When to Use Which Hair Clip And Why

When to Use Which Hair Clip And Why

There’s no shortage of hair clip styles in the world.  And each serves a unique purpose.  Some are ornamental and may break if too much strain is applied to them.  That’s why they snap when used on thick hair or updos.  Others are for function when styling long hair, sectioning short hair for dying or chemical treatments, and some are for fashion to hold your look in place.  

If you ever get stuck choosing between the types of hair clips, or have decided it's time to grow your hair out and need the right clip for the right job, we’ve got you covered!  Below you’ll find the most common styles of hair clips, what their intended use is, and a couple of situations they’ll be more beneficial than others.

  1. Banana
  2. Classic claw
  3. Open claw
  4. Butterfly
  5. Flat
  6. Alligator
  7. Barrette
  8. Snap
  9. Duckbill


This hair clip gets its name from its shape, which resembles a U or a banana. The clip itself can have wings or be flat.  The two consistent design elements of banana clips, besides the shape, are the size of the clip and the two sides that join together to secure your hair between the teeth.  The size will always be medium, large, and jumbo as the purpose is to hold lots of hair.  

Because banana clips are for holding volume, they’re perfect for thick, long, curly, and wavy hair.  They’re also meant to be seen and worn for both function and style.  That’s why many have bright colors and patterns, or stunning prints like tortoise shell.  This lets the banana clip become part of the outfit and keep your style cohesive.  

They’re some of the best clips for holding hair in ponytails, twists, and updos.  Banana clips are especially popular with ponytails because they can span your hair at longer intervals so you can create a cascading effect vs. a standard ponytail.

Classic claw

Claw clips are the most popular style of every-day hair clip.  In fact, more than 33,000 people are estimated to be searching Google for them each month.  Claw clips can come in multiple sizes from mini claw clips to jumbo, and they’re identifiable from the teeth that spread out when you push on the wings, and then come back together via springs to secure your hair in place.  Unlike barrettes and some flat clips, the teeth lock together and claw clips do not use a clasp.  This allows for quicker adding and removal when styling, blow drying, and creating your look.

Classic claw clips are solid pieces of material design wise, and until recently, were most commonly made from plastic.  The TELETIES classic claw clip is made from our custom nylon which can bend and is less likely to break compared to standard plastics.  That’s why they’re more effective for thick and long hair.  

This hair clip is perfect for twists, buns, ponytails, and is the go-to for everyday wear.  There’s no shortage of styles and options as they’re some of the most popular.

Open claw

The open claw clip is equal in shape to classic claw clips, but the sides with the wings are hollow.  This lets your hair shine through for a more natural look with the same ease of styling and options that you get with classic claw clips.  That’s why they’re popular for French twists and other hairdos where you want your hair to be visible.


Butterfly clips (also known as tiny and mini clips) used to be the little claw hair clips where the wings used to expand the teeth were adorned like a butterfly’s wings.    

Over the years brands have gotten creative and there are no shortage of styles, and they no longer need to be butterfly adorned.  The name butterfly clip still applies to any and every mini claw hair clip.

They’re perfect for thin and fine hair as the space to grip hair is tinier, and for kids hairstyles.  You can use them to decorate woven braids, and in place of hair ties for bubble braids.  The pops of color and strong hold make them perfect for styling and fashion all day long.


Flat hair clips refer to any option that lays flat against your head and does not have wings to open and close.  Flat hair clips can use springs like the claw hair clips to hold the teeth closed, and others use clasps like barrettes.  The benefit to flat clips is they’re comfy to wear for travel because you can put your head back against a seat without “ouch” moments, and they hold flat against your head to add pops of color while keeping your hair sleek and tidy.  

Flat clips come in multiple sizes and styles including classic, open, large, square, ovular, circular and more.  The barrette is the most famous type of flat hair clip.

Swoops, sleek, and other hairstyles that need to keep your hair against your head are ideal for flat hair clips. And they’re perfect for combining with scrunchies as the flat clip gives the smooth and sleek style on the sides and front of your head while scrunchies hold your hair high, add volume, texture, and more personality to your half-up half-down hairstyles.


Alligator hair clips are long pinch style hair clips that resemble the long mouth of an alligator.  Their main use is for separating or sectioning hair when you’re styling long, thick, curly, and wavy hair as they can clamp down on the strands to keep the section in place.  This makes the alligator clip perfect for applying makeup and keeping your hair off your outfit if you’re zipping up a dress.  

Unlike the open claw clips or butterfly options, they’re not stylish or fashion forward.  Alligators are best used for getting ready to go out during the styling process.  You’ll likely see your hairdresser clipping them to their aprons and your bib while working on your hair.


Barrettes are any hair clip that is a bar shape and normally uses a clasp to hold it shut.  They can be used for styling and sectioning your hair, especially when coloring, and they come in an almost unlimited variety of colors, sizes, and styles for fashion accessories.  And there is no size limit to barrettes.

You can use a large barrette as a stylish way to secure crowns and a ponytail for a half-up half-down hairstyle, and to adorn your face framing bangs for a sleek hairdo like a bob with bangs.  Need to pin the side strands of your hair back?  Barrettes are the perfect fun and functional fashion accessory to help.  And you can clip in pearl adorned options for your wedding hairdo.


Snap clips are similar to barrettes, but instead of having a clasp, they have a piece of metal that snaps down and holds the clip in place.  Some are plain metal and used to secure your hair, some options are used to hold accessories in place, and others are hollow so your natural hair can be fed through like an open claw clip making them a fashion accessory.

The large ones are perfect for wearing as an accent when you want to keep your hair down and under control, or for adding a more natural flow with pops of color to your bangs with forward, flat, and sleek hairstyles.


Just like banana and alligator, duckbill hair clips get their name because they look like the bill of a duck.  If you want to section and hold chunks of hair in place, a duckbill is always a good option if you don’t have alligator clips.  This is one of the reasons hair stylists love them. 

Duckbill clips use springs just like claw clips making them easy to open and close.  The thin and long clip part makes it easy to take control of the hair and provide accurate sectioning.  Because some options are fashionable, they can also be used as an accessory when you’re in a rush.  Instead of a hair pin used to hold a bun or chignon, try placing an ornamental duckbill hair clip over the twist or to secure the bun.  It’s a fun variation that adds a pop of color and style.

There’s no shortage of hair clips for all hair needs, and now you’re ready to pick the right one based on your situation.  If you found this guide helpful, subscribe to TELETIMES for more tips, tricks, and tutorials.

Share this Post