A Beginner's Guide to Edges
Edges are an art form, the finishing touch that makes a simple hairstyle perfect. When styling hair, edges can take the look to a whole new level. The "baby hair" look, in particular, adds style to many styles, and edges can frame your face and almost act as an accessory to your hairstyle.
Baby hair is the extra hair around the hairline that is thinner and shorter, especially for black women, for whom the baby hair look is part of their culture.
What is an edge or baby hair?
Baby hair, also known as fringes, are shorter hairs located in the hairline area around textured hair, and for decades, women of color have turned fringes into works of art.
"Laying down" baby hair has become a very common phenomenon, and many black and brown women use it to groom the appearance of their hair.
How and when did the edging trend begin?
According to Essence magazine, laying down the edges originated in the early 1920s. Dancer, singer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker was one of the early pioneers of the baby hair trend. During performances at Parisian theaters, Baker used sleek cuts to outline a contoured face.
Baker and jazz singer Baby Esther's iconic hair inspired the 1930s animated character Betty Boop, so hair edges began to gain traction. By the 1960s, the civil rights movement was transformative in America as blacks fought for freedom and equality. With the movement in full swing, the trend of fringe hair resurfaced as black women began to flaunt their African hairstyles with gel-fixed baby hair.
By the 1990s, baby hair was everywhere in black celebrity hairstyles. The Mexican-American Chola aesthetic also gained popularity on the West Coast, and soon Latinas were embracing baby hair as well.
In the last five years, with the rise of the natural hair movement, baby hair has once again become fashionable, accepted and considered a work of self-expression.
How do you lay your edges?
Step 1: Moisturize the edges
Make sure you start with dry edges. If your hair is wet, once they dry, the edges will move and waste all your work.
Apply a little water to your hairline, but not too much, or you'll saturate your baby hair.
Use a paddle brush to gently rub the product in, this will protect your hair from the gel which strips the hair of its natural moisture. Do not use products with high alcohol content, they will dry out your hair even more.
Step 2: Edge Control
While you can use gels, I recommend you use Edge Control. These are designed for delicate baby hair and provide long-lasting hold without stripping the hair of its natural moisture.
If your edges are particularly difficult to hold or you want a flawless look, try something with extra hold; if your edges are fragile, broken or brittle, try an edge control infused with fortifying ingredients.
Step 3: Brush off your edges
Ditch your old toothbrush and use a specialized baby bristle brush designed for the art of edge laying, this tool has everything you want. The end of the brush is equipped with tight teeth, perfect for separating baby hair, while the sturdy bristles smooth the thickest hair with ease.
Use the brush to brush down the baby hair you want to use. Tie the rest of the hair back and gently brush down the baby hair from the hairline
Step 4: Styling and Style
Now comes the hard part. Apply edge control or gel to the part you are working on. Use your fingers to apply it to the baby hair in a downward motion to give them a little shine.
Next, use the thick bristle end of the brush to create curves and waves.
Now that you're done, use your fingers to dab a little gel on your edges. Once again, go with your hair and let the product smooth over your hair. This helps ensure style while also giving the look some extra shine.
What are the different styles of hair edges available?
Soft and delicate
Soft and fine baby hair looks effortlessly natural. This is the perfect look for those who have bouncy curls with more of a 3A-3C type curl texture. Apply lots of edge control and tie a silk scarf around the edges for 15-30 minutes to achieve this look. If you are in a hurry, blow dry the edges at a low temperature while pressing your fingers into the hair will also get the job done.
Swirled and sleek
Curly baby hair turns your hair into an intricate work of art, and these swirls are perfect for sleek hairstyles like high ponytails. To add extra volume to your high ponytail, clip in Unice Hair's clip-in ponytails or install Seamless unice extensions upside down. The clips on the Seamless collection are virtually invisible, and inverting them provides you with extra insurance that your weft will be undetectable.
Messy and chic baby hair will make you look casual and lazy. Literally, this look requires very little effort and can usually be achieved without too many tools or products. Simply tie a silk scarf around your edges overnight, and you'll wake up with a messy, chic edge.
Water waves frame your face with tiny crescent shapes permeating your hairline. Take a bottle of spray water and gently wet your hair, then take a dollop of mousse and gently apply it to the edges in a crescent shape until it forms the contours of your face. A watery edge is a perfect way to complete the beach wave look.
Braiding and laying
For those of you who like to braid to protect your style, laying down the edges is the perfect finishing touch to complete your look. The trick is to gently melt your edges in the direction of your braid so that your braid looks as good as newly installed it every day.
Black women have become trendsetters in the hairdressing industry and the baby hair trend shows no signs of slowing down. From its beginnings in the 1920s adorning black headpieces to its high popularity in Hollywood in the 1990s to its Instagram-inspired phenomenon among millennials today, baby hair has proven to be a timeless accessory.
The variety of patterns and waves illustrate the ingenuity and artistry that Black women embody in their beautifully textured hair every day.