Do you know all of the terminology that is associated with the natural hair lifestyle? Well, if you are newly natural, or thinking about going natural, then this list of terms and definitions can help to break down all the jargon that comes along with the journey. During the initial phase of my natural hair journey I would watch videos and read blogs to determine how I should care for my hair, but I found that I would always have to keep a second tab open just to research some of the terminology being used. Many of the terms I had never heard before prior to going natural, but you know it’s a movement when it deserves it’s own dictionary.
This list is not necessarily a comprehensive list of natural hair terminology, but it does include some of the commonly used words associated with taking care of your natural hair. Please feel free to add onto the list by leaving a comment with a word or phrase that may have been missed.
Natural– Hair that grows organically from the root and has not been altered by ANY chemical straighteners.
Nappy– The natural, tightly curled hair texture of persons of Afro descent.
Creamy Crack– Another term that is used for a relaxer which is a chemical base hair product that is habitually used to straighten the hair. Also known as a “perm” for some Afro-descendants.
Transitioning– The stage in which a person stops relaxing their hair to begin the process of growing out their natural hair. Natural & relaxed hair can exist simultaneously until all the relaxed hair is trimmed off.
Big Chop– Cutting relaxed and/or chemically treated hair completely off to leave only the natural textured hair.
Hair Types: Hair that is classified from a range of 1A-4C using the Andre Walker Hair Typing System, and is based on the curl texture.
- Type 1 hair-Straight
- Type 2 hair- Wavy
- Type 3 hair- Curly
- Type 4 hair- Kinky
Coily– Hair consisting of tiny curls all over a person’s head.
Kinky– Coarse or fine hair that has a particular curl pattern and is susceptible to dryness without the proper moisturizing regimen.
Porosity– Refers to how well the hair absorbs moisture
- Low Porosity – more resistant to receiving moisture, but retains moisture well once absorbed
- Normal Porosity – moisture is easily absorbed into the hair cuticle and retained
- High Porosity – moisture is quickly absorbed, but is not long retained causing dryness and frizz
Hair Regimen – The day to day or weekly hair care routine to build strong, healthy hair
Pre-Poo – Coating the hair with a natural oil, masque or deep conditioner for a period of time before washing
Co-Wash – Using a conditioner product to both wash and moisturize the hair simultaneously. The term is short for conditioner-only washing.
Detangle – The process of combing or brushing through wet hair to loosen any tangles or knots
Slip – Refers to how well a conditioning product is able to loosen tangles to make the hair smooth enough to comb or brush strait through
Shrinkage – Occurs when the hair has shriveled during the process of going from a wet to dry state. The hair’s elasticity
TWA – The acronym for Tiny Weeny Afro
Wash and Go – Refers to a method of styling the hair after it has been washed, by rubbing in a gel product, then either using techniques to create tighter curls, or allowing the hair to set by simply air drying while going about the day.
Two-Strand Twist – The style that involves dividing a small section of the hair into two parts, then twisting each part around the other until the end is reached
Twist Out – The style that is produced when two-strand twists are unraveled to produce a kinky zig-zag curl pattern. A braid-out follows the same method, but produces a more wavy curl pattern.
Bantu Knots – Two-strand twist that are circularly wrapped to create knots
Flat Twist – Formed by interlacing two-strands of hair closely to the scalp [similar to the method for creating conrow braids]
Second and/or Third Day Hair – A hairstyle that retains its definition for a certain amount of days after the hair was initially styled (As shown in featured photo)
Protective Styles – A hairstyle that tucks the ends of the hair from being exposed to damaging agents such as heat, and constant manipulation. Protective styling can include wearing braids, weaves, wigs or crotchet
Denman Brush – A hefty duty brush mainly used to detangle the hair when wet.
Fluff – The use of fingers or a hair pick to add volume to the hair
Edges – The hair that outlines the hair line of the head and may consist of what some refer to as ‘baby’ hair or very soft hair
Natural Hair Products – Materials and substances that are produced specifically for hair worn in its natural state that typically does not contain any ingredients that would work to cause dryness or irritation
Sulfates – Chemicals used as cleaning agents that are usually found in shampoos and other cleansing products. Sulfates are not good for natural hair because it can remove the hair’s natural oils, which is needed to seal moisture.
Parabens – Chemicals that are mainly used as preservatives to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold in beauty and other products. Some parabens have been found to mimic the behavior of estrogen, perhaps causing an unhealthy increase in estrogen production, which can also be linked to some forms of cancer.
Mineral Oil – A liquid by-product of petroleum. It can be used to seal in moisture and enhance curl formation, but it can also prevent moisture from penetrating the hair pores
LOC and OCL Methods – The acronyms that describe the technique of applying oil, liquid and cream products to the hair in a specific order to seal in moisture.
Blow Out – The use of a blow dryer and comb to straighten out the hair’s natural curls. The blow out is usually accompanied by a silk press, which is an additional step of straitening the hair with a flat iron to give it a sleek shine.