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Image: Pamela Samuels Young

Listen, I don’t care how healthy your hair and scalp are. If you’re a stickler for baby hairs with every style, you want your hair to be as sleek as possible on a weekly basis or your go-to protective style is always—emphasis on always—a wig or weave, it’s going to start putting stress and strain on your edges. Not only because your edges are possibly the most fragile parts of your hair, but because hair follicles aren’t designed to deal with constant manipulation.

Most of us know this in theory. Still, there comes a point in time when we’ve all had some part of our edges that was a little thinning than we would like. If that’s how things currently are for you, you’re freaking out a bit but you know that you don’t want to do any more damage, I want to share with you some natural things that I have tried to treat a tiny thinning spot that came from texturizing my hair too much (yep, chemicals can wreak havoc too).

Although it takes several weeks to notice any real improvement (all good things come in time, y’all), if you make these a part of your daily regimen, I really will be shocked if your edges don’t come back into full effect again.

Apply some DIY Saw Palmetto pomade.

If you’ve heard of saw palmetto before but you’ve never been quite sure what it is, it’s basically a tiny berry that has been used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans for many years. Saw palmetto treats everything from bladder infections and prostate cancer to low libido. Something else that the properties in saw palmetto are able to do is restore hair loss. It does this by blocking something that is known as 5-alpha-reductase (an enzyme that converts testosterone into the hair loss molecule DHT). The best way to get the benefits of saw palmetto (when it comes to your hair) is to make a pomade. All you need to do is combine one teaspoon of pure Aloe Vera gel to two teaspoons of ground saw palmetto powder. Apply it to your thinning edges, let it sit for 20 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. Repeat this once a week for best results.

Eat foods that are rich in zinc.

In order to get a full head of hair back, you’re going to need to pamper your follicles with a healthy diet. Aside from protein and iron, something else that you need to consume plenty of is zinc. That’s because zinc is a mineral that is essential to tissue growth and repair, including when it comes to your scalp. You can get more zinc into your system by taking a supplement. Or you can eat foods that are proven to be high in zinc including eggs, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, etc.), whole grains, cashews, Greek yogurt, oysters and lamb.

Restrict certain foods from your diet. 

No matter what you put onto your hair (including your edges), if your diet is poor, you’re going to be fighting a pretty uphill battle. Stay on top of the hair healing process by nixing certain foods that, at the end of the day, don’t do it a bit of good. Some that top the list include vegetables, soy, and corn oil (trans fats trigger inflammation), sugar and processed foods (they’ve got a tendency to throw hormone levels way off) and caffeine (it can lead to dehydration).

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Perform weekly rosemary oil massages. Rosemary oil is dope because it does everything from increasing blood circulation and improving brain function to pain relief, stress reduction, and a natural bug repellant. Something that I adore about this particular oil is the fact that it also is a great hair loss treatment. In fact, this is something that I’ve applied to my thinning spot on the right side of my head (right next to where my edges technically are). By gently massaging the oil onto that area 2-3 times a week (for about five minutes or so), it also prevents DHT from attacking my hair follicles. Word on the street is it’s also awesome when it comes to treating androgenetic alopecia (a male form of pattern baldness that also affects many women) too. Some research says that rosemary oil is just as effective yet more gentle than the main ingredient found in Rogaine (minoxidil).

Drink some bone broth. Your hair is made up of protein; that’s why you need a consistent amount of it in your system. One way to do that is to consume bone broth. It’s loaded with protein, collagen and other minerals that your hair follicles need in order to thrive. You can purchase some at your local grocery store. Or, if you’d prefer to make some of your own, click here for a meat recipe and here for a vegan one.

Decrease friction.

Friction is not your hair’s—especially your edges’—friend. But you know what? If your hairbrush is the only thing that comes to mind that causes it, let me add a few more things to that list. Protective styles, cotton scarves, wool hats—anything that keeps rubbing on your edges and dries it out in the process is something that can thin out your edges. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to go without the styling options that you love; just be proactive about properly caring for your hair underneath it. Use protective styles as a temporary styling option. Wrap your hair up in silk or satin scarves (they don’t dry your hair out, plus they are gentler on your hair). Avoid hats that are too tight and also make sure that there is a band inside of it that is made out of satin material; that will protect your edges better while producing less friction too.

Let. The. Baby Hair. Go. When I think of two women who are still keeping baby hairs alive, TLC’s Chili and Lori Harvey immediately come to mind. Although sometimes the look is cute, don’t let them convince you that gels, mousses and forcefully brushing tiny hairs around the perimeter of your face are not going to damage your edges at some point and just think how much better off you are by not losing them in the first place? Laying them down every once in a while is cool, but they’re called “baby hairs” for a reason. It’s OK to let your natural and product-free hairline shine through. That’s the best way to keep your edges from thinning; the best way to keep them flourishing and super-healthy!