natural hair glossary

’Fro: Afro

2nd day hair: The state of one’s hair the day after it has been cleaned and styled

Accordion technique: A styling method to better define waves and curls by scrunching product into your hair as if playing an accordion

ACV rinse: Rinsing the hair after shampooing with a mix of Apple Cider Vinegar and water to close the follicles

Alopecia: An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, leading to hair loss

Baggying: covering the hair with a plastic cap or bag after heavily moisturizing the hair to reduce breakage and split ends

Banding: A style technique that naturally stretches the hair. Wrap bands in short intervals along the length of the hair from the scalp area to the ends

Bantu knots: A style technique created by sectioning the hair and twisting each section in one direction until they are wrapped into knots; the knots are secured by bobby pins or hair pins

BC (Big chop): Cutting your hair to a relatively low level; often done when people with relaxed hair prefer to go natural quickly than to slowly grow out natural hair

BKT (Brazilian Keratin Treatment): – A chemical blowout treatment used to temporarily straighten natural hair

Braid Out: Hair that has been braided, left to sit for some time (often at least overnight) and then undone to achieve defined curls

Carrier Oil: An oil used to dilute essential oils before applying to the hair or skin. Popular carrier oils include coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil

Clarifying: The process of cleansing and removing oil build-up and products from the hair, usually with shampoo or clarifying rinses

Coily: The characteristic texture of natural type 4 hair

Cornrows: A braiding style that involves braiding three small sections closely to the scalp in a continuous raised row

Cowash: The practice of cleansing the hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. This method helps to retain moisture.

Curl Sponge: A brush sponge used to create twists on natural hair

Deep Treatment: This is also called deep conditioning. Applying a moisturizing or hair repair product after washing it and leaving t to penetrate the strands for some time. Sometimes heat is indirectly applied for the treatment to be more effective

Demarcation Line: For people who are transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, this is the point where both hair textures meet. Hair breakage probability is high at this point

Detangler: A product used to ease tangling and knotting in hair

Dusting: Quickly trimming off the ends of the hair to remove split ends

Essential Oils: Aromatic oils extracted from plants and often used on hair and scalp. Essential oils are highly concentrated and are typically diluted with carrier oils. Common essential oils are lavender, tea tree, rosemary, and peppermint oil

EVCO: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

EVOO: Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Flat Twists: A hairstyle that involves making a two-strand twist flat to the head like with cornrows

Fluff: Finger-combing the hair to give it more volume

Frizz: Hair state caused by raised cuticles, allowing moisture to pass through and make the strands swell. This is an indication of dehydrated hair

Hair Analysis: An assessment procedure that involves evaluating the hair’s texture, elasticity, density, growth patterns and porousness.

Hair Cuticle: The outermost part of the hair shaft formed from dead cells which form scales that protect the hair and give it strength

Hair Elasticity: Hair quality that allows hair to be pulled and revert to its original shape without breaking

Hair Porosity: Ability of hair to absorb and retain moisture

Hair Sebum: Oil produced from sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles that keep the scalp and hair healthy. However, too much sebum can cause buildup which impacts the hair follicles and can ultimately lead to hair loss

Henna: A natural, plant-based product that can be used to colour the hair as an alternative to hair dyes. Some naturalistas have reported that it can also be a good conditioner

Humectants: Humectants draw moisture from the air into the atmosphere. Examples include honey and glycerin. The level of humidity determines when and how to use humectants and humectant-containing products

JBCO (Jamaican Black Castor Oil): A kind of castor oil that may be preferred because of the especially rich omega 9 and ash content which are beneficial for the hair

Leave-in Conditioner: A conditioner that you do not have to rinse out of your hair

Locks / locs: Hair that has been allowed to matte naturally over time and not shed, forming strands like a rope

Moisturizing: This is the act of retaining moisture in the hair by first applying a moisture source (e.g. water) and using an oil or butter to trap or seal in the moisture

No-poo: A method of hair washing that doesn’t include shampoo. Products like conditioner, baking soda, and rye flour are used for cleansing instead

Palm rolling: A loc maintenance technique that involves rolling each loc back and forth between the palms to compress knots and tuck loose ends into the locs

Pineappling: This is a protective style for sleeping. The hair is packed into a loose ponytail of curls atop the head

Plopping: Drying the hair by wrapping the hair in a soft cotton material, typically a T-shirt

Pre-poo: Substances applied to the hair as a treatment before washing it. People with natural hair pre-poo with substances like conditioners, oils, banana, and yogurt

Protective hairstyle: A hairstyle that helps protect the ends of hair from dehydration and damage from adverse weather conditions or from you fiddling around with it. Protective styles include buns, ponytails, braids or even covering the hair with a hat or scarf

Protein: Proteins are building blocks of the body, including hair. They help to build and strengthen hair. Proteins are naturally occurring and can also be purchased as hair treatment products to repair damaged hair

Sealing: This is a process of moisturizing the hair with water and then applying it with hair oils or butters to seal in the moisture. One common sealant is shea butter

Search and Destroy (S&D): With specific reference to hair, this means searching the hair for split ends and trimming them off with a sharp pair of hair scissors

Shrinkage: The process of natural hair reverting to its natural coily pattern after it has been stretched or straightened, giving the appearance of being much shorter than it is. Hair shrinkage is an indication of healthy hair

Slip: This slipperiness of conditioner or detangler. A product with a lot of slip makes it easier to remove tangles and knots without ripping hair and causing damage

Texlaxed: Hair that is deliberately under-processed with chemical relaxers by not leaving it in as long as you need to make it completely straight

Texturizing: Treating the hair with a chemical (texturizer) to partially loosen the natural curls of the hair

Transitioning: The process of allowing natural hair to grow while the bottom half of the hair remains relaxed or chemically treated. The treated portion is slowly timed off in stages. Some people prefer this process to doing a Big Chop

TWA: Teeny-weeny Afro

Twist and Curl: Hairstyle that involves doing a two-strand twist and curling the ends (or bottom half) with rollers or curling rods

Twist-out: Hairstyle that involves doing a two-strand twist on damp hair and allowing it to dry, then gently releasing the twists into as many separate strands as needed

Two Strand Twist: Dividing a section of (usually damp) hair into two pieces and twisting them around each other. This forms the base of many natural hair hairstyles