Historically, hair has always been a special part of Black women’s identity; it represents a source of pride, power, and creativity. Baby hairs — the thin, wispy, flyaway hairs around the hairline — are one of many outlets for the expression of individuality. Currently, the styling of baby hairs, otherwise known as ‘edge styling’, is achieved using a stiff boar brush, or more typically, a disposable toothbrush.
Ruka, a business revolutionising the hair industry for black women, approached Blond in 2021 to design a new tool that answers the needs of the user and, importantly, celebrates the creativity involved.
We first conducted a deep dive into the process to understand existing pain points and identify areas for innovation, which highlighted several opportunities. Firstly, it was clear that two types of brush were needed: a comb for separating and bristles for swooping & styling. Secondly, we observed that users often placed gel on the back of their wrists. Finally, it quickly became apparent that all existing edge styling tools, including the commonly used toothbrush, are cheap & disposable; paying very little attention to sustainability and with no desire to be a quality, long-lasting product.
Functionally, our design includes an ergonomic paddle-shaped handle that allows the user to scoop styling gel onto their wrist with one end. The other end includes both a comb and brush that clip together through an aperture within the handle. When the relatively small brush and comb reach the end of their lives they can be unclipped and disposed of, but crucially, the handle is kept. The EdgeSlick is the first refillable edge styler on the market, reducing plastic consumption by 86% compared to its competitors.
The reusable and refillable design allowed us to elevate the aesthetics to create a desirable object that the user would want to retain and be happy to have on display. To highlight this, we designed a stand to hold the product proudly. This stand can also be unscrewed and offers a place to store replacement heads.
The paddle-shaped handle took ques from nautical references, specifically oars. The unique shape allows the user to scoop styling gel, and importantly; prevents the user from having to use their fingers - a pain point highlighted during our research process.
The EdgeSlick was designed to nestle into an apple-shaped stand, promoting the display of the product at home. Whether in the bathroom, on a vanity table, or bedside table; the EdgeSlick's elevated quality and aesthetic allow it to be proudly presented. At the same time, the stand can also be unscrewed and offers a place to store replacement heads.
During the design process, we deployed an iterative approach to creating the perfect ergonomic shaping for the handle. Many 3D prints and a-surface CAD models allowed us to land upon the best form for the vast majority of users.
The packaging has been designed to elevate the unboxing experience. The 100% recyclable paper pulp folds in the middle like a book and keeps the product completely protected, without the need for any plastic or other less sustainable protection materials.