Natural Hair 101: The Natural Hair Community Glossary

Hey Queens! 👋

So you might have just been joining the natural hair community or your already in it. You might be aware of some of the terms or abbreviations used in and around the natural hair community or you’re not. If so, I would love to give you a run-down of the ones I know. If there’s any I didn’t mention that you are aware of then you can leave them in the comment section below. Let’s get into this.

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Beginning the Process

Transitioning – the process of slowly growing your relaxed or chemically treated hair out. It usually involves gradual, periodic trimming of the ends with a view to eventually cutting off all the processed hair.

Demarcation line – where natural hair and relaxed hair meet.

BC – Big Chop, when one cuts of all there chemically processed or heat damaged ends to attain fresh head of natural hair.

Measuring Length

CL – Chin Length

SL – Shoulder Length

CBL – Collar Bone Length

APL – Armpit Length

BSL – Bra Strap Length

MBL -Mid-back Length

WL– Waste Length

HBL – Hip Bone Length

KL – Knee Length

AL – Ankle Length

Techniques

Scrunch – to gather small sections of your hair on your hands and delicately squish it in an upward motion to either encourage curl clumping or to release the holding cast from a styling product.

Pre-poo – an oil, conditioner or mixture of both that is applied to the hair prior to washing your hair in order to reduce the amount of moisture depletion.

Plop – to dry one’s hair with a t-shirt in order to expedite drying time and reduce frizz.

Shingle – to use one’s fingers to thoroughly distribute product throughout the hair, especially to enhance curl definition.

Pineapple – a means of loosely coifing one’s hair atop his or head to prevent tangles and preserve a hairstyle overnight.

Clumping – to glide hair through one’s palms in a downward motion to encourage natural curl alignment and clumping for more definition and less frizz; also known as smoothing or praying hands.

Detangle – process used to remove tangles, knots from hair.

Accordion Technique  a hair styling technique consisting of a squeezing motion to scrunch the product into the hair from roots to the ends.  This technique encourages body and natural waves.

Styling

Wash N’ Go – used to describe an alternative method for styling natural hair without having to set it in the usual twists, braids, rods etc. In a wash n’ go, the hair is first shampooed or co washed and conditioned. A curl defining or curl enhancing product is typically applied to enhance the hair’s natural curl pattern. The styling product is then added to small sections of hair to ensure that it is evenly distributed. This is usually done with the fingers and can be time consuming but it yields a beautiful head of afro-like curls.

Protective Style – the act of tucking away your ends. This is usually used to retain length.

Low Manipulative Styles – hair styles that do not require a lot of combing, brushing or touching – no manipulation.

Twist Out – the act of unraveling a two strand twist to to achieve a curly style.

Braid Out – the act of unraveling a braid or plait to achieve a crimped looking hair style.

Twist N’ Curl – this is a styling method that can be done in various ways: twisting the hair then adding a perm rod to the ends or rolling all the twists unto the perm rod; flat twisting the hair then adding a perm rod the ends. Unravel this and you will achieve a curly style.

Bantu-Knot Out – the act of twisting the hair and wrapping it around itself then unraveling this to achieve a curly style.

Afro – this is a very popular natural hair style, often referred to as “fro”, typically requires picking the hair into a rounded shape around the head.

Braid–n–Curl (BNC) – The hair is braided to get a pleasant kink in it and then the ends are set with rollers or rods to add a curl. Often this is done on the hair wet and then unbraided in the morning.

Flat Twist – twist technique that makes the twists lie flat to the scalp.

Coils – a technique used to style hair that is achieved by twirling the hair with fingers or a rat tail comb.

Frohawk  A hairstyle that allows a person to wear their hair in a Mohawk style without cutting or buzzing the sides off.

Getting Rid of Dead Ends

Dusting– a trim of 1/4 an inch or less. This method is also referred to as dusting because even though your hair is being trimmed evenly, it is so little hair, that it just looks like dust on the floor.

Search and Destroy (S&D) – an active method of minimizing split ends (That is using sharp scissors, preferably small and only used for hair, to cut away individual split ends, routinely)

Methods

Baggy Method – to impart moisture into the hair by applying a small amount of moisturizer to the hair, primarily the ends, covering it with a plastic processing cap, and allowing it to sit for at least 15 minutes.

Co-Wash – a hair cleansing alternative to using shampoo. It involves washing the hair with conditioner only. The term “Co” in Co Wash is short for conditioner and wash, as is in general terms, is the process of making something clean.

Banding Method – this is referred to a method of stretching the hair using bands down the length of your hair.

LCO/LOC Method – Liquid, Cream & Oil OR Liquid, Oil & Cream, a method used to moisturize the hair. Liquid being water or leave-in, Cream being a moisturizer (for eg. curl enhancing smoothie) and Oil being your oil of choice.

Tension Method – this is referred to slightly tugging on the hair while you run the blow dryer with the concentrator attached along the length of the hair. This is aids in drying the hair, as well as, stretching the hair.A preferred method to avoid heat damage.

WOW Method – Water Only Washing Method, refers to washing of the hair daily with only water.

CG Method – refers to the “Cury Girl” method explained in the book by Lorraine Massey. It is a philosophy for curls that involves, no or low shampoo, cone avoidance, and conditioner washing…among other things. These are just a few of the basic tenants.

No-poo – this method means not using shampoo because of the harsh and toxic ingredients including silicones (most commercial shampoos use silicones). Instead of using shampoo many naturals use conditioner or an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) mix to wash their hair.

Clarifying a technique where you remove product buildup (from the products you use such as stylers, moisturizers, etc.) and dirt/oils from hair using do it yourself/DIY mixes (such as an ACV mix) or shampoo to clarify (clean) hair.

Oil rinsing this is a technique after shampooing your hair and before conditioning your hair. You apply oil to your wet hair and leave it on for 5-10 minutes. This is mean to add extra moisture in your hair while detangling it further before using a conditioner.

Describing Hair

TWA – Teeny Weeny Afro is understood to mean very short, unprocessed hair.

BAA – Big Ass Afro OR Bad Ass Afro

Porosity – a measure of how well hair absorbs moisture. There are 3 levels of porosity – low, normal, & high.

LPH – Low porosity hair; hair that repels moisture because its cuticle are laying flat.

NPH – Normal Porosity Hair; allows moisture to absorb and pass through the cuticle as needed, but not in excess.

HPH – High porosity hair; hair that allows a lot of moisture in because the cuticles are open.

3a: Soft curls
3b: Ringlets
3c: Wild curls
4a: Corkscrew curls
4b: Kinky tight curling hairs
4c: Kinky Z curls

Heat Damage – damage to hair caused by heat that prevents the hair from reverting to it naturally curly state.

Elasticity – refers to the ability of hair to be pulled and returned to is normal curl without breaking.

Density – The number of hairs growing per square inch. Low density = thin hair / High density = medium to thick hair.

Products and Ingredients

ACV – Apple Cider Vinegar; apart of some natural hair girls cleansing regimen.

ASL  – Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, these are lathering agents in shampoo that can contribute to hair damage and hair loss.

SLS – Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, a common ingredient used in shampoo.

EVCO – Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

AVG – Aloe Vera Gel, from the aloe vera plant.

DC – Deep Condition/Deep Conditioner

JBCO – Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Cones – are ‘silicones’, or ingredients found in hair care products that are not water soluble (i.e. you need shampoo to remove). Failure to wash out cones may lead to build-up, which may result in dry hair and breakage (due to suffocation of the strands).

Holy Grail (HG) – a natural haired girl favorite products to use to give her that good results every time.

Slip – products that loosen the curl to allow the fingers or tools to glide through very easily when detangling.

Product Junkie -a term used to describe a person who is addicted to buying, collecting or trying hair care products. A product junkie cannot get enough, and feels the need to acquire almost every natural hair product ever made. The obsession with hoarding products often results in purchasing or acquiring products even if they are not suitable or compatible with your hair type.

Others

Creamy Crack – a term used for relaxers.

Humectants – attract moisture from your environment into the hair, for example honey and glycerin.

Sealing – the process of locking in all that moisture with an oil or butter.

Manipulation – the amount of time you spend touching or doing anything to your hair on a frequent basis i.e. brushing, combing, detangling, twirling, etc.. The less you manipulate your hair, the less breakage you will have.

Stretching – When your hair is in a style that will elongate shrunken curls and allow the true length of your hair to be seen i.e. twist outs, bantu knots, braids, etc.

Is there any that I’m missing? If so mention them below in the comment section.

Until next time,

Peace & Love. 💋

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