InStyle February 29, 2024



The 17 Best Claw Clips to Create Easy, Cool-Girl Hairstyles


Move over, elastic hair ties.

We’re willing to be that when you want to quickly throw up your hair, you opt for a springy, circle elastic hair tie — it’s just the easiest way to go. But we’d like to make a case for the claw clip: They suit all hair types and textures, including hair that might be too short for a slicked-back ponytail, can be dressed up or down with ease, and allow you to show off a bit more of your personality than the average hair elastic.

“Claw clips are great to have on hand when you want to quickly put your hair up in something other than a messy bun,” confirms Vennela Chamarti, stylist at Oscar Blandi in New York City. “They’re also ideal for bad hair days, as they give a bit more style to the hair and put less tension on it than a ponytail.” And they’re just as straightforward to use as a hair tie — once you find the best claw clips for you.

Best Overall

Machete Twin Heirloom Claws

What We Love: The clips feature a double-wall design for extra secure styling.

What We Don't Love: Some of our favorite colors quickly sell out.

Machete’s claw clips earn our rave reviews for multiple reasons, but if we had to guess, the foremost one is its unique double-wall design. This makes the clips incredibly sturdy, helping them to deliver a stronger hold as well as add a bit of visual intrigue when it’s sitting out on your vanity. Though the clips are pricier than many, the quality of the acetate is unmatched, with a luxurious feel. Machete also offers a one-year warranty, so if any harm were to befall your clips, they’ll hook you up with a new pair.

These well-made clips come in more than a dozen eye-catching colorways that look like jewelry for the hair. Unfortunately, if you’re not quick to snag the style you like, there’s a chance it’ll sell out. However, there are so many great choices that you’ll probably still find something you adore (or you can check out one of the brand’s different size options).

Best Drugstore

Scünci Adjustable Claw Clip

What We Love: This claw can be completely tailored to your hair’s needs.

What We Don't Love: It’s not the easiest product to find.

We’ve never seen a claw clip like this one from Scünci before. It features an innovative adjustable design that allows you to create a looser or tighter hold on your hair. This allows for those with finer strands and thick, curly hair alike to keep their style securely in place. Because the click-in-place style of the clip means it doesn’t have “wings” on the back, it’s surprisingly comfortable when wearing it lying down.

Unfortunately, beyond some specialty shops and Amazon, it can be a challenge to track these clips down. They also only come in one colorway (black). However, those who wear these claw clips remain loyal to them and swear they’re worth scouring the web for them.

Best for Thick Hair

Teleties Open Large Hair Clip

What We Love: The claw is extremely comfortable, regardless of how you style your hair.

What We Don't Love: If your hair is very straight and slippery, the clip may have trouble gripping your hair.

With hidden, snag-proof springs and uniquely flexible teeth, this claw clip from Teleties easily grips even the thickest mane, never causing tension headaches or discomfort. The open design gives thick hair room to breathe. The accessory is also remarkably sturdy: In addition to staying put throughout a sweaty workout, it can hold up surfing without rusting from salt water.

For the most part, the claw’s multiple teeth do a great job at holding hair in place, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve gotten the right size clip for your hair length. That said, even if you have thick hair, those with very straight and slippery strands may find that this clip can’t get a good grip, likely due to the teeth’s flexibility.

Best for Thin Hair

Free People Fine Hair Claw

What We Love: The ultra-slim style can secure even the thinnest hair.

What We Don't Love: The quality of the clip could be better for the price.

If you have fine and/or thinning hair, you know that traditional claws with large gaps do little to keep hair in place. Thin hair needs a snugly-fitting claw clip with a base that sits close to the scalp, like this one from Free People. It can be used to quickly throw your hair up while running errands or working out, but it really looks stunning when used to create a chic, effortless hairstyle. The clip’s sleek yet decorative design looks like something you’d find in a mermaid’s treasure trove and comes in unexpected and attractive colors, including glimmering turquoise.

Though this hair claw is fantastic for thin hair, we wish it was better quality. It’s sturdy enough to survive a drop to the ground, but the clip’s plastic looks a little cheap close up, despite the fact that it’s well out of the drugstore price range.

Best for Short Hair

France Luxe Little Classic Couture Claw Clip

What We Love: These gorgeous clips come in three different small sizes.

What We Don't Love: Not all of the styles are available in every size.

If you’re looking for a claw clip for short hair that doubles as a sophisticated style accent as well as a functional accessory, this glamorous clip fits the bill (and you have your choice of many sizes, including three small options!). The clip looks like it’s made of real seashell, with a beautiful iridescence that catches the light beautifully. It holds hair securely in place without snagging or pulling, regardless of how much hair you have or how textured it may be. The large size suits a lot of shoppers, but if it’s not for you, the brand’s generous returns policy allows you to fully return or exchange your clip for another size, regardless of how much time has passed since your purchase.

All of the colorways the brand offers are gorgeous, but it’s worth noting that not every color option is available across all the entirety of the size range, and there are more options in the larger and smaller sizes. That said, if your desired style is suddenly added to the rotation, you can always exchange your current claw for the new one!

Best for Long Hair

The Hair Edit Epic Clip

What We Love: This clip is one of the biggest we’ve ever seen.

What We Don't Love: It may be too large for those with long but fine hair.

Long hair, especially if it has medium to thick density, needs an extra roomy claw clip to hold it all up. This jumbo clip is 5.75-inches long—the length of an iPhone—so even waist-length hair stays secure. The spring features a smooth glide, making it easy to open, and is covered, so it won’t snag or rip your strands. When closed, one side of the claw’s triangular shape rests against your scalp, which keeps your head comfortable all day.

Those with exceptionally long hair, thick hair, and curly hair swear by this enormous clip, but if you have very fine or thin hair, it may be too large for you. Seriously, though, don’t underestimate the size of the clip — it’s basically the hair accessory equivalent of an oversized blazer; it may look too big on smaller heads.

Best for Extensions

Kitsch Satin Wrapped Claw Clip

What We Love: The satin wrap on this clip will help preserve your extensions.

What We Don't Love: It only comes in one pattern.

Plastic clips can snag on hair, which is especially risky when it comes to extensions — you don’t want to put your hair up in a clip and end up pulling some of it out when you take it down. This claw clip from Kitsch is wrapped in sustainable satin to keep natural or synthetic hair smooth. Interestingly enough, the fabric enhances the grip of the clip, so you won’t have to adjust it throughout the day. It also doesn’t create crimps or bumps when left in for extended periods of time.

The wrapped style of this clip is pretty unique and will earn you lots of compliments, but there’s only one colorway to choose from, a light beige leopard print. We wish there were multiple shades and patterns, including a simple black clip.

Most Unique Claw Clip

Emi Jay Big Clip

What We Love: The clip is very strong and can hold a lot of hair.

What We Don't Love: We wish there were multiple color options.

There are plenty of clips with funky shapes out there, but we love this one from Emijay specifically because it’s a traditional clip with unexpected flair. What you can’t tell by looking at it is that the color is UV activated. When you wear it in the shade, it looks pearlescent white, but stepping out into the sun will transform the clip into a luminous rose hue. Beyond the fact that this claw clip has an alter ego, we enjoy using the accessory because it’s well-sized, holds plenty of hair, and won’t slip, even in wet hair.

The only thing that disappoints us about the clip is that it’s only available in one colorway. We’d love to collect a whole assortment of magical shade-shifting clips, so we hope Emijay adds more options to the range.

Best Hair Claw Clip with Bow

RPZL x Kira Jones The Bella Bow Claw Clip

What We Love: This is the most polished-looking bow clip we’ve tried.

What We Don't Love: It may be too large for those with short or thin hair.

We’ve tested quite a few bow-enhanced hair clips over the years, and this one reigns supreme in our books. The ribbon stays taut against the clip, creating a look that’s sleek and sophisticated — so many other bows tend to flop over, resulting in a more messy or unpolished appearance. The ribbon also spans the entire width of the clip, so it covers all of your clipped-back hair, so even if you’re having a lazy morning, your quick updo will look like a tidy French twist. It’s available in both black and cream.

Unfortunately, this clip is only available in one (generous) size. If you have shoulder-length hair or above, especially if it’s on the finer side, there’s a good chance this clip will be too big for you.

Best Claw Clip Set

Crown Affair The Clips

What We Love: The claw features a double row of teeth for extra security.

What We Don't Love: These are the only clips the brand makes.

These beautiful, handmade accessories hold a secret inside: a second row of teeth to give the clips extra grip. Though they only come in one size, the 2.5-inch clips are remarkable at holding on to most hair textures and densities, dry or wet, and won’t create bends or kinks. The clips also won’t snag strands, as the hinges are covered to prevent just that. The duo is available in two timeless colorways — a light tortoiseshell and a creamy caramel “carrara” hue — that suit all complexions and hair hues.

These clips are so gorgeous, wearable, and functional that we have just one complaint: These are the only hair accessories offered by Crown Affair. Though the brand sells brushes and combs, the quality of these clips makes us wish there were more options from which to choose.

Best Rhinestone Hair Claw Clip

Gucci Hair Clip With Crystals

What We Love: It’s extremely versatile.

What We Don't Love: This clip is more expensive than some of the designer’s wallets.

If you’re gonna go for the glam with a rhinestone hair clip, why wouldn’t it be from Gucci? This simple yet bold design boasts the name of the fashion house emblazoned in crystals on a backdrop of glossy black resin. It can be worn with any outfit, from jeans or leather pants to formalwear, and still work as the perfect accessory. It’s four inches long, so it’ll hold most hair, especially medium-length, medium-density strands.

Obviously, designer items come at a high price point, and this clip is no exception. In fact, it’s pricier than a lot of Gucci’s wallets; breaking or losing this accessory would be devastating on multiple fronts. However, if you feel like splurging on a clip and live for logomania, this is the one to buy.

Best Luxury

Balmain Pince à Cheveux Medium Tortoise

What We Love: The clip is studded with real gold.

What We Don't Love: Balmain’s hair accessories frequently sell out.

This handmade clip from French fashion house Balmain is seriously luxe, with a small logo emblem that’s made of 18K gold for added indulgence. The acetate clip is hypoallergenic and gentle on the scalp and hair. Though you can use it with any texture, this size suits normal to thick hair best. It’ll easily secure a bun or twist.

This tortoise style is our favorite, but it typically sells out pretty quickly. However, you can always choose from the other shades (black or white) or one of the multiple other size options. (The brand also offers barrettes and ponytail elastics.)

Best for Fine Hair

Gimme Beauty Fine Hair Claw Clips

What We Love: They look very stylish, especially for the price.

What We Don't Love: The material on the clips is a little flimsy.

Though these clips have long teeth, the claws are narrow, gripping fine hair tightly without creating too much tension on the scalp. The clips stay in place and won’t move, even when put in wet hair. (They also hold onto hair that’s been cut with a lot of layers.) The minimalist style of these clips make them remarkably chic for their affordable price.

The clips will stay put in your hair, but their material isn’t super durable. They feature a rubberized matte finish that may flake off with heavy use. However, at this price, it’s not a dealbreaker.

Best for Curly Hair

Acrasia Two Spring Hypernova Clip

What We Love: This clip features an extra-wide design to accommodate ultra-curly hair.

What We Don't Love: The cellulose acetate requires some upkeep.

Fans of this clip call it a “life changer” due to its ability to hold thick natural and curly hair in place, fitting all of it inside without weighing down the scalp. Those who have previously broken claw clips claim that the Acrasia Hypernova is comfortable and secure — to the point that it won’t budge during runs or moped rides — and especially sturdy due to the double spring style. It’s available in over a dozen beautiful colorways and comes in its own protective pouch.

While the clip is quite hardy, its cellulose acetate material benefits from maintenance, which can get cumbersome. The material naturally expands over time; you can restore it to its original shape by soaking it in warm water. Though it may get inconvenient, taking care of your clip will make it a worthy investment.

Best for Braids

Kov Essentials XL Daily Clip

What We Love: The jumbo-sized clip is ideal for securing braids and locs.

What We Don't Love: It may require some adjusting throughout the day.

The wide grip, spaced-out teeth, and longer length (5.25”) of this clip help it hold braids and locs in place without tugging; it’s also excellent at locking down ultra-thick natural hair. The TikTok-beloved XL claw clip comes in 11 core colors that include pastel, neutral, and tortoiseshell options. Those who love limited-edition anything will be thrilled to know that these clips also come in seasonal shades.

It’s worth noting that because it’s made of cellulose acetate, the clip can stretch over time. This can be especially frustrating when you have very thick braids. You can resolve this with regular maintenance — soaking the clip in warm water — when you feel it loosening up.

Best Small Claw Clips

Goody Classics Mini Claw Clips

What We Love: This set of 15 clips is a steal.

What We Don't Love: They are somewhat fragile.

These ultra-petite claw clips are perfect for pulling up slim sections of hair, whether you’re growing out bangs, holding back a small bunch of bitty braids, or just recreating a Y2K style — especially on a budget. (You can get 15 clips for about the price of a bougie cup of coffee.) Keep in mind they are very small, with their claws overlapping when clipped onto a pencil. They work with all hair textures and densities, and seriously stay put, even when working out.

Because they are very small, they are easily broken if you’re not careful. The clips can get crushed on your car’s headrest or in a pocket, so store them with care (maybe in an Altoids tin?) if you don’t want to have to purchase more clips.

Best Hair Claw Clip with Resin Mold

Glitter Is the New Black Mermaid Hair Clip

What We Love: This clip features incredible and precise detail.

What We Don't Love: It needs to be handled with care.

Clips from Glitter Is the New Black are a favorite of Lauren Paglionico, founder of lrn beauty salon in NYC. “The female founder of the company hand makes all the clips,” she says. You can see the hard work lovingly put into this fun and highly detailed mermaid clip, which features not only hand-carved scales, but gilded teeth for an unexpected metallic flash. We also love the iridescence and texture of the multiple colors used in the clip.

Because it’s hand-crafted and painted, you’ll want to be extra delicate when handling this clip. We wouldn’t recommend using it in wet hair or just tossing it in your bag. Save this one for special occasions!

What to Keep in Mind

Your Hair Length: Your natural hair texture and length will determine which claw clip will work best. Thinner, softer, and shorter hair will benefit from claw teeth that are closer together or even overlapped, so that "hair won't slip or pop through the teeth,” says Paglionico.

Then, there’s the size of the clip. If you have fine hair, or if you're sporting a cut with lots of layers or a short length, a smaller-sized claw clip will give a twist-up style the tight grip it needs to keep it secure, says Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.

Longer hair can be folded and twisted to create tension on its own, you'll just need a large claw with wide teeth that can fit all the way around.

Material: There are two main materials used to make claw clips — metal and plastic — but you’ll mostly find the latter, acrylic and acetate clips being the most common. Metal hair claws really only work well on thick or curly hair, according to Paglionico, but they are heavier than plastic clips and can feel uncomfortable or slip out of the hair with extended wear.

Plastic clips are popular because they’re affordable, lightweight, and come in plenty of colors and sizes, but they're usually flimsy, says Abramite, and “tend to break or crack over time.”

Acrylic and acetate clips are sturdier forms of plastic. “They are lightweight and strong — the benefits that plastic and metal clips offer individually,” says Paglionico. Acetate clips come with the added benefit of being hypoallergenic; acrylic can cause contact dermatitis in some. However, acetate is flexible and a clip made of this material can stretch over time; it can be restored to its original shape by placing it in a brief warm water bath.

Design: Claw clips are basically jewelry for hair — and the styles are unlimited. Beyond sizes, there are different shapes, like rectangular, curved (to contour to the shape of your head), and half moon, says Abramite. There are also embellished clips with flashy stones, shiny finishes, and unique textures, but you’ll find the most diversity amongst clips when it comes to colorways. There’s everything from leopard print to the UV-activated, color-changing clips and Parisian-chic tortoiseshell designs, which Abramite says is especially popular. “Tortoiseshell goes with all styles to bring out the beauty in your style, and transitions well from daytime into night looks for glam.”

Your Aesthetic: If you’re not sure where to start when shopping, Chamarti recommends buying three staple clips: “One that matches your jewelry, one that matches your hair, and a fun, embellished one.”

Styling: You won't need to prep long or thick hair before throwing it up in a claw clip, but if your hair is thin or fine, spritzing it with a dry shampoo or texture spray will go a long way to help secure your style. “Claw clips are slippery on their own, so if the hair is too soft, the clip will be more likely to fall out,” says Chamarti, who recommends finishing the look with a light mist of hairspray for a bit more hold and staying power.

“Very clean, polished looks are trending right now," says Chamarti, who adds it's an easy look to style. "Just twist your hair up to around the crown area, then twist it back down [to tuck in the ends] and clip,” she says. "For a softer, less structured look, just leave the ends out when clipping."

But if you want to use your claw clips to create an effortlessly cool look, Paglionico says that embracing your natural texture is key. “You can twist all of your hair up in one movement, or take a couple of sections and twist them individually — then, pull out a few pieces around your face.”

Your Questions, Answered

Do plastic claw clips damage hair?

For the most part, plastic claw clips won’t damage hair. “They’re lightweight and glide smoothly into the hair if used properly with the correct tension,” says Abramite.

However, any hair clip can damage your hair when used incorrectly. For example, claw clips (and any other hair accessories, really) shouldn’t be used to hold hair in tight styles for extended periods of time, as they can put stress on the hair and scalp, and steer clear of claw clips with a silicone grip, as it can tug, snag, and break the hair.

It's tempting to clip up wet hair and run out the door, but there's a lot that can go wrong. "Wet hair is fragile hair, and if it's twisted and clipped up, the hair won't be able to dry," says Chamarti. While this doesn't sound like the end of the world, it can actually "lead to mildew or growth of other bacteria in hair,” she says.

Why won't my hair stay in a claw clip?

Your hair is likely too slippery or soft, which prevents the claw from getting a firm hold. Try misting a volumizing dry shampoo or a tacky texturizing spray to prep your hair before clipping it up, says Paglionico.

You could also be using the wrong size clip for your hair type and texture. If you have thick, heavy hair, you’ll need a large, sturdy clip to match, while short and fine hair do best with a smaller-sized clip. “Choosing metal or plastic becomes a weight factor, so be mindful that plastic is more lightweight than metal,” says Abramite.

Are metal claw clips better for hair?

Not necessarily. “Metal clips tend to have better tension for hold and a longer lasting durability, but are only better for the style if the hair has enough density to support the accessory,” says Abramite. They’re also likely to feel heavy, says Paglionico. However, if you tend to be clumsy or don’t like to fuss with fragile hair accessories, metal ones are less likely to break.

How do you put hair in a claw clip?

If you’ve used a claw clip before, there’s a very good chance you already know the easiest way to use one — by twisting your hair. This works for all hair types and textures, says Paglionico. “You don't want to twist it too tight or too loose, and the hold should be medium,” she says. “You can always apply dry shampoo and texture spray beforehand to get it to hold better.”

If you want a long-lasting claw clip style, Abramite recommends the switchback. She says preparation is key if you want it to last all day, and start with a generous mist of texturizing spray to give the hair extra body. “Sweep lengths back in a mock ponytail and twist a few times at the base in the nape,” she says. “Pull hair up like a French twist and then switch back; fold the tail on top of the existing hair down towards the nape, and then back up again.” Keep doing this until you run out of hair, then finish by clipping the claw into the center of your updo to hold it in place.

Why Shop With Us 

Emily Orofino is a writer and consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in the beauty industry. Her straight, slippery hair led her to believe that she couldn’t use claw clips — until she found the right ones. For this story, she relied on Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago; Lauren Paglionico, founder of lrn beauty salon in NYC; and Vennela Chamarti, stylist at Oscar Blandi in NYC.