For curly-haired girls, frizz and flyaway curls are no stranger.
No matter how much product you use, when pulling your hair back into a ponytail, bun, or another hairstyle, you can still end up with flyaways and baby hairs that can’t be tamed.
If you have breakage along your hairline, this can make it even more difficult to get a sleek hairstyle.
Laying edges is a common practice among black women to help tame baby hairs and give them a sleek, styled look. But is it culturally appropriate for a white girl to lay edges? How can you lay edges on caucasian hair?
Before you grab the edge control gel and a brush to tame your baby hairs, it’s important to know the cultural origins of laying edges in the Black and Latina communities.
Some people view white girls laying edges as cultural appropriation, so it’s important to acknowledge its cultural origins and know how to do this style appropriately.
Here’s what you need to know about how to do edges on Caucasian hair.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Hair Edges?
- 2 Origins of Laying Edges
- 3 Is a White Girl Laying Edges Cultural Appropriation?
- 4 How Can A White Girl Lay Edges on Caucasian Hair?
What Are Hair Edges?
Edges are the fine hairs found in textured hair along the hairline. They are often also known as “baby hairs” and may be known by their technical (medical) name, vellus hairs.
These hairs often have a different texture than the rest of the curls or waves in a person’s hair. They will also typically be shorter, finer, and will not grow past a certain length.
Baby Hair vs. Breakage
The finer or shorter hairs around your hairline may not actually be baby hairs — and could be breakage.
Especially if you use a lot of heat on your hair or often wear it in tight, pulled-back styles, you may have breakage along your hairline. Switching to protective styles and reducing heat can help you grow out and minimize breakage.
Origins of Laying Edges
Black, Latina, and people of color often lay their edges in curled styles that frame their faces, are slicked straight, and more. Laying edges has been popular in Black and Latina cultures for decades, with the styling technique originating nearly a century ago.
Over the decades, Black and Latina cultures continued to style their edges, and the technique became more popular.
In the 60s and 70s, celebrities like Bernadette Stanis and LaToya Jackson became icons for wearing baby hairs in squiggles around their faces.
Over the past two decades, laying edges became further solidified as a staple technique of Black and Latina hairstyles, along with other people of color.
Especially as natural and protective hairstyles became more popular, this styling technique is especially beloved.
Celebrities including Zendaya, Beyonce, Willow Smith, and more all wear slicked edges. Whether it’s on the red carpet, out for coffee, or for a night out with friends, slicked edges are a common hairstyle technique.
Is a White Girl Laying Edges Cultural Appropriation?
If you search “Is a white girl laying edges cultural appropriation?” or “Is it okay for a white girl to lay edges?” you’ll get a mixed response. There are Reddit threads and magazine articles evaluating if it’s appropriate for white women to wear slicked edges.
While white women may have finer, shorter baby hairs along their hairline — especially if their hair is curly. However, when asking if it’s cultural appropriation to lay edges, you’ll get a very mixed response.
Cultural appropriation is defined by Dictionary.com as “the adoption, usually without acknowledgment, of cultural identity markers from subcultures or minority communities into mainstream culture by people with a relatively privileged status.”
Laying edges is synonymous with Black and Latina culture. Women who were often oppressed for wearing their hair naturally straightened it in a move to try and make it look “neat.”
Laying edges is not just a method for slicking baby hairs that may go awry — it’s also a part of the culture.
Thus, wearing certain styles as a white woman could be considered cultural appropriation by some — especially if it’s done without acknowledging the cultural significance of this style.
Some may say it’s okay for white women to slick baby hairs and frame their faces in wavy styles as many Black and Latina women do — however, especially if you don’t acknowledge the cultural significance, many people may see this as inappropriate and cultural appropriation.
As a white woman, if you’re looking for a way to slick your baby hairs, the best, most appropriate way to do this would be to use your favorite tool (e.g., edge brush) and slick them back into the rest of your hair.
For instance, if you’re wearing a ponytail or a high bun, you can use an edge brush and light styling gel to slick back the hairs into the rest of your style and smooth down your hairline.
This can offer a polished look and help tame that fine hair along your hairline — without appropriating the techniques and styles often used in Black and Latina cultures.
How Can A White Girl Lay Edges on Caucasian Hair?
Instead of laying edges in styles against the forehead and/or around the face, white women can combine baby hairs with the rest of the hair and slick them back to avoid any potential controversy.
However, if you’d like to lay your edges in a way that’s similar to how many black girls lay their edges, we recommend watching the video tutorial below for a step-by-step overview.
Here’s another video where Abby Brown walks through the process of laying her edges. You’ll notice that the techniques, which have been described as an “art form”, take a while to master. This will be evident as you watch this video.
Best Products for Laying Edges
It’s recommended to avoid oil- or water-based products, as these can wear off throughout the day. Your best bet is to use a petroleum- or wax-based gel to get a hold that lasts all day long.
Best Tools for Edge Control
You can use your fingers to smooth the hair down, but it can be difficult to get out clumps of gel or product.
A fine, dense brush, like the Baby Tress Edge Styler, a toothbrush, spoolie, or a fine-tooth comb will help catch your curls, ensure they’re coated in your preferred styling product, and help you create the perfect shape for those baby hairs.
Brushes with bristles arranged tightly together will help ensure the product can evenly coat all your hairs.
How To Do Edges on Caucasian Hair: Step-by-Step
When styling your baby hairs, you’ll usually want to make sure your hair is dry. This will allow you to control the product and get the best result.
- Put the rest of your hair in your desired style — whether it’s a low bun, a topknot, or a high ponytail.
- Apply some product (whether it’s your favorite gel, paste, or other styling aid) on the brush, comb, or another tool of your choice.
- Gently rake the product through the fine baby hairs along your hairline, while brushing it back into the rest of your style (i.e., combine your baby hair’s with your other hair).
- While using light pressure, guide the product through your hair and make sure to brush out any large clumps of product.
- Make sure all the baby hairs are sleeked back as you’d like and let it set.
It’s as simple as that!
- Protective Hairstyles for Caucasian Hair
- Is Shea Moisture Good for White Hair
- Are Box Braids Bad for Caucasian Hair
- Can White People Get Waves?
As a curly girl, frizz and flyaways can be annoying when trying to style your hair into a smooth low bun or a polished ponytail. However, you don’t have to settle for baby hairs that can’t be tamed!
With a little product and the right technique, you can style your baby hairs into a sleek look that lasts all day long.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care.