Baby hairs have long been an integral mode of expression for communities of color. Lately, stars like Tessa Mae Thompson and Yara Shahidi—thanks to their expert stylists—have been showing off intricate forms of the technique, at once creative and practical. The latter proves to be especially true in summer, when humidity might get the best of your curls and edges.
So whether you’re into the gelled-to-perfection look, a wispier frayed edge, or a modernized take with added gems, here, four natural hairstylists share their secrets to laying baby hairs.
NIGELLA MILLER: Founder of Nigella’s Hair Studio
The Brooklyn-based Guyanese barber, braider, dry cutter, and owner of Nigella’s Hair Studio in Bushwick says laid edges represent “a freshness and radiate flyness.” She’s laid edges for the likes of Chloe and Halle, Jhene Aiko, and has even added gems to baby hairs for clients, such as the co-founders of Baby Tress.
Go-to products: Curls Blueberry and Passionfruit lines as “they give a natural hold.” Shine ’n Jam Conditioning Gel Extra Hold “gives you a secure hold or a soft wispy hold, depending on how much you use,” while Got2b gives an “indestructible styling hold.”
Secret technique: “It’s all in the wrist.”
VERNON FRANÇOIS: Founder of the Vernon François Collection
London stylist Vernon François, who got his start as a young boy braiding with his mom every Sunday, is a strong believer that “less is more” when it comes to immaculate edges. François, who’s styled Lupita Nyong’o, Solange, Willow Smith, and Tracee Ellis Ross, says, “Hair is our community’s pride and joy, and baby hairs are a great way to showcase eloquent and intricate motions we can create with the hairline.” Go-to products: The Vernon François Leave In Conditioner “to keep the natural, soft feel.”
Secret technique: In addition to using a tail comb or toothbrush, “don’t be afraid to use your fingers to help create a wave motion.”
FELICIA LEATHERWOOD: Hairstylist for HBO’s Insecure
California-based hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood, who has done hair for big names such as Issa Rae, Ava Duvernay, Lenny Kravitz, says “don’t be afraid to create your own style when it comes to baby hairs!”
Go-to products: Aunt Jackie’s Slicked! Flexible Styling Glue with a double-sided edge brush or a toothbrush.
Secret technique: “Gently brush downwards at the edge of the hairline and squeeze the styling glue onto your edge brush and begin swooping the edges in the direction you want them to go,” she says. And to keep them in place for long periods? “Wrap a small satin scarf around your head for ten minutes.”
LACY REDWAY: Celebrity Hairstylist
When it comes to baby hairs, Lacy Redway—who’s been doing hair since age 11, “inspired by Allen Iverson’s cornrows” at the time—says, “Baby hairs started off as a convenience thing for us,” she explains. “We just like to have our edges laid because it shows personality and style. It’s not always a political statement…but it can be in certain settings.”
Go-to products: Got2b, Moco de Gorilla Gorilla Snot Gel, and Eco Styler Gel “depending on the person’s hair texture,” and how long she wants it to last. A tail comb is also a must.
Secret technique: “The tail comb really helps swivel the hairs more easily. You can also use a color tinter brush and paper-mache to tie the edges down at night and lock them into place.”
Four Celebrity Natural Hairstylists Share Their Go-To Baby Hair Tips and Tricks
Originally Appeared on Vogue