The Cheap And Easy Way To Customize Your Hair Clips

Grab some nail polish! Keeping your hair out of your face just got a whole lot more awesome.
Publish date:
November 20, 2013
nail polishes, DIY, hair accessories, accessories, barrettes, hair clips

Ever since I cut off over a foot of hair, I’ve been adjusting to life with a bob. For the most part, it’s really easy and hassle-free. Washing my hair takes five minutes now! Who even knew that was possible?

But there have been differences. Stuff I never even thought about when my hair was long.

Did you know, for example, that my hair is a lot curlier at the back than in the front? I did not! And because of this, I have to be careful when I blowdry it, otherwise it flips out so crazily I look like I’m starring in Josie and the Pussycats.


The other thing that I didn’t quite think through is that it’s too short to properly pull back all the way, and I LOVE me some pulled-back hair. Sure, my stubby little ponytail is cute... but the front bits keep escaping, and end up tucked behind my ears all day. Not super put-together.

So I’ve been experimenting with different ways to keep my hair out of my face, and my favourite so far has been pulling the sides back with a couple of clips or pins. But there’s only so many times a girl can reach for a bobby pin the same colour as her hair or a barrette with a neutral metallic finish before she gets bored.

I went out hunting for cute hair clips. And I found them. But do you know what? A pack of 15 decorated bobby pins costs TWICE as much as a pack of 50 normal ones. And six sparkly-but-not-totally-childlike barrettes costs THREE TIMES as much as a sleeve of plain ones in the type that don’t pull my hair.

No. I am all about spending money on important stuff--good foundation, my signature cold-weather perfume (Chanel Allure, if you’re curious)--but $6 for a few clips I’m probably going to misplace? This is not to be borne!

Today, I’m going to show you how to make your own fancy clips and pins. I learned how to do this when I had purple hair and needed some bobby pins that matched, but you don’t need rainbow hair to make this happen.

As with pretty much all the DIY adventures I take you on, this is really easy and you probably have all the stuff to do it lying around your house already.

Let’s get started! Here’s what you’ll need:

•Some plain bobby pins or barrettes, in pretty much any colour you like.

•Nail polish in whatever colours or finishes you like.

•Thin detail polishes for painting designs (optional).

•Rhinestones or decorations, if you want to glue those on.

•Glue, if you’re sticking stuff on. I’m using nail glue because I don’t have any superglue, but use whatever you’re comfortable with.

•Some cardboard.

•A sheet of newspaper or something you don’t mind getting nail polish on.

First of all, if you’re decorating bobby pins: Figure out which way you want them to go. You’re supposed to use them with the wibbly side facing in towards your head and the flat face pointing out, but some people don’t like that, and that’s OK. I use them both ways, and it’s never made a difference in how they hold my hair.

Once you’ve done that, slide the pins-slash-clip the barrettes onto the cardboard. This will hold them steady while they dry, and it means you’ll also be able to get all around them with the colour.

Now, grab your nail polish and apply your first coat. Like painting your nails, depending on the finish of your polish, you may need multiple coats to get total opacity. I like to paint at least two bobby pins/clips in each colour so that I have matching sets (I am really big on symmetry), but do you don’t have to do this.

If you’re painting bobby pins, make sure you paint around the loop on the back. This is almost always visible, and you don’t want there to be an abrupt line where the colour stops and the metal begins. If you’re painting barrettes, don’t worry about painting the middle leg all the way down. You never ever see that, anyway.

Let everything dry for at least five minutes. Maybe watch an episode of city.ballet, which is my favourite thing on the internet right now.

Check your pins. Are they dry? If so, time to apply a second coat. Some of my polishes were absolutely NOT at maximum opacity, even after two coats, and I needed to do three coats on those.

Wait another five to ten minutes. Are you obsessed with city.ballet yet? Can we talk about it? I love Sarah Mearns so much. She’s one of my favourite dancers today.

Now your pins should be dry. Yay! You know what would probably look really awesome? Patterns!

If you have the nail art polishes, this is your time to shine. Use the thin brushes to paint patterns and get as nuts as you like. If you’d rather go bolder, use a contrasting nail polish colour to apply spots or stripes however you like. And if you’d rather sparkle everyone’s eyes, throw a coat of glitter over the top of your base polish.

The sky is the limit here! You can be as bright or muted or as fancy as you like.

If you’re looking at that and thinking “Boring!” I have you covered, too. Grab your rhinestones or pearls or fun-shaped beads or ANYTHING and let’s go to town!

Using your glue, apply a little dot to the place on the pin or clip that you’d like your decoration to go. Then, stick it down! Depending on how strong your glue is and how heavy/big your decoration is, you might have to hold it down for a few seconds. You are the best judge here.

Different glues will take different amounts of time to dry. I left mine overnight just to make sure they were really stuck down, but consult your bottle/tube/vial for specific drying times.

Here are a few tips I picked up while making these:

•If you’re going to be using a light-coloured polish, try to use light-coloured pins. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but in my test runs I found that I needed fewer coats of light polish on the gold pins than on the black ones. BUT I painted black pins with multicoloured pink glitter, and the dark poked through and looked awesome. Just something to keep in mind.

•If you screw one up, no worries! Fill a little container with nail polish remover and soak the pin for a couple minutes. The polish will come right off.

•If you screw up the placement of a rhinestone or a decoration, though, I don’t know what to tell you. Glue can be hard, so think carefully before you stick something down.

•If you’re using a decoration that needs to face a certain way--like a shell you don’t want to be upside-down--make sure you think about how to glue it. If you’re making a pair, stick one facing one way and the other doing the opposite so they’re both right ways up in your hair.

•Even if you are very careful, you’ll probably still get nail polish on your table (she said, annoyed at herself for getting polish on her good, non-dog-chewed-on white background). Use the newspaper. Newspaper is your friend.

•If you’re using glitter polish on your clips but the texture bothers you (it bothers me, no shame), a clear topcoat afterwards really cuts down on that weird tactile feeling. Plus it makes it sparklier!

•On that note, if you peel the pin off the cardboard once it’s dry and there’s polish kind of spilled over the sides, use an open pair of scissors and gently scrape it away. Now your pins are perfect!

And there you have it! Go forth and decorate all the pins you want, for a fraction of the cost of the cost of buying them.

Why not even match your manicure to your bobby pins? I’m wearing Scouse by Butter London--a really beautiful royal blue microglitter with pink shine in certain lights--and it looks just as good on my fingers as in my hair.

Keeping my hair out of my face just got a whole lot more awesome.

What do you guys think? Would you try this out, if you haven’t already? What’s your dream hairclip colour combination or pattern? Have you ever done something dramatic with your hair and had to readjust your life afterwards?