Gen Z Is Bringing ‘Fairy Hair’ Back (Aka the Classic Y2K Style You Might’ve Forgotten About)

A magical accessory indeed

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fairy hair
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We’re still not over butterfly clips making a comeback, so we definitely weren’t prepared for the latest hair trend sweeping TikTok. Meet ‘fairy hair’ and if you’re thinking to yourself, “hmm, this looks familiar,” that’s because it was a Y2K staple. Remember decorating your locks with hair tinsel (especially when the crimping got to be too much)? Well, get ready to do it all over again. Here’s everything you need to know about 'fairy hair' in 2023.

What Is Fairy Hair?

‘Fairy hair’ involves tying (or clipping) strands of tinsel throughout sections of your hair. These metallic strings give the illusion of having colorful, shimmery extensions or temporary highlights. We imagine Gen-Z named it ‘fairy hair’ for its iridescent finish and sparkling colors that make your hair look more magical.

fairy hair a photo of beyonce at the 54th grammy awards

Where Did Fairy Hair Come From?

Before it was trending on TikTok, 'fairy hair' was made popular by Beyoncé. The Lemonade singer rocked the look at the 52nd Grammys Awards in 2010. 12 years later, the trend has built momentum again with stars like Kacey MusgravesMeghan Thee Stallion and Katy Perry making hair tinsel their own.

Why Is It So Popular Now?

Depending on who you ask, it was also the coolest (or the silliest) accent to wear to a birthday party, holiday shindig or festival back in the day. But thanks to TikTok, this trend has returned, and it isn’t just for kids and super fashionable celebs anymore. When searching through #fairyhair or #hairtinsel, you’ll find over 127 million views combined of different creators decorating their locks in tinsel of every shade in the color wheel.

As we said, the platform has been bringing all sorts of ‘90s and ‘00s hair looks back. When it comes to ‘fairy hair’ specifically, it’s easy to see why it’s regaining popularity. Hair tinsel is a great alternative for someone who wants to spice up their style quickly and without causing damage. You can add color to your strands without the huge commitment it takes to dye your hair or get highlights. It’s also much less messier than adding glitter or colored chalk to your hair (and less embarrassing than feather extensions). In short, fairy hair is the low-maintenance, but colorful accessory anyone can wear all year long and remove any time.

How To Tie Tinsel Into Your Hair

To tie tinsel into your hair, you can either go the professional route or try a DIY method right at home. If you're into the latter, we gathered all the supplies you'll need and listed out the five easy steps below.

What You'll Need

  • Hair Tinsel
  • Scissors
  • Comb

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Brush through your locks to make sure there are no tangles.
  2. Grab one string of tinsel and create a slip knot.
  3. Loop a thin section (about one to two strands for fine hair and two to four for thicker hair) around the knot.
  4. Pull the tinsel tight, getting as close to the scalp as possible. For a more secure knot, tie the tinsel around two to three more times.
  5. Cut the tinsel according to your hair length and repeat the previous steps.

(Psst, if you need a visual, TikToker @sieling.j broke down the technique in a short but sweet video.)

How Long Does Fairy Hair Last?

According to Fairy Hair, a haircare company that specializes in hair extensions, the sparkly strands can last longer for some than others. As they cite on their website, "With normal wear and tear, sparkle strands will usually last 1 to 2 weeks, though many factors [like brushing, washing or messing with your hair] can allow the strands to stay in much longer or come out quicker." Regardless, the results are temporary, but the tighter you wrap the tinsel around your hair, the longer it will likely stay in.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Fairy Hair Done?

Not keen on DIY tinsel? That's totally fine. There are salons across the country that specialize in dazzling your locks like Finklepotts Fairy Hair, Feathers and Fairy Hair and Original Fairy Hair. Based on their sites, the cost of getting 'fairy hair' will depend on how many strands you're applying tinsel to, but it can range from $20 (for ten strands) to $100 (for 50 strands).

Will Fairy Hair Cause Damage?

Whether you wear your hair down or up in a ponytail or braids, hair tinsel is a great way to elevate your style. Since it involves little to no manipulation on your locks, the 'fairy hair' trend is safe for all hair types and textures. Some types of tinsel even give you the flexibility to use heat styling tools, so you can add in a few curls if you fancy. Just make sure to consult the instruction manual that comes with your tinsel first. The only thing to avoid is brushing your hair too roughly—especially close to the roots. Other than that, go on and shine bright like Bey.

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...