What are Duckbill Clips?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Woman posing
Woman posing

Duckbill clips are clips which are used to hold hair while it is styled, cut, or dyed. These clips do look vaguely like the beaks of ducks. There are a number of uses for duckbill clips, making them very handy things to keep around the house and bathroom, especially if you have long hair or you like to experiment with various hair styles. Many shops carry duckbill clips along with other hair supplies, and they are generally fairly inexpensive.

Duckbill clips consist of two parts which are mounted to a hinge on one side, opening like a beak. Typically one part of the clip has a small flange on the non-clipping side, to make it easy to open the clip and set it in the hair. Some duckbill clips are curved, which can be useful when working close to the head, and others are straight. There are advantages and disadvantages to both varieties; for example, curved duckbill clips are comfortable against the skull, but they cannot be used as effectively to set curls.

One of the classic uses of duckbill clips is in setting curls, which can be done with or without rollers. When rollers are used, the clip is utilized to ensure the roller to the head, ensuring that the hair does not uncurl while the curl sets. People can also hand curl hair around their fingers and then clip it with a duckbill clip to hold it while the curl sets, creating a curl which tends to be softer and more natural looking.

You can also use duckbill clips to section and hold hair. For example, the clips could hold back a layer of hair which needs to be cut at a different length, or they could be used to section out strips of hair for highlighting. Duckbill clips can also simply hold hair out of the way while stylists work on one section of the head; they are often used this way on people with full, thick heads of hair which get in the way during cutting and styling.

Depending on the design, duckbill clips may have small teeth to help grip the hair, or they may be smooth. Toothed clips are more secure, but they can also be uncomfortable, especially if they are pulled out roughly. You may also see duckbill clips attached to hair ornaments, in which case the clip itself is buried deep in the hairstyle so that it cannot be seen, while the ornament dangles outside.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Once I tried using the duckbill clips that had the teeth because I thought they would hold my hair in place better. I didn't like they way they felt on my head, so haven't used them since.

I use duckbill clips when I highlight my hair to make sure I only get the sections I want highlighted.

The next time I bought the smooth clips which I liked a lot better. Fortunately they are not very expensive, and I have a Sally's close to me which has saved me many times over the years.


I have given myself many perms, and would be lost without my duckbill clips. I always use these clips to section out my hair before beginning the rolling process.

Since I have been doing this for so long, I don't even have to think about how to do it any more - it just comes second nature to me. I keep my clips in a bag along with any other supplies I need when I am ready to give myself a perm.

I have had these same clips for many years and just keep using them over and over again.


I use duckbill clips to secure my rollers. I have nearly waist-length hair, so I have to use long foam rollers. Duckbill clips are the only kind that will hold all my hair in place.

Starting at the ends, I slowly and carefully roll small sections of hair onto the rollers. When I reach my scalp, I grab a duckbill clip and fit the teeth around the foam roller.

The only drawback to using duckbill clips is that I can’t sleep on them. So, I have to roll my hair a couple of hours before I plan to go out.


I remember when I was a teenager in the late eighties and early nineties, and duckbill clips were fashionable to wear to school. There were many colors and variations of the original design, and I remember wearing some yellow clips that had a rounded seashell instead of the typical duck bill shape.

Girls would take sections of hair on either side of their face and clip them to the top left and right sides of their head. It kind of looked like we had cat ears, but it was the cool thing to do for young kids. Also, they were comfortable, because the clips really kept the hair out of my face.


I have long hair, and I need duckbill clips with teeth to hold it in place. I can’t use bobby pins, because the weight and bulk of my hair would just pull them out. I got the idea to use duckbill clips from my stylist.

I take small sections of hair, wrap it around several fingers up to my scalp, slip my fingers out, and clip the hair with a duckbill clip. I do this all over my head when my hair is slightly damp. If I leave my hair in the clips for an hour, it will be very wavy when I take it down.


My stylist uses duckbill clips when trimming my hair. I have long hair that falls past the middle of my back, so she uses the biggest clips she has to secure sections of it.

She puts all of my hair up in chunks with many duckbill clips. Then, she takes down one section, dampens it with a spray bottle full of water, combs through it, slants her scissors at an angle, and trims the hair. She moves on to the section right next to it, removing the clip and repeating the process. She starts with the back of my head and trims the sections around my face last.

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