Ask Unclutterer: Organizing hair styling doo-dads

Reader Karey submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I have a 9-yr-old girl with long hair. She has zillions of barrettes, headbands, clips, bobby pins, etc. and I need some good ideas how to organize these! Any suggestions??

Such a fun and direct question! I recommend using a tackle box. They’re usually less expensive than a container that is marketed for hair styling items, and they’re durable.

This small tackle box has room for all different kinds of items (barrettes, hair bands, combs) and can easily be transported from room-to-room or packed up for a slumber party.

Get a few stickers and Sharpies and let your daughter customize it if she isn’t fond of the bland exterior. I use a tackle box for my makeup, and it works great.

Thank you, Karey, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Check out the comments for additional suggestions from our readers.

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32 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Organizing hair styling doo-dads”

  1. posted by Leigh on

    I use the same tackle box for a first aid kit since it makes everything accessable

  2. posted by Joanna on

    I have this same tackle box and use it for organizing jewelry.

  3. posted by Jessica on

    I found a nice long ribbon, and put all of my barretts, clips and bobby pins on it. It’s a great way to see all your stuff, and keep it organized and the matching sets together. Whenever my 10 year old little sister comes over, she’ll pull that entire ribbon (it’s about 3 feet long!) into the living room to play hairdresser.

    Other than that, I throw everything in a specific drawer in my bathroom that only has hair stuff.

  4. posted by Abby on

    Thank you for all your great ideas and the effort you put forth. You have helped me immensely with both techniques and simple inspiration to live less cluttered. I appreciate you do not expect perfection in your readers and that we are all human, imperfect as we are. I sincerely appreciate your efforts!

    Hugs, Abby

  5. posted by Caroline on

    You can get similar toolboxes (I think they are called Caboodles) at Wal-mart which are sparkly and pink, or whatever suitably fun colour you want if your little one refuses to use something “boring” like a true tackle box. the clear craft storage cases with customizable compartments are also a good buy for small doodads and stack better if you want to put them on shelves.

    I myself have an industrial aluminum fold out case for my makeup, and a small soft-sided case for travelling that has a space in the lid for my brushes.

  6. posted by Lindz on

    I’m a young adult and I have a lot of barrettes for pulling my hair up. What I did was — essentially — make a ribbon board, but instead of the criss-crossed ribbons, only put them vertically. I got a bulletin board — the small ones like you would put on a dorm room door (which should be really to find this time of year)and covered it with a simple piece of fabric (I didn’t want the background of the fabric to be too busy). I then took a half-inch piece of ribbon and stapled it so that the ribbon made vertical stripes.

    I went one step further and got a set of Ikea Fira (the 9 drawer size) and anchored my bulletin board to the top of the drawers, and keep my other hair things and some other misc. grooming supplies in those drawers. But then, I’m a big nerd.

  7. posted by Rue on

    @Caroline I used to have the Caboodles too. They work similarly but the problem I’ve found with them is they usually don’t have as many compartments as a “real” tackle box. So I guess which box to buy depends on how many different types of hair accessories you have. The Caboodles are also more expensive. I like the way they look though 🙂

  8. posted by Anita on

    Cool idea! I was thinking of something similar for my jewelry (earrings in particular), but I ended up going for a couple of bead storage boxes which, apart from keeping each pair of earrings/nacklace/ring in its own slot, are also transparent, so I can see everything I have at a glance, without needing to open each box. They’d be a good idea for small hair acessories, but bigger things like hair bands, combs, larger clips etc wouldn’t fit…

  9. posted by Leslie on

    I really like the ribbon idea for barrettes, but my bigger problem is head bands. I have a lot of them and they are just such a specific and weird shape that they are hard to manage. Right now I just have them all stuffed in a drawer, but that solution is quite unwieldy. Anyone have any other suggestions?

  10. posted by Diana on

    I have three girls. We have tried many different ways of storing hair supplies. We also have the Caboodles, but the problem with them is if you have smaller girls, under 8. They have trouble opening them. Sometimes the plastic release gets stuck. I think the ribbons with the hair bows and clips works the best and look nice. Then we use a plastic basket for elastics and a small plastic dish wit a lid for bobbie pins.

  11. posted by Sylvia on

    My daughter had a round mirror that had yarn bangs & braids glued onto it. All of her barrettes were fasten to the braids. When she looked in the mirror, it looked like the braids were her hair style.

  12. posted by theo on

    Leslie, about hairbands. I took a wire hanger, the ordinary kind, and bent up both ends about six inches from the center hanger to make a double hook. I hang this from a towel rack in the bathroom (it would work on a hook or in a closet too), and hang hairbands over each end. They can be taken off and hung up independently, they don’t tangle at all, and you don’t have to take down the hanger to reach them.

  13. posted by HMR on

    I would also suggest an over the door shoe bag with clear pockets. She would be able to view everything at a glance and could coordinate by type, color, style, etc.

  14. posted by Dawn F on

    If you have drawer space (like in a chest of drawers) what about using one of those cutlery/silverware organizers? They have nice, large divided sections and some of them even have a lift-out tray on the top.

  15. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    For more ideas, you could see my post at .

  16. posted by Diann @ The Thrifty Groove on

    I love using tackle boxes as well. I just found an art supply box which looks a lot like a large tackle box, at a thrift store recently that works great. I also use the hanging shoe organizers to keep the larger headbands and bigger clips in. I just hang it on the back of door in my bathroom.

  17. posted by Michele on

    My daughter and I share a flat-bottomed, round basket that resides in the cabinet below the sink. The basket has internal dividers, and I also use a couple of glass jars to further containerize the bobby pins and elastics.

    When we do our hair, we bring up the basket and set it on the bathroom counter. When done, the basket goes immediately back into the cabinet.

    It’s not a very large basket, which helps keep down the sheer number of hair accessories that we acquire.

  18. posted by Courtney on

    I wear my hair up almost every single day, and use hairbands to do it, usually. You can use a papertowel holder or something similar to slip the bands over, if you’re so inclined.

    I’ll say one thing about Caboodles – they’re durable as all get-out. I still have mine from high school, 15 years later. And they’re easy to clean – excellent place to store makeup.

    You can also switch from hairbands which place stress on your hair and promote breakage, to jaw clips which just grip hair, and handily clip onto things for storage.

    Metal barrettes also promote breakage.

    Decorative salon clips are also an option, and easy to clip handy places.

  19. posted by jgodsey on

    i use tackle boxes for lots of things..including 1st aid kits, and one for all my pet meds and grooming items.

  20. posted by KatrinaD on

    A mug tree is an easy way to organise large and small items. Small bands and ribbons tie onto it, large bands hand over the arms, and a large ribbon could be tied onto one of the mug tree’s arms for barettes and bobby pins.

    Fishing tackle boxes or craft boxes are good for small items.

  21. posted by Carol on

    I second the shoe bag… We use a hanging travel jewelry organizer that hangs on one of the mirrored cabinet doors. All the different kinds of clips, bands, ribbons, etc. have their own compartment.

  22. posted by Tricia on

    I had the same problem with all of my daughters hair accessories…. i purchased the medium sized rubbermaid 3 drawer pull out bin, not the teeny tiny one for paper clips, and not the large one for clothes, this one looks like it would fit 8×10 paper… i was able to put clips in one drawers, elastic headbands in another and scrunchies in another… all of her regular (more like hard plastic) headbands didnt fit and i put those into a separate bin, but i think i am going to make something that looks similar to how they would be displayed in a store, just some sort of cylinder to keep them ON would be a bit neater.. hope this helps… good luck

  23. posted by Another Deb on

    I just had a brainstorm based on a couple of comments here. Hard headbands are a nusiance in my life as well.

    You could get a paper towel holder, the kind with a weighted base that stands on the counter. I have one with a lovely pewter base. It’s portable and will sit in cabinet or on the counter, if you prefer.
    Goodwill usually has a few on the shelves.

    The towel roll drops down over the stem of it. Then, slip the headbands onto the towel roll. The rolls are variable sizes, so you can find jumbo rolls, or use a partial roll. The paper grips the headbands just enough that they don’t slide. If you don’t like the look of the paper towel, cover it with a sleeve of anything, including the cut-off sleeve of a pretty sweater, tie a pretty scarf to it, or make a cover from a cloth towel.

    I also like the idea of a mug tree for bracelets. Thanks for the inspirations, everyone!

  24. posted by Marsha on

    We use a GLIS box from IKEA ( It costs $3.99. A few of the dividers can be removed, so we’ve made one compartment large enough to house a brush, comb, and detangler spray. Barrettes, elastics, scrunchies, and ribbons are sorted into the remaining six compartments.

    If the compartments are too full to accept more stuff, then either we don’t add new stuff or get rid of something old to make way for the new. (A nice way to impart Unclutterer skills from a young age!) After all, there’s only so much stuff my daughter can wear in her hair at one time, and now that she has a decent assortment of accessories we don’t see the need to add to it.

    Best of all, this box can be stored (horizontally or vertically) on a bookshelf, in a drawer, or whatever space you have available!

  25. posted by Emily on

    I have a hanging jewelry organizer in my closet to hold hair accessories. It is similar to the shoe bags but has dozens of small pockets. I like this system because I can see my choices easily and it doesn’t occupy shelf or floor space.

  26. posted by Debbie M on

    I use a rotating tie rack the way KatrinaD uses a mug tree. Actually, I store my necklaces on it, but hair bands would be good, too.

    I love Jessica’s ribbon idea for barrettes and clips. I already use a ribbon for my stud earrings.

    I love that crocheted thing on Jeri’s post, too. Maybe a doily with large holes could be used similarly.

    My scrunchies are just in a big, pretty box.

    Another idea is egg cartons in a drawer.

    I’ve also seen someone frame a square of chicken wire from which to hang French hook earrings directly and s-hooks to hold other things.

    For hard headbands, you could get a vase or tall glass or jar with a wide mouth and just put one end into it, sort of like you put spatulas in a pitcher on a kitchen counter. The headbands would be sort of like petals of a flower whose center was the top of the vase.

    The great thing about fishing tackle boxes is they are generally much more functional and less expensive than similar things like sewing boxes or bead boxes.

  27. posted by Stephanie on

    I use opaque pink pencil cases that stack (from Target, for for $1). We have hairbands in one, barrettes & bobbypins in the other. I keep them on her dressertop b/c there’s not much else there but I could easily toss them into a drawer or a suitcase. Problem is finding them when she pulls them out in random places all over the house 😉

  28. posted by Kimberly Collins on

    A hanging jewelery organizer works well too. If you hang it in the front of the closet, it makes it easy to pull out bows or clips for outfits.

  29. posted by Joha on

    I use a metal ring, originally designed to hold flash cards (eg when learning a foreign language). The ring has a joint and it opens and closes easily. They are available in different sizes. You can see all the scrunchies an headbands etc at once. just pick one, move it to the opening and take it out. They dont get tangled any more and I can easily see all the things I have.

  30. posted by Mareseatoats on

    This was called a caboodle when my children were younger. Around 1985. I still have one. ha

  31. posted by Karolina on

    If you go the ribbon bulletin board route, just put a push-pin in it to serve as a hook and hang your headbands off it. Or if you have lots of them, put in a real hook.

  32. posted by Marie on

    In Style magazine recently recommended buying vintage drawer knobs and hanging them inside your closet to organize purses and scarves. (They suggested Anthropologie, which I think is overpriced, but eBay could work.) Doing something similar on a piece of posterboard or corkboard would be a fun craft project for kids and a good way to store hair accessories.

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