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Smoothing Natural Edges

Preserving and nurturing the edges of your hairline becomes increasingly important as you age since it is natural to lose hair density (especially along our edges) regardless of what we do.  This task becomes even more important as you experiment with new textured styles during your transition to natural hair because it is so tempting to pull hair straight to make is smooth, or create protective hair styles to encourage growth, both of which wreck havoc on your hairline.

On our scalps we have various textures of hair, the diameter of individual hair shafts differ, and the distribution density of our hair follicles are not uniform .  Hair along the hairline tends to be less course, tends not to grow quite as long (because the hair cycle is shorter), they have a smaller diameter so they tend to be thinner, and the density is decreased so minor bald spots are more apparent.  Collectively this results in our hairlines being more prone to breakage (because the strands are thinner) and once we lose them, it is more obvious (because of the initial decrease in density) and it takes longer for them to grow back (again, because there are LESS hair follicles in the area producing hair and the life-cycle of the hair is shorter).

Preventing damage to our hairline is the most effective method for preservation and today we will discuss techniques to prevent breakage (and decrease current breakage and encourage regrowth).

  • First and foremost, it is important to avoid pulling on these delicate edge-hairs.  Braids, weaves, wigs, and glue all cause some traction to the hair follicles, and it’s best to minimize this traction.  Likewise, tight pony-tails, buns, and other ‘slick’ styles may cause stress and traction on these hair follicles as you brush in gel to smooth down edges.  In our attempts to protect our ends with these protective styles, we inadvertently can damage our edges.


  • Use caution when wearing headbands.  Headbands can cause hair loss in two ways.  Primarily they are a source of friction, and constant friction and rubbing in the same area causes dryness and mechanical breakage.  Secondly, a tight headwrap or headband constricts blood flow to the follicles in that area.  Restricted blood flow causes a decrease in growth and hair health resulting in shedding and stunted growth cycles.


  • Choose the correct styling tools.  When smoothing down edges it’s important to use soft bristle brushes.  Because the hair isn’t as course, as long, or as dense as other parts of our scalp, it may be useful to use a harder bristle brush on parts of our head that require it, but use a softer brush on our edges.


  • When styling with hot appliances (like pressing combs, flat irons, and curling irons) use lower heat on the edges.  Decrease the temperature of your device by 100 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent heat damage (and breakage) to the delicate thinner strands that occupy the edges.


  • Consider a style that allows the edges to be “free” with bangs or loose ‘pull-backs’ so a smoothing regime becomes unnecessary.


  • Consider adding (or moving) a part in your hair so the tension is not confined to one location (or group of hairs).


  • Keep the edges well moisturized.  A well –moisturized scalp is a healthy scalp.  And healthy scalps produce strong and healthy hair.


  • Use satin liberally.  Consider satin head wraps for night-time or satin pillow-cases to help prevent kinks, nicks, breaks, and loss of oils.



After detangling your hair, and using your tools (including your firmer bristle brush to brush your courser/longer hair back into the style of your choice) it’s time to focus on getting those edges smooth.

  • Spray edges with water mist, melt Shea butter in your hands, and apply to your edges without “pulling” you hair back.  Then apply your favorite oil to your palms and ‘smooth’ the oil onto your hair that is coated in Shea-butter (and slightly wet).

  • With your soft-brush brush the edges back into your puff, pony-tail, or braid.  You may find it useful to use more oil if there seems to be too much traction created on the hair strands by the Shea-butter coating.

  • Once the edges are relatively smooth, use a scarf to tie-down those edges.  Leave the scarf on for about 30 minutes.  While the scarf is in place, it’s okay to do the “finishing touches” by using a toothbrush with small amount of gel to sweep those last stray side-burn hairs back, and (carefully) style “baby-hairs” if that’s your thing.

  • After the water dries a bit (and is absorbed by the scarf) and the Shea butter holds the hair “smooth” with a layer of oil keeping the hair healthy and shiny, you’ll have edges that are healthy, smooth, and looking great.