Once upon a time, I wore a lot of extensions. And while I loved them, they caused a lot of damage to my hair—I was using a flat iron almost every day to get my textured hair to match my bone-straight extensions. As a result, the excess heat ended up severely breaking off my edges. It was definitely regrettable, to say the least, but I learned an important truth: Baby hairs are more sensitive than your regular hair, and need special care to stay healthy.
In fact, your edges are a lot more delicate than you think. "Your hairline is exposed to more damage than the rest of your other hair," says founder and CEO of ThinHairThick.com Tiffany Young. "It is the first to be brushed, the first hair that gets hit with product or heat tools, and the first hair that is exposed to the oxidizing damage from the sun. This leaves these baby hairs vulnerable to dryness."
What typically causes edges to break?
A lot of things, including overuse of heat styling tools and chemical processing can cause edges to break. But the tension from tightly pulled back hairstyles and updos is one of the most common causes of damage around the hairline. FYI, there's even a medical term for it called traction alopecia, which is the result of excessive tugging on your hair from its roots.
"There is a reason edges are also called 'baby hair'," says Eliza Pineda, hair expert at Mayraki Professional. "This type of hair is called vellus hair; the strands are baby fine and incredibly fragile, unlike the terminal hair that grows out of the rest of your head. It’s important to be gentle with them when styling or coloring hair to make sure there’s no breakage."
What to look for in edge control products
The best way to prevent your hairline from damage is a) make sure your edges are moisturized, and b) stay away from solutions that contain alcohol. "Alcohol-free products are the best because alcohol tends to dry the hair out," says Young. "This leaves it more prone to breakage, and, at a minimum, the constant exposure to alcohol will make the hair more porous over time." Apart from that, oils like a castor oil or rosemary oil are also great since they help to nourish the hair from root to tip and provide "mild style control," says Young.
For some of the top edge control solutions, take a look at a few of these expert-picks below.
The best edge control products
Apart from avoiding super tight hairstyles, moisturizing your edges is another way to keep your hair damage-free. And this Eco Style Black Castor & Flaxseed Oil is Young’s fave product to do the job. What makes it so good is the combination of black castor oil and flaxseed oil, two ingredients that contain high amounts of vitamin E. This is huge for those who want to promote hair growth around their hairline, since vitamin E helps to nourish your scalp and reduce oxidative stress that inhibits your hair to grow properly.
If your hair is prone to dryness and could use a major hydration boost, Jamaican black castor oil is a DIY go-to. It gets a lot of hype due to the amount of vitamins and fatty acids like omega 6 inside, which naturally strengthen and soften your hair. Additionally, Jamaican black castor oil helps increase blood flow in your scalp and allows more nutrients to enter into your roots. Plus, you can even use some to moisturize your face and other parts of your body. But be careful to start off slow, applying just a few drops onto your hairline since it’s on the thicker side.
Want your edges to lay smooth ? This Got2b Ultra Glued Invincible Styling Hair Gel is the perfect solution to get your hairline looking snatched. For one, it’s water-resistant and made for maximum hold, so you can sweat without your hair budging or flaking up at the end of the day. And two, the waxy consistency is easy to style, making it great to use for slicking back your edges under a cap or under your favorite lace-front wig.
If you have 4b/4c textured hair (aka, hair with a coily and kinky curl pattern), then Young recommends using this Tgin Miracle RepaiRx Smooth & Protect Anti-Breakage Edge Control for styling your edges. The star ingredients include a mix of biotin and castor oil, which help moisturize, strengthen, and promote hair growth all in one go.
When in doubt, go with Young’s all-time fave Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel. To sum it up, it’s an alcohol-free solution that provides really great hold. That means it won’t dry out your hair, and has a long lasting formula to keep your baby hairs in check all day. Part of the reason for that is the olive oil ingredient, which has natural anti-inflammatory properties and moisturizes the outer layer of the cuticle.
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