Step away from the gel...if you dare.
Besides a penchant for new and exciting things, committing myself to a big chop also meant starting fresh with a healthy hair routine. Like any other Black girl living in the 21st century, edges are a touchy subject. The world can be a cruel place for those who choose to forgo using edge gel or brushing until they're as taut as possible.
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The truth is; there are so many other things we should be committing our most sensitive strands to besides gels and puddies. Common sense tells us that a little TLC goes a long way, but our more vain pursuits usually get in the way.
If having super short hair has taught me anyway, it's that having these seven practices in rotation are way more important that achieving "laid edges" or swirly baby hairs:
Steer clear of tight ponytails. It's easy to grab a scrunchie when you're on-the-go, but constantly pulling your hair back will eventually show in the form of thinned edges. If not for the health of your hair, challenge yourself to try out a new hairstyle every week that doesn't involve ponytail holders. Not only will it flex your creative muscles; your tresses will bounce back over time.
Don't sleep with your hair pulled back. The same rules apply to your sleep routine. Just because you're sleeping in a silk bonnet or on a satin pillowcase doesn't mean you should negate loosening your curls.
For those who move around while they sleep, tightly wound hair will eventually break; especially if you're still using laying on cotton, which sucks oil from the hair shaft.
Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol-infused products dry faster in wet hair, they literally suffocate each hair strand until all moisture is depleted. And while most edge gels are alcohol-free, those same formulations can still harden hair and cause flaking--yuck!
If you must, gravitate toward gels and products with all natural ingredients. For instance, Mielle Organics' Honey & Ginger Edge Gel includes ingredients (wheat protein, castor oil) that actually stimulate growth.
Switch up your parts. As you explore new hairstyles, remember to avoid repeated stress to one part of the scalp; extensions included! Rock middle and side parts from week to week. If you're wearing a sewn-in or wig, make sure the install isn't crazy tight.
Stimulate blood circulation. Rubbing your temples isn't just for headache relief. Regular massages with hydrating oil stimulates blood circulation to the head, which in turn, creates a more active environment for new hair to grow. Besides, it just feels good!
Treat your tresses. Like a massage or hot bath for the body, your hair deserves (and needs) a spoil sesh; especially during the winter season when our strands tend to dry out. How often you use a deep conditioner or masque is a subjective number, but the bottom line is: everyone should be doing it!
If you've got thin, fragile waves like me, Shea Moisture's entire Fruit Fusion line is a godsend.
Embrace moisture. Lastly, don't forget to moisturize your edges every. single. day. Instead of mineral-oil based products that are actually resistant to hydration, go for water-based stylers that will make your hair softer and free of product buildup.