Bobby Pins: How to Use Them Correctly and Creatively

“I spent most of my life with ridges up, but recently discovered that they should be facing down for maximum security,” stylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor tells Allure.

Rivera agrees: “You always want to make sure that the ridges are placed down facing the scalp,” she insists, adding that bobby pins should be placed close to the scalp. 

However, Fitzsimmons would beg to differ. “The correct way to place a bobby pin is ridges up,” he tells Allure. “The point of the ridges is to be able to glide over and secure the bulk of your hair, while still keeping it as flush as possible.”

Ultimately, as unshakable as some opinions may be, you can get away with going in either direction as long as you keep the respective benefits in mind. “Ridges up helps keep the hair going in the same direction without crossing,” Dear says. “If the grip is down or placed toward the scalp, you will get a stronger grip.”

Ridges aside, how can you ensure the best hold with bobby pins?

Depending on the style you’re trying to achieve and the type of hair with which you’re trying to achieve it, there are a number of tips and tricks to keep in mind for the most secure result. “One bobby pin can definitely work alone, but most of the time they’ll need a buddy for that support and ultimate staying action,” Taylor tells Allure. Dear agrees, explaining that when a super-strong grip is needed — as with updos — it’s best to criss-cross the bobby pins.

Rivera says one of the most common mistakes people make when trying to secure their hair with bobbly pins is creating sections that are too large. “Smaller sections of hair are best for ensuring the bobby pins hold. This is especially true if the hair is fine,” she says.

But it’s not just the thickness of your hair that plays a part in your style’s success; it’s the thickness of the bobby pin itself, too. “While we all know the standard bobby-pin size, there are stronger and thicker bobby pins out there, so if you have thicker hair that needs more support, there are bobby pins out there that can be used alone and get the job done,” Fitzsimmons says. We like Goody’s XXL bobby pins.

Texture matters, too, according to Rivera. “Those with fine hair should use a standard-size bobby pin, while those with coarser hair should opt for a jumbo bobby pin and slightly larger sections of hair,” she explains, adding a really smart suggestion for anyone looking for extra hold: “Make sure to spray the bobby pin with hairspray prior to placing it in the hair. This helps the pin to stay in place and hold the hair more securely.”

Should bobby pins be hidden or visible?

Whether or not you want your bobby pins to be seen depends entirely on the style and your personal tastes. The stylists I spoke to each have different favorite bobby-pin-centric styles, and they each call for a different level of visibility.

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