Dictionary

Below is a list of natural hair terms you should familiarize yourself with. I will be using a lot of them on this blog.

(Apple cider vinegar) ACV
Used in a diluted form as a final rinse after shampooing and before conditioning. Seals and tightens the cuticle layer for improved shine and smoothness.

BAA
Big ass afro.

Baggy
After you moisturize your hair at night, you put a shopping bag, plastic cap, shower cap on overnight.

Banding
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. This can 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.)
 
Bantu Knots
A hairstyle created by carefully and precisely parting hair in small-to-medium sections, and then twisting the sections in one direction until they wrap into neat knots. The knots are often secured near the scalp with bobby or hair pins.
 
Bantu Knot Out
A style, with a highly defined curly or wavy texture, created by releasing Bantu Knots after they are dry

BC (Big Chop)
Cutting off all relaxed or chemically-treated hair, leaving only natural-textured new growth.
Clarifying
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.

Co-Wash
Using conditioner to wash the hair in place of shampoo

DT or DC
I Deep treatment or deep conditioner. A moisturizing, strengthening and/or damage-repair product that is applied right after cleansing, and often allowed to penetrate for 15 – 30 minutes with the use of a mild heat source.  Deep conditioners are also used to enhance shine and manageability of hair.

Dusting
Trimming of the hair, typically ¼ inch or less. The amount of hair trimmed is usually so small that it appears as dust.
 
EO
Essential Oil
EVCO
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil; Used as a natural hair care product for shine and to seal in moisture. It is one of the few oils with a proven ability to penetrate the skin and hair. Extra virgin coconut oil is loved for its emollient and sheen-producing properties.
 
EVOO
Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Used as a natural hair care product for shine. Also used as a pre-shampoo treatment. EVOO is considered by some to be a natural sealant that locks moisture inside the hair shaft that was provided by a previously-applied hydrating product.

Flat Twists
A technique whereby the hair is two-strand twisted flat to the scalp, in cornrow fashion.
 
Fluff
The use of fingers or a pick to add volume and shape to natural hair.
 
'Fro
Afro

HG
Holy Grail (Products that are tried and true).

HIH
Hand in Hair. It’s a disease that causes you to always be manipulating your tresses.


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. This hair type classification system was created by renowned hairstylist and entrepreneur, Andre Walker.
 
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 colour-enhancer, strengthener and conditioner.

Locks/Locs
A hairstyle whereby small sections of hair are twisted and over time, the strands become permanently secured. As locks/locs grow, they can become quite long.

Nappyversary/Nattyversary
The anniversary of the day you became a natural.

No-poo
It's just that- no shampoo. Instead of shampooing, many ladies conditioner wash, or use conditioner in place of shampoo to cleanse the scalp.

Pineappleing
A type of sleeping technique that naturals 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 pony tail 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 or someone that buys any all hair care products in sight...forever on a mission to find the next best thing.

Plopping
A quick drying 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-Poo
Oils, conditioners and other substances applied to the hair prior to shampooing to enhance moisture and conditioning during cleansing.

Protective Styling
A hairstyle that helps protect the ends of hair from dehydration and damage, by eliminating the need for mechanical manipulation, (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.

Sealing
Sealing moisture into the hair, specifically the ends. For sealing to be effective, you must first use a water-based moisturizer (a conditioner or cream that has water as its first ingredient), and then seal with a butter or oil. The molecules in most butters/oils are too large to pass into the hair, so they stick to the outside of the shaft, trapping in the rich goodness of the moisturizer. Reversing those 2 steps will lead to dry hair.

Second Day Hair
The state of one's hair on the day after it is cleansed, conditioned and styled. For some, it is a less-than-desirable look, often referring to frizz, loss of definition, shine or overall shape. For others, it's a positive description of hair that is fuller, freer, showing fewer partings, etc.

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.

Slip
Used to describe how slippery a product is (usually a conditioner or detangler)... the more slip it has, the more effectively it will coat the hair to aid in detangling.

Stretch
Stretching natural hair with 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.

SLS
 Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (found in the harsher shampoos- the main reason that naturals avoid shampoo).

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.

TWA
Teeny Weeny Afro

Twist Out
Two strand twist the hair, allow to dry either by air drying or sitting under a dryer, take the twists apart, and style.

Wash and Go (W&G)
A term referring to a relatively quick and easy styling session whereby a defined finished style is achieved without twisting, braiding, knotting, rodding, etc. Hair is first cleansed and conditioned. Coils/curls are then defined with gel or a styling cream and allowed to air dry or dried using a diffuser attachment on a blow dryer set to a low temperature.

About the Author

Amanda Dliwayo

Amanda Dliwayo

South African. World citizen. Currently based in Paris.

Traveler. Writer. Model. Teacher.

                     Natural. 4B/4C.

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