There’s nothing like spending hours styling or treating your hair to perfection, only to have the rebellious little hairs along your hairline misbehave and stick up or out, ruining your look. Those fine, wispy strands of hair located along your hairline are referred to as “baby hair” or “edges,” and one of the biggest problems is that they are usually too short to clip back, and too unruly to let loose. 

This is where edge styling comes in. Edge styling is not a new concept, and can be traced back to the 1920s, when entertainer Josephine Baker was known for her spit curls. Originally, edge styling was done to tame baby hairs, but today it is often done to make a statement and form part of one’s hairstyle. 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!

To combat unruly edges, or help you achieve your desired look, hair care brands have developed special edge control hair products that help you secure your edges into place. These are designed to offer ultra-hold, while adding shine to the hair. 

Edge control products

There are two types of edge control products: oil-based and water-based. 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. 

Cantu Extra Hold Edge Gel (R139.95) conditions and smooths frizz and flyaway hair for shiny, sleek styles with a long-lasting, flake-free hold. Made with pure shea butter and formulated without harsh ingredients, this extra hold gel is perfect for polished, smooth styles and ponytails.

The right tool

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. The Evolve Triple Edge Styler (R119.95) is brush/comb combination to allow for polishing and grooming edges gently and a rat tail for parting hair. The rat tail tip end creates sharp parts and prevents frizz. For natural, relaxed, and braided/protective styles.

Protect against breakage

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. Try Cantu Shea Butter Tea Tree & Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil (R169.99). It conditions the scalp to support healthy hair growth and uses the power of some of nature’s most moisturising oils to help protect dry and damaged hair from breakage.

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. Evolve’s Sunset Bonnet (R89.95) made from high quality satin, helps protect your hair as well as maintain its moisture. 

Getting started

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 isn’t natural. Make sure your hair is in its natural state before you start, and take a good look in the mirror. You’ll notice some thin hairs along your hairline that grow forward and lie flat against your skin. These are the hairs you want to focus on neatening / styling. 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.  

Edge styling may seem straight forward, but mastering it requires practice. There are so many styles and looks you could try, that you may need to play around and experiment before you find the perfect look for you.

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