Most of us know what traction alopecia is so I’ll spare you all the scientific speak. But bottom line, I lost my edges from twisting my locs into submission for 12 straight years. It wasn’t until I decided to do a big chop that I realized just how much damage I’d done. Once I realized that I needed to treat my hair and scalp, I sought out help. And boy did I get it.

Voices, voices, and more voices, telling me—sometimes in screaming form—what to use to get my edges back. (Even today I’ve heard vapor rub, eucalyptus oil, and bull semen aka taurine). Nonetheless, for years I embarked on a journey to get back what is mine. Oh the things I’ve tried. Here’s what I found out.

For years I tried to camouflage my damaged hairline with light hair colors

The product: Rogaine for Women 2% Minoxidil Solution. I considered trying Rogaine for Men with the assumption that it would be stronger than the lady version, but people vehemently warned against it. So I tried the former. It helped. But once you get lazy—which I am about my hair at times—you quickly lose the little edge (no pun intended) that you’ve gained. And at almost $30 for a one-month treatment it got costly after 6 months.

The verdict: It helped a bit, but for the price it would cost for me to continue use at the rate of growth, I could just pay to have a hair transplant.

The product: Jamaican Black Castor Oil. Almost every black woman I’ve spoken to has asked the same question: “Castor Oil didn’t work for you?!” I hang my head partially in shame, partially to hide my edges. My sister gave me Jamaican Black Castor Oil in balm form, and I’ve even tried it in oil form.

The verdict: I think this probably works well for some people. I saw some growth but it was wispy and frail. On any given windy day I feared that my new wiry edges would blow clean off my head.

The treatment: Rice water. My mother suggested this after I dared to show up at Smorgasburg with my edges exposed. Once she mentioned my edges even though I hadn’t (thanks mom), I realized they looked bad. Someone at our temple told her that she grew her hair back with this natural remedy. So later that night I soaked some rice in water and the next day I applied some healthy dabs to my scalp and edges.

The verdict: After some weeks of use I gave up. The only new strand that I saw was a pesky gray that I decided was simply discolored from the murky white-ish water. I plucked that sucker and decided going forward that rice belonged in my belly and off my hairline.

The product: Peppermint Oil/Tea Tree Oil/Rose Oil combination. After removing a very natural looking sew-in, I decided I had had enough of not putting my hair up freely. So I hit the beauty supply store and stocked up on what I was told were the essential hair growth oils. I blended them into a bottle and started applying the mixture daily.

The verdict: After months of use I had a very oily crown that smelled quite nice and looked just as bare.

The treatment: Salon growth elixir with steam. At one point I was willing to pay whatever I needed to get some growth stimulated on my edges, so I hit a salon that specializes in black natural hair. They washed my hair with a growth shampoo, slathered on the elixir, put me under the dryer, and I sat. It was a nice experience, if you don’t count the stares of pity from other salon goers when they saw my edges.

The verdict: I didn’t have the time or money to keep up this kind of commitment so I can’t say this was a win or loss. But after only two treatments I quickly gave up on this. I need DIY.

And there were several more unsuccessful products and treatments thereafter. So my journey continues. I’m currently using Minoval Hair Growth Treatment in conjunction with Jamaican Black Castor Oil balm, and I’m seeing some slow growth. I just have to stick with it and not be impatient or discouraged. But like our tresses, our hair journeys and hair woes are different. I’m still trying to get my edges back and I’m open to any suggestions so long as they don’t include bodily fluids from any animal.

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