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Pictured: Satin-lined Grace Eleyae turban

If you’re like me and you’re currently on a mission to gain some solid inches as far as your hair is concerned, it’s super important that you make sure that your edges and the nape of your neck get all that they need so that your entire head of hair can look healthy and strong. Since these areas tend to be the most fragile, this means that you need to be super intentional when it comes to the steps that you take, maintenance wise. In order to help you do that, I’ve got seven tips that I know, from up close and very personal experience, will definitely cause those areas to thrive. You ready?

1. Make Your Own Edge Control

OK, baby hairs are cute (to a point; sometimes, they can get really outta control). Still, I personally don’t believe that we should focus on them to the point where we’re willing to literally lose our edges in order to get them just right on a daily basis. And when it comes to some of the edge control products that are on the market, that’s what we are running the risk of doing due to all of the chemicals and drying alcohol that’s in them. Plus, the constant friction that comes with brushing our edges back all of the time — listen, the point here is that, again, our edges (and nape) tend to be the most fragile parts of our hair. This means that 1) we need to use edge control in moderation and 2) it really is best that we either go with a non-drying product or that we make our own. I’ve made some before and it’s a lot easier to do than you might initially think. In fact, I’ve actually written an article that features a few recipes for this platform entitled, “5 DIY Edge Control Recipes For Curly Hair”. Check it out when you get a chance.

2. Massage Your Edges and Nape with DIY Oil

If you happen to notice that there are areas around your edges and nape that are much thinner than you would like, something that can help to strengthen your hair follicles and restore the hair that’s been lost is to gently massage those areas a couple of times a week. The main reason why this is so beneficial is because, when we massage our scalp, it helps to increase the blood flow to our follicles so that they are able to receive more nutrients at a quicker pace.

By the way, you can really take your massages to another level if you make your own massage oil. Matter of fact, did you know that essential oils like lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint, cedarwood and ylang-ylang all have reputations for restoring hair loss? Just add them to a carrier oil such as grapeseed, avocado, argan, olive or jojoba, warm it up in the microwave for 10 seconds, apply the oil to your fingertips and run circles around your edges and the back of your neck. It feels great, releases tension and puts you on the path to getting hair back where you want (and need) it most.

3. Let Your Edges and Nape Air Dry Before Blow Drying Them

A huge mistake that I used to make on my own wash days is, when I wanted to wear my hair blown out, I would immediately start blow drying my hair, even while it was soaking wet. Now, I know to use an old T-shirt to absorb the excess moisture, to apply a cream thermal heat protectant (cream is best if you’ve got 4 hair type and/or a lot of hair volume) and then to let my hair air dry, at least 60 percent. Following these steps helps to reduce the chances of heat damage. As far as your edges and nape go, it’s really best to let those dry completely and then to semi-straighten them out with the dryer when your dryer is on cool. That helps to decrease the chances of weakening those areas (if you opt to go with applying heat at all).

4. Eat Lots of Protein

Your hair is made up of mostly protein (keratin), so it makes plenty of sense that you should eat more protein in order to get all of your hair to stay healthy and continue to grow. As far as the kind of foods that have the most amount of protein in them, meat and eggs are probably a given. Some others would include almonds, oats, quinoa, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, fish, Brussels sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and peas.

5. Pay Attention to “Protective Style Red Flags”

Sometimes, I’ll have summers when I’ll rock nothing but some medium-sized box braids. I adore everything about that particular style. What I have learned, though, is a good braider is someone who won’t have you leaving their shop feeling like you’re about to become a low-key ibuprofen junkie. In fact, good braiders usually don’t apply so much tension that you’re in pain for days on end. They also are not so consumed with your edges looking straight that they are willing to weaken their hair follicles in order accomplish that goal (this goes for “catching” every little hair on the back of your neck too). Moral of the story — when it comes to braids and twists, deep condition — all of your hair but especially — your edges and nape before your appointment, request that your stylist not braid so tight that your scalp wrinkles up and be sure to moisturize those areas with the DIY oil that we already talked about, at least a couple of times a week.

As for protective styles like wigs — massage your edges and nape before putting one on, always wear a wig cap and try not to make a habit out of sleeping with your wig on (the sensitive parts of your hair need time to breathe). You can read other tips on how to care for your hair when you’ve got a wig on by checking out our article, “7 Things You Don't Do When Wearing a Wig”. Oh, and when it comes to weaves, make sure that you use quality hair, that you don’t constantly keep your tresses in a ponytail (that kind of pressure isn’t good for your edges or nape either) and that you don’t leave your weave in for what seems like decades. Even when it comes to the best kind of extensions, 12 weeks should be your max before you give your hair a few weeks to relax and you get another set of extensions put in.

6. Pamper with Silk and/or Satin

I’ll be honest. Because I work from home, I just leave my hair in big plaits a lot of the time. And when I go out, oftentimes I just rock a pre-tied turban (the ones that come with satin lining on the inside are wonderful. You can find several merchants that make them on Etsy; just put “pre-tied turban” in the search field). Since they fit so comfortably, my edges don’t have to worry about enduring a lot of pressure. Then, I’ll wear my hair out on the weekends and because I oftentimes don’t have anything on my head, it’s all good then too.

However, if you happen to have other styling preferences, just make sure that things like scarves, headbands and even hats have some satin lining in them. Not only will that help to keep your edges and nape from losing moisture and becoming dry and brittle, it will also significantly reduce the friction that they experience; friction that can weaken your hair follicles and cause those areas to thin out within just a few weeks’ time. Also, make sure to either tie your hair up at night with a silk or satin scarf, to wear a satin bonnet or to sleep on a satin pillowcase (for the exact same reasons). Honestly, while this might be an unpopular opinion, I think that you should go some nights with your hair wrapped and some nights with your pillowcase. The reason why is because, when there is pressure applied on the same spot, for hours on end, for months at a time, that can also lead to thinning. Sometimes, even scarves and bonnets can “rub the wrong way” while we’re tossing and turning. Going without them so your hair can just “be” can be a really beneficial thing.

7. Ease Up on the Stress

Stress is good for no one. As far as your hair goes, it can literally push your hair follicles to a resting phase that will prevent it from growing any further; this can eventually lead to long-term hair loss. That’s why it’s important to exercise; get no less than 6-8 hours of sleep every night; to take a B-complex supplement; to consume less sugar, carbs and caffeine (all are stress inducers) and to set healthy boundaries in both your personal and professional life. Otherwise, your edges and nape might let you know that you are overwhelming yourself more than you should by thinning out in those areas. That’s the bad news. The good news is you can make choices that will help to change that around. Please make sure that you do.

©Shellie R. Warren/2021