Natural Hair Terminology
New naturals... Do you always see Nattie's using terms you are unsure of? Here's a full list of terms to help you better understand your journey.
Please note CG (Curly Girl) terms have an asterisk *
A method to help define curls by scrunching your hair in the formation of an accordion.
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. Also used to cleanse the hair in place of a shampoo.
A hairstyle that is rounded in shape and naturally curly coiled hair
*AJ's - Aunt Jackies (another product range available from Clicks)
APL | Arm Pit Length
A guide to the length of your hair growth in reference to when the hair reaches your armpit.
Oil-rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids produced from the kernels of the argan tree grown organically in Morocco. It can be used as a fast-absorbing daily moisturizer or to heal and condition cuticles and split ends. Also known as Moroccan Oil.
BAA | Big Ass Afro
A really large Afro that is obtained with long naturally curly and or kinky hair.
A method to help reduce breakage, split ends, and dryness. After moisturizing your hair and sealing it at night, put a plastic cap or shower cap on overnight to help your hair retain the moisture it needs for maximum growth retention.
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).
Hairstyle created when the hair is sectioned off in diamond, triangle, or square shapes and twisted into knots. Also known as Zulu knots.
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.
Hairstyle achieved by braiding damp or moist hair in cornrows or single braids and after it dries the hair is unravelled to reveal more defined curly hair.
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.
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, [Say no to shampoo, unplug the dryer, and find your inner curl!], designed to achieve your best natural curls.
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.
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.
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.
A method of washing your hair with conditioner only. This type of washing avoids harsh results from frequent washing with shampoos that contain detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate and Sodium Laureth sulfate and helps to keep natural hair soft and manageable. See our IntrinsiCurly Me Range.
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.
Type of braiding style where the hair is braided very close 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.
A term created by women who found it hard to stop relaxing their hair while transitioning used to describe permanent relaxers.
A spongy product used to produce a textured curl on natural hair resulting in a twist. Popular with men, boys, and TWA (teeny-weeny afro) haircuts.
A company that produces a curl defining brush that many natural haired women use.
Type of hair conditioner that smooths your hair by coating it, so that the hair tightens up and smooths the scales on the outer surface of the hair or cuticle to prevent tangles.
Process in which you use a Detangler to soften and smooth the hair for manageability.
DIY | Do It Yourself
DC | Deep Conditioning
Also known as DT (Deep Treatment). 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.
*DT | Deep Treatment
Evenly trimming 1/4 in of hair or less in which the name derived from the little hairs that look like dust on the floor.
EO | Essential Oils
Natural oils (Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender, etc.) that promote 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).
'Fro | Afro
A hairstyle where the sides of an afro are flattened to the scalp, either by smoothing & pinning or by shaving. The center hair is left high and free, in the shape of the distinctive Mohawk.
A two-strand twist braiding technique similar to cornrows, by twisting the hair flat to the head.
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.
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.
A natural colorant or hair dye, and hair strengthener.
HG | Holy Grail
A term used for products that you have tried and works perfectly for your hair.
HHJ | Healthy Hair Journey
An expression used to describe the journey a woman takes to achieve healthy hair.
HIH | Hand in Hair
Also seen as HIF: Hands in Fro. This a (mild) bad habit: to manipulate or play in your hair.
JBCO | Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Castor oil that's been manufactured in Jamaica that is used to strengthen, thicken, and increase hair growth.
*JF - John Frieda (a product range available at Clicks)
*KCCC | Kinky Curling Curly Custard
LOC - Liquid, Oil, Cream
The technique of applying products in a sequence is suitable for highly porous / course / thick hair. Its purpose is to seal in moisture. There are several variations of this method e.g LOG = liquid, oil, gel, LOGB - liquid, Oil, Gel, Butter, etc.
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.
Also known as Nattyversary. This is the Anniversary date of when your hair became fully natural.
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.
*NYM | Not Your Mothers (a product range available from Clicks)
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.
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. In the morning the curls are intact just by letting the ponytail down and gently shaking the hair.
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.
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.
A hairstyle whereby the hair is pulled back at the crown, sides, and nape, using headbands, hairpins, scarves, etc. The remaining hair extends freely.
This simply refers to your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. There are 3 categories: Low, Medium and High
Coating the hair, for about 30 minutes or more, with a mixture of natural oils or a deep conditioner before you shampoo.
A hairstyle that tucks the ends of your hair away 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 Drawstring Ponytails.
Your day to day or weekly hair care and styling guide.
(Seal the Ends) To apply a product to the ends of the hair to keep them moisturized and limit breakage. This 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.
Scrunching is a technique that is used to add volume and definition to your hair. It works especially well on wavy and curly hair (Type 1 and 2) to add some bounce and reduce frizz. Simply grab and squeeze your curls in an upward motion.
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.
Describes how slippery a product is and how effective it will coat the hair for detangling. Usually in reference to a conditioner or a detangler product.
SLS | Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
A high volume synthetic chemical that is drying to the hair, used in many shampoos.
*SOTC - Scrunch Out The Crunch
The act of releasing the curl from a gel cast once the hair is dry and crunchy.
*STC - Squish to Condish
A technique where you encourage the product to be absorbed into the hair shaft by using an upward squishing movement.
This 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.
SC - Sugar Scrub
This refers to the exfoliation of the scalp. Prepare a DIY mixture, apply to the scalp and rub as if you were shampooing
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
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 hairdryer. Then take out the rods and twist to reveal deep wavy and curly hair.
This is the process, (also called "the journey" or "going natural") whereby one's 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
A small Afro about 2- 5cm of hair in length, typically in reference to the first stage after the Big Chop (BC).
A hairstyle achieved by two-strand twisting the hair (usually while damp or wet then air drying or use a hairdryer) and then unravelling the twist to reveal a crinkly wavy hair texture.
Two Strand Twist
Also known as double-strand twists, twists, or twisties. 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.
Hair that is natural from the roots and has not been chemically processed or altered.
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
Also abbreviated as WnG or W&G. Method of co-washing the hair, adding a styling gel or cream and then go start your day. The hair air drys or you can dry it with a diffuser.