Natural Hair Terminology

Here are a list of common terms and definitions used in the natural hair community. More will be added from time to time so check back often.

Aloe Vera Gel: Conditions the hair, adding moisture and shine. Aloe gel can replace many gels that have bad ingredients.

Almond Oil: Moisturizes and softens hair. Softens dead skin on the scalp, aiding in removal and prevention of dandruff.

Amla Oil: This is part of the Ayurvedic regimen. The oil comes from the Indian gooseberry and is very nourishing for the hair and scalp. It strengthens the hair, adds shine, and is said to promote hair growth, prevent premature graying, and hair loss.

APL: Arm pit length

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): This is diluted with water and used as a rinse to clarify the hair and scalp, removing build up and preventing dandruff. The acidic property of ACV allows it to correct the pH balance of the hair, smoothing the cuticle and reducing frizz while adding shine. The most common recipe used is 1 tbsp of ACV to 1 cup of water.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ASL): An ingredient found in most shampoos, and should be avoided as it is very drying to the hair and scalp.

Ayurvedic Regimen: This regimen uses all natural Indian products to grow healthy, thick, long hair. Some of the products include: Amla oil or powder, Henna, Neem, Vatika, Brahmi, Shikakai, and Marshmallow root.

BAA: Big A$$ Afro

Bagging/Baggy Method: Use of a shower cap or plastic bag to cover the hair to trap body heat for use in deep conditioning or other deep treatments.

BC (Big Chop): When someone makes the decision to cut all of their relaxed hair without transitioning or after a short transition period.

BSL: Bra Strap Length

Carrier Oils: Base oils often used to dilute essential oils. They are thicker fatty oils derived from plants. They have many therapeutic properties. Examples are sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, sesame seed oil, and grape seed oil.

Castor Oil: Contains Rinoleic Acid having antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, preventing scalp infections. It is also a humectant (see humectant). Contains fatty acids which nourish and prevent dry scalp. Known to soften and moisturize hair, it has been used to regrow hair at the edges.

Clarifying: Removing build-up, dirt, and excess oils from the hair and scalp. Not all shampoos and conditioners are clarifying; be sure to check the bottle for the word “clarifying.”

Coconut Oil: The molecular structure of this oil allows it to penetrate the hair shaft. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, contains protein, which aids in preventing hair breakage and loss, and is nutrient rich.

Conditioner Only Method: A method of hair care in which shampoo is not used at all. Co-washing with certain clarifying conditioners is the basis of this method. Moisturizers such as pomades, styling creams and the like are not used. Moisturizing is accomplished by use of leave-in conditioners only. The benefit of this method is simplicity and more defined, healthy curls.

Cones: Silicones, an ingredient in some hair products. It is a non-water soluble ingredient and leaves a film on the hair strands. This film can only be removed by shampoos with sulfates.

Co-wash: Using conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo.

Curly Girl Method (CG Method): A method of hair care very similar to the Conditioner Only Method except the user is more ingredient-conscious, only buying products that do not contain such unfavorable ingredients as mineral oil, wax, sulfates, surfactants, silicones, parabens, etc. In other words, only natural or organic ingredients can be used. Shampoo is not used in this method, save for the first step of this regimen in which the hair and scalp are cleansed one last time with a sulfate shampoo to detoxify the hair of all product residue that cannot be removed without a sulfate, such as most silicones, which build up on the hair. Cleansing takes place using clarifying conditioners only. This method allows for use of styling creams, moisturizers, pomades, and gels as long as they do not contain the any of the ingredients this regimen teaches users to stay away from. The only oil allowed for sealing in this method is jojoba oil as it is closest in consistency to the natural sebum produced from the scalp. The benefit of this method is elimination of product residue, more defined, healthy curls, and natural products that are water soluble and do not leave residue on the strands after washing.

DC (Deep Condition): Use of a conditioner on your hair for a longer period of time, either with heat or no heat. Depending on the conditioner you use, it can aid in adding protein or moisture back into the hair.

Dusting: A trim that takes less than 1/4 inch off of the ends. It should look like dust.

EO (Essential Oils): These are liquids derived from flowers and parts of many plants. Known for their healing properties and aromatic scents that have therapeutic benefits. Great for maintaining a healthy scalp. Some essential oils for the hair are, tea tree, rosemary, lavender, lemon, ylang ylang, chamomile, myrrh, basil, sage, and peppermint oil. This can be mixed with carrier oils.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): It improves elasticity of the hair preventing breakage.

Honey: Adds shine to hair and can be used in deep conditioning treatments to condition and, over time, lighten the hair.

Jojoba Oil: A carrier oil. Because the molecules are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft, it is a moisturizing oil. This oil is the closest to the sebum produced by the sebaceous gland. It also has antibacterial properties, can be used to treat dandruff and dry scalp and control sebum production and remove build-up. This oil adds shine to hair and can help prevent split ends.

KCKT (Kinky Curly Knot Today): A popular brand of leave- in conditioner.

LOC (Liquid Oil Cream) Method: A method of hair care in which the hair is moisturized with a liquid (water, aloe vera, rosewater, liquid leave-in, etc) followed by an oil and then a creamy moisturizer, such as a styling cream or conditioner.

MBL: Mid-back length

No-poo: When a person implements a regimen absent of shampoo, usually replaced by co-washing.

Plopping: Bending forward and throwing the hair to the front into the center of a cotton shirt/cloth or curl cloth to lightly scrunch (see scrunching), both drying and defining curls.

Pre-poo: Done before you shampoo your hair, oils and/or conditioner are applied to the hair the night before or thirty minutes to an hour before you shampoo. This process helps hair to retain moisture after being shampooed and protects the hair from being completely stripped of natural oils this process also softens and helps detangle the hair.

Regimen: Is a step by step process of what products you do to your hair regularly.

Rosemary Oil: An essential oil. It stimulates hair growth.

Scrunching: Leaning in the direction the hair falls and using your hands to lightly grab a handful of wet hair and gently push upward toward the scalp. This practice helps to define curls, minimizing the breakage that may happen during mechanical methods of curl defining.

Sealing: After applying a moisturizer or leave-in, using oil(s) or butters to coat the strands, locking in moisture.

Shea Butter: Comes from the nut of the shea tree and is rich in vitamins A and E. It is often used as a moisturizer for both hair and skin and is great in preventing dry scalp. It is excellent for sealing the ends of the hair.

Slip: Refers to the ability of a product, usually a shampoo or conditioner, to allow easy detangling. If you can easily run your fingers/comb through your hair while the product is in, it has great slip.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): An ingredient found in most shampoos. For naturally curly, kinky-curly, and kinky hair, it’s best to stay away from products containing sulfates.

SSK (Single Strand Knot[s]): Fairly self-explanatory, it is when the ends of your hair form knots on singular strands of hair. It can be caused by common manipulation of the hair and is virtually unavoidable.

Tea Tree Oil: An essential oil. It stimulates hair growth by unclogging the hair follicle and ridding the scalp of bacteria and fungus.

TWA: Teeny Weeny Afro aka “bush”

Transitioning: Allowing your natural hair to grow without perming; making the choice not to perm your hair again. You can do this by slowly trimming your permed ends as your natural hair–new growth–grows.

Twist Out: Is a two strand twist or flat twist worn unraveled. Depending on the size of the twists, it twist outs set the hair in a pattern of loose coils or waves.

Wash and Go (WnG): The name is self-explanatory. Washing your hair, applying your products, and letting it air dry as is. Just wash and go!

WL: Waist Length

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