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What Are Butterfly Clips?

Kelly Ferguson
Kelly Ferguson

Butterfly clips are clips that have two halves connected by a hinge and held closed by a spring that, when squeezed, opens up so that the halves resemble butterfly wings. When closed, the spring holds the clip clamped shut onto whatever object it was placed around. The most commonly thought of type of butterfly clips are the clips made for hair, although other kinds have different uses as well. Butterfly hair clips use a claw shape to grip onto, behind, and underneath many strands of hair in order to stay secure, rather than a flat edge or other shape that tends to slip.

Hair butterfly clips range from tiny clips meant to hold back small strands of hair at a time or provide simple decoration, to large enough clips to hold a long, thick ponytail up in a stylish and versatile hairstyle. Typically made of plastic, butterfly clips can be found in a large amount of colors and patterns. While most butterfly clips are made of plastic to avoid adding excess weight or damaging the hair, metal clips are also available sometimes, especially in the smaller clip styles.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

While most clips do not actually have anything to do with a butterfly aside from the shape of the clip, decorative butterflies, as well as glitter, flowers, and other decorations, are sometimes added to clips targeted at young girls. Occasionally, the back portion of the clip that is squeezed to open the rest of the clip is designed in the shape, and sometimes colors, of real butterfly wings. Hair clips designed for everyday wear for adults typically come in more muted, solid colors, such as brown, black, navy blue, and others, and usually do not have a very fancy or decorative shape.

It is very helpful to use butterfly clips during some hair styling procedures. For instance, during coloring, sections of hair can be held out of the way by these clips so that the hair dye does not bleed or rub onto hair that is meant to be left un-dyed. Curling rollers that need to be secured and left in the hair for a period of time can also be held on by butterfly clips, because the wide shape and curved claw of the clips cover a large area of the roller evenly and typically leave little or no visible indent in the hair, a problem often experienced when using smaller or tighter clips.

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Discussion Comments


@honeybees - Thank you for mentioning your experience and opinion about the African butterfly clips. I did not know about them until I read your post, and I am so glad I did. I have fairly long hair, and would love an easy alternative to just putting my hair back with a hair tie.

I have always thought big butterfly clips were kind of tacky for grown women, but the African butterfly clips look pretty sophisticated, even the less formal looking ones. The regular butterfly clips I have seen do not have many different styles to them, whereas the African butterfly clips do.

I can not wait to purchase a couple African butterfly clips for a low-maintenance way to style my hair differently and beautifully, all at the same time!

I have one question: Do the African butterfly clips hurt your head and/or hair if you wear them for an extended amount of time though?


@honeybees - It sounds like I need to give one of those African butterfly clips a try. I have not been a big fan of regular butterfly clips.

I think butterfly clips look cute on young girls, but think that many women get lazy when it comes to their hair. Many times instead of styling it nicely, they just pull it back in a butterfly clip and walk out the door.

I can understand this on the weekends, but I have seen way too many of them at work and I just don't think they look very stylish.

When I see pictures of someone wearing an African butterfly clip, this actually looks fashionable. I see this more like an accessory than a lazy way to style your hair.


@Sara007 - I absolutely love my African butterfly clips! I have long hair, so like to wear it pulled back. These clips adds so much more versatility and style than regular butterfly clips do.

What I like most about them, is that you can get them in so many styles depending on whether you want to be dressy or casual.

I have one that is decorated with pearls, and looks beautiful when I really want to dress up and look nice.

On the days when I prefer to be casual (which is most of them), I like the choices of beads and shells that add that extra touch.

I have thick hair, and even though these are light weight clips, they are very durable. My sisters hair is quite a bit thinner, and they also keep her hair in place.

I am not nearly as careless about leaving these butterfly clips laying around as I am the plain ones. They cost more, but I think they look so much nicer.


Has anyone tried out the African butterfly clips that are being advertised in some of the fashion magazines?

I really like the looking of the beading on the large clips, but am not to sure if it would be that comfortable to wear. I am used to wearing things like headbands, hair bows and hair bands. I am not that experimental when it comes to hair fashion, but the African butterfly clip looks like something that I could manage.

Also, with the African butterfly clips, are they sturdy? Some of the butterfly clips I have looked at look like they would break easily, and I don't want to spend a lot on a hair accessory just to have it break on me.


@manykitties2 - If you are looking for hairclips that will really keep your updo in place, using butterfly clips is a great way to go. I find that adding a few rhinestone butterfly clips to the edge of something like a bun is a great way to add a bit of sparkle, and keep everything in place.

Another thing you can try is getting some high quality hair combs, and slipping them into your hair. They do a good job of keeping things in place too, though I would argue that they aren't as comfortable to wear as butterfly clips.


Do butterfly clips do a good job of holding up your hair when you are trying to create a stylish updo?

Right now I am trying to plan my look for a big party coming up this holiday season. I have my dress all picked out, but really want to find some great accessories for my hair. I have already tried the updo using an elastic and bobby pins, but I feel like it just isn't secure enough.

My friend suggested I toss in some of the butterfly hair clips used for weddings, as they will keep my hair secure and add a bit more bling. I am not a huge fan of updos, but it really does match the dress I have.

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