Grown-up looking small, tight, hair clips
August 8, 2014 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I have very, very fine hair. I wear these hair clips every day to keep my hair. Can you recommend similarly small, strong clips that look either a) more professional or b) more special but not cheap?

This is me, with the clips in my hair. I wear them on both sides. These are the only hair clips that have EVER worked in my hair. Usually, my very fine hair slips out of clips. Barrettes are a joke -- they just slide all over the place, and if I don't pay attention end up dangling from the end of my hair by the end of the day. I think the Scunci mini clips work because they are both small and strong.

I'd like to have some hair clips that are more polished looking -- that look something more like a grown-up with a senior management position would wear! I thought these would be good, but they slip out like everything else.

I would also like to have something I can put in my hair on special occasions, like a fancy date or going to a wedding. But the fancier clips I've seen are very cheap looking. I'll settle for something plain if that's all I can get, but it would be nice to dress up a bit every now and then.

Do you have any recommendations?
posted by OrangeDisk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I have fine, thin hair, too. This is the only barrette style I've ever found that stays in my hair, and most of the typical colors are plain enough to go unnoticed in a professional setting. Once in a while one finds a colorful variant as well.

I think I've seen some dressed-up variants of this type of clip on Etsy, that might work for a special occasion if you find the basic style works for you.
posted by Stacey at 6:15 AM on August 8, 2014

These no slip bobby pins are pretty fierce. Use them in pairs, wavy side down and crossed over narrowly, so they make an elongated X shape.
posted by mercredi at 6:15 AM on August 8, 2014

I use these too! I try to only use the brown ones when going out of the house. Have you considered trying that? Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I've been hoping that the brown color is a more "neutral" shade.

My hair is significantly closer to brown than yours, though I wonder if if might still be an improvement. It might coordinate with your glasses, at least.
posted by amtho at 6:16 AM on August 8, 2014

You are looking for Ficcare hair pins, the square pins in particular. I love these things. They are definitely not cheap, but they are gorgeous and indestructible. They hold my long, fine, pin-straight hair like nobody's business.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 6:29 AM on August 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

I also came to recommend Ficcare hair clips. I use these for my daughter's hair, and they're amazing.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

To answer a tangent of your question, here are some tricks that I use when there's a particular fancy-looking clip I want to wear on a special occasion, but I know it will just fall right out as soon as I move my head. First step, use a bit of mousse or hairspray or other slightly-sticky product to make the hairs less slippery where they're being grabbed.
One thing that often helps (depending on the clip) is to wrap a tiny rubber band around the back bar of the barette/clip (bare rubber like this, not fabric-covered hair elastic) which reduces the volume of hair that the clip expects to be holding, and adds friction. Another thing I do is to reinforce with bobby pins: put the fancy thing in place, the jab bobby pins like mercredi describes, but clamped around the back bar of the barrette. Or if that doesn't work, use one of the aforementioned small rubber bands in the piece of hair that I'm clipping (and if you wrap around enough times, those things don't fall out!) and then put the fancy clip just above the rubber band, with an extra piece of hair to cover up the rubber part.
posted by aimedwander at 6:34 AM on August 8, 2014

I was having a hair emergency recently on vacation and picked up some Jane Tran bobby pins. They have amazing hold! They're about 10x more effective than the longer, typical bobby pins you find at the drug store.

My sister swears by the Jane Tran barrettes as well. Here's a bunch at
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:38 AM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

You might want to consider making an appointment at a salon and speaking to a hairstylist about ways you can pull (and keep) your hair back in a professional way - let them know this when you make the appointment. Go in, bring the barrettes/clips you have, show them what you're doing and what you want to achieve. Like aimedwander mentions, there are styling tips that will help the barrettes/clips do their jobs better. Sometimes too, its good to have a fresh opinion of something.

One thing my stylist taught me is that my hair was too clean to hold the barrettes/clips, I had to 'dirty it up' with some spray and product to help them stay.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:40 AM on August 8, 2014

Agree with aimedwander that some product can help keep things in place. I use Big Sexy Hair Powder Play - it's designed to help tease your hair without backcombing, but if I use a little bit on my roots it helps barrettes stick.
posted by radioamy at 7:08 AM on August 8, 2014

Plain ol' bobby pins - wavy side toward scalp. In general, pulling your hair back like shown in your picture is not the epitome of adult professional appearance. It's fine, but it could be better. I second the recommendation to revisit your stylist. I have reaaaaly fine hair and expert layering is the only thing that works for me. The half up/half down look or even just sides pinned back is really hard to pull off with fine hair. I tried for so long to make styles like that work, or wear headbands, or do the pompadour thing, etc before I realized my hair is just not meant to be like that. For any of these styles to work, there has to be more volume on one side of the pinning/clipping device, otherwise it will just look like this. Hair is down, tucked behind my ears, or it's all the way up, no in between.

Also, the sock bun (done this way, not the roll-down way) is amazing.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:13 AM on August 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Bobby pins, making sure the wavy side is DOWN and close to your scalp, and the straight side is up. Knowing I had been doing it wrong my whole life and then turning them around changed my life!!
posted by katypickle at 7:33 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Bobby pins are much more effective when using this tuck-and-flip sort of method.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:00 AM on August 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Wow, thought this was a photo of me!

Every type of hair has its advantages and disadvantages. Hair like ours makes it easy to achieve sleekness, so go for it.

Agree with others above who say that barrettes and clips don't scream sophistication for work wear. It took me a while to wean myself off them (and I used to collect them in all shapes, sizes and colors) but I did.

Heavy-duty hair product is not just for those with thick unruly tresses. Look for a product called POMADE, and experiment until you find one you love. Right now I'm using Got2b Defiant - has a subtle shimmer and a non-gross smell, and keeps everything in place.

A good look for work: add a side part, then use some pomade to smooth your hair behind your ears. If the front strands still slip, give them a spritz of super-freeze holding spray. Put a pair of studs in your ears and swipe on some red lipstick.
posted by cartoonella at 8:16 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yup, we have the same hair, looks like. Hairspray kills it, and it must be washed every day or it looks absolutely hideous? If there's pomade in it, it looks like an actual greaser from the 1950s? Not even half as much hair as we'd need to cover a sock bun, or even the tiniest little mesh bun-maker? 90% of hair recommendations just make you laugh because PLEASE?


1) I have had quite a bit of luck lately "dirtying" up my hair with a sea-salt spray! It isn't greasy or crunchy, which is essential; and it does seem to put my hair in more of a mood to do as I say.

2) I found a set of barrettes like Stacey linked above in a color almost identical to my hair, and try to tuck them so that other hair mostly falls over them.

I mostly place the barrettes just behind my left ear, because I'm growing out bangs. This helps keep them unobtrusive--but if you wear glasses I don't know if that will work.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

(FWIW though I have never looked professional for one minute, and in fact am currently not even wearing pants. But my hair is securely pinned, despite its best efforts.)
posted by like_a_friend at 9:14 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I also have very fine, thin, straight hair, and lately I've taken my style cues from author/curator Lucy Worsley. Basically, my hair has this one strand in front that will fall out in front of my face no matter what I do with it, and it's not long enough to pull it all back, as my hair is currently in a bob a hair longer than chin length.

I use Scunci no-slip grip clips similar to these--they have to have plastic/rubber stuff on them, which provides the no-slip part, and I can't put too much hair in them: too much hair means they just fall out. I use one to pin the unruly strand out of my face, and that strand works as a headband to keep the rest out of my face...some of it will fall forward a bit, but it's contained enough that a quick head toss will put it back. example picture (My hair is usually a bit more kempt than it is in that picture, but I woke up late this morning and didn't spend quite the time I usually do on it with the dryer and my round brush, so it's choosing to flip up at the ends instead of under.)

If I want to hide the barrette, I place it lower down, right above my ear, and it just looks like I've tucked that strand of hair behind my ear.
posted by telophase at 9:30 AM on August 8, 2014

Ok, my hair is much thicker and heavier than yours BUT I think I know what you're looking for!

I used to have the most beautiful set of hair clips that were similar in style to those, but they were metal with tiny rhinestones, that I picked up at a grocery story on a whim. They were perfect for work, and I'm so glad you asked this question as it gives me the opportunity to look again for a similar replacement. Here's some of what I found:

mini jeweled jaw clip
metal jaw clips with beads and rhinestones
jeweled butterfly clips
mini jeweled jaw clip

They key seems to be looking for "butterfly clip" or "jaw clip".

I hope someone else finds more suggestions... I miss mine like crazy :(
posted by lilnublet at 10:59 AM on August 8, 2014

These are very good.
posted by glasseyes at 12:40 PM on August 8, 2014

This variation of the ubiquitous metal snap clip works very well in my slippery hair. They stay absolutely put all day, and they're comfortable. Sadly, not much for looks though.
posted by Corvid at 2:32 PM on August 8, 2014

Another vote for jeweled jaw clips. I recently was won over by some vintagey ones made of metal, like these. The filigree and "jewels" make them seem more like jewelry. And though being metal makes it heavier, the spring on mine is very strong.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 4:36 PM on August 8, 2014

I've been coveting Ficcare hair accessories for years but can't bring myself to lay out the required cash. Quecraft's Etsy Store has some nice things made of horn or bone.
posted by Deodand at 7:01 PM on August 9, 2014

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