The Story of the Disappearing Edges

How We Lost Our Edges and How to Make them Grow Back

Here’s a story that I know a lot of ladies can relate to …

Back in the day my friends and I were very particular about our hairlines. We smoothed fingerfulls of thick, cool to the touch, brown styling gel on the hair that grew along our temples and used small toothed combs to create designs and little finger waves.

We made sure our “kitchen”, or the short hairs along the nape of the neck, were nap, kink and curl free in similar fashion. Our pony tails, French rolls and buns were “fried, dyed and laid to the side”, as they say. We were following the trends of the 1990’s – trends that left no room for our natural hair textures. Most often, any girl whose natural, afro textured hair was showing got laughed at.

Micro Braids

Later, we braided our hair in long, thick cornrows like the rapper Eve and in micro braids so tiny that it sometimes took 12 hours or more for them to be completed. Our hair was pulled so tightly during the braiding process that we literally looked surprised for a few days after they were put in, but we didn’t mind. We just figured the stylist put them in really good so they would last.

Little did we know that the way we were treating our tender edges was going to render us darn near bald in years to come. We had no idea the alcohol in the hair gel we used was causing our already dry and brittle relaxed hair to snap leaving it seemingly damaged beyond repair. We had no clue that our micro braids could twist until they hung by a single strand of hair or that the tightness of our corn rows, especially along the hairline, was pulling strands of our hair out by the roots.

Also on FNH: Traction Alopecia and Hair Loss

Hair Bonding Glue

Little by little our “edges” began to disappear never to return. So we glued or sewed in tracks of weave to hide our hair loss and found that over time these weaving techniques were doing more harm than good. We turned to wigs, our final option for hiding our painfully damaged hair, out of desperation. Misuse of bobby pins and the combs attached to the wigs eventually took out our hair as well.

Sadly, we passed our unhealthy hair practices on to the next generation and watched as hair loss occurred in our girls at an alarming rate. It became almost normal to see five and six year old girls with the hairline of their relaxed hair already being eaten away.

Many of us, now in our late 30’s and early 40’s desperately want our hair back. The natural hair movement came just in time for some of us. As a result of the things the movement has taught us we’ve stopped accusing our hair of not being good enough and have learned that with the use of specific techniques our hair can return to its former glory or become even healthier than it has ever been.

Actress Viola Davis with natural hair

The great news is that restoring your “edges” is as easy as applying natural oils to the affected areas and avoiding hairstyles that pull hair tightly.

Thanks to the work of stylists, kitchen beauticians, and bloggers, untold numbers of women (and men) with afro textured hair are growing their hair back and have made disappearing edges a thing of the past forever.

Chanl Polk

Also on FNH:
How to use Castor oil | for Type 4 Natural Hair
Damage Report: Does Going Natural Instantly Repair Hair Damage?

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