This post is dedicated to that girl or woman, one of the very few left on the planet, that are still unfamiliar with black hair care terminology.
That girl or woman who has to resort to google all the time, who thinks that “the big chop” refers to a cook-out.You know who you are. Don’t worry, this is a safe space for you. We are here to help.
After you get through this rather lengthy but highly informative glossary of terms, you ain’t gonna be ignorant no mo!
Goodnight ladies. zzZZZZZZ.
ACCORDION TECHNIQUE A Wash n' Go styling technique that produces well-formed, highly-defined coils/curls. Best if performed in the shower because it involves significant dripping. Hair is first cleansed and conditioned. While soaking wet, you apply either just conditioner, a styling curl cream or curl gel. Tilt your head in various angles. The hair now weighted with water, and styling product, is lowered into an open palm and gently pressed to the scalp repeatedly. Hair is typically air dried afterwards.
ALS Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate cleaning agent found in certain shampoos. All sulfates are said to be harsh on the hair, stripping it of its natural oils and drying it out. ALS however is less harsh than SLS (see below) due to having a more complex molecular structure.
ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) Typically used in a diluted form as a final rinse after shampooing and before conditioning. Seals and tightens the cuticle layer for improved shine and smoothness.
APL Arm Pit Length. A reference to length of hair.
BAA Big _ _ _ Afro! Opposite of a TWA. Teeny Weeny Afro.
BAGGY or BAGGYING Putting on your moisturizer and then applying a plastic bag over the hair to trap the moisture in. You can either baggy your ends with a small sandwich bag or you can full head baggy with a plastic shower cap. This is a very helpful treatment for those with dry damaged hair and dry ends. This method is thought to help reduce breakage, split ends and dryness.
BANDING A styling technique used to inhibit hair shrinkage and thereby display more of the hair's actual length. Gathering the hair into one ponytail or several smaller ones, covered elastic bands are affixed snugly from the scalp area, one after the other, all the way down to the ends, (or near the ends) of the hair. Several bands may be needed for each section, depending upon hair length. May be done on wet, damp or dry hair. Bands are left in for a period of time or until the hair is dry (if banded, while damp or wet).
BANTU KNOTS A hairstyle created by carefully and precisely parting hair in small-to-medium sections, and then twisting the sections in one direction until they wrap into neat knots. The knots are often secured near the scalp with hair pins.
BANTU KNOT OUT A style, with a highly defined curly or wavy texture, created by releasing Bantu Knots after they are dry.
BC (Big Chop) Cutting off all relaxed or chemically-treated portions of the hair, leaving only natural-textured new growth.
BKT (Brazilian Keratin Treatment) A chemical blow-out treatment used to temporarily smooth and straighten natural textured hair. Many systems incorporate formaldehyde, it is best to verify before use. Those who wish to retain their natural coil/curl pattern should proceed with caution because such systems can often cause permanent loss of your curl pattern.
BNC (Braid-n-Curl ) A style created by plaiting or braiding the hair while wet, and then curling the ends with rollers or flexi rods. After the hair is dry, the braids and rollers are removed to reveal a wavy and curly hair texture.
BRAID-OUT Braiding your hair in sections for a period of time, usually overnight, and un-braiding to release waves and curls. A great heat-free style.
BREAKAGE Broken pieces of hair without the white bulb. This can be caused by too much or too little moisture or protein, hair accessories, poor hair care practices, stress or underlying health issues.
BSB Between shoulder blade, below shoulder blade. A reference to hair length.
BSL Bra Strap Length. A reference to length of hair.
CBL Collar Bone Length. A reference to length of hair.
CLARIFYING The process of cleansing and removing a build-up of oils, styling products, tap water minerals and/or medications from the hair. Typically performed with specialty shampoos or baking soda rinses.
COILS A hairstyle achieved by taking small sections of wet or very damp hair and smoothing, while rotating the sections, one-by-one, from root to tip. Tiny styling combs have been used for coils, as well as a finger. Typically, a gel is applied prior to coiling for longer-lasting hold and shine.
COILY A term used to reference the texture characteristic of natural Type 4 hair, whereby the configuration of the strand resembles a small-diameter ink pen spring. The coil is most evident when the hair is wet and/or defined with a curling custard/ gel. It usually remains evident when the hair is allowed to dry undisturbed from a soaking wet stage.
CONES (SILICONES) Silicones of various types are incorporated into many hair care product formulations because of their ability to impart shine, enhance flexibility, reduce frizz, protect hair from heat, and form a water-resistant barrier around the hair shaft and seal the cuticle layer. Many women with natural-textured hair reject products that contain silicones due to the belief that "cones" are difficult to remove and prevent the hair from receiving moisture.
CARRIER OIL Known as base oil or vegetable oil, is used to dilute essentials. Examples include coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, etc.
COWASHING Washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. This helps to put moisture back in the hair without stripping the hair of its natural oils. Great for long-term protective styles and after exercising.
CUTICLE The cuticle is the thinnest layer. The hair cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. It is formed from dead cells, overlapping in layers, which form scales that gives the hair shaft strength and provide protection for it.
CREAMY CRACK A reference to chemical relaxers. The term was coined with the thought that the use of relaxers is addictive for those women who strive for a permanently straight hair texture.
DUSTING Trimming of the hair, typically ¼ inch or less. The amount of hair trimmed is usually so small that it appears as dust.
DC Deep conditioning. Applying a conditioner specifically formulated to penetrate the cuticle of the hair; helps revive dull lifeless hair thus giving it more strength, elasticity, moisture, softness, and shine. Should usually require 15-30 minutes, preferably under a mild heat source. It is a good way of replenishing lost moisture in the hair leaving it less prone to breakage and unmanageability. I suggest deep conditioning once per week, at a minimum.
DUSTING A very light trim. Cutting only 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Good idea if you don’t want a full blown trim.
EL Ear length hair. A reference to length of hair.
EO (Essential Oils) Aromatic oils are extracted from flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, roots, or trees, and maintain the odours and tastes, and thus the essence, of the plants from which they are extracted. Among many applications, they are sometimes used to nourish the hair and scalp.
EVCO Extra Virgin Coconut Oil; Used as a natural hair care product for shine and to seal in moisture. It is one of the few oils with a proven ability to penetrate the skin and hair. Loved for its emollient and sheen-producing properties.
EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Used as a natural hair care product for shine. Also used as a pre-shampoo treatment. EVOO is considered by some to be a natural sealant that locks moisture inside the hair shaft that was provided by a previously-applied hydrating product.
FLAT TWISTS A technique whereby the hair is two-strand twisted flat to the scalp, in cornrow fashion.
FLUFF The use of fingers or a pick to add volume and shape to natural hair.
FINGER COMBING Gently combing your hair using your fingers, thought to be more gentle.
FROHAWK A hairstyle where the sides of an afro are flattened to the scalp, either by smoothing & pinning or by shaving. The centre hair is left high and free, in the shape of the distinctive Mohawk.
HAIR TYPES: 1/2a/2b/2c/ 3a/3b/3c/4a/4b/4c Hair typing refers to the amount of texture hair has. Naturally straight hair is Type 1, loose-wavy hair is type 2, curly hair is type 3 and coily hair is type 4. In the case of types 3 and 4, the sub-classifications from a - c, are based upon the diameter of the curl or coil. For instance a type 3a curl may have the diameter of a nickel, a 3b, like a dime. Type 4, which is the most common for people of African descent, ranges from the diameter of a pencil eraser (4a), to the diameter of an ink pen spring (4b), and even smaller than that, (type 4c). In some cases, hair may even have a tight z zigzag pattern and no coil at all. This hair type classification system was created by renowned hairstylist and entrepreneur, Andre Walker.
HENNA A plant-derived powder, when mixed with water to make a paste, is applied to hair, processed and rinsed out. It is used as a natural hair colour-enhancer, also strengthens and conditions.
HUMECTANTS Attract and retain moisture from the air e.g Glycerine, Honey, Sorbitol, Propylene Glycol.
HIH (Hand in Hair) By some, jokingly called a disease, this is a condition whereby one continually touches or manipulates her hair. It is considered to be a compulsion and a habit that, if extreme, causes the hair to frizz or even break.
HHJ Healthy hair journey
JBCO Jamaican Black castor oil
LOCKS/LOCS A hairstyle whereby small sections of hair are twisted and over time, the strands become permanently secured. As locks/locs grow, they can become quite long.
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 afterwards.
LINE OF DEMARCATION Where the natural hair and relaxed hair meet as your hair grows; the point where your new growth meets your previously chemically treated hair. This location can be very delicate so be very gentle when stretching.
LOW MANIPULATION Styles that do not require much manipulation which leads to less shedding and breakage which eventually leads to healthier hair. For example, Rollersets, Twistouts, Braids, Braidouts, etc.
LOC METHOD The Liquid Oil Cream Method or L.O.C method is a technique for moisturizing hair. It consists of hydrating the hair with water or a water-based product which is your liquid, sealing in the moisture with oil and then applying a cream product to close the hair cuticle which prevents moisture loss.
MBL Mid Back Length. Reference to hair length.
M & S Moisturize and seal. Applying a moisturizer to your hair and sealing with an oil of your choice, usually a tiny, coin sized amount.
MOISTUIRIZING Applying a moisture based product to dry hair without washing it out. You can use a water-based or cream based moisturizer 1-2x per day. This helps to prevent breakage and increase elasticity in the hair.
NG New growth. New hair growing.
NL Neck length hair. Reference to hair length.
NAPPYVERSARY The anniversary of the day one decided to "go natural" and to refrain from applying chemical straighteners (relaxers) to the hair.
NO-POO A non-foaming, non-detergent cleanser, typically a conditioner, used to remove dirt, oils and styling products from the hair and scalp. Used to help hair retain moisture and softness.
PINEAPPLING Pulling hair into one or several pony puffs, (depending on hair length), using covered or ouch-less bands. The balance of the hair remains free. The puff(s) are positioned at the top or at several sites across the head. This procedure helps preserve the coil/curl definition of the style overnight, and also provides some stretch to the hair. When using this technique, it's best to sleep on a satin pillowcase. In the morning, the bands are removed and the sections are gently shaken or fluffed.
PJ (PRODUCT JUNKIE) A person who buys a lot of different products and brands in the quest of finding the "perfect" ones for her hair.
PLOPPING Hair is carefully lowered and loosely wrapped in a clean t-shirt or soft cotton material, while bending from the waist. Performed after cleansing, conditioning and/or applying a liberal amount of styling gel or cream, it helps to absorb excess moisture from the hair. It's thought to decrease drying time, reduce frizz, and enhance natural curls.
PONY PUFF A hairstyle whereby the hair is pulled back at the crown, sides and nape, using headbands, hair pins, scarves, etc. The remaining hair extends freely.
PROTECTIVE STYLING A hairstyle that helps protect the ends of hair from dehydration and damage, by eliminating the need for mechanical manipulation, (combing, brushing, picking, etc.) and shielding against environmental exposure, (i.e. sun, heat, cold, wind). Some examples are buns, braids, twists, ponytails and various head coverings.
PRE- POO Preparing your hair prior to shampooing. You do this by adding a moisturizing conditioner or natural oils into the hair. You can do this overnight or 30-40mins before you shampoo. This helps keep the moisture in your hair after you shampoo or clarify. Pre-pooing helps keep moisture in.
REGIMEN OR REGGIE Structured routine that is used to care for your hair, involves certain hair products and specific practices. Can range from very basic to quite complicated.
SHEDDING Strands of hair with white bulbs on the root. Hair sheds 150 strands per day on average. If you notice excessive shedding, examine your diet – lack of protein, anaemia, dehydration can all cause shedding.
STRETCHING Prolonging the time between relaxers. Instead of relaxing at 4-6 weeks, relax every 8, 10, 12 weeks and so forth.
S&D (SEARCH AND DESTROY) Identifying frayed, damaged ends for the purpose of trimming them. Such trimming is thought to optimize hair health, encourage the curls to "pop", and improve the look and feel of hair.
SEALING Applying a product or single ingredient, such as a natural oil, to the hair to help lock in moisture. May be applied along the entire hair strand or just to the ends, following cleansing and/or the application of a cream or conditioner containing water. Sealing is often achieved with the use of natural oils e.g coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil etc and butters or products formulated with them.
SECOND DAY HAIR The state of one's hair on the day after it is cleansed, conditioned and styled. For some, it is a less-than-desirable look, often referring to frizz, loss of definition, shine or overall shape. For others, it's a positive description of hair that is fuller, freer, showing fewer partings, etc.
SHINGLING A form of Wash n' Go styling whereby a styling curl cream or curl gel is liberally applied section-by section to clean, very wet hair. As the styling product is applied to each relatively small section of hair, the section is smoothed between the thumb and forefinger, in a downward motion from root to tip. The smoothing action, in combination with the styling product immediately makes the coil/curl/wave pattern evident. The hair is then either air-dried or dried with the use of a hood dryer. Once dry, the hair can be gently fluffed for style.
SHRINKAGE A term used to describe the reduction of the visual length of hair. It is a process that occurs as wet hair dries and re-coils into its natural texture pattern.
SL Shoulder length. Reference to hair length.
SLIP A state produced by a product whereby the palms of the hands, the fingers and/or a detangling comb are able to easily and smoothly glide along the hair shaft, from root to tip. For the sake of manageability and feel, it is desirable that hair care products such as shampoos, leave-in conditioners and deep conditioners provide this attribute, without leaving behind a tacky or dulling residue.
SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) A synthetic detergent associated with hair dehydration, and semi-permanent and permanent hair colour fading.
Commonly found in conventional shampoos.
STRETCH Refers to the inhibition of hair shrinkage which is characteristic of tightly coily/curly hair. Via specific stretching techniques, more of the hair's actual length is revealed in the finished style. Some products are also thought to minimize shrinkage, thereby helping to stretch the hair.
TEXTURIZER A chemical treatment used to partially relax or loosen the natural curl pattern of highly textured hair. Provides greater stretch/elongation/length, and helps the hair to trail in a downward direction, (as opposed to an "up on out" direction, like an afro.) Texturizers are usually a form of relaxers, just milder in formulation or allowed to process using a different technique or timeframe. Texturizers alter the natural coil/curl pattern permanently and hair processed with them must be cut off in order to return one's hair to its natural state.
TNC (TWIST-N-CURL) A styling technique whereby wet or damp hair is two-strand twisted and then rolled on rods or rollers. Once dry, the curlers are removed and the hair untwisted.
TRANSITIONING This is the process, (also called "the journey" or "going natural") whereby the natural-textured hair is allowed to grow in, while the previously chemically-treated hair is trimmed off in stages. The goal is to have a full head of all-natural hair, but to do so without abruptly cutting off (via the Big Chop) all of the processed hair. A degree of length is maintained by only gradually removing the relaxed or permed portions. Transitioning also involves managing the coily-textured new-growth as it increasingly co-exists with the remaining hair. The strategy for some is to wear textured styles (i.e., rod sets and braids) as the new hair grows in to minimize the texture differences, or to wear or wigs/weaves for a period of time.
TWA Teeny Weeny Afro
TWIST OUT A hairstyle created by first two-strand twisting the hair while wet or damp. After the hair is dry, the twists are carefully released and styled.
TB Tail bone length. If you are ever lucky enough to reach this, RealHairRepublic salutes you.
TWO STRAND TWISTS A hairstyle technique whereby sections of hair are divided into two smaller sections and then wound around each other. The last half-inch or so of each twist is left loose and twirled around the index finger into a coil. 2-Strand Twists can be worn as a hairstyle in and of itself or the twists can be carefully released when dry (Twist-Out) for a look that's fuller, yet with a well-defined coily/wavy texture.
TEXLAXED Purposefully not allowing the relaxer to completely straighten resulting in highly textured hair that is of a looser curl pattern than completely natural hair, intentionally under-processing.
WASH N' GO A term referring to a relatively quick and easy styling session whereby a defined finished style is achieved without twisting, braiding, knotting, rodding, etc. Hair is first cleansed and conditioned. Coils/curls are then defined with gel or a styling cream and allowed to air dry or dried using a diffuser attachment on a blow dryer set to a low temperature.May be abbreviated as WnG or W&G.
WSL Waist Length. Reference to hair length.
Well congratulations on reading all that. So armed with this information, what are you going to do? Well the wise and sensible thing would be to immediately head over to the store and buy some products!! HHJ!