You can use this U-shaped tool to create a classic bun or chignon—here's how.
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Whether you have stubborn hair or extra-long locks, the U-shaped French hair pin—as intimidating as it may seem—is actually one of the best styling accessories to try if you want to create a look that goes beyond the traditional ponytail or bun. Ahead, discover the many ways to use this versatile piece (including a step-by-step guide to creating a classic chignon with one), which is currently trending in the hair space.

Deborah Pagani Large Sleek Hair Pin
Credit: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

Hair Types That Work with French Hair Pins

According to Laura Polko, an Aquage brand ambassador and celebrity hairstylist, length matters more than hair type when it comes to successfully using a French a pin (which is also known as a hair fork). "Make sure your hair is just past shoulder length or longer. You'll need a decent amount of hair to twist and hold when styling," says Polko. While this pin can be a fun way to test a new style, it is not for everyone: "Hair textures that are super fine or thinning most likely won't benefit from this accessory, because it requires enough hair to secure and hold the pin in place," notes the stylist.

The Best Styles to Create with a French Hair Pin

A bun or ponytail can feel tired after a while—but a French pin allows you to be more creative with your updos and is ultimately a healthier option (it prevents damage induced by pulling, an unfortunate downside of hair ties). Polko likes using them to craft a "cute half-up, half-down style with baby buns" and notes that they are perfect for roughening up classic twists and chignons.

The hair pins—Polko loves Deborah Pagani's options ($90, saksfifthavenue.com)—are most commonly used in buns and chignons since they offer security, and properly placing them into these styles is fairly easy. 

How to Create a Bun with a French Hair Pin

Simply follow these steps to create a bun using hair pins, courtesy of celebrity hairstylist Matthew Collins and Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Andrew Fitzsimons Hair.

  1. Blow-dry your hair and then run a hair straightener—Collins suggests Dyson's Corrale Straightener ($499, sephora.com)—through your strands to eliminate frizz.
  2. Spritz hair with a texturizing spray, like the Andrew Fitzsimons Après Sexe Texture Spray ($9.80, ulta.com); this is especially important if you have fine hair, says Fitzsimons, since the product will provide more grip.
  3. Next, gather hair at the back of your head and twist it all in one direction. As you twist, you'll notice hair will start to wrap in on itself into a bun as you get closer to your scalp, Collins says.
  4. Once your hair completely twisted, stick the fork end of the pin into the spot where the end pieces of your hair are in the twist; weave it back and forth to ensure it stays in place.

Pro tip: "Don't fret if the pin doesn't hold in your hair the first time you try this method," Collins says. "You may need to twist and pin it a couple of times until you get the hang of how to fasten your look."

How to Create a Chignon with a French Hair Pin

As for how to use a hair fork to craft a classic chignon, which looks more like a vertical twist than a wrapped bun? Polko has an easy method for creating this signature style with a French hair pin.

  1. On washed hair, use a texturizing or sea salt spray—she likes Aquage Dry Texture Finishing Spray ($24, ulta.com)—to "give the hair hold."
  2. Then, pull your hair into a low ponytail around the base of the neck, but don't secure it with an elastic.
  3. From there, twist hair around your thumb (hold strands in place using the thumb as a placeholder) and then insert a French pin between the nape of the hair and the top.
  4. Position the pin by directing the two prongs upwards and diagonal, then hook it up and through to tighten strands.
  5. Lastly, pull out some strands around your face and polish the look off with a finishing spray for hold. To keep the pin in place, she recommends avoiding products that will slick your hair, such as oil.

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