“The powerful chemicals that are found in hair relaxers are known endocrine disrupters and inhaling or coming into direct contact with these chemicals can cause absorption into the body during the process of straightening hair,” says Dr. Mitchell, adding that this exposure to carcinogenic chemicals may increase the risk of developing hormonal cancers. “As a dermatologist, I do not recommend [relaxing the perimeter of the hair],” she says.
What it’s like to relax your edges
If this is an endeavor you insist upon, there are a few key things to remember. Wright recommends going to a professional first and “basing” the hair, which she explains as the process of applying grease to the scalp, forehead, and, in some instances, the hair itself before applying the relaxer. “We want to base the barrier but also the [hair] because you want some sort of protective barrier between the relaxer,” says Wright. Lane also recommends adding a protein treatment to your appointment to strengthen your strands (and help mitigate breakage) before applying the chemical solution. For at-home stylists and salon goers alike, Wright also recommends waiting at least three to four months between relaxers to reduce the risk of over-processing the hair.
Since relaxers have become less popular, experts say it is especially pertinent to be mindful of expiration dates both when purchasing relaxers and in salon settings. “If you pick up an expired product, then you risk the preservative system no longer working and now you have the potential of getting an ineffective, bacteria-filled product — which is something you don’t want,” says Lane.
All in all, you’re better off finding the right edge control or gel than causing potentially irreversible damage to your hair. “There’s nobody’s hair that can’t be laid through the right edge control,” says Wright. Shop her favorites, below.
When it comes to unmovable edge controls, Wright says Ebin Extra Firm Hold Edge Tamer is her go-to, praising its long-lasting abilities that make it a worthy match for temperamental weather. “You can use it for everything, but for those climates that are a little bit more humid, Ebin is perfect,” she says. “It won’t move.”
For those looking for a more “flexible” hold, the Muze Hair Edge Control from Wright’s hair care line is ideal for midday touch-ups. “It lays the edges, but you can still move them around a little bit throughout the day,” says Wright.