Beauty

10 hair accessories to embrace the '90s trend

Channel your inner Rachel Green or Lizzie McGuire.

On the left: Blue and pink butterfly comb clips laying on a blue and white checkered  fabric. On the right: A woman tousles her dark brown hair while wearing colorful scrunchies on her wrist. Credit: Urban Outfitters / Free People

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The year might be 2021, but one scroll through Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok will leave you feeling fresh off a time machine. With a handful of ‘90s trends back on the fashion radar, many people—including celebrities and everyday folks, alike—are reaching for hair accessories that add a retro touch to their ensemble. And, dare we say, it looks good.

To help you get in on the stylish action, we’re here to introduce you to the top 10 hair accessories from last century's last decade that are more popular than ever 30 years later. What are you waiting for? Clear some space on your vanity and start shopping!

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1. Oversized scrunchies

Scrunchies
Credit: Free People / BelleFixe

They make even the messiest buns look chic.

Tired of boring, skinny hair ties that are all about utility and nothing else? It’s time to turn your attention to the scrunchie resurgence. And not just any scrunchies, but voluminous, colorful ones that are guaranteed to make any outfit pop. The good news is that oversized scrunchies are the most popular item to come of the modern-day retro accessory trend, so you can find them everywhere from Walmart and Target to Free People and direct-to-consumer sites like BelleFixe. There are so many to choose from, you might want to clear out a dresser drawer because you’re bound to want to buy more than one.

For a bright hair tie that looks great on your wrist or in your hair, snag one or more colors from the eight Sheer Super Scrunchies from Free People. For a funky print, go with the BelleBeach Bright Stripes Scrunchie that has stripes of teal, blue, and pink to catch the eye.

2. Claw clips

Claw Clips
Credit: Free People / A New Day

Pull your hair back without causing stress on your tresses.

Rachel Green (a.k.a. Jennifer Anniston's character on Friends) was the queen of the claw clip and, given the recent Friends reunion, it’s only fitting that these hair accessories are back and better than ever. Today's offerings come in a bunch of colors and prints, as well as more compact, lightweight silhouettes. For anyone with fine hair, the pared-down clips ensure your style stays put and doesn’t fall out or sag within minutes of clipping it up.

Like scrunchies, you can find claw clips in a variety of styles at a bunch of stores, including Walmart, Target, Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Anthropologie.

For the fine-haired, add one (or a few) of Free People's Fine Hair Claws, which are sold in 11 pretty marbled colors, to your cart. Thicker-haired beauties can get in on the marbled look as well with Target's A New Day Marbled Claw Clip, which comes in two colors. (While the A New Day clip is better suited for thicker hair, folks with long fine hair can finagle it, too.)

3. Statement headbands

Headbands
Credit: Lele Sadoughi / Anthropologie

Bad hair day? A headband will fix that.

Whether you’re trying to conceal oily roots or hoping to spruce up an otherwise low-key ensemble, top off your look with a bold headband. While the ‘90s was home to a selection of headbands ranging in width and textile, nowadays, it’s all about the padded, knotted, and/or embellished bands.

You can find a few of these styles at drugstores and boutiques, but nothing compares to the selection offered by Lele Sadoughi. For example, if you love Lilly Pulitzer prints just as much as you love the look of classic padded headbands, make sure to snag one of the knotted headbands from the Lele Sadoughi x Lilly Pulitzer collab, which debuted just in time for summer 2021, starting at $65.

Not looking to spend quite that much cash? Anthropologie has fewer but equally beautiful options for less—in particular, the printed puffy headbands for $20 will make you swoon (but not faint from sticker shock).

4. Mini claw clips

Mini Claw Clips
Credit: Anthropologie / Urban Outfitters

They’re perfect for parted half-up hairstyles.

If you love claw clips but prefer half-up hairstyles or more subtle accessories, you’ll want to make room for a few mini claw clips in your repertoire. These shrunken-down clamps are designed specifically for pulling back small sections of hair, like your bangs or front layers. Given their itty-bitty silhouette, these clips are often sold in sets, so you won’t have to worry about finding clips that pair well together.

One mini hair clip is rarely ever enough—let's be honest, you're bound to fall in love with their versatility—so be sure to check out Anthropologie's mini claw clip sets, which come with six clips, or Urban Outfitters' Bandana duos, which come in pairs.

5. Stretch comb headbands

Stretch Comb Headbands
Credit: Urban Outfitters / Scunci

Retro athletic style meets modern fashion.

Back in the ‘90s, athletes, actresses, models, and everyday folks (myself included) rocked stretch-comb headbands. You know the ones: They’re like a regular hair comb accessory that you slide into a section of your hair to pull it back, only they're circular to wrap around your entire head. And these hair accessories are back in a big way. Best of all, they seem to be made with more elastic, lighter-weight plastic, so they’re less likely to pull your hair, fall out midday, or scratch your forehead while putting them on—all wins in our book.

Stretch headbands can be a bit more difficult to find, so to hop on the TikTok-approved hair trend, head to Urban Outfitters for their festival-ready Vintage Flower Stretch Headband, or to Amazon for Scunci's plain, everyday comb headband.

6. Butterfly clips

Butterfly Clips
Credit: Urban Outfitters / Scunci

Use them to accent a braid or pull your hair back into the ultimate Lizzie McGuire ‘do.

Anyone who came of age at the end of the 20th century will surely recall Lizzie McGuire’s favorite hair accessory. The sitcom icon rocked these tiny butterfly clips in so many ways, from pulling back half a dozen small sections of hair to create a headband of butterflies, to accenting messy space buns and braids.

No matter how you use them, you’ll be glad to have the nostalgic ‘90s hair accessories in your beauty arsenal. Butterfly clips come in a variety of colors and sizes. For slightly larger, clear-colored clips, check out Urban Outfitters' Crystal Butterfly Claw Clip Set, which comes with three clips. If you prefer smaller, opaque clips, opt for Scunci's 12-piece Butterfly Bright Colors Mini Jaw Clips.

7. Hair scarves

Bandanas
Credit: Urban Outfitters / Free People

From cotton to silk, the options are endless.

Whether you opt for a silky square of fabric or a classic bandana, you simply can’t go wrong with the newly rediscovered hair scarf trend—especially when headed to the beach. Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian have helped bring this style back to the forefront of fashion, donning scarves in typical triangle bandana fashion, as well as to accent ponytails and buns. Plus, when not in use in your hair, you can tie them around the strap of your purse for extra pizazz.

For cool colors and funky prints, check out Urban Outfitters' Extra-Large Printed Bandana in Trippy Mushroom (though, it's also available in three other prints). If you lean toward warmer colors, shop for the Blooming Mandala Print Bandana in Rosewater Combo at Free People, where you'll find scarves in more neutral colors as well.

8. Snap clips

Snap Clips
Credit: Kitsch / Scunci

They’re as fun to snap as they are pretty to look at.

Traditional bobby pins are the utilitarian way to pin your hair back, but snap clips do the job with more of a flourish. What once were only available in plain metal options are now back and jazzier than ever with a wide color palette and bedazzled silhouettes. Lucky for us, they’re most readily accessible at drugstores, so it’s easy to pop in and snag a set for yourself.

Snap clips can accessorize causal outfits and cocktail attire alike. For more casual look, consider Scunci's Snap Clips, which come in nine solid colors (two clips per color). To dress it up, check out Kitsch's Mini Rhinestone Snap Clips.

9. Side combs

Side Combs
Credit: Urban Outfitters / Scunci

They instantly elevate any ensemble.

While some people will have you believing that hair combs are for grandmas, TikTok and Instagram users are proving just how versatile they are for younger generations, too. Unlike other accessories, they can be trickier to use, but YouTube has plenty of hair-comb instructional videos to peruse.

Side combs come in simple neutral hues designed to fade into your hair, like Scunci's Plastic Side Combs, as well as embellished colorful silhouettes that stand out. To make a statement with your hair comb, check out Urban Outfitter's Butterfly Hair Combo Clip, which is sold in two pastel shades.

10. Oversized bows

Hair Bows
Credit: Anthropologie / Jennifer Behr

Put a bow on it.

Last but not least, we have bows. While oversized bow-adorned ponytails stood out as one of the preppiest styles back in the day, in 2021, they’re worn by a variety of aesthetics, from preps to the TikTok Dark Academia crowd.

Take a moment to imagine your bow-adorned outfit. Do you want a solid color or printed accessory? For a monochromatic look, peruse Jennifer Behr's many Vintage Wide Velvet Bow Barrettes. These pretty-but-pricey bows clip in place, eliminating the fuss of tying the fabric yourself to get it just right. For a busier bow, Anthropologie's Vera for Anthropologie Bow Barrette has the same ease of use for less cash.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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