Read This Before Trying An Edge Restoring Product

Aside from the steamiest celebrity gossip and save-worthy memes, something we often spot on The Shade Room, one of our favorite Instagram accounts to follow, are advertisements... and lots of 'em. There's something for everyone, whether you're in the market for Gucci-inspired track pants or Pat McGrath-esque glittery lips. However, the most intriguing paid posts are the ones that push products promising to restore thinning edges within a matter of days.
Most times, the ad is a drastic before-and-after closeup shot of a woman with patches around the front of her head that miraculously fill up in a month's worth of time. And just like they do on all of the other posts, TSR's "roommates" tell it like it is. "Didn’t work for me... used it for 2 months straight [and] saw nothing," one user commented about a particular product. "Literally squinting to see the growth?" another wrote.
Even if commenters are skeptical, the consumer market is wide — and very real. A 2017 study from the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery reports that over 84% of patients that seek treatment is due to genetic hair loss."Pregnancy, postpartum, drastic weight loss, and stress are also common causes," Michelle Breyer, co-founder of NaturallyCurly, tells us. Hypothyroidism, chronic illnesses, and hormonal imbalances as reasons, too.
The underscore is this: In many instances, you can't avoid hair loss. But can you reverse it, like some of these brands promise? Breyer and Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and CEO of BeautyStat, answer some frequently asked questions about edges, ahead.
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illustrated by Abbie Winters.
First things first: Do products that promote hairline regrowth actually work?

"Yes and no," Breyer, who also wrote The Curl Revolution: Inspiring Stories and Practical Advice from the NaturallyCurly Community, says. "If your receding hairline is due to genetic factors, hormonal fluctuations, or illness, there’s not much that even the best products can do. But if it's because of tight hairstyles or overuse of relaxers, then there are products that could work."
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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Which ingredients should consumers look for in these serums and treatments?

Robinson suggests searching for a blend of oils that help hydrate and repair. "You want to provide more nutrients to the hair for improved growth," he says. Breyer recommends the following ones: castor oil, to thicken the hair; coconut oil, to exfoliate dead skin; rosemary, to increase blood flow (which, in turn, promotes hair growth); and peppermint oil, to remove dandruff and purify the scalp. Any product with vitamin E and aloe vera, ingredients that stimulate hair reproduction and improve scalp circulation, are also a great help.
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illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Which ingredients should people avoid?

"Because your edges are the most fragile parts of your hair, drying ingredients like sulfates and non-fatty alcohols (ethanol, isopropyl, propanol) should be avoided at all costs," Robinson says. "And, while not technically an ingredient, heat should be taken out of the styling equation altogether if your edges are thinning. Frequently relaxing and dyeing hair leaves your hairline weak as these products have strong chemicals that act on the internal structure of the hair to permanently change it."
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
How long should it take to regrow fragile hair around the hairline or nape of neck while using effective treatments?

"On average, hair grows back about a 1/2 inch per month," Robinson notes. Meaning that those drastic side-by-sides on Instagram aren't necessarily accurate. You should be able to spot a difference within a month, though, according to Breyer. And if not, "It might be time to change it up," she says. "Do take before-and-after pictures so you’re not second guessing, and keep a product and growth diary for yourself."

And in the meantime, both Robinson and Breyer recommend avoiding hairstyles that do damage on your edges (tight braids and high ponytails). What's more, you should limit the use of your heat stylers and chemical processing — and vitamins won't hurt either. "There is no supplement that will give you instant hair growth, but at the very least, a daily multivitamin will aid with it," Breyer says. "Many swear by taking biotin, too."
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