“Baby hairs pumpin’, lip gloss shining.” These are the lyrics from the LL Cool J 1990 single, “Around The Way Girl” that brought fame to the already trending style of swooped, swirled, or slick styled edges. Very trendy in the ’80s and ’90s, (and always popular) styled edges has also been more in the zeitgeist in the past few years with celebrities like Megan the Stallion and Saweetie creatively styling their baby hairs on red carpets, in music videos and for performances. “The baby hair look has definitely made a huge comeback because it’s an easy way to dress up just about any hairstyle,” says New York City hairstylist and Amika pro educator, Jamie Brice.
Edges or baby hairs are synonymous for the shorter hairs around the hairline, that have been most prominently worn by Black and Brown women throughout history. Early iterations for the style have been seen in the 1920s, sported by flapper-era phenoms such as Josephine Baker and Baby Esther, who wore finger waves with styled edges and sideburns framing their faces. Over many years the art and process of styling edges has evolved and experienced different eras as seen by artists such as TLC’s Chili, Missy Elliot, and Janet Jackson in the ’90s and FKA Twigs and Normani today.
For tips on how to style your own edges, read on for the best tips straight from styling pros.
Don’t Force It
Hairstylist, Tym Wallace who works with Taraji P. Henson and Mary J. Blige, says the first piece of advice to keep in mind is: “If you don’t have edges, don’t force it!” This look isn’t for everyone (and not at all times). Do not cut your hair to make edges, it doesn’t work and is damaging. But if you naturally have edges that are super fragile, Wallace says take time to focus on getting healthy hair and growing back your edges first instead of over styling them.
Chose the Right Products
The key to styling edges is using the right holding products and tools for your hair type. Holding sprays work best for finer hair textures, while water-based pomades work better for coarser or curlier hair. Wallace especially loves the combo of the long holding EBIN 24 Hour Edge Tamer and the gentle Tangle Teezer The Ultimate Teaser comb to firmly encourage hold baby hairs into place. Brice’s favorite go-to is Edge Booster pomade.
Use Heat Protectant
“The hair around the hairline tends to be finer and more prone to damage,” Brice warns, and it’s especially vulnerable with extra styling attention and heat. Using heat protectant is critical when using heat to style delicate hairs. Brice likes amika Blockade Heat Defense Serum.
For beginners, Brice suggests keeping two things in mind: starting with a small amount of holding product (and building up as needed) and following the natural direction of the hairline and hair growth when creating your swoops. The simplest style that can be worn with updos or loose hair is the classic C-shape. When brushing the hair to create that swoop, it may seem like you are brushing your hair onto your forehead, however creating the curved C-shape and brushing it back into the hairline give you the desired final look.
Secure Edges With A Scarf
A regular satin or silk scarf used to protect the entire hair style will help to also keep edges from moving out of place, however, using a specific, narrower edge laying scarf will provide some extra security to your edges, regardless of how the rest of your hair is styled. Wearing a scarf to bed, while finishing up your makeup, or even in transit will give you the freshest unveil of your ’do.
Have Fun With Customization
Wallace says edges give your look extra variety and versatility. “Edges can be super slicked or dramatic,” he explains. “Even if you have naturally wavy or soft curly hair, they can be fun and natural with minimum product.” Styles vary from swirly circles, to S-shapes that may be more face framing, you can make any look completely your own. Edge brushes, like the Pattern Beauty Edge Tool, with a rat tail comb side are ideal for extra detailed styling.
Give Edges A Break
If you want to prioritize keeping edges intact, avoid wearing too-tight styles that will compromise them over time. You’ll also want to give even healthy edges a break from time to time to avoid over working them. Those who may be suffering from extended hair loss or want to give their edges a break without sacrificing the look can even fake it with lace edges or edge stickers.
For a little extra edge love, Both Brice and Wallace suggest that and old-fashioned castor oil treatment may be helpful for regrowth. “Simply massaging a few drops into the hairline at night,” offers Brice.