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Back when you were a tween, the promise of pink, battery-operated hair tools was almost magic: With just a few seconds of a menacing whirl and a little creativity, you could have a whole new head of hair, unique and gorgeous. As with so many things in life, however, these tools typically overpromised and underdelivered. At best, you usually wound up with a style less thrilling than advertised; at worst, you lost several tufts of hair.
But these sleepover staples still live on in our memories (along with the strands we sacrificed along the way). That's why we took it upon ourselves to track down and order a few of our favorites to test out at the office. Below, the results of our (live!) trial — along with a thorough ranking of all the bedazzlers and braiders, curlers and crimpers you remember from your youth, presented in order from least dangerous to most horrifying.
Less dangerous than it is useless, this thing essentially flips ponytails and braids inside out, which isn't that difficult to do with your hands. Pass.
This thing is essentially a slap bracelet for your head, and it's magic. Great for ballet buns and for creative, gravity-defying hairstyles. Not sure which style to try first? The tool originally came with an instructional VHS tape — sorry, glamour guide — that now thankfully lives on YouTube.
"Push the button, too much fun / Look how easy, now you're done." Never has a truer jingle been uttered. This thing is mad fun. The only downside is that it's near-impossible to break into its battery vestibule. The screws are too tight, Conair! Otherwise, it's pretty perfect and mostly not terrifying to use.
Not too dangerous, tbh! The only real risk is that you might get mistaken for an Olsen twin circa 2002, which isn't even that bad! Plus, the commercial has a soothing, ASMR-like quality to it. Sleep tight!
Of all the options here, crimping gets me the most excited for the early-aughts beauty revival that's brewing. Back in the aughts, crimped hair — or rather, controlled frizziness — was a go-to for Lizzie McGuire, Tyra Banks, and both Olsens. And for good reason! It's super quick and the iron's no more dangerous to use than a straightener.
This tool was only horrifying because your arms would fall off while you were using it. It was slightly too complicated and not even that functional — loose braids are not always preferable! When Pinterest became a thing, the Braidini went the way of the dinosaur.
Girl Crush Magic Hair Beader
There were a few iterations of this contraption, but they all had the potential for inflicting real pain. Only tweens with serious patience and a steady hand should bother trying it today.
If you had this thing when you were a tween, it meant you were responsible. Your mom trusted you. You were the kid that other moms wearily let their children play with even though you exhibited signs of being "mature for your age." You could handle this medieval torture device that also happened to make you GORGEOUS. The curls always turned out great (if a little flat at the bottom); you just had to mentally get over your fear and willingly place some strands in the pain chamber.
This thing will ruin your life, but dramatically improve any sleepover. The twists it offers are messy and decidedly not braids, but the ribbons are pretty glam. Proceed with utmost caution and have an adult on hand while trying it out, no matter your age.