Edges. The tender and sometimes fine hair that makes up your hairline. They’ve become more than just a part of you, they’ve become a symbol. They’ve become a catch phrase. Now it’s common to hear people talking about edges being “snatched” or “busted,” or to hear people talk about (and make fun of) those who are lacking in edges. It’s become a THING that people say, a term used to indicate a personal attack that will hurt your feelings. “She came for her edges.” “She snatched her edges.” Tea and Breakfast just wrote a frank and funny post on “the evolution of edges in the black community” that got me thinking. To me, it makes an undeniable statement about the power of our hair that our hairlines can be used as a metaphor for respect and emotions.
Edges are made into a big deal in our culture, and have become a compounded part of it over time. Not to mention the fact that there’s a plethora of products on the market, specifically targeted towards the smoothing, slicking and even purported regrowth of edges. But here’s the question – what can you DO if you lose your edges? Does any product truly work to grow edges back? Is there any product or technique or tip that will help to grow your edges back once you’ve lost them due to over processing or traction alopecia? There are SO many edge related products on the market, but what do they even do besides just slick down what’s there?
For answers I turned to cosmetic chemist and beauty industry expert Erica Douglas, AKA Sister Scientist. As the formulator of some of the hair industry’s finest products, she knows a thing or two about which products work and which are just using buzzwords like “grow” or “gro” to part you with your hard earned dollars. Erica explained that much of the issue with our edges can be attributed to a common, often self-inflicted cause – traction alopecia.
“First, you should know the signs of traction alopecia. If you see thinning and excessive breakage in the exact places where you often apply force like braiding, headbands, ponytails, etc. you want to stop immediately and find a different hair style that will not exert force in those same areas.
Traction alopecia may or may not be reversible. It depends on how damaged the follicles are. It’s the difference between a paper cut that only hurts and leaves a scar for a short period of time, versus an injury that required stitches and you have scar tissue for the rest of your life. If the follicles are injured to the point of permanent scarring, hair will not be able to grow from those follicles anymore. But if you catch the signs of traction alopecia soon enough, you may only suffer temporary effects.
Although there are products that make claims to be able to grow your edges back, please know that it’s only part of the solution. These products are formulated to “help promote growth,” but by itself is not causing the hair to grow. The solution has multiple steps:
The first step to any hope of reversing traction alopecia is to make sure the follicles in the scalp are clean of debris. Exfoliate the scalp before or during a shampoo. ORS has a great product called Scalp Scrub which uses baking soda and a brush to gently lift dirt and debris. Also, this might be the time to introduce a sulfate based shampoo into the mix to give the scalp an intense cleaning.
Next, you want to stimulate the scalp to promote blood flow and introduce oxygen to the scalp as much as possible. There are ingredients that are known to stimulate blood flow such as paprika, garlic, ginseng. But they are probably more effective when taken orally. Also, exercise helps to get that heart pumping which pushes blood flow to the scalp. And my favorite…scalp massages. That will definitely do the trick!
Lastly, keep the scalp moisturized and clean using topical solutions that are rich in vitamin E, castor oil, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree, just to name a few. This is when you incorporate your “growth” products. Using a product like Jane Carter Solution’s Scalp Renew uses essential oils like lavender, peppermint and tea tree which have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help keep the follicles clear of microorganisms that can get beneath the skin.
If you find that your alopecia has left permanent damage, you may want to consider surgical or medical options such as a hair transplant or light therapy. A number of patients have seen the effects of permanent alopecia reversed with more intense option such as these. Consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.”
Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade
Crème of Nature Argan Oil Perfect Edges
Eden BODYWORKS Coconut Shea Control Edge Gel
Nubian Heritage Grow and Strengthen Edge Taming Taffy
Carol’s Daughter Macadamia Hold and Control Smoother Cream.
What do you use to tame your edges? If you’ve had edge issues, what did you do to recover them?