against your scalp, and push in toward the center of the bun.