Bet You Didn't Know Bobby Pins Could Do This...

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
Bobby pins are the invisible workhorses of styling — necessary for updos, handy in a pinch, and always included in emergency beauty kits. But as crucial as these babies are, they’re often unsung and, let’s face it, designed to be kept out of sight.

But over the past few years, we’ve seen bobby pins come front and center thanks to celebs like Rihanna, who's made the scattered-pins concept part of her signature look. Now celebrity hairstylist and photographer Michael Dueñas has taken the idea to a whole new level, creating looks strictly out of pins to mimic classic hairstyles such as intricate finger waves — using The Grinder actress Hana Hayes as a muse.

The looks are both edgy and surreal. In some instances, it appears as if rows of rose gold stand on their own, leaving us to wonder, how did he do that? But more importantly, how the heck can I do that? Hint: Keeping pin-heavy looks from going into haphazard Hellraiser territory is about simplicity, believe it or not, and giving the pins a purpose — even when you're creating decorative patterns.

“Make sure it looks intentional,” Dueñas says. “Have them hold a side back, or tuck hair behind the ear, or wrap around a top knot to keep fly-aways down, or make a headband with them to keep your hair off your face.” And that’s just the start. Ahead, the stylist shares his strategy for creating the most pin-worthy looks imaginable.

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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
Half the battle in getting an edgy — versus odd — look with bobby pins? Reaching for the right metal. For blondes like Hayes, the choice is easy: Anything goes except those made for blondes, which will disappear in your 'do. “A dirty-blonde color can wear almost any hair accessory and not be too bold,” Dueñas says. He was inspired to use these rose-gold pins for the look because they’re unique and stand out. (These come from affordable accessories line scünci.)

Not a blonde? He suggests going for a metal that will contrast with your hair color. That means using gold for red hair and silver or gold for brown hair. Those with black hair may choose silver for best results. “For black hair, I would shy away from gold," Dueñas says, noting that the contrast can be too much.
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
Finger waves have been a Hollywood mainstay since the '20s. To give the look new life, Dueñas created the rolling effect with hundreds of pins. “I love finger waves, especially modern waves. This was my way to give this a romantic look, while at the same time being ultra-modern,” he says. “A flat style lacks depth, [but] with waves you see valleys and ridges, letting light bounce off the pins at the high spots and shadows cascade into the low areas.” Waved hair can fall flat. But when you create the look with pins, the dimension lasts all night.
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
As the waved pins progress forward to create a faux hairline at the forehead, they seem to stand straight up instead of acting as an anchor. How did Dueñas achieve this gravity-defying effect? By slipping the pins over closed-loop, flexible fabric headbands (a trick he teased on Instagram).

“I covered the headband with bobby pins, then I pinned the headband to the hair,” Dueñas reveals. “When securing the bobby pins to the headband at the high spots, I stretched the headband very tight and added the pins. For the low spots, I let the headband relax and added the pins. When the headband was resting, it bunched pins together in the stretched sections that created ridges, and looser areas that created valleys.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
When settling on a pattern, Dueñas suggests making a statement by keeping it simple. “Look at your favorite shapes and, as silly as it sounds, old cave drawings. They were very simple, yet always had an interesting pattern embedded in them,” he says.

Because gold pins add bling on their own, the stylist turned to a subtle design to adorn the side of the head. “Chevrons are a beautiful shape to me, and multiple chevrons together look like the veins of leaves,” he says. “I wanted the softness of a leaf to go with the flow of her hair that I had made into a tousled ponytail.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
Think back to the '90s: Remember those stretchy, zig-zagged headbands famous for pulling hair back into sections? Dueñas was able to achieve a more modern take on the look by using bobby pins alone. “I passed the pins all the way in until they disappeared into the hair, then pulled them out one by one till I could see just the ends poking out. This pushed the bulk of the hair out of the way and added separation,” he says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dueñas.
No matter what the style, Dueñas pulls a little hair out along the hairline to create softness. He also exercises restraint in using the pins — yes, even with styles that require more than 100 metallic pieces. “The biggest challenge was to have it look simple yet impactful at the same time. I needed a less-is-more approach,” he says. “Granted, I did use a lot of pins, but the placement leaves hair showing. This gives an overall softness to the look.”
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