It’s no secret that Black women have to take extra special care of their hair—especially those edges!
According to a recent New York Times article, the most prominent cause of hair loss in Black women is traction alopecia, which is caused by tension from aggressive hairstyling such as braids, weaves or wigs.
Adding inches is OK once in awhile, but when it’s excessive (and the braids are too tight), your delicate hair follicles can pay the price. As spring nears, it’s crucial that our edges are snatched, laid and well taken care of. Sadly, it looks like weaves and wigs aren’t the solution, sis!
We asked two hair experts about all the myths, mistakes and miracles that come with taking care of your edges, even after a series of bad hair decisions. With a little TLC (and a lot of patience), you can conceal damaged edges while working on their glow up at the same damn time. Keep scrolling for the scoop!
Despite being the hottest look of 2018, pulling your hair back constantly in tight buns and/or ponytails is a big no-no when it comes to maintaining edges that flourish.
Jasmine Collins, a.k.a. Razor Chic, an Atlanta-based edge guru who works with celebs like rapper Trina and RHOA stars Porsha Williams and NeNe Leakes, says that overall, tight hairstyles are a major downfall.
“Braids and sew-ins cause the most tension on the Black hair and [are] the enemy… Braiding is just another form of tweezing, and the more you constantly pull the hair follicle, the more the hair follicles start to die.”
We get it, doing your hair daily can be tedious, which is why WOC lean so heavily on protective styles. However, there's a catch behind those fab twists, braids, wigs and weaves....
“When the scalp is constantly braided, or pulled to achieve a protective style, it causes inflammation," says Sophia Emmanuel, a licensed cosmetologist as well as an IAT certified trichologist.
"Even if these hairstyles are not tight, they can cause hair loss if it is the style you wear often. When hair follicles are inflamed for long periods of time, it leads to hair loss," she adds.
It’s important to take a break from hairstyles that cause friction on your hair. Not only in order to properly cleanse both your hair/scalp, but also to avoid tangling or excessive dryness.
Sophia suggests the max amount of time you should rock a protective style is one month. On the other hand, Jasmine believes you should only keep them in for two weeks in order to save your edges from unnecessary breakage!
According to Jasmine, the best way to promote edge growth is to simply: “Wear your own hair!” she reminds us.
Think beyond traditional protective styles by switching it up to looser looks like twist-outs, twisted up dos, flexirod sets or even a silk press. These voluminous alternatives allow you to conceal a thinner hairline while still looking fierce.
Beauty bloggers and natural hair influencers love to boast about the benefits of using Jamaican black castor oil to reach amazing hair lengths. But Sophia quickly shuts down the myth that it can actually grow your hair.
“There are no scientific studies that support castor oil stimulating hair growth," she shares. "Castor oil is known to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties. If hair growth took place after using castor oil, it could’ve helped clear bacteria from the follicles, which improved hair growth of the hairline."
You might have also seen the internet buzzing about using Vicks VapoRub as an alternative, so we asked Sophia if it really works.
"The ingredients in Vicks VapoRub such as eucalyptus oil found also to have anti-fungal, antibacterial properties that again will help clear a bacterial infections, and in that case help the hair to grow, if hair loss occurred," she explains.
Unlike castor oil, certain essential oils found in hair loss products can promote growth and work wonders on your edges.
Sophia suggests seeing an aromatherapist for a customized oil mixture just for you. Want to play around with mixtures on your own? She recommends options like lavender, rosemary, peppermint or pumpkin seed oil for results.
However, word to the wise—essential oils can be very potent, so if you are pregnant, prone to seizures or have a heart condition you'll want to A) speak to your doctor or B) avoid them. One of Jasmine's hacks is diluting them with inactive oils like argan, coconut or jojoba oil. When it doubt, do a test patch to see how you react.
According to Sophia, edge control gels neither help nor hurt your hair. She actually isn't a fan. "These products build up on the hair, not adding any value to promoting hair growth."
But if you do want to keep your edges laid, Jasmine suggests looking for products that include nourishing ingredients like argan, castor or olive oil or protein-packed formulas to help strengthen brittle strands.
Try It: Eco Style Gold Gel ($18)
This advice might throw you for a loop. “I always tell my clients who have come in for services at my salon, when preparing to go to sleep, she should really sleep without a scarf,” Jasmine explains.
"If you must sleep with your hair wrapped, then use a mesh wrap to allow the hair to breathe." Or you can simply sleep on a satin pillowcase to prevent breakage as an alternative.
Sophia is a fan of satin bonnets (like the ones below) to help maintain hair volume while you get your beauty rest. "Do not sleep with head scarves or bonnets that are tied too tight or rub against the hairline, because this can cause hair breakage and hair loss," she adds.
Try It: Before Bed Headz Bonnet Bling Rose 100% Silk Pillowcase ($26) and Stretch Bonnet ($30)
(Photo: Erik Isakson/Getty Images)