Monday, February 13, 2012

How To Use A U-Shaped Hairpin

This piece was originally an assignment completed for my Technical Writing class, COM-340. It provides additional guidance in the appropriate use of hair implements, for those hungry for greater knowledge after my last post.

      Hairpins come in a great variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Most women have used a hairpin at some point in their lives, so effective are they as tools for fixing the hair in various desired styles . The focus here will be on the proper use of the U-shaped hairpin, as well as a description of the pin and its properties.  Though some may find these pins daunting to use, with some instruction, the U-shaped pin can open up many new possibilities for effective hair design.

Physical Description

      The U-shaped hairpin, as its name suggests, is formed in the shape the letter “U,” although a rounded letter “V” might be a more accurate description. The pins are generally made of metal, either two or three inches in length, and are approximately a sixteenth of an inch thick. The smaller pins may contain a wavy segment throughout their length; the larger pins are generally smooth, with a wavy segment about an inch wide approximately two inches up each leg of the pin. The hairpins come in a variety of colors, of which black is the most common. They may have a small tip of rubber at the end of each leg in order to avoid injury to the scalp.

Process Description

       U-shaped hairpins have little application to contemporary, shorter styles, so they have fallen into disuse in some areas because many do not understand their application. U-shaped hairpins were primarily intended for use with longer hair and are particularly effective in updos and in half-up, half-down styles. Because the pins lack any opposable tension, they will simply fall out of hair if they are not secured through other means. 

       To secure an updo with U-shaped hairpins, first form the hair into a high ponytail, without the use of an elastic band. Twist the ponytail until it begins to collapse on itself and retract toward the scalp. Allow the circlet of hair to press itself against the scalp. With a U-shaped hairpin, secure the end of the hair to the scalp by tucking the end under the edges of the coil, then inserting the pin through the edges of the coil, pressing through toward the scalp, collecting hair from the scalp above the pin, and finally pressing the pin through to the opposite side of the coil, inserting the pin into the coil at its lowest point, then pushing upward so that the ends of the pin stick out of the coil. Repeat this process with several more pins, placed at various points around the coil, to secure the coil – or chignon – in place. 

       Numerous other styles can be created using the U-shaped hairpin, all of which involve twisting the hair in such a way that the pin has a thick coil or pad of hair to penetrate. To secure any type of hairstyle with a U-shaped hairpin, one must catch hair in the pin both from the coil or pad and from the scalp, sometimes twisting the pin inside the coil of hair or next to the scalp to collect several strands of hair in the pin’s waves. 

       The U-shaped hairpin may be a relic of yesteryear, but it still has applications today, and for those applications, there is no better substitute. Used effectively, the U-shaped hairpin gives upswept styles security and stability impossible with any other hair implement. U-shaped pins are a vital tool for modern hair fashion. 

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