Natural Hair Dictionary

Returning to natural hair can be stressful.  Add terms that you must learn and apply to your routine and the stress level goes up a notch.  There are so many natural hair terms and dictionaries out there on the web.  YouTube know it alls, create content online for new and existing naturals to create their own styles. However, when they use terms like BSL or EVO, what are they talking about?  A helpful guide to assist you with the natural hair language, is very important to growth and maintenance of healthy hair.

So here we go!  It’s a long list of different terms with a few pics thrown in there to help you new naturalistas.

 

NATURAL HAIR DICTIONARY

A guide to terms used in the natural hair community

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2nd Day Hair

Natural styles that looks good the next day and does not turn frizzy.

2a|2b|2c

This hair classification of texture system was created by Andre Walker.  This type is of a wavy hair pattern.

3a|3b|3c

This hair classification of texture system was created by Andre Walker.  This type is of very loose curl pattern.

4a|4b|4c

This hair classification of texture system was created by Andre Walker.  This type is of a loose curl to very tight curl pattern.

A


Accordion Technique

A technique used with a wash n go style to mimic an accordion look by scrunching product into the hair.

Photo by Natasha Duhaney - http://www.stylishlee.com

Photo by Natasha Duhaney - http://www.stylishlee.com

ACV | Apple Cider Vinegar

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.

Afro

Hairstyle that is rounded in shape and naturally curly, coiled, or kinky textured hair

Alopecia

A condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body.

APL | Arm Pit Length

The length of your healthy hair growth in reference to when the healthy hair reaches your arm pit. 

B


BAA | Big Ass Afro

A really large disrespectful Afro of naturally curly, coiled or kinky textured hair.

Courtesy of Michael July's AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair. Featuring Aevin Dugas

Courtesy of Michael July's AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair. Featuring Aevin Dugas

Baggy Method (Greenhouse Effect)

The goal of the baggy method is to keep your hair moisturized and to prevent breakage of those delicate ends.  Moisturize your ends or your whole head with a plastic cap, baggies or some women opt for plastic wrap.

Bantu Knot

For some, the knots create a lovely curly effect with tight, springy curls.  Sectioned off boxes of hair coiled into individual buns.  Bantu knots originated and were popularized by the “bantu people”. The term bantu people is a generic name for more than 300 African ethnic groups that cover a large geographic region of southern & central Africa.

Bantu Knot Out

Hairstyle created by sectioning the hair into Bantu Knots on damp wet hair and then after it dries, the knots are taking out to achieve defined curly hair.

BC | Big Chop

Cutting relaxed or chemically treated hair completely off to leave only natural textured hair. Most believe having a simple haircut is also known as having a big chop. 

BKT | Brazilian Keratin Treatment

Keratin is protein. A temporary hair straighten treatment that lasts about three to five months.

BNC | Braid n Curl

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 a deep wavy style with curly ends.

Braidlocs

A method starting locs by braiding the hair into individual braids and then maintaining it via palm rolling or interlocking.

Braid Out

Hairstyle achieved by braiding damp or moist hair in cornrows or single braids and after it dries the hair is unraveled to reveal a defined hairstyle.

BSL | Bra Strap Length

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.

BSS | Beauty Supply Store

Stores in your community where you are able to get most hair products off of the shelves.

Buds (Budding)

First stage of dreadlocks and locking your hair, when a knot is formed as the nucleus of each lock.

C


CBL | Collar Bone Length

A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when the hair reaches your collar bone.

CG | Curly Girl

A method, designed to achieve your best natural curls.  This curly girl uses a minimum amount of shampoo and does not apply any heat to their curls.

Co-wash

A method of washing your hair with conditioner only.

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.

Wesley Styles separating and styling coils

Wesley Styles separating and styling coils

Cones (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.

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.

Crochet Braiding

A hairstyle where the natural hair is cornrowed and the synthetic hair is crochet into the rows of braids into a style using a crochet needle.

Creamy crack

A term created by women who found it hard to stop relaxing their hair while transitioning; used to describe permanent relaxers.

D


Denman Brush

A popular detangling tool among the curly community. It is used mainly to detangle natural Type 3c and Type 4 hair when wet.

Density

Refers to how many hair strands you have on your head – therefore resulting in either a full thick head of hair or very fine hair.

Detangle

Process when you use a brush or your fingers to remove tangles from sections of your hair.  You can detangle using agents such as water and conditioner.

Detangling

Process in which you use a detangle to soften and smooth the hair for manageability.

DIY | Do It Yourself

YouTube videos have allowed naturals like you and me to see how to do certain styles so you can mimic the process.  There is also videos where naturals turn their kitchen into a laboratory creating hair products.

DT | 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.

Dusting

Evenly trimming 1/4 in of hair or less in which the name derived from the little hairs that looks like dust on the floor.

E


EO | Essential Oils

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

EVCO | Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

A natural conditioner that promotes hair growth, strong healthy hair, prevents dandruff, and makes the hair shiny and soft.

EVOO | 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).

F


Flat Twist

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

Finger Coils

A style similar to comb coils but achieved with your fingers instead of a comb.

Fluff

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

FSG | 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.

H


Henna

A natural colorant or hair dye, and strengthener.

HG | Holy Grail

A statement used for products that you have tried and works perfect for your hair.

HHJ | Healthy Hair Journey

Expression used to describe the journey a woman takes to achieve healthy hair.

HIH | Hand in Hair Syndrome

Also seen as HIF: Hands in Fro. This a slight bad habit to have to manipulate or play in your hair.

J


JBCO | Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Castor oil that has been manufactured in Jamaica, used to strengthen, thicken, increase hair growth.

K


Kinky

Another way of describing tightly coiled hair.

L


Latch Hooking

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

Leave-In Conditioner

Conditioner that you do not wash out off of your hair.  Maybe used in the LOC method.

L.O.C Method

Liquid or Leave-In Conditioner, Oil and Cream combination used to maintain healthy natural hair.

Low Maintenance

Hair styles that don’t require a lot of work, usually refer to protective styles as a low maintenance go to.

M


MBL | Mid Back Length

A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when your hair reaches the middle of your back.

N


Nappy-versary

Celebrate the date when you returned back to a natural state of hair care.

Natural Hair

Hair texture that has not been changed by any chemicals.

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.

O


Oil Rinse

Method of applying oil to your hair after shampooing but before conditioning. 

Natural Hair Dictionary.png

P


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.

Perm rods

Various sized rollers that produce tightly coiled curls.

Pineapple

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.

Pixie Braids

A style of small individual braids all over the head without weave. Pixie braids are also braids with hair extensions (weave) that are small box braids, cut in layers and sealed with heat. These braids are usually curled or bent at the ends slightly to give them a shape towards the face.

pixiebraids.png

PJ | 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 way of drying your hair quickly and help enhance your waves and curls by wrapping your hair in a t-shirt or cotton cloth material.

Porosity

Your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.  It is important to know your porosity in order to purchase and use the correct hair care products and procedures.

Pre-Poo

Coating the hair, for about 30 minutes or more, with a mixture of natural oils or a deep conditioner before you shampoo.

Protective Hairstyle

A hairstyle that protects your healthy hair from being exposed to damaging agents such as sun, heat, and constant manipulation. The purpose and benefits of this hairstyle is to grow healthier, longer hair and reduce split ends and damage.

Some examples are buns, braids, sew-in weaves, wigs, and puff ponytails are some examples of protective styling.

Protein

This natural component is the building block of hair, specifically keratin protein. Protein is added to hair products to help mend, protect, and strengthen hair strands.

S


S&Ds | Search and Destroy

Process in which you occasionally search your hair for any split ends, crooked ends, or single strand knots and snipping it with a sharp hair styling scissors.

Sealing (Seal the Ends)

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.

Shingling

A styling method, used to manually define curls by applying a leave in conditioner or gel with a comb, spreading the product from roots to ends in a downward direction while smoothing and stretching hair.

Shrinkage

Natural hair in it’s truest state after shampoo, condition and allowing to dry without styling.

Single Strand Knots | SSK

Hair that naturally weaves and loops around itself creating a knot.  Also known as fairy knots.  If not snipped away, it can cause breakage when combed.  Using your fingers while your hair is wet, detangle your hair to feel for these knots and gently untangle.

SL | Shoulder Length

A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when your hair reaches your shoulders.

SL | Sisterlocs

Tiny uniform locs. 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

Describes how slippery a product is and how effective it will coat the hair for detangling. Usually in reference to a conditioner or a detangle product.

SLS | Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

A high volume synthetic chemical, that is drying to the hair, used in many shampoos to thoroughly remove product buildup. If you use a sulfate shampoo, follow up with a moisturizing shampoo before conditioning.

Stretching Hair

Process of relaxing the length of curly hair using various styles with or without heat.

Sulfate Free

Hair care products that are free from sulfates.

T


Texture

The definition of your strands of hair.

Threading

A heat free African process of stretching the curly hair using thread or wool.

TNC | 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 take steps to stop relaxing the hair to grow out your natural hair texture.

TWA | Teeny Weeny Afro

A small Afro about 1/2 – 1 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. 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.

V

The various hairstyles of simplykatricia

The various hairstyles of simplykatricia


Virgin Hair

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

Volume

Hair that is naturally “big”.  Hair that stands tall from the root.

W


Wash Day

A dedicated whole day where a natural dedicates to shampoo, condition, deep condition, style, and if you have a mini natural, it’s wash day times two or three or bless your heart, four.

Wet and Go

A hairstyle technique similar to Wash and Go (WNG), but you do not wash your hair. You drench or spray the hair with a leave-in conditioner and water to define the curls and style as desired for a quick hairstyle.

WNG | Wash and Go

Method of co-washing the hair, adding a styling gel or cream and then go start your day. The hair air dries or you can dry it with a diffuser.

WL or WSL

Waist Length. If strands of hair can be stretched to your natural waist it is WL.

Do you know of other terms that I have not included in this natural hair dictionary?

Katricia

A lifestyle content creator in the city of New York. I write from the heart about what matters at the moment with thoughts involving health and wellness, natural hair, parenting and lifestyle experiences.  During the day, I am a full-time Human Resources manager, business related thoughts maybe amongst content found on Simply Katricia. My most important role in life is being a parent to a young African American natural girl who challenges our every word, keeping us on our toes. You can find me on the following social media sites: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Page.