This Self Defense Hair Clip Is Blowing Up Online, So I Tested It To See If It Actually Works

·6 min read

Recently, TikToker @shannonalxndra shared a video of herself using a tool she recommended all women walking alone should have with them: a women's self defense hair clip.

The video of Shannon showing viewers how the clip cuts through string and zip ties — which has been viewed almost three million times — spawned thousands of comments. Many of them are from women voicing their frustration that a tool like this has to exist at all and even sharing their own self defense stories and strategies. For reference, one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, so having a subtle but easily accessible tool like this has the potential to be a total game-changer, or simply make a late-night walk home feel a little less terrifying.

comments saying their impressed but also sad that they would even need one
@shannonalxndra / TikTok / Via
more commenters saying it's unfair that they would have to need one but should also get one
@shannonalxndra / TikTok / Via
commenter saying in the '90s they used to have their keys and two sharp pencils ready to use for defense
@shannonalxndra / TikTok / Via
comments saying they would like to go on a walk without having to think about being attacked
@shannonalxndra / TikTok / Via

After seeing this video and the reactions to it, I knew I had to investigate myself. So, I headed over to Amazon and found the listing here. For about $20, you get 10 multi-purpose hair clips — half in silver and half in matte black.

the listing showing the 10 different clips and the price at $19.99
Amazon / Via

According to the listing, this hair clip also serves seven other functions. It's a ruler, a cutter, a trolley coin, an 8mm wrench, and a small, large, and flat Phillips screwdriver. I'll be giving all of these functions a try today (except for the wrench and trolley coin) and testing them out using zip ties and rope.

Note: all functions are labeled as advertised online. Amazon, please do not be suspicious of the rope and zip ties in my cart. It's for science, I promise!

arrows pointing to the various functions of the hair clip
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

So, because I am both generally intrigued by anything that resembles those secret spy toys I had as a kid and also highly, highly skeptical, I decided to try this clip out for myself.

the author with one clip in hand and another in their hair

Test 1: can confirm it does the job of clipping hair back. 10/10 there.

Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

First, I tried out the screwdriver functions. It's a little tricky to use because the clip isn't all that sturdy and the cutter is right where your thumb wants to be when you're trying to turn the screw, but with a little maneuvering, I did get the battery section of this remote open using the small screwdriver. It doesn't seem to be very universal though, because I also gave it a go on a battery-operated light I have, and the screw was too small for the small screwdriver to work.

opening the remote and failing at opening the back of the light
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

I tried using the tinier, flat phillips screw driver on the small screw as well, but it was just a little too big to work. It did, however, fit perfectly into the screw on these glasses. Still, it's pretty hard to get the leverage you need to turn it with the clip being open and the cutter being right there.

the clip being used to unscrew some glasses

I tried to find a screw big enough to use the big screwdriver on, but, TBH, it's pretty massive and didn't fit anything I had around the house. I imagine it'd work about the same as the other two screwdrivers did, though, because the cutter would still be in the way.

Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

Alright, onto the ruler function. Listen, is it technically a ruler? Sure. I don't know how helpful such a tiny ruler would be, and there are no measurements, so it's not the most convenient to read, but it is there if you need it.

7 unnumbered sections of the ruler along the side of the clip
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

Next, I tried using the infamous cutter part of the hair clip to break a zip tie. TBH, I wasn't expecting much out of this. The cutter isn't all that sharp, which is reassuring for something you're gonna clip in your hair, but not so much for something you wanna use to actually open or cut things. After going at it for a like 30 seconds, I wasn't seeing much give in the zip tie.

the author bending a zip tie over the edge of the hair clip that has teeth without making much progress in cutting it
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

But with some patience, it worked! It did, however, take me a lot longer than it seemed to take Shannon in her video. From start to finish, it took about six and a half minutes for me to finally break through. Not ideal, but if you're in an emergency, it does the trick.

the zip tie finally cut in half

Pro tip: I wasn't having a ton of luck trying to forcefully push the clip through the tie like she does in the video, but a combo of that and sawing away at it seemed to help things move along.

Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

Finally, I decided to try it out on some rope. I was not expecting this, but out of all the uses the seller claims the clip has, cutting rope was by far the most successful in my experience. Who knew?

Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

After literally less than ten seconds of sawing away at it, the rope gave in pretty easily.

the author with the cut rope
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

So, does this thing really work? Technically, yes, it does the things it says it does! I wouldn't say it's incredible at getting any of the things we tried done, but it does the trick in a pinch. However because this clip was advertised as a self-defense tool, I decided to take this one step further and test it out under circumstances closer to an emergency situation. So, naturally, I tied my partner's hands together, handed them the clip, and asked them to try and free themselves with it. Once again, we tested it out on zip ties and rope.

Lisa Simpson saying "I think we should do a test"

While I was previously able to get the clip to cut through a ziptie, my partner found it pretty much impossible to get the right angle to actually saw away at it while her hands were tied up.

Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

She gave it a good go for a while, but I think it's safe to call this a bust.

an arrow pointing to the zip ties with text: too tight for the cutter to reach the actual zip tie
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

Last but not least, we tested it out with some rope. It was immediately evident that the rope offered a lot more flexibility and would be way easier to use. My partner had little to no trouble getting the clip to the rope and started cutting away at it.

close up of the partners hands using the clip on the rope
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

After a while of sawing away at it, though, it did start to cutting into her skin. We didn't think this test quite called for continuing that, but in an emergency situation where you're tied up with rope, I feel confident in saying this clip could be a fairly useful tool.

arrows pointing to each wrist with text: hard to cut without getting your skin here
Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed

I thought it'd be useful to note that, as some of the TikTok comments pointed out, it seems like it'd be hard to get the hair clip out of your hair to break out of zip ties or rope if you're tied up. Some users suggested clipping it on the bottom of your shirt or on the pocket of your pants for easy use before going out for the night or on a walk.

Are there any subtle but effective self-defense tools you swear by or want us to try out? Tell us about them in the comments below!

Be safe out there, y'all!