Hair is a part of our identity; it shapes and molds us. Our hair has gone through a journey that has been cultivated since childhood. The Black hair journey is complex, grounded in history and context, yet beautiful all at the same time. It can transform between braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, faux locs, perms and presses, relaxed, left in its natural state, or tucked away under wigs. Our hair can manifest itself in many forms, but throughout our journeys, we often forget to look after and strengthen our edges.
Our edges are the baby hairs that grow along the perimeter of our forehead. Depending on how the hair is styled, your edges can be "snatched by the Gods" or left to survive on their own. Whatever the case may be, our edges are part of our hair and they deserve to be looked after and treated with the same care and attention that we give to the rest of our strands. Keep scrolling for a few tips from expert hairstylists Charlotte Mensah and Chuck Amos on how to properly tend to your edges.
Strengthening Weak Edges
“Brushing frequently, tight braids and not taking extra care when you wash, moisturize and deep condition all contribute to damaged and weakened edges,” says hairstylist and founder of Manketti Oil Haircare Range, Charlotte Mensah. “Treat your edges with some extra TLC and be gentle when you brush and style. You should also limit your use of straighteners and blow dryers and take a few minutes each day and massage your scalp with oils to help blood circulation and to stimulate growth. Lastly, fill your diet with vitamins and nutrients to support overall hair health.”
Working with icons such as Alicia Keys, Solange Knowles, Tracee Ellis Ross, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monáe, hairstylist Chuck Amos is a legend. With years of experience dealing with all types of textured hair, he's mastered the art of crafting stunning hairstyles without damaging any of his clients' edges in the process. “To strengthen weak or barely-there edges, you must keep your hair moisturized and make sure that you oil and stimulate your scalp regularly in the problem areas,” he says. “When your hair loses its edges, there really is no hair there to work with in repairing or growing them back. You must concentrate on your scalp and your hair follicles to reproduce 'new hair,' or as they call it, 'baby hairs,' on your road to growing a fully strengthened hairline. So, oiling your scalp around the hairline and creating a massage routine in those problematic areas will help moisturize your scalp and stimulate your hair follicles, causing them to reproduce new hair growth.”
Maintaining and Conditioning Your Edges
To keep your edges healthy and nourished, it is important to condition them. Amos recommends sticking to one or two specific hairstyles while growing out your edges. "Switching between too many different hairstyles can cause your ‘baby hairs’ to have to go in different directions, in turn, causing you to play with and move around strands that are basically very fragile," Amos says. “The key to growing your edges successfully is to leave them alone and keep them flat to the head as much as you can during the day. I recommend using a great moisturizing edge control gel or creme, that, with the use of a tied silk scarf or headband, will keep your edges flat and in place, while the rest of your hair can be switched up to different styles.”
When it comes to maintaining and conditioning your edges whilst styling the hair, Mensah advises you to use pomades, creams, butter, and oils to prevent them from drying out and breaking. "I also recommend limiting the use of hair extensions, weaves, wigs, tight ponytails, and styles that put tension on your edges," she says. "If you’re wearing braids or twists, ask your stylist to leave out your edges and not to do them tight.”
With many of us opting for wigs as the preferred hairstyle, the usual glue-down or clip-in process can wreak havoc on your edges. Therefore, choosing an edge-friendly method for wigs without having to sacrifice our baby hairs means we can still showcase new styles without losing our natural hair in the process. The Wig Fix is a comfortable, silicone band that, when placed over your wig cap, compresses and creates a microclimate between the skin and silicone. Not only does it secure the wig in place without any tools or products, but the occlusion formed (the healing environment) allows for moisture to be circulated, creating a protective barrier for the scalp, hair, and edges. The residual effect from the textured silicone construction, therefore, means it continually stimulates increased blood flow whilst encouraging thicker and natural hair over time.
Restructure Your Routine
Start by avoiding heat, chemical treatments, and drying ingredients such as sulfates and non-fatty alcohols. Try to regularly implement a deep conditioner into your hair care routine, as it will help to strengthen your edges. Mensah also recommends that you wrap and protect the hair and edges at night with a silk scarf or pillowcase. "Cotton pillowcases will absorb the moisture from the hair, making it dry and brittle," she notes.
When incorporating products into your routine that focus on strengthening and repairing your edges, search for ingredients and blends that help to hydrate and repair. It is important to provide your hair with the environment it needs for improved growth. A few ingredients to look out for: castor oil for thickening, coconut oil for exfoliation as well as hydrating, peppermint oil for purifying, and vitamin E for stimulating reproduction. Below are a few strengthening products for your edges we stand behind.
Charlotte's Manketti Oil Conditioner both nourishes and moisturizes the hair, while the Manketti Oil, when massaged into the scalp regularly, will help to increase blood flow and can be combined with other powerful oils, such as lemon or rose.
While oil is vital for follicle stimulation, applying a repair treatment to your hair and edges will help to treat and transform your tresses. Amos recommends using Carol’s Daughter Monoi Intense Repair Inner Strength System ($28) to strengthen any new growth coming in and Briogeo’s ‘Be Gentle, Be kind’ Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfoods Hair Mask ($36), to "give the hair and scalp that extra boost of moisturization it needs to promote and protect any new growth."
Finish off with a product that tames and nurtures your edges. The TPH by Taraji “Slick” Edge Control Treatment is Amos' favorite because it's “infused with 9 fatty acids, vitamin E, and castor oil, so your hair gets moisturized while staying flat to your head."
Click Play to Learn How to Style Your Baby Hair with Nigella Miller