Navigating Natural Lingo: Our Natural Hair Dictionary

BY COCO & CURL

Whether you're a veteran or a new-comer in the Natural hair community, navigating the long list of acronyms and terms that Naturals use can be overwhelming. We've put together a list of main words and phrases to help you out. 

We've broken them down into 6 categories:

2nd Day Hair
Natural hair that still looks good after wearing the same style for a second day.

1a|1b|1c | 2a|2b|2c | 3a|3b|3c | 4a|4b|4c
Classification numbers for natural hair, ordered from most straight to most kinky/coily.

APL | Arm Pit Length
A term used to describe hair that reaches the armpit when stretched.

Baby Hairs
The hairs that lie on the hairline. They’re often shorter than the rest of the hair. 

Breakage
When hair strands break due to (over)manipulation and/or dryness. You can tell you have breakage rather than shedding when fallen hair strands do not have a bulb at the end. 

BSL | Bra Strap Length
A term used to describe hair that, when stretched, reaches where the bra strap falls.

Buds (Budding)
A term used to describe the beginning stage of locs.

CBL | Collar Bone Length
A term used to describe hair that reaches the collar bone when stretched.

Clumping
When strands of hair bunch together and form chunkier curls.

Crown
The area at the center of the scalp/ on top of the head. It is a sensitive spot for many people.

EL | Ear Length
A term used to describe hair that reaches the bottom of the earlobe when stretched.

Hair Cuticle
A layer of protein cells that sit on top of the hair strands and protect inner layers (the cortex and medulla).

Hair Texture | Hair Pattern  
The classification of your hair ranging from 1 to 2c, and/or from straight to kinky/ coily.

Hair Porosity
The ease and speed with which your hair absorbs and retains moisture.

Hair Density
The number of hair strands you have on your head, ranging from high (more strands) to low (fewer strands) density.

Hair Sebum
A coating of natural oil that protects hair and makes it shinier.

Hip Length | HL
A term used to describe hair that reaches the hip when stretched.

MBL | Mid Back Length
A term used to describe hair that reaches the mid-back when stretched. 

Natural Hair
Hair that has not been chemically treated or altered in any way.

New Growth
The newest, youngest hair growing out of the scalp.

Over-processed
Hair that is damaged due to excessive or pro-longed use of chemicals and/or heat.

Scab Hair
Newly grown hair that is dry and wiry, and which appears for many people who have recently stopped using relaxers and/or who have done a big chop.  (Don’t worry, this isn’t your actual texture! The follicle may have been damaged from your last relaxer – and your hair may just need time to grow out.)

Traction Alopecia
Hair loss caused by high-tension (e.g. braids that are too tight) or high-heat styling methods or the use of chemicalized treatments. 

Transitioning
The process of growing out relaxed hair in order to “transition” the hair to a heat damage and chemical-free state.

Virgin Hair
Hair that is natural and has not been chemically processed or altered.

Accordion Technique
A wash n’ go technique that creates defined curls. Curl cream or gel is applied to wet hair after cleansing and conditioning, the head is tilted at various angles and the hair is lowered into open palms and pressed to the scalp repeatedly. Then, hair is usually air dried.

Afro
Naturally curly /kinky hair styled in a round shape or that is naturally rounded when loose.

BAA | Big Ass Afro
An afro that is very large in size because the naturally hair is very long.

Banding 
A styling technique used to stretch hair length and prevent shrinkage. Multiple elastic bands are tied down the length of individual sections of hair. The first band is placed at the base of the hair section/ at the scalp, and bands are added up until or just before the tips of the hair. Bands are left in for long periods of time.

Bantu Knots
A style created when the hair is sectioned off and twisted into two-strand twists and then twisted around in a circle/knot.

Bantu Knot-Out
A method of stretching hair and obtaining more defined curls by styling it into bantu knots, and undoing it after some hours or a longer period of time.

BC | Big Chop
The process of cutting chemically treated (relaxed) or heat-damaged hair completely off to leave only Natural textured hair.

Braidlocs | Bradelocz |Braidlocks
The process of locking hair (sometimes without doing the big chop) by braiding it into small braids and maintaining it by latching or palm rolling the new growth.

BNC | Braid n Curl
A method of obtaining more defined curls by braiding wet or damp hair and curling the ends with rollers or curling rods.  Once the hair is dry, the rollers and braids are taken out to reveal way hair with curled ends.

Box Braids
Braids created with three strands of hair and which tend to have a boxier shape. They can be done in small, medium and larger sizes. 

Braid Out
A method of obtaining more defined curls by braiding damp or moist hair and unraveling it once it is dry.

Comb Coils
A hairstyle created by using a rattail comb to twist small sections of the hair into coils.  This hairstyle is normally worn by women with shorter length natural hair.

Cornrows
Braiding the hair close to the scalp in a continuous row.

Crochet Method
A styling method for adding extensions to the hair. First, the natural hair is cornrowed, and then extensions are looped under the cornrows with a crochet needle and secured with a knot. 

Dreadlocks | Locs | Locks 
A semi-permanent hairstyle in which the hair is twisted while wet into tight braids or ringlets.

Flat Twist
Twisting the hair flat to the head. This is similar to cornrows, but instead of using three pieces of hair, two pieces are used.

Fluff | Fluffing 
Finger combing the hair to The process of finger combing the hair to create volume. 

Frohawk
Afro hair styled to resemble a mohawk.

Havana Twists | Marley Braids
Twists that resemble locs, and which use either Havana braiding hair (softer hair) or Marley braiding hair (coarser hair).

Palm rolling
A method for maintaining traditional locs that involves placing individual locs between the palms and rubbing it back and forth to tighten.

Pineapple | Pineapple-ing
Placing the hair in a high ponytail on top of the head in order to maintain curl or waves for a twist out or other style and taking it down the next morning and fluffing it out.

Pixies
Small individual braids (with or without weave) that are very similar to box braids.  If weave is used, the ends are sealed with heat and curled. 

Plopping
Drying the hair quickly and keeping the curls defined by wrapping in a towel or other cotton material.

Protective Style
A hairstyle that keeps your ends protected to minimize breakage and split ends. This helps to give the hair a break from everyday styling, and is a way to avoid using heat. Examples of protective styles include braided styles, weaves and wigs worn for a long time.

Puff | Pony Puff
A style where the hair is pulled together at one/many point(s) on the head, tied, and the free hair is left in a natural afro or fluffed texture.

Roller Set
A method of stretching curls. Hair is put into rollers while wet. This method can be used with or without heat.

Senegalese Twists
Long two-strand twists that usually use kankelon braiding hair.

Sew-In Weave
A method of styling hair where synthetic or human hair is sewn onto cornrows.

Shingling
Combing gel, conditioner, or a pomade  to spread it from roots to ends, which allows the hair to stretch and define curls. 

SL | Sisterlocks
Very small locs that are created using a specialized tool to lock the hair without gels, pomades, or waxes.

Stretching Hair
A technique for straightening hair or loosening the curl pattern without using heat or chemicals. Stretching can be done with styles like banding, threading, twisting and braiding.

Threading
A technique used to stretch the hair (similar to banding). Wool or thick thread is wrapped tightly around a section of hair from root to end, and left in for a long time. 

TNC | Twist n Curl
A method of stretching the hair and obtaining more defined curls. It involves two strand twisting dry or wet, or damp hair and using rollers on the ends of the hair. Once the hair is dry, the rollers are taken out and the twists and unraveled.

TWA | Teeny Weeny Afro
A small Afro that measures about ½ inch in length. This is the first stage of hair growth after the big chop.

Twist Out
A hairstyle achieved by two strand twisting the hair (wet or dry) and then unraveling the twist (preferably when dry) for a wavy hair texture.

Two Strand Twist  | Double Strand Twists | Twists
A hairstyle created by taking two sections of hair and twisting them around each other. 

Wash and Go | WNG | WnG | W&G
A method of co-washing the hair, styling it, and letting it air dry.

Wet and Go
Lightly wetting or spraying the hair in order to define the curls.

Wrapping Hair
Tying up hair, then often covering it with a scarf or other material in order to protect it from friction and dirt. It can be done to maintain hairstyles, hair health, and is usually done at night.

Ayurvedic Regimen
A regimen that originates in India, and that uses all-natural ingredients to grow healthy hair. Common ingredients include: amla oil/power, henna, neem, Vatika, brahmi, shikakai and marshmallow root.

Baggy | Baggying | Baggy Method | Baggy Job
A method used to help reduce breakage and dryness by sleeping with a plastic cap on your hair to help keep it moisturized.  This is normally done after some type of moisturizer has been applied to the hair and the ends of the hair sealed with an oil.

Clarifying
Cleansing and removing the build-up of oils and products from the hair and scalp. 

Detangling
The process of using a detangler or leave-in conditioner to comb through the hair with more ease.

DIY | Do It Yourself 
Making products and treatments with natural products at home. 

DT | Deep Treatment –DC | Deep Conditioning
A moisturizing treatment that uses heat to help penetrate the hair to add moisture to the hair.

Dusting
Slightly trimming the ends of the hair.  The amount of hair trimmed tends to be so minimal that it looks like dust on the floor.

Heat Training
A technique used by naturals who would prefer to wear their hair straight. They use the heat from appliances to break their hair bonds, which keeps strands from reverting to their curl pattern. This can cause damage to the hair strands.

Latch Hooking
A loc maintenance method to “hook” new growth into existing locs.

Length Check
The practice of stretching the hair to measure and record its length.

LCO Method
A technique of moisturizing the hair by applying products in a specific order: Liquid or Leave-in Conditioner first, Cream second, and Oil last.

LOC Method
A technique of moisturizing the hair by applying products in a specific order: Liquid or Leave-in Conditioner first, Oil second, and Cream last.

LOCO Method 
A technique of moisturizing the hair by applying products in a specific order: Liquid or Leave-in Conditioner first, Feeder Oil second, Cream third, and Sealing Oil last.

Low-Manipulation Styling 
A method of styling and combing the hair as infrequently as possible. This is best for people whose hair is prone to breakage, or for anyone trying to reduce breakage.

No-poo
The method of using products other than shampoo to cleanse the hair.

Oil Rinsing
A method of making detangling easier and sealing in extra moisture in hair. Oil is added to wet strands after cleansing/ shampooing, left on for about 5 minutes, and washed off before conditioning.

Protein Treatment
A treatment that adds protein to cuticles of hair strands in order to replace protein that may have been lost through manipulation, chemical processing and ageing.

Regimen
A regimen is your daily or weekly hair styling routine. It may need to change based on the season, environmental changes, and changes in hair (length, health, etc.).

S&Ds | Search and Destroy
Checking hair strands for knots and split ends and trimming them off.

Sealing
Applying oil or butter to the ends of the hair after using a water based moisturizer  to “seal the ends”  and retain moisture.

Wash Day
The day in a given period of time where Naturals detangle, wash, condition and style their hair. This often takes hours. Based on their hair and scalp needs, each Natural may wait a week, a couple weeks, or longer to wash their hair.

ACV | Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar used as a final rinse after shampooing the hair, and sometimes used before conditioning to seal the cuticle. 

Aloe Vera Gel
A natural gel obtained from the aloe plant. It is said to improve hair detangling, increase moisture, decrease frizz, and fight dandruff and scalp inflammation.

Argan Oil | Moroccan Oil
A natural oil from Morocco that contains vitamin E, essential fatty acids and is used to moisturize the hair.

Balancing Shampoo
A shampoo which removes oil from hair strands without drying them out.

Carrier Oil
‘Thinner’ oils (e.g. olive or coconut oil) that are used to dilute more concentrated oils (e.g. jojoba or argan oil).

Coconut Oil
A natural oil used for moisturizing the scalp and hair. It is said to easily penetrate hair follicles and prevent breakage.

Co-wash | Cleansing Conditioner  
A conditioner that cleanses like a shampoo, but does not strip the hair of too many oils. This allows hair to stay hydrated, and is used by people who find shampoos to be too drying to their hair.

Detangler
A conditioning product that helps to prevent and comb through tangles.

Emollient
Oils that are hydrophobic (which repel water), and which form films on the surface of the hair. They are often used as sealants, and can make detangling easier by providing slip. 

EO | Essential Oils
Natural oils (rosemary, peppermint, lemon, avocado oil, etc.) that promote hair health.

Edge Control
A product that makes baby hairs/ hairs that line the hairline lie flat.

EVCO | Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
A natural conditioner that gives the hair shine and makes it soft.

EVOO | Extra Virgin Olive Oil
An oil used to seal-in moisture. It can be applied as a hot oil treatment before a shampoo, or after a conditioner.

Feeder Oil
An oil that gives nutrition to the hair (rather than performs another function, like sealing). 

FSG | Flax Seed Gel
A flax seed-based styling gel.

Glycerin
A water-soluble conditioning alcohol that acts as a humectant (attracts water). 

Henna
A plant that is often used as a hair dye.

HG | Holy Grail
A term used for products that works well on your hair.

Humectant
An ingredient that is often added to hair products. Humectants help to draw moisture from the air, into the hair shaft. If the air is dry, this can dry out hair instead.

JBCO | Jamaican Black Castor Oil
A type of castor oil made in Jamaica for use on the hair.

Jojoba Oil
A natural oil used to strengthen, hydrate, soften and protect hair. 

KCCC | Kinky Curly Custard
A thick styling product.

Leave-In Conditioner
A conditioning product that is applied to freshly washed hair and is left in afterwards.

Moisturizer
A product that contains humectants, and which therefore attracts and holds water.

Olive Oil
A natural oil used to moisturize and improve the elasticity of hair. 

Pre-Poo
A product that is used to revitalize and saturate the hair before shampooing. It is usually left on the hair for at least 15 minutes. Pre-poos are usually deep conditioners, damage repair treatments, or natural oils.

Sealant
An oil or butter applied to the ends of the hair after it has been moisturized in order to retain moisture. 

Shea Butter
A natural butter that is known for its moisturizing and conditioning properties.

Slip
How slippery a conditioner, detangler, or gel feels on the hair.

Clip-Ins
Temporary extensions that are clipped into the hair – giving the illusion of added volume or length.

Closure
A square or rectangular piece of material that has hair attached to it, and which is applied to the natural hairline to give the appearance of fuller hair. It can be worn with a full weave.

Diffuser
A blow-dryer attachment used to disperse airflow so that there is minimal disturbance to the natural curl pattern.

Lace Front Unit
A wig made with a base of mesh material, and which gives the illusion of a full head of hair and natural hair line. 

Net Weave
Similar to a full weave, its base is made with a mesh net and it is placed over cornrowed hair.

Remy Hair 
A type of human extension or braiding hair. It is considered the finest quality of human hair, as cuticles are kept intact. It looks more natural and is generally very smooth.

Synthetic Hair Wig
A wig made of synthetic, man-made fibers.

Yaki Hair
A type of hair extension or braiding hair that is processed to resemble chemically relaxed hair. It can be a form of synthetic, Remy or non-Remy hair, and is categorized into four types: silky, relaxed, kinky, and course yaki.

Cones (Silicones)
A synthetic ingredient added to products to help condition the hair. Many Naturals find silicones damaging to their hair.

Creamy crack
A term used to describe hair relaxers because of the tendency for it to be hard to stop the relaxing process to go natural.

Parabens
Preservatives that are commonly used in cosmetics and which have been linked to poor health effects. 

Phthalates
Synthetic ingredients (usually DBP, DMP, and DEP) which reduce brittleness and stiffness in hair and skin. These are on our blacklist. 

Relaxer | Perm
A chemical cream that is applied to the hair in order to significantly loosen the natural curl pattern. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, which can burn the scalp and severely damage hair. Relaxer is permanent, so the only way to revert to natural curls is to gradually or instantly cut off the relaxed hair.

Sulfates
A chemical that is added to products to remove grease and dirt, but which often leaves hair dry.

Texturizer
A chemical treatment used to partially relax or loosen the natural curl pattern. It is usually a milder form of permanent relaxer, so hair must be cut off in order to be reverted to its natural state

HIH | Hand in Hair| HIF| Hand in Fro
A term for playing in your hair/fro. When someone does this habitually, they can be said to have ‘hand in hair syndrome’. This is generally viewed as detrimental to hair health, as it can create knots and introduce dirt to the hair.

Nappyversary | Nappy Anniversary  | Nattyversary | Naturalversary 
The anniversary of the day a when all chemically-treated or heat-damaged hair was cut off and the hair was worn fully natural for the first time.

Natural Hair Guru | Natural Hair Idol
Figures in the Natural community who are seen as established sources of knowledge and guidance for fellow Naturals.

Natural Hair Journey | HHJ | Healthy Hair Journey
The personal journey someone takes to obtaining natural hair, fully embracing their natural hair, and learning how to maintain it and maximize its health.

PJ | Product Junky
A term used to describe someone who owns numerous products, who is constantly searching for more products that are even better than those that they already own, and who is always up for trying out new products.

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