The year is 1997. Your hand twitches in anticipation over the crisp $20 bill in the pocket of your Mudd super-wide flare jeans as you enter that holiest of sacred mall ground: Claire's Accessories.
If you grew up in the 90’s and early 00’s, you probably spent the majority of your mornings untagling these hair accessories from the wadded-up mess they became in your vanity drawer. Let not nostalgia go gentle into that good night, let’s resurrect them for a roundup and find out where they are now! Take some Dramamine, because you're about to ride the Nostalgia roller coaster:
1. Shoelace Barrettes Shoelaces are good enough for your feet, but what about your hair? If you were SUPER COOL, yours had pony beads on the end that smacked you in the face when you turned your head too fast. SO COOL! You can find these on Etsy, or you can bug your mom to teach you how she made them in the first place (I'm guessing hot glue gun?).
2. "Trembling" Butterfly Barrettes These glitter-dusted, jewel-encrusted beauties are a rarity these days...probably because so few survived 2002 with both wings intact. Much like actual butterflies, they tend to die when touched. I was able to find one on Etsy, but buyer beware: Catching these butterflies won't be a walk in the park!
3. Claw Clip What were you doing with your life in 1998 if not twisting your hair at the nape of your neck and clipping it to the back of your skull with an oversize claw clip? These little Goodies have stood the test of time, keeping our hair out of the hot tub to this day. Bravo, Claw Clip. You are the Jennifer Aniston of 90's hair trends. You endure.
4. Fake Hair Whether yours came as a scrunchie of short tight curls, or on a claw clip as seen above, one thing is for sure: it DEFINITELY blended RIGHT IN with your natural hair and NOBODY COULD TELL.
5. Hair Mascara If you had hair mascara in your school colours, you were pretty much guaranteed to be voted "Most School Spirit" for your senior class notables. Good news, everyone! This is still around on Amazon, in case you didn't learn the hard way the first time that it only works on light blond hair! BOOO!
6. Scrunchie Barrettes ...or as I like to call them, "Foofy Barrettes," these sat on top of your high ponytail from 1992-1996, that is, if the metal prongs held out that long. Still available on eBay, can you just imagine bringing these back? It would be the coup of the 21st Century. DO IT.
7. Leather Barrette Maybe you stole your mom's from the 70's, or you bought your leather barrette at the Renaissance Fair your family dragged you to when you were simultaneoulsy too young AND too old to enjoy the outing. At any rate, these aren't going anywhere: you can find them on Etsy and totally snag the laid-back, hippie look today.
8. Hair Jewels You bejeweled your jacket. You bejeweled your backpack. What was left to bejewel? YOUR HAIR. I remember prying open tiny beads to clasp in my hair, but apparently, Conair has made a hair-bedazzler that, according to reviews, works great! Can you pull off hair jewels in the office? Only one person can answer that question: YOU, girlfriend.
9. Topsy Tail Topsy tail revolutionized the way we ponytailed. Sure, everybody topsied their tails under once, maybe twice... But the REAL innovators were the girls who topsied UPSIDE DOWN for super high, super fluffy ponytails. #rebel Get yours on Amazon and make your friends faint with nostalgia when they see your topsied tails! Throw a slumber party with wine and cupcakes and topsy tail each other's hair! Eeeeeeee!
10. Wire Bun Roller Are people still using these for their top knot messy buns? This was the only way I could ever get my waist-length hair into a tidy style back in fifth grade. The payoff was when you unrolled it at the end of the day, and luxurious wavy curls tumbled down over your shoulders... oh, and your skull finally stopped hurting from the torsion of twisting your hair against itself in an unnatural position. Get yours at Walmart today!
11. Hair Twist Tool Promised to braid your hair for you — like the cool older babysitter you always looked up to — but actual results may have varied. I could totally see the Conair Quick-Braid Hair Braider saving valuable time in the morning, especially if your goal is to look like you stepped off the cover of a Babysitter's Club paperback and honestly, isn't that always your goal?
12. Foam Curlers Tomorrow is Class Picture Day 1992, and you can't get a wink of sleep. Not from excitement, but because the plastic rods of these infernal sponge curlers are poking into your scalp. Bonus points if you ever tried to take them out fast before you miss the bus, and get one tangled in your lock of hair so badly that you have to cut it out. #BeenThere. Patience, my dear: practice on these from Sally Beauty Supply and you'll have perfect Shirley Temple ringlets down pat in time for your tap recital.
13. Bun Cage was there ever a more perfect feat of engineering than the bun cage? It can be worn over a bun, or you can pull your ponytail through it, or you can wear it on your wrist as a bracelet, or you can fiddle with it during 4th period Geometry when you should be practicing Euclidean proofs...oops. Jen's Crown Jewels sells these delicate and functional objects d'art online. Beware the hypnotic properties of the bun cage. Beware.
14. Tooth Headband Oh, tooth headband. We wanted to love you, but you just didn't love us back. When you weren't breaking or bending, you were getting tangled in our other scrunchies or our hair! We trusted you to help us grow out our middle school bangs before high school started, and all you did was scrape your teeth along our scalp slowly throughout the day until all of our hair was gathered in a loose, flaccid ponytail on the crown of our heads. If you're a fan of sharp plastic prongs digging into your head, I have good news for you: these are widely available on eBay.
15. Crimping Iron Of all my childhood hair tools, I miss my crimping iron the most. I finally had to throw mine away last year after my slummy apartment ceiling collapsed and flooded, destroying all my hair products under the vanity (moment of silence). I used mine frequently, even appearing in a community theatre production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a blond, crimped out Helena. Are you ready to see that? Haha, I know you're thinking, "My Gods, Meghan, how could I ever be ready for such nightmare fuel?"
And you were right. That was frightening. But I rocked that crimping iron like nobody's business, so I'm seriously debating buying a replacement from House of Beauty, as should you all. I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words.
16. Butterfly Claw Clips Finally, the apotheosis of nostalgic hair accessories. Butterfly claw clips made eveyone's hair infinitely cuter, from Sarah Michelle Gellar to Lizzie McGuire. If these didn't proliferate every corner of your childhood bedroom, I don't know if I can even relate to you as a person. These are still available for purchase on Etsy, and I would love to see these brought back with a vengeance!
What did you stick in your hair in the 90's? Do you still have any of these in your childhood bedroom? Can we bring back the scrunchie barrette for real? We've got so much to think about. I hope you've enjoyed taking this ride down memory lane, and I can't wait to see y'all rocking these throwback accessories out and about!
Published April 8, 2016
Meghan Sara is a tour guide for Ghosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tours. She is open-minded about everything, but intolerant to gluten. She blogs at meghansara.com, is a regular contributor to Femnasty, and tweets her feelings @MeghanSaraK.