The Origins of Baby Hair

You've slicked down your edges with gel ever since you can remember. Laying them oh-so-carefully with a toothbrush — but when did you start? Why did you start? If you're like me, you can't remember. There's just an instant sense memory when I think about a jar of brown protein gel. I know exactly what it smells like. 

For decades, stylized baby hair has become another outlet of creativity for many Black women. An accessory. A crown to complement the rest of our fly. "Everyone kind of has it for the most part. It is literally the hair around the perimeter of our heads," explained Buzzfeed beauty editor Essence Gant. "That extra step to be like, 'You know what? I'm going to style it,’ is something a Black girl would do. To take something so normal and make it intricate and detailed."


For those of us with tighter curl patterns, slicking down baby hair became a method of “looking presentable.” The waves we created along our foreheads with a toothbrush and styling gel mimicked the wispy waves found along the crowns of women with finer textures that were considered more acceptable. Generations of women became conditioned to the belief that your was not done until your baby hairs were laid. The second coming of the natural hair movement in the mid-2000’s led to conversations against the idea that Black women with tightly textured curls need to "tame" their edges at all.




Written by Jamela Zarha

Read the full story on


When was the first time you styled your edges? Drop us a comment below!

Join our conversation

Shop the Edge Styer