How To Use The Hair Sticks You Bought In The ’90s And Never Wore

Hair sticks show up so consistently in so many various cultures and periods, that I believe that they may actually have been the first hair accessory ever invented.
Publish date:
September 22, 2014
hair, beauty, long hair, hair accessories, updos, easy hairstyles, hairsticks, hair sticks

Alright, so hair sticks. They’re a hair accessory that was popular in the ’90s, they look something like this.

Now, I’m pretty sure you bought some back then, and I’m guessing you had some trouble figuring out how to get them to actually hold your hair or maybe you’re just much cleverer than I am in which case you probably don’t need this article. In any case, I’m going to show you how to do some beautiful styles held only by these simplest of hair pins.

But first a few notes on the origin of the hair stick. Ancient hair sticks have been discovered in Egypt, China, Greece, Turkey and Japan dating back to the Jōmon period in the form of the Kogai which has a special cap for the pointed end to give it a balanced look. They also show up in Renaissance Italy, including a beautiful golden one belonging to Catherine de Medici. (Fun fact: It was discovered down the castle toilet, meaning she probably lost it while doing her royal business). Additionally, they've been found in various other parts of Europe like this 18th-century example found in the river Thames, as well as making appearances in China, Japan, Korea, and showing up across the old Incan and Aztec empires. That's only naming a few of the vast number of places they appear

In fact they show up so consistently in so many various cultures and periods, that I believe that they may actually have been the first hair accessory ever invented, quite possibly pre-dating the spread of humanity across the planet.

I say all this partially because it’s interesting (I mean you’re using the same hair doohickey as your prehistoric forebearers, how cool is that?), and partially to remind you that these are not chopsticks, and that unless you’re from a culture that traditionally uses chopsticks, you shouldn't go running around sticking chopsticks in your hair. It’s essentially the same thing as sticking a salad fork in your hair except with a bunch of uncomfortable racist overtones, so you know, go with the salad fork instead.

Now that I've finished my little educational aside, on to the hairstyles:

1. The Nautilus:

Our first style is called the nautilus. Why is it called the nautilus? I haven’t a clue. But anyway what you do is you gather your hair into a ponytail where you want your bun to be (do not tie off).

You stick your right hand palm side facing out under the ponytail, letting it drape over your fingers (keep the thumb up).

Then twist so the back of your hand is facing out and your fingertips toward the ceiling.

Next you wrap the ends of your hair around the base of the twist with your free left hand.

Then you flip the loop on your right hand over the base

Stick your stick through the loop horizontally. You can add a second stick for decoration and more security, but it’s not mandatory.

TA DA! You’re finished.

2. The Infinity Bun

Our next ’do looks way fancier than it is -- it’s the figure-8 or infinity bun, depending on which way you orient it on your head.

You start by gathering your hair into a ponytail where you want one loop of your “8” shape to be.

Then you wind your hair into a twist, and wrap it around as if your were doing a regular “cinnamon bun” type bun, except you wrap it tighter so it sticks out, sort of like a little pineapple. Tuck the ends in.

Then you flip the uppermost coil upward (or downward, I like upward I think because I’m left handed) if you want the figure-8, or to the side if you want the infinity.

After that you stick your hair stick through the “loops” of your bun. You can also add a second stick to this bun if you wish.

Boom, perfect, done.

3. The Peacock Twist

“But Madeira,” I hear you say, “these styles are for people with crazy long hair, what about those of us who have hair that’s like collarbone to mid-back length, can we use hair sticks too, or are we doomed to live forever in a forlorn and hairstickless state?”

Of course not, this next style is perfect for people with hair that’s long but not like “we hadn’t invented scissors yet” long. It’s called the peacock twist and I’m going to be demonstrating it using the head of my favorite metaphorical peacock, my husband.

First of all we gather all the hair into a low ponytail.

Then we twist the hair toward the left while pulling gently up in the same direction.

Then we stick a hairstick downward into the twist with the point pointing down and to the left. If you’ve positioned the stick correctly the twist should feel secure but not as if your hair is being yanked on by a toddler or overzealous sex partner.

You can, as always add a second stick for extra security -- in this case you probably want it sticking in the same direction as the first but at a slightly different angle.

And there you have it.

4. French Twist Flip

This next style will work probably for mid-back length and longer hair, and it has a name I literally just made up. What you do is, you double your hair over your hand.

Then twist while pulling gently upward (being careful to keep the loop at the top of the twist open).

When you have finished twisting the hair upward, hold the loop with one hand, and use your free hand to tuck any stray ends into the twist.

Then flip the loop down and put your stick in as follows: over the loop, under the twist, over the loop.

Bada-bing, bada-boom, hairstyle done.

This is just a small sampling of the hairstyles possible with hair sticks. Check out YouTube for an endless variety of styles using these miraculously simple hair accessories. My particular favorites include the Hypno-Bun, the Jamie Leigh, and what’s called Spidermom’s Bun in circles that are hip to the lingo (the lingo used on the long hair forum I enjoy reading).

Now go forth and hair stick.