Last year I embarked on a journey that explored why pain is an accepted part of Black hairstyling. The result of that journey was an estimate of just how many Black women in the US take a pain reliever after getting a protective hairstyle, 40%, and how many women are experiencing thinning around their hairlines–39%. Another output from the exploration was the below film, Pretty Shouldn’t Hurt, which goes into what we can do to make sure protective styles are really protecting our hair. Following the release of the film I received a few comments on YouTube and emails from people asking what they should do if their hair is already thinning.
If your hair is mildly thinning, give it sometime to breathe–meaning avoid styles that apply any tension around the hair line. It should grow back. More on thinning edges here. If you feel like your thinning is severe, you’ll want to see a board certified dermatologist who specializes in hair (and is ideally familiar with Black hair in particular). While you’re waiting for your hair to grow back or working with a dermatologist on a solution, there are some hairstyles you can wear that don’t apply too much tension and cover up your edges (if you’re looking to do so). I’ve rounded up a list hairstyles that should be safe on edges that are already thinning.
Note: if you have thinning edges, protective styles aren’t 100% not an option. Dr. Crystal Aguh, one of the experts I consulted with on this project, put together a set of guidelines and a hierarchy of protective styles that are and aren’t too damaging for your hair, depending on your hair resilience. We turned those guidelines into this handy quiz.
If you try any of the below styles and you find that your hair just can’t take it, you’ll most likely need to leave your hair be for a while. Check out the gallery and scroll down for vids!
Hairstyles that hide thinning edges
You’ll see that a common theme in this round up are bangs and swoops! I know we as Black women love our hair looking neat and slick. But you’re going to want to avoid using gel or edge control to slick down the edges you do have, as repeated slicking can result in more hair loss.
Six coverup styles on long type 3 hair
Vlogger Rochelle Masella, who had been experiencing postpartum shedding, shows us not one but six styles she wears to hide her edges–ranging from a swoop made from her long high pony tail to a goddess crown placed very deliberately over her hairline. Although these styles are shown on curly hair, they can also be done on kinkier textures and with hair added for a longer ponytail.
Goddess twist on long kinky (4c) hair
Angela hides her edges with a goddess twist that wraps around her whole head, especially hair hairline. She has long hair, so she doesn’t need to add hair to achieve the look.
Fellow vlogger Adanna Madueke has a teeny weeny afro and achieves the same look with adding hair.
Styles with bangs are great for hiding edges
Here Nash creates a high puff with bangs. She uses edge control to slick down her edges. That’s the part you’ll want to skip doing, especially if your thinning is severe.
If you have a fresh braid or twist out, like Ambrosia does below, you can create a messy bun with a faux bang. Make sure you don’t tie your hair too tightly when creating this look. A tight bun can cause tension which can lead to more thinning.
If your hair is kinkier than Ambrosia’s or not as long, or if you don’t have a freshly stretched hair, you can check out Nellz’s tutorial. She creates her bangs by curling the front section of her hair with perm rods. Again, go easy on the edge control or avoid it all together if you can.
If your hair is too short to create your own faux bangs you can follow Adanna’s suit and add fake bangs. Here’s a straight look she created using braiding hair.
And here’s a kinky bang and bun look she created using kinky clip-ins. The brand she used is Better Lengths. I also like Kurly Klips. You might be able to find some cheaper options in your local beauty supply.
Okay, so as your creating any of these styles, remember loosen up! The less tension you apply, the better. As Tricologist Dr. Kari says, frizz is good! And go easy on edge control and gel. Let me know in the comments if you found any of these styles doable, and if you think of any others, post them in the comments too!