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Hair Tinsel | Sparkly Strands Are Back in 2024

Learn about the hair tinsel trend and how to rock it below. We explain what hair tinsel is, how to apply it, how long it lasts, and tips for maintenance. Get ready to sparkle and shine with trendy tinsel in your hair!

Hair Tinsel 101: Everything You Need to Know

Girl with red lip holding hair tinsel above her eyes


The hair tinsel trend – sometimes called fairy hair, which we think is so fitting – is bringing sparkly strands back in 2022. What’s this glittering trend all about, and is it a good idea for your hair? 

We explain everything you need to know about hair tinsel in this quick and informative guide. Sparkly strands are back – find out what hair tinsel is, the benefits, how to apply and maintain it, and more below! 

What Is Hair Tinsel?

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Hair tinsel is individual glittery strands that are attached to your own hair. Just like tinsel on a Christmas tree, hair tinsel is used to add a little shimmer, color, and fun to your mane. 

Strands of tinsel can be individually attached to single strands of hair, or small bundles of tinsel can be attached to small sections of hair for a greater visual impact. 

Hair tinsel is one of the biggest trends right now, but it’s not the first time these sparkly strands have been in the spotlight. Tinsel extensions were immensely popular in the 90s and Y2K era. Like other fashion and hair trends from those eras, tinsel is making a major comeback. 

Women are falling in love with the fun, sparkly tinsel look all over again. Try any color of the rainbow or stick with natural tones that give you a subtle shimmer effect. 

It’s temporary, so you don’t have to commit to a new look to try the trend. It won’t damage your hair, dramatically change your look, or prevent you from heat-styling your hair while they’re in. 

Honestly, we can’t think of a single reason not to try hair tinsel. You’ll love the youthful, colorful vibe this trend can bring to your day-to-day style! Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you’ll get when you rock the tinsel trend. 

Hair Tinsel Benefits

What’s so special about hair tinsel? Glad you asked. Here’s a look at the benefits you can expect from adding glittering tinsel in your hair:

  • Add sparkle and dimension: If your hair color feels a little “meh,” tinsel is a great non-permanent, non-damaging way to shake things up! Add a touch of eye-catching sparkle to your mane without processing or chemical damage with tinsel. And you’ll love the way tinsel really comes to life in the sunlight! 
  • Pick a color, any color: Hair tinsel comes in any color you can imagine. You can craft a custom tinsel look to complement your outfit for a special occasion, wear colors of the season, match your current hair color with added sparkle, or add a rainbow of glittering gem tones to your hair anytime. 
  • Short-term sparkles: Hair tinsel is perfect for the commitment-phobic and those who want to try something new for a limited time. Hand-tied tinsel lasts 1-2 weeks. Microbead tinsel extensions last 6-12 months, but can be taken out anytime. 
  • Safe for heat-styling: Tinsel is heat-safe so you can use all of your favorite hot tools with your tinsel extensions! That means you can blow dry, flat iron, curl, or wave your hair with tinsel in tow, no problem.  
  • Won’t damage hair: Tinsel is attached to your hair with tiny hand-tied knots or adjustable microbead links. Neither of these options will damage your hair as long you follow the directions and avoid tugging on the tinsel once it’s in place. That’s a much healthier option than permanent hair color!  

How to Apply Hair Tinsel 2 Ways

Hair tinsel is not only trendy and cute – it’s also dead-simple to apply. You can always have a professional install/apply your tinsel in a salon, but if you’re trying to save money and DIY at home, we’ve got you covered. 

There are 2 tinsel techniques you can use to apply tinsel to your hair. 

The tie-in technique doesn’t require any special tools, is easy to do, and allows you to get the most seamless look with your tinsel. But it takes longer, doesn’t last as long as microbead tinsel extensions, and limits the amount of tinsel you can apply to each section.  

The microbead tinsel extension technique does require some special tools (microbeads, threader loop, and needle nose pliers) and won’t give you the most seamless look, but it’s a lot faster, lasts longer, and enables you to tie more tinsel into each section. 

Read about each technique and how to do it yourself below. 

1. Tie-In Hair Tinsel Technique

You (or a stylist) can add tinsel to your hair with the super-simple tie-in technique. You’ll be taking one (or a few) individual strands, knotting a strand of tinsel at the root, and trimming it to match the length of your hair if needed. 

  1. Fold a strand of tinsel in half
  2. Tie a slip knot on the tinsel
  3. Tighten the slip knot around a strand of hair
  4. Secure the tinsel with square knots
  5. Trim the length if needed

Start by folding a single strand of hair tinsel in half. Grip the strand by the looped end and twist the loop so the strands cross over each other to “close” it. Pull the 2 loose ends through the loop and partially tighten. Do not tighten it all the way yet – we still need to tie it to your hair! 

Use a rattail comb or your fingers to separate 1-3 strands of hair in the area you want to apply tinsel. It helps to move your usual part line over slightly to better hide the tinsel knots. 

Hold the separated strand(s) up and pull them through the opening in the tinsel knot you’ve tied. Pull the two loose ends of the tinsel apart to tighten the slip knot fully. 

For the best security, you should tie two more knots – square knots, just like the first step of tying your shoes. Take one of the loose tinsel ends and tie a square knot, sliding it all the way up to your roots. Repeat for the other loose tinsel end. Trim the ends if needed to match your hair length. 

This easy but time-consuming technique works best on medium to coarse strands that can hold the knot securely. You can expect hand-tied tinsel to last for a week or two before falling out. 

Fine hair is generally too slippery and wispy to hold the knot, but don’t let that dull your shine. The next method is a better choice for fine or thin-haired ladies! 

2. Micro Bead Tinsel Extension Technique

You’ll need needle nose pliers and a microbead (sometimes called micro ring or micro link) extension kit that comes with tiny extension links and a threader for this technique. The threader will help you loop and securely attach tinsel to small sections of hair without tying knots.

  1. Load a microbead onto your threader tool
  2. Lay tinsel strands parallel to a small section of hair
  3. Pinch fingers through the threader loop
  4. Pull your hair + tinsel through and slide microbead onto hair
  5. Adjust the microbead and clamp shut
  6. Trim the ends and repeat for as many sections as you want

Start by creating a new part slightly offset from your usual part. This will help blend the tinsel extensions into your hair naturally. Pop one of the microbeads onto the looped threader tool. 

Take a strand (or a few) of tinsel and hold it alongside a few strands of your hair. Don’t take hair too close to the hairline for better-blended extensions. 

Pick up your threader tool (already loaded with a microbead) and push your pinched thumb and forefinger through the loop opening. Pull the small section of hair and tinsel through the loop. Push the microbead up to the top of the loop until it slides off and onto your hair. 

At this point, the loop is still pretty loose and you’ll be able to slide it up and down. Slide it up toward your roots. Don’t try to get it all the way to the roots because it can put too much tension there.

Stop slightly below the roots and then use your needle nose pliers to clamp the microbead closed. Trim the ends and you’re done! This technique is a little more challenging, but it works well on any hair type.

It’s also a lot less time-consuming than the tie-in technique if you want a lot of sparkle in your strands! The tinsel extensions will stay in a lot longer – 6 to 12 months – when you use the microbead technique as well. 

If you’re not up for long-term tinsel wear, that’s okay. You can always remove microbead extensions painlessly at home. 

How to Remove Microbead Hair Tinsel Extensions

Removing microbead tinsel extensions is easy to do at home when you’re tired of the tinsel. You’ll need needle nose pliers to do it. 

Pinch the sides of each microbead with the pliers until it gives enough for you to slide the bead off your hair or breaks under the pressure. Repeat for all tinseled sections. Be careful not to accidentally tighten the bead extensions in the process!  

Hair Tinsel Maintenance

Maintaining your hair tinsel will help it last longer and look better. Here’s what you need to know to keep your tinsel shining bright! 

Tie-in hair tinsel should last about a week or two in the best case scenario. Microbead tinsel extensions should last anywhere from 6-12 months, but can be taken out anytime by breaking or loosening the microbeads. 

  • It’s safe to use heat – blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, or waving iron – on your tinsel so you can wear it in a variety of styles. Just make sure to use a good heat protectant first! 
  • To keep hand-tied tinsel secure, avoid oily products and conditioner at your roots. Any products with slip will begin to unravel your knots and lead to your tinsel falling out faster. 
  • Avoid excessive brushing to help your tinsel last longer and shampoo less frequently. The less stress and strain you can put on your roots, the longer your tinsel will stay in! 
  • If your tinsel feels loose when you brush your hair, hold the knotted base with one finger as you brush through the hair with your other hand. 
  • If you did microbead tinsel extensions, they’ll last longer and stay in place better if you avoid oily products while they’re in. Oil can make the microbeads slip and lose their grip on your hair, causing the tinsel extensions to fall out. 

Be as gentle as you can with your hair after getting tinsel extensions and you’ll help them last longer. If you typically wash or heat-style your hair daily, cutting back will help prolong your tinsel and the break will be good for your hair, too! 

Hair Tinsel FAQs

Hair tinsel lying on a yellow background

Anicka S/Shutterstock

You’ve got hair tinsel questions and we’ve got answers. Check out the FAQs below to learn more about hair tinsel! 

How long does hair tinsel last?

Tie-in hair tinsel lasts 1-2 weeks when applied to medium or coarse hair. In fine hair, tie-in tinsel may only last a few days as the knots easily slip out. 

Microbead tinsel extensions last a lot longer, from 6-12 months. You can keep the tinsel in for this duration. Or, remove the microbead extensions with needle nose pliers when you’re ready by pinching the sides of the microbead and sliding it off. 

Does hair tinsel damage your hair?

Hair tinsel is totally safe and does not damage hair when applied, maintained, and removed properly. Tie-in extensions should be tied slightly lower than the root to avoid putting too much tension on the roots (which could lead to partial hair loss or breakage over time). 

Microbead extensions should not damage your hair when properly applied.

Just make sure not to clamp the microbead too tightly, and during removal, be careful as you slide the microbead off. If you feel resistance, break the microbead with your needle nose pliers to avoid taking any of your own hair with it. 

Is hair tinsel still popular?

Hair tinsel first became popular in the 1990s and 2000s, but after a brief hiatus, it’s back again in 2022! The tinsel trend is going strong, with celebrities like Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Kacey Musgraves have been spotted wearing the trend.

It’s all over Instagram and TikTok, with hair tinsel and “fairy hair” videos popping up in our feeds daily. The variety of colors and application patterns mean you can wear your tinsel uniquely, even though it’s one of the biggest trends in hairstyles right now. 

How much does it cost to get hair tinsel?

You can grab a complete hair tinsel set for around $14 online or in your local beauty supply store. Look for a kit that includes a variety of tinsel colors you can try, microbeads/links, and small pliers to clamp the beads.

You can still choose to use the tie-in technique with these kits, but you’ll find that the microbead technique is easier, faster, and longer-lasting. 

Things to Consider

  • What color(s) will you try? Tinsel comes in any color you can imagine – even natural hair colors. Think about the look you’re going for and the colors you’ll need to make it happen. Fun ideas include rainbow colors, team colors, metallic silver and gold, or subtle tinsel that matches your natural color with added sparkle. 
  • What length do you need? Most tinsel comes in the 48-inch length, which you can trim to the length of your own hair after applying. For tie-in tinsel, you’ll be folding the entire tinsel strand in half before tying it in so you’ll have less excess length to trim. 
  • DIY or professional? You can apply tinsel yourself at home easily for around $14 (what you’ll pay for your tinsel kit). You’ll pay a professional around $50 for microbead tinsel extensions. It’s more costly this way, but if you don’t want to hassle yourself with buying applying tinsel, this may be the avenue for you. 
  • Tie-in or microbead extensions? If you choose to DIY, will you tie the tinsel in or opt for microbead extensions? Tie-in tinsel is the best option if you have medium to coarse hair, plenty of time on your hands, and only want to experiment with tinsel for a week or so. Microbead extensions are best if you have fine hair or want longer-lasting tinsel that you can apply quicker. 
  • Is it work-appropriate? We all love tinsel, but consider how your workplace will feel about it. Is tinsel going to be considered distracting or unprofessional at your job? Don’t go to the trouble of applying tinsel if you’ll be asked to remove it for work. 

Is Hair Tinsel Right for Your Hair?

We’re glad the tinsel trend is back and we can’t wait to insert a little more sparkle to our strands!

Whether you’re after a bold and vibrant glittery look or just want to add some subtle shimmer to your hair with tinsel that matches your hair color, you’ll love the way this sparkly accessory makes your hair shine!

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