Have you ever been basking in the glow of a compliment on your hairstyle only to notice the person’s eyes are directed right at your edges? It snaps you right out of your moment of shine and makes you think: “What are they looking at?” “Is there something in my hair?” “Do my edges look cray?”

Whether you wear your hair natural or relaxed, have a weave or a wig, your edges speak volumes about your hair health, and just how well you maintain your look, period. I had my own moment, when my co-worker looked over at me in our cubicle and casually presented me with a hair edge product she just got in the mail. Damn right, I took her offer personally, “What are you trying to say?,” I quipped. “Oh, nothing,” she said. “I know you like freebies.” Yeah, riiiggghhhtt.

So my grown-out-relaxed edges were in need of some TLC, I have to admit it was just one of them days. I purchased an edge-smoothing product a few weeks ago and didn’t like it because it was so dense that it failed to smooth into my hair; it just sat there in miniscule, yet very discernible white clumps, which I hate to wet to make disappear. No bueno.

I happen to have healthy edges, thankfully, but I know there are some whose edges are extremely fragile and suffering. That got me to doing some research on this very visible area of our hair, and I’d love to share it here.

Unhealthy edges can come from over-processing with relaxers, strain from tight ponytails, braids or weaves, and other factors like wearing hats and wool scarves in the winter playing with our hair and just lack of moisture.

Some steps I would suggest to promote edge growth and whip your edges back into shape, include:

  1. Massage the area with oil to keep them moisturized. Our edges tend to be brittle so massaging will promote the hair follicles and a nourishing oil will keep our edges (and hair at the nape of the neck) from snapping.
  2. Keep a healthy diet. What we put in our bodies is reflected in our appearance, so doubling up on the veggies doesn’t hurt.
  3. When washing your hair, make sure to condition the edges as well as the length of your hair. Throw a little scalp massage in there for good measure.
  4. If your edges are unhealthy, you need to be extra careful with them at all times and that includes when styling and if you wear a relaxer. As tempting as it may be, if you do your own relaxer, don’t focus on the edges so much. Spread the message to your stylist as well. Although their goal is to give you the most salon-perfect style, healthy hair—and edges—are much more valuable in the long run.

Products to try for smooth edges. Try to use your fingers to apply these goodies and not too much brushing. Tie down with a scarf overnight (not too tight):

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