Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
5 minute read
26 Aug 2021
9:17 am

Edge control: How to style and protect your ‘baby hairs’

Kaunda Selisho

Once considered "ghetto" and undesirable, baby hairs or “edges,” as they have come to be known are the latest trend in hair styling.

Woman with light grey braids and styled edges. Picture: Unsplash/Clarissa Carbungco

Those of us who are old enough will remember a time when styling one’s “baby hairs” was considered “ghetto” due to its popularity among ethnic minorities.

Years later, styling your baby hair has become all the rage among the Instagram generation. It is also a fad that is no longer the preserve of ethnic minorities – everyone is doing it.

“Baby hairs” or “edges” – as they have come to be known – refer to those fine, wispy strands of hair located along your hairline.

Because they are usually too short to clip back, and often incredibly coily on people with certain curls patterns, they can stand out with certain hairstyles. People often love styling them to “tame” them to match certain hairstyles.

According to hair care brand Cantu, stying one’s edges can be traced back to the 1920s, when entertainer Josephine Baker was known for her spit curls.

As cute as styled baby hairs look, it can present problems for your hairline as it can put that region of the hair under undue stress due to repeated manipulation and the application of products.

If you’re all about rocking your natural baby hairs or styling the ones on your wig, we have got some advice for you from the people over at Cantu.

woman-with-blonde-braids-and-styled-baby-hairs
Woman with blonde braids and styled edges. Picture: Unsplash/Mikelya Fournier

How to style and protect your baby hairs

According to Cantu, there are endless ways to style your edges: you can swoop them to the side, slick them down or gel them over. You can even create a swirl using a swoop motion – we’ve seen a number of A-list celebs like Alicia Keys and Jennifer Lopez pull off this look. 

Products

Initially, people used a range of products before settling for gel but in recent decades, haircare brands developed a product that we have come to know as edge control. 

This refers to products designed to offer ultra-hold while adding shine to the hair.

There are two types of edge control products according to Cantu: oil-based and water-based. The brand offers an extra hold edge gel which retails for a recommended selling price of R139.95.

There are cheaper options that start at about R80.

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“Oil-based products are often more effective on curly hair, but you may need to try both to find a perfect match. It’s important to use an alcohol-free formula, and if you can use a product with castor oil in the ingredients, you’re on to a winner, as it helps control frizz.”

When opting for cheaper alternatives, it is important to note that you may be foregoing a long-lasting, flake-free hold.

Tools

“Whether you are looking to style your baby hairs, or brush them down, a toothbrush, fine-tooth comb or mascara wand are the best tools you can use. They’ll give you the precision you need to flatten each strand of hair, plus they’ll help you flatten the desired baby hair without pulling your longer strands into the mix.”

edge hold gel
Evolve Triple Edge Styler and Cantu Extra Hold Edge Gel. Picture Supplied

If you’re looking for a more professional tool for your baby hairs, the Evolve Triple Edge Styler (R119.95) is a brush-comb combination that also features a rat-tail end for parting hair. 

“The rat-tail tip end creates sharp parts and prevents frizz. For natural, relaxed, and braided/protective styles.”

Protect against breakage

Breakage is hair’s greatest enemy and dryness makes it easier for hair to break.

“In many cases, baby hairs are fragile and tend to be dry, so you’ll need to nourish them to prevent breakage and further damage. Firstly, avoid heat styling them, as far as possible. Secondly, apply a hydrating and nourishing hair care product regularly.” 

The brand recommends their Cantu Shea Butter Tea Tree & Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil (R169.99). 

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If you have the energy, you could also consider washing your hairline and conditioning and moisturising it at the end of the day before letting your hairline air dry.

For a super-lazy hack, you could apply conditioner to your edges at the end of the day just to protect them. 

“You may also want to invest in satin pillowcases or a satin bonnet to wear while you sleep. Satin helps hair retain moisture while reducing frizz and breakage.”

Products such as Evolve’s Sunset Bonnet (R89.95) made from high-quality satin can help protect your hair while maintaining its moisture.

Edge styling for beginners

“Edge styling may take some practice, and the key to not overdoing it, is to ensure you don’t force your hair into positions that aren’t natural.” 

Armed with a mirror and some tools, focus on the thin hairs that grow forward along your hairline and lie flat against your skin. 

“Shape or style your edges with your preferred product and tool, and then use a diffuser to dry the baby hairs in place. If you prefer, you can also secure them in place by using a scarf and wait until it is dry before removing it.”

Remember, mastering edge styling requires practice and patience and as the old adage goes, “practice makes perfect”.

Enjoy the journey of playing around with various styles before finding what looks work for you.