Laying your edges down — otherwise known as slicking down your baby hairs, for the initiated — is a Black girl's rite of passage. For many, it comes with lots of trial, error, and, globs of hair gel. Nothing is more soul-crushing than realizing your hard work is for naught as soon as you step outside. There's so much that can go wrong here: product flaking, forehead acne caused by formulas made with way too much oil, and the ultimate plight of figuring out if the formula will actually lay your edges at all. But when it comes to laying 4C edges down, it's even more of a task. However, according to the experts, the trick is a matter of finding the right formula, the right tools, and having a little bit of patience.
In most cases, your baby hair is extremely fragile because of exposure, friction, and tension. And 4C hair is a special case, as the texture is delicate, but coarse. This hair type has the tendency to be more resistant to product, especially product with higher water content which will cause the hair to curl back up. In addition, due to shrinkage, hair can be shorter in the front, making it more difficult create a solid hold of the edges.
"The trick to a long-lasting lay for 4C edges is not to be rushed," Vernon François, Lupita Nyong'o's go-to hair stylist, tells TZR. "So give yourself enough time and do this after creating your hairstyle of choice." However, patience alone won't leave you an all-day hold, so ahead, check out some expert tips to keeping 4C edges flat all day, without the flaking, unsightly build-up, and oily finish.
How To Lay 4C Edges: Stay Away From High Oil Content And Alcohol
"I love a good edge control that’s non-oily," Sandrine Diah, celebrity hairstylist and wig artist whose work has been seen on Cardi B and Jackie Aina, tells TZR. Keeping oil content to a minimum prevents the hair from reverting quickly. "For me, I like edge control with an anti-humectant in it so the hair doesn’t coil back, and it needs to be moldable," Francois says in agreement.
Aside from oils, you should also stay away from alcohols, which are known for drying out the hair, serving as one of the main reasons for buildup. "Use a gel with low alcohol content, or mix your gel with a little serum to help avoid flaking," Francois says. "A formula with moisturizing ingredients is also key."
How To Lay 4C Edges: Tools Of The Trade
"I’d recommend using a very small brush," François says. "I’ve had one in my kit for years just for the purpose of laying edges. That or an eyebrow makeup applicator brush, or even a clean toothbrush are all great options for this. Let the edges dry completely before touching them, and make this the last part of your hairstyle to attend to."
You can use your fingers to apply a generous amount of edge control along your edges. For added malleability, first rub the product in your fingertips to loosen the consistency. Then with your brush, start from the front of the edges brushing backwards until laid to your liking. If the hair is wet, first begin with a gel consistency, and layer with edge control to ensure hold. Once the edges are secured, you can stylize your baby hair in smaller portions with desired swoops.
How To Lay 4C Edges: Use A Silk Scarf To Set Edges In Place
"After application, carefully, but firmly cover with a silk scarf or head band while they set," François says. To note, cotton fabrics can strip hair of oil content, contributing to increased frizzing and tangling. "This should take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the wrap to be sure the hairs stay where you want them, lifting away from the roots to the ends. If you do this at the start of your morning routine, you should be all set for when you need to begin your day."
How To Lay 4C Edges: Cocktail With Gel When Needed
Even when your hair is under a wig or extensions, proper preparation of the edges is imperative for a natural placement and protection. "I create multifunctional wigs," Diah says. "They are my canvas and as much as they transform a look, they’re really made to protect what’s most important, what’s underneath. Before every install, I usually slick edges back with gel extremely tight to protect from glue or any other adhesives." Without the proper lay, you risk the glue coming in contact with the edges, which can incur breakage. Finally, she creates edges using the hair of the wig, using the same method she does for natural hair. "I recreate edges on the wig to make it look as natural as possible. It’s an illusion."
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