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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
After literally less than ten seconds of sawing away at it, the rope gave in pretty easily.
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.
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.
She gave it a good go for a while, but I think it's safe to call this a bust.
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.
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.
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!