You can use this U-shaped tool to create a classic chignon.
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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

Which hair types work with a French hair pin?

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.

What kind of styles can this pin create?

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

How can we use this tool to create a chignon?

Speaking of chignons: Polko has an easy method for creating this signature style with a French hair pin. 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." Then, pull your hair into a low ponytail around the base of the neck, but don't secure it with an elastic. 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. Position the pin by directing the two prongs upwards and diagonal, then hook it up and through to tighten strands. 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.

Which French hair pins are best?

While there are numerous French pins on the market, Polko prefers iterations from Scunci ($7.99 for three, target.com) ("They are fantastic and affordable," she says) and also loves Deborah Pagani's options (from $90, saksfifthavenue.com), which are stylish and luxe. If you're hoping to recreate the aesthetic these accessories provide, but don't have the patience to work with a pin, try claw clips, suggests Polko. "They are similar," she says, noting that they often cater to more casual looks and are easier to take on the go.

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