The Right Way to Use Bobby Pins

By Jenn Rose Smith
There's more to bobby pins than you thought.

We’ve never done a beauty tutorial on something this simple before, but when stylist Erica Rae showed us the “proper” technique for using bobby pins we had to share it on the blog. The collective “oooooh” that resonated from our entire team was proof enough that most of us aren’t using bobby pins correctly, and have all suffered the consequences of misuse (a loose strand of hair dangling from an updo with a bobby pin still attached to the end of it.) Turns out the secret to using bobby pins correctly is all about placement. The wavy side should be against the scalp and the opening of the pin should always point down. (Weird. I know, right?) Scroll down to see Erica demonstrate the proper technique and prepare to say “Oooooh.”

photographed by jessica attie

First let’s review the different types of bobby pins and their uses.

  1. Jumbo: “I use these jumbo pins  for people who tend to have thicker hair,” says Erica. “You can usually find them in black or brown. They are harder to find but I usually just order them online or hunt them down at local beauty supply stores.”
  2. Standard: This is the most common type of bobby pin, easily found at your local grocery or drug store. Use this pin for securing flyaways and updos.
  3. Hairpin: The main difference between a hairpin and the standard bobby pin is weight of the actual pin and the tension used when the pin is in place. “Hairpins are for when you just want to lightly pin a small section of hair back. They work great with the soft/effortless styles that are all the rage these days!” says Erica.

Erica demonstrated her bobby pin technique on production assistant Carmen, who loves wearing a high top knot bun but struggles with securing the shorter pieces of hair at the nape of her neck.

“The most common mistake I see when using bobby pins is the way that it’s placed,” says Erica. She begins by placing a small section of hair in between the prongs of a standard bobby pin, holding the bobby pin with the opening facing up.

“The secret to using a bobby pin correctly is that you want to make sure that the ‘wavy’ side of the bobby pin is against the scalp,” states Erica. “The point of that is to help keep the bobby pin in place and to keep it from slipping out as easily. When you apply the bobby pin you want to find the area that you are wanting to pin, and simply slide the bobby pin into the hair.”

“Even though you grab the hair with the bobby pin facing up, always twist the strand over and pin the bobby pin in with the opening facing down,” says Erica. Pressing the bobby pin into place from the top down is much more secure than pressing it upwards.

Finally, Erica used a hairpin to secure a flyaway from the bun itself. The hairpin is perfect for when you want to keep a small amount of hair in place without pinning it down too tightly.

The finished look! Clean and secure. Thanks, Erica, for sharing your bobby pin secrets.