No I don’t mean gelling it back to keep it in place. The edge control being referred to is something we are all afraid of, have probably laughed at *insert Naomi Campbell photo* , heard the stories of dabbing black polish to create the illusion of hair and done a double take in the mirror just to make sure ours is still in place.
I was asked about this about a month ago and wasn’t really sure how to approach the topic because honestly I have not had first hand experience with this,the closest I’ve come is probably the Masai braids I had done for the wedding * I was horrified and took them down after 3 weeks*
After much thought I figured the best way to approach the subject is to share how I have managed to keep my edges intact all these years. Next to the ends of your hair your edges are probably the next most fragile part of your hair and should come with a “handle with care” label.
My number one rule for protecting my edges even when my hair is not in a protective style is to make sure I don’t pull my hair back too tight. I know we all want hair that’s neat and in place all the time but the beauty of natural hair is that you will not always have this luxury *especially if like me you don’t use heat* Pulling your puffs too tight or brushing them down leaves your edges prone to breaking and being yanked out from the root. When using accessories like hair bands check the fabric, cotton will soak away moisture and be abrasive to your edges which will cause them to snap. Try to avoid pushing your hair back with hair bands too often, that includes the scarves and headwraps that are all the rave right now. When you wrap your hair at night make sure your satin scarf is not too tight and rather tie the loose ends at the back of your head as opposed to the front which will put more strain on your edges.
When I am in a protective style like braids I make sure the braider does not pick every last hair up in order to have a “neat” style. I am careful to let them know that the partings at the front should be larger so the braid is not hanging on 3 pieces of hair. Some people will completely leave their edges out and not have them braided at all and simply slick them back/down with gel. This is may be a better option if your edges are already thinning and very weak.
Once my braids are installed I usually stick to loose styles. Anything that requires pulling and tugging to get the style in place are a big no no for me. Currently people are doing amazing things with braids and adding a lot of versatility to once boring hairstyles with all kinds of twists,loops,pull backs and high buns. These styles bring pizzazz to braids but have the potential to do a lot of damage to your hairline. I am experimenting but approaching these with caution as I love my edges waaaaaaay too much!!! Be VERY gentle as you try these styles out.
A lot of naturals, especially those in the in between stage will braid and braid and braid their hair in a bid to grow it. While this is not a bad thing if done correctly it’s really important to let your hair and edges rest in between styles. If you take down your braids (I suggest you keep them in for no longer than 6 weeks at a time) and must redo them, give your hair at least a week’s break and do a deep condition to strengthen your hair before braiding again.
Weaves are the quickest protective style around, a few hours in the chair and voila you have a whole new look and your ends are neatly tucked away to do some growing. This is however the style that will most likely damage your hairline even more than braids. The fact that your hair is tightly braided then pulled on as the weave is sewn in can wreak havoc for your hairline. The constant brushing and styling will result in your hairline being yanked and pulled back, damaging your edges. I generally try to avoid weaves because I find that my edges suffer more and I feel I have less control over what happens to them than when I have braids. If you do opt for weaves have your braider do the front braid with more care, it should not be too tight.Weaves have been known to cause traction alopecia which is a condition caused by pulling force being applied to the hair.
For those that may be suffering from thinning edges I found these articles as I researched this topic and feel they will be the most helpful;
http://nappilynigeriangirl.blogspot.com/2012/12/nappy-q-receding-hairline-breakage-of.html (I’d skip the sulphur though)
A number of people swear by castor oil massages done everyday to stimulate growth, my sister swears by T444z which has worked for her and I can vouch for the ingredients which are all natural with shea butter as a base. Rosemary oil is great as it stimulates growth and blood circulation (you can make your own rosemary oil by following the recipe at the end). As you grow your edges back be mindful of what works and doesn’t work for you, realise that you must be patient and do everything you can to protect your edges with all you’ve got.
I will generally do a protective style with some sort of extension 2-3 times a year. I usually braid my hair in the winter and again in December when work gets crazy and I don’t have much time to give my hair the care that it needs. The rest of the year I guard my edges jealously by being gentle on them and don’t allow any style no matter how pretty derail me from protecting all parts of my hair, edges included!!!
2-3 tablespoons of dried rosemary
1 cup Extra Virgin Oilve oil or avocado oil
Place the rosemary in a cup of extra virgin olive oil or organic avocado oil. Heat gently in a microwave for 3 mins. Allow to cool and stand for 3-4 days. Strain the rosemary out and use to massage edges and scalp.