I don’t know about you, but every single time I try to re-create the epic hairstyles I see in historical films like Titanic, Pride & Prejudice, and Ever After, it ends in fits of frustration and about 300 bobby pins distributed through my hair like a metallic bird nest. It’s always made me wonder what’s changed since the early 1900s. What did everyone know about hair styling 100 years ago that I, somehow, have yet to figure out? It turns out it’s hair pins.
Up until very recently I thought hair pins and bobby pins were exactly the same thing. I mean, a bobby pin is a pin… for your hair… so I never really thought much about it. Most of the women I’ve talked to about this are under the same impression. Ladies, we have been grossly misinformed.
While bobby pins are bumpy on one side and close at the tips, a hair pin is like a big, elongated “V” (with a rounded bend, though). They’re generally 2–3″ long, but just ¼″ across at the base, and maybe ½” apart at the tips. And dude—they can get ‘er done! I need just one 2½″ hair pin to hold a bun, and it’s a great, sturdy bun. Just twist and pin. It’s pretty much unbelievable, but there you have it. It’s awesome.
After you’ve got the right pin, all that’s left is application. With hair pins, it’s a bit of a weave & wiggle, rather than a simple slide. You start by inserting the pin through the outer edge of the bun, heading away from the centre of the bun. Don’t snag too much hair or you’ll have trouble with step two—go for about ¼″ in from the edge of the bun (or whatever hair style you’re working with). You’ll only want the last ½″ or so of the hair pin involved here—the rest should be sticking out of the top of the bun.
Then, flip the pin downwards from the “U” end, bringing the length of the pin down to run along your scalp. Insert the length of the pin into the bun, giving it a bit of a wiggle as you do so. And voila! Bun!
So, where to get them? I found one mixed into a baggie of bobby pins from my grandma—I’m pretty sure everything in that baggie was older than I am. And then my parents found one in the walls while doing renovations on their 101 year old home (I de-rusted it with salt & vinegar and used it, haha—it’s the big, wavy edged one in the photo). And I’ve never seen hair pins in the grocery store before. So—Amazon! Sally’s Beauty also has ’em, if you happen to live near one.
As I’m sure you can imagine, the possibilities for the hair pin are endless! Stay tuned for more hair pin updos 🙂
Thanks to my lovely friend Kara for taking all these shots of the back of my head!
One more thing…
There’s also such a thing as good bobby pins that actually work! These proper, high quality bobby pins (mine are by MetaGrip) put grocery store bobby pins and actually do the things hair tutorials tell you bobby pins will do!