Natural Hair Glossary

Aim 4 Natural Hair Glossary
Original Image Credit: Getty Images

Arm Pit Length (APL) – Refers to one’s hair length

Baggy – To cover the hair at night with a plastic processing cap to enhance moisture.

Bantu Knots – Hair is parted into small-to-medium sections. The sections are then twisted in one direction until they wrap into neat knots. Bobby pins could be used to secure the hair in place

Bantu Knot Out – A hair style that is achieve by separating the Bantu Knots after they are dry. The final result is curly, wavy, textured hair.

Beauty Supply Store (BSS) 

Big Audacious Afro (BAA) – Hair that is very full, big and well…audacious

Big Chop (BC) – Relaxed or chemically treated hair is cut completely off to reveal your beautiful, natural curls and coils.

Bra Strap Length (BSL) – Refers to one’s hair length

Braid-n-Curl (BNC/B&C) – Hair is braided while still wet and then curling the ends with rollers or flexi rods. After the hair is dry, the braids and rollers are removed. The final result is a wavy and curly hair texture.

Clarifying – To cleanse and remove a build-up of oils, styling products, tap water minerals and medications from the hair.

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.

Collar Bone Length (CBL) – refers to ones hair length

Co-Wash – A moisturizing conditioner is used to cleanse the hair instead of shampoo

Curly Girl (CG) – CG is an abbreviation for “Curly Girl,” a book written by Lorraine Massey and Michele Bender. It also describes a routine that helps natural “coilies” and “curlies” achieve healthy, manageable waves, curls or coils. Key is the “no poo” method of cleansing, (i.e. cowashing).

Deep conditioner (DC) – A moisturizing conditioner is used on the hair for 30-45 minutes along with a heat source (i.e. heat cap, hood dryer, steam dryer, etc) to help open the pores to penetrate the hair shaft.

Dusting– To trim the hair about ¼ inch or less. The amount of hair trimmed is usually so small that it appears as dust. Only use hair scissors when dusting.

Flat Twists – A technique whereby the hair is two-strand twisted flat to the scalp in a cornrow fashion.

Fluff – The use of fingers or a pick to add volume and shape to natural hair.

‘Fro – Afro

‘Frohawk – 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.

Hand in Hair (HIH) – A habit whereby one constantly touches, fluffs, pulls, tugs or manipulates the hair .

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 color-enhancer, strengthener and conditioner.

Holy Grail (HG) – Tried and true products that one has tried and achieved good results.

Locks/Locs – A hairstyle whereby small sections of the hair are twisted and over time the strands become permanently secured.

Mid Back Length (MBL) – Refers to one’s hair length

Nappyversary/Nattyversary – The anniversary of the day one decided to “go natural” and to refrain from applying chemical straighteners (relaxers) to the hair.

No-poo – (no shampoo) conditioner is used instead of shampoo to cleanse the scalp.

Pineappleing – To pull the hair into one (or several) pony puffs using ouchless bands. The rest of the hair remains free. The puff(s) are positioned at the top or at several sites across the head.

Plopping – Hair is loosely wrapped in a clean t-shirt or soft cotton material (i.e. microfiber)

Product Junky (PJ) – A person who likes to purchase several different hair products or brands in search of the “perfect” product.

Protective Styling – A hairstyle that helps protect the ends of the hair from dehydration and damage by eliminating the need for manipulation (i.e. 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-pooing– A treatment applied prior to shampooing. It usually consists of oils and conditioners applied with a heat source to help penetrate the hair shaft.

Sealing- To seal moisture in the hair using butters or oils. A water-based moisturizing product (such as A4N specially formulated, water-based moisturizing hair cream) should be applied first followed by a butter or oil of choice.

Search and Destroy (S&D) – Identifying frayed, damaged ends for the purpose of trimming them.

Second Day Hair – The state of one’s hair on the day after it is cleansed, conditioned and styled.

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.

Silicone (Cones) – Ingredients found in some hair care products that are not water soluble. Shampoo is needed to remove the product.

Slip- A product that makes the hair easy to detangle. The wide tooth comb or your fingers can easily and smoothly glide along the hair shaft, from root to tip. Typically found in conditioners or detanglers.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – A synthetic detergent associated with hair dehydration, and semi-permanent and permanent hair color fading. Commonly found in conventional shampoos.

Stretching – The hair’s actual length is revealed in the finished style by using various techniques (i.e. Stretching wet twists or braids with bobby pins or ouch-less pony tail holders)

Transitioning – 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 (source: As I am)

TWA- Teeny Weeny Afro.

Twist-n-Curl (TNC) – A styling technique whereby wet or damp hair is two-strand twisted, rolled on rods (or rollers) dried. The curlers are removed and the hair is untwisted

Twist-Out – Two strand twists that are allowed to dry and separated for styling

Wash and Go (WnG/W&G) – Hair that is shampooed or co-washed, product (cream or gel) is added (if desired), hair is styled and allowed to air dry.