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Natural Hair Terminology

Natural Hair Terminology

2nd Day Hair: Naturally curly hair that stays curly and looks good the next day and do not turn frizzy.


3a|3b|3c: Classification numbers for naturally loose curly hair. This hair system was created by Andre Walker.


4a|4b|4c: Classification numbers for naturally tight kinky curly hair. This hair system was created by Andre Walker.


African Threading (aka Banding or Stretching)
A styling technique used to stretch the hair and reduce shrinkage. Make one or several ponytails and and tie elastic bands tightly one after the other on each ponytail from the roots to the ends of the hair.


Afro: hairstyle that is rounded in shape and naturally curly coiled hair


Apple Cider Vinegar | ACV: The acidity is close to that of natural hair, so it is used as a final rinse after shampooing and before conditioning, to promote healthy hair by tightening and sealing the cuticle.


Apple Cider Vinegar rinse : Washing hair with vinegar to cleanse, condition, and remove bacteria.


Argan Oil- Oil rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids produced from the kernels of the argan tree grown organically in Morocco. Can be used as a fast absorbing daily moisturizer or to heal and condition cuticles and split ends. Also known as Moroccan Oil.


Armpit Length | APL: A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when the hair reaches your armpit.


Baggy Method: Applying a moisturizer to your hair, and then covering your hair with plastic cap to trap in the moisture. This method is used to retain moisture in the hair and is very good for those who have dry, brittle strands.


Bantu Knot : Hairstyle created when the hair is sectioned off in diamond, triangle or square shapes and twisted into knots. Also known as Zulu knots.


Bantu Knot Out: Hairstyle created by sectioning the hair into Bantu Knots on damp wet hair and then after it dries; the knots are taken out to achieve defined curly hair.


Big Ass Afro | BAA: A really large Afro which is obtained with long naturally curly and or kinky hair.


Big Chop | BC – Cutting off relaxed and or chemical processed ends to reveal your natural textured hair. This can be done after your last relaxer or whenever you decide to stop transitioning.


Bra Strap Length | BSL: A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when the hair reaches where your bra strap is positioned on your back.


Braid n Curl | BNC : Hairstyle achieved by plaiting or braiding damp or moist hair and curling the ends with rollers or flexi rods. Air dry overnight or use a hair dryer. Then take out the rods and braids to reveal deep wavy and curly hair.


Braid Out : Hairstyle achieved by braiding damp hair in cornrows or singles. Once the hair is dried unravel the braids to create a more defined curl pattern.


Brazilian Keratin Treatment | BKT: A temporary hair straighten treatment that does not use harsh chemicals.


Breakage : Broken pieces of hair without the white bulb. This can be caused by too much moisture or protein. It can also be the cause of poor hair care.


Buds (Budding): first stage of dreadlocks and locking your hair, when a knot is formed as the nucleus of each lock.


Carrier Oils : Natural oils known as a base oil or vegetable oil used to dilute essential oils. Carrier Oils include Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, etc…These oils can also be used to seal/trap moisture in the hair.


Clarifying: Clarifying your hair is used to remove product build-up on your hair. Clarifying can remove the chlorine swimmers get on their hair. A simple way to clarify your hair is to use 2 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed into 2 cups of warm water, pour it on your hair, wait 2-3mins, rinse and condition. Alternatively a clarifying shampoo can be used.


Collar Bone Length | CBL: A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when the hair reaches your collar bone.


Comb coils: A hairstyle technique achieved by placing the tail of a rattail comb at the root of small sections of the hair and turning it clockwise to create a coil. A great style for shorter length hair.


Cornrow: Type of braiding style where the hair is braided very closely to the scalp in an underhand, upward motion to create a continuous, raised row. The styles are endless that can be achieved with cornrow designs.


Co-wash: A method of washing your hair with conditioner only. This type of washing avoids harsh results from frequent washing with shampoos that contain detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, and helps to keep natural hair soft and manageable.This method cleanses your hair while helping you to maintain moisture without stripping the hair of its natural oils.


Creamy Crack : A term created by those who have a potential addiction to chemical relaxers. Created by women who found it hard to stop relaxing their hair while transitioning, used to describe permanent relaxers.


Curl Sponge: A spongy product used to produce a textured curl on natural hair resulting in twist.


Deep Conditioning |DC: Deep Conditioning is typically done for 15- 30 minutes and for some overnight. If your hair is very dry, this can be done once a week to give your hair a boost of moisture. This is especially useful for all naturals who want to prevent breakage often cause by dry, brittle hair.


Detangler: Type of hair conditioner that smooths your hair by coating it, so that the hair tightens up and smooths the scales on the outer surface of the hair or cuticle to prevent tangles.


Detangling: Process in which you use a detangler to soften and smooth the hair for manageability.


DIY: Do It Yourself


Deep Treatment: Also known as DC (Deep Conditioning). A treatment to help add moisture back into the hair, by leaving a moisturizing conditioner with a penetrating heat source on your hair for an extended period of time.


Essential Oils: Natural oils (Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender, etc.) that promotes healthy hair.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A natural sealant used to seal and lock in the moisture from your moisturizer, while smoothing the hair cuticle and adding shine. Some use this oil for a Pre-Shampoo Treatment (Pre-Poo).


Flat Twist: A two strand twist braiding technique similar to cornrows, by twisting the hair flat to the head


Fluff: Finger combing your hair to obtain maximum fullness and volume for your curly hair


Flax Seed Gel: Homemade recipe for a styling gel made with flax seed that doesn’t weigh your hair down, dry it out, or create flakiness.


Healthy Hair Journey: Expression used to describe the journey a woman takes to achieve healthy hair.


Henna: A natural colorant or hair dye, and strengthener.


Humectants: Attract and retain moisture from the air i.e Glycerin, Honey, Sorbitol, Propylene Glycol.


Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO): Castor oil that has been manufactured in Jamaica used to strengthen, thicken, increase hair growth.


Latch Hooking: A method used to maintain dreadlocks by incorporating the new growth into the locks to keep them neat


Leave-in Conditioner : A quick way of adding moisture back into the hair after shampooing/conditioning. It helps to detangle the hair leaving it soft and manageable. Most leave-ins provide thermal protection for styling afterward.


Mid Back Length | MBL: A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when your hair reaches the middle of your back.


Moisturizing – Applying a moisture based product to dry hair without washing it out. In order to prevent breakage you can moisturize your hair then seal it with oil to trap moisture in.


Nappiversary: Also known as Nattyversary. This is the Anniversary date of when your hair became fully natural.


No-poo: A hair regimen of which you do not use shampoos to cleanse your hair. Some use conditioners in place of the shampoo also known as Co-washing.


Palm rolling: A method used to maintain dreadlocks by helping the knots in the locks tighten and compress. This is done by grabbing a single dreadlock between the base of your palms and rubbing it back and forth vigorously.


Pineappleing:  A way of preparing your hair and sleeping to preserve your curls to have 2nd Day Hair. This is achieved by placing your hair in a high loose ponytail on top of the head and sleeping on a satin pillowcase. In the morning the curls are intact just by letting the ponytail down and gently shaking the hair.


Product Junky: This is an expression used for a person who buys any and all hair care products they can find to try the next best thing on the market.


Plopping: A quick hair drying technique done by wrapping hair in a t-shirt or other cotton material. This prevents breakage while also allowing you to quickly dry your hair without heat.


Pre-Poo– Coating the hair with a conditioner or oils prior to shampooing in an effort to keep moisture in the hair. This can be done 30-40 minutes before shampooing or overnight.


Protective style (PS) – Any hairstyle which allows your natural hair to rest from over manipulation which sometimes causes breakage.  Wearing your hair in a protective style prevents your ends from being exposed to damaging agents such as clothing, sun, and drying winter weather. The purpose and benefits of this hairstyle is to grow healthier, longer hair and reduce split ends and damage. Protective styles can include anything from sew-ins, wigs, buns, braids, bantu knots, coils, twists etc…


Regimen: Your day to day, weekly hair routine done continuously to maintain healthy hair.


Sealing: To apply product to the ends of the hair to keep them moisturized and limit breakage. The choice of method is to use a water-based moisturizer (conditioner or cream that has water as its first ingredient), and then seal with a butter or oil.


Silicones: Ingredients in some hair care products that are not water soluble and has to be washed out well unless it will cause a heavy build-up on your hair.


Sisterlocks: Tiny uniform deadlocks. These locks are created by a method of a specialized tool that places the hair into its locking formation and does not require waxes or gels. These locks are very versatile and has hairstyle options as relaxed individuals.


Slip: Refers to the slipperiness of a product, which often indicates how well it will detangle hair. When the comb easily glides through the hair. Usually in reference to a conditioner or a detangler product.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: A high volume synthetic chemical, that is drying to the hair, used in many shampoos.


Twist n Curl: Hairstyle achieved by two strand twisting damp or moist hair and curling the ends with rollers or flexi rods. Air dry overnight or use a hair dryer. Then take out the rods and twist to reveal deep wavy and curly hair.


Transitioning – Process in which you stop relaxing your hair in an effort to grow your natural hair while still maintaining the chemically processed ends


Teeny Weeny Afro | TWA: A small Afro about 2-4 cm inch of hair in length, typically in reference to the first stage after the Big Chop (BC).


Twist Out: A hairstyle achieved by two strand twisting the hair (usually while damp or wet then air drying or use a hair dryer) and then unraveling the twist to reveal a crinkly wavy hair texture.


Two Strand Twist: Also known as double strand twists, twists, or twisties. This hairstyle technique can be performed on dry or wet hair. Take a section of hair and divide into two even pieces and twist each section of hair around the other. You continue until all of your hair is twisted like single braids.


Virgin Hair: Hair that is natural from the roots and have not been chemically processed or altered.


Wash and Go: Refers to the process of washing hair, styling, and going about your day without an intensive treatment or styling process. Hair can be diffused or left to air dry.