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While styling your hair as usual, you realize there are some sparse areas and short hairs around your edges that definitely weren’t there before–a telltale sign of breakage. Not only are the little bits of hair annoying to look at, but styling becomes more of a challenge when you have to blend damaged edges into the rest of your hair–which usually causes even more damage.

Whether you slick them back for a simple and clean look, create edge art FKA Twigs-style, or just wear them au naturale, edges are important in most curlies’ hair journeys. And although breakage around the edges of the hair is a common issue among naturals, the whole situation can be downright stressful. The good news is even if your edges have abandoned you, if you take the right steps to provide a healthy environment for them to grow, they’ll most likely come back looking better than ever.

Keep scrolling for some tips on how to return your edges to their formerly-laid glory.

1. Be gentle with styling (we want baby hairs–not breakage).

This is probably the most straightforward and pertinent advice for nursing your edges back to life–just be gentle. The hair around the hairline is typically some of the most fragile hair, and if you have dry or fine hair, that risk of breakage is even more present. Laying your edges can really add the finishing touches on a sleek hairstyle, but taking a toothbrush and edge control to your edges on a daily basis can do more harm than good on already-fragile hairs. And if you’re currently experiencing breakage at extreme levels, try stepping away from the edge control altogether.

2. Change up your everyday styles occasionally to avoid constant tension on your edges.

We all have those go-to styles that we depend on to get us through the hustle and bustle of everyday. They’re usually cute, easy, and functional. Whether your favorite is the beloved “pineapple” or a more protective style, it pays to switch up your hairstyle occasionally to prevent constant stress in the same areas. In this case, if you’re a fan of sky-high ponytails or tight braids, it may be beneficial to alternate between tight and relaxed styles.

3. Don’t skimp on moisturizing/caring for your edges–in fact, give them even more love.

Your edges need just as much (if not more”> care than the rest of your hair, and hair breakage is usually a sign of dryness. When it’s time for your moisturizing routine, don’t be afraid to show your edges some extra love! If you typically do the LCO or LOC method make sure to seal with the oil of your choice to lock in the moisture properly. Jamaican black castor oil is a popular choice for extremely dry and fragile edges.

4. Deep condition regularly.

Regular conditioning after washing is a must, but deep conditioning takes it a step further. A deep conditioner, especially if accompanied by heat or steam, will penetrate the hair shaft for more thorough hydration. Deep conditioning regularly keeps your hair soft, pliable, and less likely to break when manipulating it. How often you deep condition is dependent on your individual hair needs, but if you find that your hair is becoming limp and weak, you may be getting too much moisture. If your hair is still feeling dry, try doing it more often.

5. Try a protein treatment, if needed.

Protein treatments can act as a temporary filler in cracks along the hair shaft. In other words, they fill in the fractures along the hair caused by chemicals, manipulation, and heat that can result in breakage. If you color or bleach your hair, you should consider integrating a protein treatment into your routine.

6. If you’re doing any kind of heat styling, have your heat protectant ready.

Heat styling adds a new dimension to hair styling and a lot of curly girls like to mix it up every now and then and wear straight hair. Of course it’s not the best styling method for the health of your hair, but if you enjoy the fun that comes with sporting your hair sleek and straight, keep a heat protectant ready at all times. It’ll provide a much-needed barrier between the heat and your hair. Here are some suggestions for the best heat protectants you can buy.

7. Be sure that you’re only dealing with breakage and not a more serious condition.

Breakage occurs when the hair shaft itself breaks–pretty self-explanatory. This is different from shedding, in which the hair loosens from the bulb which you can usually see on the end of the hair. If you’re losing a lot of short hairs with no bulb, rather than full-length hairs, chances are you’re experiencing some kind of breakage.

While breakage itself can be caused by health-related issues like iron deficiency, excessive shedding is a different problem entirely and may be related to other health-related issues.

8. Try a good old-fashioned massage.

It may seem like a bit of a myth, but many naturals say that routinely massaging your scalp has some real benefits. These include: increasing blood flow to the hair follicles, moving the sebum from the scalp into the hair, and strengthening the roots. And if all of that isn’t a good enough reason to start massaging, it’s guaranteed to be a relaxing experience.

9. As tempting as it may be, don’t skip wash day.

To ensure healthy edges, you have to have a healthy scalp. Although you may want to postpone wash day until the end of time when dealing with dry hair, it’s important to get rid of debris from the scalp and buildup from the hair to guarantee that newly applied products will be able to penetrate the hair shaft properly. For curlies that use edge control products frequently, you’re gonna want to wash that regularly out to avoid extreme buildup. Take a look at these 5 ways you might be making your hair dry on wash day.

10. Keep in mind: there’s no magical technique to instantly regrow your edges.

If we could all apply a magic product or do a single technique to regrow edges, no one would have to deal with edge breakage much. The main key to growing edges back on top of a solid regimen is a lot of patience. As many products and serums as there are on the market for growing edges, nothing beats taking great care of your edges and your hair. And if all else fails, be sure to consult your doctor or a trichologist for the best solution for you.

Have you ever suffered (or are you currently suffering) from breakage around the hairline? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you in the comments.

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