Natural Hair Dictionary
(as featured on Essence by JENELL! and Nicole)
2nd, 3rd, 4th, day hair– This is a phrase used to describe the amount of time your hair has gone since you last styled it. Hair styled today would be considered 2nd day hair tomorrow.
3abc/4abc– These numbers followed by a letter is a form a hair type classification system created by Andre Walker. Type 3 hair is curly with a visible curl pattern. Type 3 curls can range from big, loose, bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews. Type 4 is kinky, or very tightly curled, with a less visible curl pattern. Type 4 curls can range from tight zig-zag curls to extremely tight coils.
ACV– Apple Cider Vinegar, This is used as a rinse to close hair follicles.
APL– Arm Pit Length, This is a way of describing the length of a person’s hair. If a strand of hair can be stretched out to reach your armpit it qualifies as APL.
Accordion Method – This is a technique where you use a squeezing motion to scrunch the product into the tresses of the hair to encourage the body and natural waves.
Afro – This is a very popular natural hairstyle, often referred to as a “fro”, typically requires picking the hair into a rounded shape around the head. For information on creating an afro,
Alopecia – The term alopecia used alone refers to abnormal hair loss.
ALS – Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, These are lathering agents in shampoo that can be drying and may contribute to hair damage and hair loss.
BAA-Big Ass Afro – This is used to describe a woman with very large hair styled in an afro.
Baggy Job or Baggying – This is a method of soaking the hair with moisturizer and then sealing it in a plastic bag, shower cap, Saran wrap or even a simple plastic shopping bag for several hours; ideally the head and all hair should be covered all night. Baggying can also be applied to just the ends of the hair.
BC – Big Chop. This means cutting off all the relaxed hair; regardless of the amount of new growth.
BNC – Braid–n–Curl. This refers to a styling technique where the hair is braided to get create curl definition in it and then the ends are set with rollers or rods to add a curl to the ends.
Breakage – This is when the hair breaks–off without being completely intact. This is different from shed hair because the white bulb, which should accompany the hair, is not present.
Braid Out – This refers to a styling technique where the hair is braided to get create curl definition. The hair is then unbraided gently and the result is a crimped looking hairstyle.
BSL– Bra Strap Length, This is a way of describing the length of a person’s hair. If a strand of hair can be stretched out to reach your bra strap, it qualifies as BSL.
Carrier Oil – These are also known as base oils. They are used to dilute pure
essential oils (like rosemary) that if used on their own might irritate or burn the scalp or skin. Common carrier oils are olive, grape seed, and Vitamin E oil. The oil can be a mix or it can be single vegetable oil.
CBL– Collar Bone Length, This is a way of describing the length of a person’s hair. If a strand of hair can be stretched out to reach your collar bone it qualifies as CBL.
CG– Refers to the “Curly 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.
Co-Wash– This is a method of cleaning your hair, you use conditioner to wash the hair in place of shampoo to avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils.
Cones – These are products that contain silicone that helps smooth, protect and shine the hair. However, they also can weaken the hair shaft. You must use a shampoo to properly remove silicones from your hair.
CWC – Conditioner, Wash, Conditioner. Hair is pretreated with conditioner before shampooing so it loses less moisture. It is then conditioned again after washing.
Cornrows – The hair is intertwined closely to the scalp using braiding techniques that may involve three or more sections of hair.
Demarcation Line – This is the place on the hair where natural hair growth and hair that has been relaxed meets. Breakage of hair strands is very likely at this line so be gentle when handling the two textures.
DT or DC– Deep Treatment or Deep Conditioner. A DT is when you leave a moisturizing (or protein-based, depending on your needs) conditioner on your hair for an extended period, along with a heat source to aid in penetration.
Dusting– Dusting your hair is a trim of 1/4 and 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.
EO– Essential Oil – Essential oils are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic essences of plants. They are non-oily and highly fragrant which is extracted from a plant and evaporates quickly.
EVCO– Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
EVOO– Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Hair Cuticle – These are hair cells on the hair strand that overlap and protect the inner layers of the hair known as the cortex and the medulla.
Hair Density – This is the number of hairs growing on the scalp per square inch. Density is qualified as thin (low), medium or thick (high).
Hair Elasticity – This is the ability of the hair to be pulled or stretched out and returns to its regular shape without breaking or snapping.
Hair Porosity – This describes the ability of the hair to soak up moisture. The more porous a strand is, the more quickly water will be absorbed into the cuticle.
Hair Sebum – This is a coating of natural oil that protects the hair and makes it shinier. The straighter your hair is the more easily sebum can travel down the hair strand. Spiraling curls make it difficult for the oil to be distributed evenly down the hair strand and the shaft to the ends.
HG– Holy Grail. This refers to products that you love and use regularly to care for your hair.
HIH– Hand in Hair (syndrome). This is a funny way of describing your lack of self-control when it comes to touching your hair.
Humectants – These are ingredients in hair products that help draw moisture from the air and into the hair shaft. However your hair can become dry if the air is dry as well, so be sure that moisture is in the air.
JBCO – Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Leave-in Conditioner – This is a conditioning product that you do not have to rinse out of your hair. These types of conditioners contain humectants and help attract moisture back into the hair. This helps create a stronger, more flexible hair strand.
Length Check – This is a technique performed to stretch, measure and record the length of the hair.
Listen to Your Hair – This is a proactive, introspective and intuitive action that allows you to be in tune with the needs of your hair. Being aware of the characteristics and behaviors of your hair helps you achieve stronger, healthier and manageable hair.
Low Manipulation – This means doing very little frequently. Do not brush your natural hair with 100 strokes a day and you do not have to comb your hair every day. The less you manipulate your hair; the less breakage you will have.
MBL– Mid Back Length. This is a way of describing the length of a person’s hair. If a strand of hair can be stretched out to reach the middle of your back it qualifies as MBL.
Naturalversary/Nappyversary-This refers to the anniversary of the day you became natural. If you became fully natural on January 1st, every January first thereafter will be considered your Naturalversary.
No-Poo– No Shampoo. This refers to women who do not use shampoo, ever. Someone who follows a no-poo routine is considered CG’er (see above for CG). Instead of using shampoo, they will use conditioner and co-wash (see above for co-wash).
Pineappleing– This refers to bedtime hair sleeping technique that curlies with long hair use to preserve/protect curls overnight so that they have great 2nd-day hair. You gather all of your hair in a high, but loose ponytail at the top of your head and go to sleep on a satin pillowcase. In the morning you take it down and shake it out gently and all of your curls will have been preserved.
PJ– Product Junky. This refers to someone that buys too many hair care products. They have more than enough already, but still, buy anything new insight.
Plopping- This is a quick-dry method. You use a t-shirt or a curl friendly material (terry cloth towel, paper towel) to dry your hair instead of rubbing a towel on your hair to dry it. It drastically decreases drying times.
Pre-pooing– This refers to a treatment applied to your hair before shampooing. It usually consists of oils and/or conditioners applied the night before the shampoo or immediately prior, with a heat source to help penetrate. This is usually performed to help the hair maintain necessary moisture during the drying shampoo process.
Protective Hairstyle – This is a style that requires little manipulation, protects the ends of the hair by keeping them tucked away and allows regular moisturizing. Common protective styles are twists, coils, flat twists, braids, and roll, tuck and pin styles.
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.
Scab hair – Newly grown hair that is dry, wiry and crinkly. If you recently big chopped and previously had a relaxer, the follicle may have been damaged previously from using the relaxer. Scab hair doesn’t represent the actual texture of your natural hair.
Sealing- This refers to the act of sealing moisture in the hair, specifically the ends. For sealing to be effective, you should first wet your hair, then add a water-based leave-in conditioner and then seal with an oil, followed by a moisturizer to soften your hair strand.
Slip- This is used to describe how slippery a conditioner or detangling product is. The more slip it has, the more effective it will coat the hair to aid in detangling.
SLS– Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Stretched Fro/Styles – also referred to as twist outs see below. This describes an afro that has been extended to its maximum length. This type of afro is achieved by first wearing twists, cornrows, and braids and then releasing the hair back to an afro.
TNC– Twist-n-Curl. This refers to a styling technique. The hair is styled in two-strand twists and then rollers are put on the ends.
Transitioning – This is the period since one’s last relaxer.
TWA– Teeny Weeny Afro, this refers to very short natural hair.
Twist Out – This refers to a styling technique. The hair is styled in two-strand twists. The hair is allowed to dry either by air drying or sitting under a dryer. The twists are separated back into the two original pieces and separated further to add volume.
Wash and Go– Simply co-wash your hair, add a styler (gel, cream) and GO You leave the hair to air dry or dry with a diffuser. Although this style is cute and easy, my ends couldn’t handle it. This is also seen as WnG and W&G.