“I am thrilled to announce that for the first time in American history I still have edges after two full months with small twist extensions,” read the text that I sent my best friend from college earlier this week. You can imagine my excitement:

Edges. For some of us, they are illusive wonders that seem to evade our grasp, and stubbornly refuse to grow. Let’s be clear before I go any further: I have more forehead than edges. I am able to date this back to the beginning of time, before my hair ever experienced a relaxer, tension or blow-drying. My hairline has always been pretty fine and low-density.

The problem is I really love braids and twists. When I was in middle school I figured out how to do braid and twist extensions, and the rest was history – including my hairline. A few years ago, despite being natural, I realized my hairline was sparser than usual, so I went cold turkey. I didn’t put in braids or twists for a couple of years. When I started again I only put in large- or medium-sized ones.

Then, anticipating the very cold weather ahead I decided to try small Senegalese twists as a protective style this year. Protective styles give many of us the look that we want, without the wear and tear that comes from excessive manipulation and harsh weather. I committed to keeping them in for two months. After miraculously keeping my commitment, I was surprised to find my edges in tact. I was stunned.

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How?  I don’t know for sure, but here are 5 reasons why I think eight weeks of small twist extensions on my very fine natural hair did not ravage my edges:

 “Treating” my hair before the twists

I rarely go the salon, but for my birthday this year my mom treated me to a visit with her stylist. My hair was deep conditioned and given a protein treatment. I also requested a trim. My hair felt soft, full and strong. So, a couple days before I did my twists I made an appointment to do the same treatment, again.

Nurturing from the inside

I took a multivitamin, Vitamin B and D, 75-80% of the days I had the twists. It could just be placebo effect, but I don’t think it hurt that my body, and subsequently my hair, had more of the recommended nutrients than usual.

Moisture & Sealing

I had a little spray bottle of water with some essential oils, and another bottle of trusted leave-in conditioner that I used maybe twice a week on average. I’m sure I could have used this more, but the moisture probably helped maintain some elasticity in my hair. The oil also might have been a shield from the abrasive extensions, cold, dry weather and the friction of my scarf and pillow at night.

Fewer braids and less hair.

I come from a school of thought that said spaces between your braids meant someone wasn’t doing their job. The braids were always beautiful, but over time it seemed like there was less and less hair to braid. With this set of twists I abandoned that mindset, welcomed the spaces and I used less hair for each twist. I think the combined effect of less weight and less tension was a relief to my edges.

Retouching the twists on my edges.

 Just after four weeks, my new growth was making its presence known.  Around this time, I decided to redo the edges. This helped to freshen up the look, remove any buildup and give the base of the twists a firmer foundation.

I think some, or all, of these factors played a role in preserving my hairline. There are so many protective styles, but for those of us with finer hair it may seem like our options are limited.  With this experience, I’m happy that I can add this one back in the rotation.

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Chantal is a project manager by day, writer/graphic designer by night, and a former business school career coach and career development professor. Through her writing, one-on-one coaching and group classes she strives to give practical, thoughtful and inspiring tips/ideas on communication and personal branding, to encourage purpose-driven women to achieve their professional and personal goals. She is the founder of leonandlucie.com, a website with everyday products with African-inspired designs. She shares thoughts on life as a Congolese-Ugandan American, with mild obsessions with hair/beauty, family, healthy living, good food and African clothes at medium.com/@ckamya and instagram.com/chantalkamya.
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