A-D

A

African Threading -black thread is wrapped around strands of hair from just above the roots all the way to the ends to stretch the hair without heat

Alopecia - Alopecia areata is a prevalent autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).

APL - armpiit length hair

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) - promoted as a ‘cure all’, can be used for clarifying the scalp and hair, while conditioning it

B

Banding Method - stretching the length of the hair with hair bands. Place hair bands along the length of the hair from root to tip to keep the hair elongated without heat

Bantu Knots -  a style in which you take a strand of hair, twist it in a circular motion to create a tight coil, and pin the curl into place. When unraveling, this style creates beautifully voluminous curls

Baggy Method - placing plastic caps or bags at the ends of the hair after applying product to rejuvenate, moisturize, and nourish the ends of the hair

Big Chop - the cutting off of all relaxed hair to be left with only with the natural hair. This usually results in a shorter length of hair if one has not transitioned

Braids - protective style achieved by three strand plaits. Can be done on the natural hair or with added hair, usually Kanekalon

Braidout - This refers to a styling technique where the hair is braided to get create curl definition. The hair is then unbraided gently and the result is a crimped looking hairstyle

BSL - bra strap length hair

Box Braids - individual three strand plaits. See Braids

Breakage - hair that has little elasticity and snaps easily

BSS - beauty supply store

C

Carrier Oil -  These are also known as base oils. They are used to dilute pure essential oils (like rosemary) that if used on their own might irritate or burn the scalp or skin. Common carrier oils are olive, grapeseed and Vitamin E oil.

Clarify - the process of cleaning the scalp and hair of buildup and other impurities.

Creamy Crack - natural hair community slang for relaxers

Crochet - styles in which premade hair (twists, braids, locs) is intertwined with the natural hair to create the illusion of the style that takes longer to achieve

Cones - These are products that contain silicone that help smooth, protect and shine the hair. However they also can weaken the hair shaft. You must use a shampoo to properly remove silicones from your hair.

Conditioner - a liquid applied to the hair after shampooing to improve its overall hair health

Cornrows - Dusting your hair is a trim of 1/4 and inch or less. This method is also referred to as dusting because even though your hair is being trimmed evenly, it is so little hair, that it just looks like dust on the floor.

Cowash - This is a method of cleaning your hair, you use conditioner to wash the hair in place of shampoo to avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils.

Curls - hair in a curved or spiral shape

Curlfriend - a friend with natural hair, usually curls, coils, or kinks

D

Demarcation Line - This is the place on the hair where natural hair growth and hair that has been relaxed meets. Breakage of hair strands is very likely at this line so be gentle when handling the two textures.

Denman Brush - a brush dedicated to the detangling of curly and kinky hair types

Detangling - the process of separating tangles and knots in the hair. Can be done with the fingers or with a comb

Deep Conditioner - a treatment/conditioner that is left on the hair for 25-30 minutes to replenish moisture and reinforce healthy hair. Best when used with heat.

DIY - Do it yourself. This refers to creating your own products at home

Dust - a trim of 1/4 and inch or less. This method is also referred to as dusting because even though your hair is being trimmed evenly, it is so little hair, that it just looks like dust on the floor.

E-K

E

Edges - hair around the perimeter of the head. This hair is extremely fragile and susceptible to breakage in this area.

Elasticity -  This is the ability of the hair to be pulled or stretched out and returns to its regular shape without breaking or snapping.

Essential Oil - highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic essences of plants. They are non-oily and highly fragrant which is extracted from a plant and evaporates quickly.

EVCO - extra virgin coconut oil

EVOO - extra virgin olive oil

F

Fairy Knots - see single strand knots

Faux Locs - style that allows one to achieve the look of locs without the long term commitment. Can be achieved with marley hair, yarn or pre-loc’d hair.

Finger Coils - style in which one twirls the hair around the finger creating coils or tight curls

Finger Detangling - using the fingers to separate the hair and rid it of tangles, knots, and hard to manage sections of hair. To retain length, finger detangling is preferred over combing or brushing the hair to detangle.

Flat Twist - twists that are done closely to the scalp

Follicle - a mammalian skin organ that produces hair

G

Greenhouse Method - refers to moisturizing the hair and then applying a plastic cap and then a bonnet over the plastic cap to create and retain moisture. Your body temperature rises, creating it’s own moisture which reactivates product and decreases the need to reapply products throughout the week

H

Hair Cuticle - These are hair cells on the hair strand that overlap and protect the inner layers of the hair known as the cortex and the medulla.

Hair Density - This is the number of hairs growing on the scalp per square inch. Density is qualified as thin (low), medium or thick (high).

Hair Porosity - hair that easily allows moisture in and out due to damaged cuticles, or large openings/gaps in the cuticle

Hair Shaft -  the part of a hair projecting beyond the surface of the skin

Hair Steamer - an effective tool that adds moisture, restores color vibrancy and strengthens the elasticity of hair. The steamer uses heat and water to lift the cuticle on the hair shaft and allow conditioners and treatments to penetrate each strand.

Hair Typing - refers to the classifying the grade of hair on the head. The four types of hair include straight, wavy, curly, and kinky. The hair types most referred to in the natural hair community are curly (3a,3b,3c) and kinky (4a,4b,4c)

Heat Damage - occurs when heat is applied to hair strands on a setting that is too high. It damages the hair shaft and changes it's original curly form

Heat Training - the loosening of one’s natural curl pattern through the regular application of high heat.  This process is usually gradual and subtle. For the majority of naturals this ultimately causes heat damage.

High Porosity - hair that easily allows moisture in and out because of damage, gaps or large openings in the hair cuticle.

HL - hip length

Hot Oil Treatment - refers to the process of heating up oil and liberally applying it to the scalp and hair. This usually is followed up by your wash day routine

Humectant - These are ingredients in hair products that help draw moisture from the air and into the hair shaft. However your hair can become dry if the air is dry as well, so be sure that moisture is in the air.

I

Inversion Method - a hair growth method that I has not been scientifically proven. One week a month you lay upside down on the side of the bed or couch to allow the blood flow to go to your  scalp with oxygenates the hair follicles stimulating hair growth.

J

JBCO - Jamaican black castor oil. Used to thicken and lengthen the hair and can be mixed with other oils.

K

Keratin - a fibrous protein forming the main structural constituent of hair

Kinks - very tight curls. Usually seen in type 4c hair

 

 

L-R

L

Leave In Conditioner - a conditioner that you don’t have to rinse out. Can usually can applied daily. 

Length Check - stretching the hair to see how long it’s gotten

LOC Method - method in which you moisturize your hair in the following order liquid, oil, cream. The liquid can be water or a leave in conditioner, an oil of your choice, and a cream or butter of your choice.

LCO Method - method in which you moisturize your hair in the following order liquid, cream, and oil. The liquid can be water or a leave in conditioner, a cream or butter of your choice,  and an  oil of your choice.

Low Manipulation Styles- styles that require little handling of the hair. For example, low buns, twists

Low Porosity - hair that does not easily allow moisture in

M

Manipulation - handling of the hair. This can be through combing, finger detangling, brushing or styling the hair.

Moisturizer - primarily water. Any product that claims to be a moisturizer, must have water listed in the first 5 ingredients.

Moisture Retention - refers to how long and well the hair holds in moisture over a period of time

N

Natural Hair - the texture in which you were born with; unaltered by chemicals

Natural Hair Police - people who have strict rules on what it means to have natural hair and be a naturalista. Some common viewpoints are that you can’t straighten or dye your hair or wear straight weaves if you are natural.

Naturalista - a female with natural hair

Natural Hair Community - a community of naturals who share natural hair advice, experiences, tips, hair product reviews etc. This community can be online or in person.

New Growth - the hair that grows from the scalp, usually noticeable when the hair is in a protective style.

Normal Porosity - hair that absorbs and retains moisture for a good amount of time

O

Oil Rinse - applying oil liberally to the hair, usually in the shower, and following up with shampoo and conditioner

Organic - produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide

P

Pineappling - This refers to bedtime hair sleeping technique that naturals with longer 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 ponytail 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.

Plopping - This is a quick dry 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.

Prepoo - liberally applying an oil or conditioner to the hair and scalp before shampooing/cowashing. This allows for the hair to maintain the necessary moisture through shampooing as shampoo can dry the hair out.

Product Junkie - one who purchases and tries a plethora of hair products just for the sake of they heard people talking about it, they see a new product on the shelf or they just want to buy products. This person usually already has enough products but, still buys more.

Product Swap - exchanging products with someone who has a product you want to try. This saves money and is very popular at natural hair meetups.

Protein Treatment - refers to adding protein masques to the hair to add protein to the hair. Usually done when the hair is feeling mushy and limp or when there is severe breakage. This natural component is the building block of hair, specifically keratin protein. Protein is added to hair products to help mend, protect, and strengthen hair strands.

Protein Overload - some naturals may add too much protein to their diet and/or topically in products or protein treatments and this causes the hair to feel extremely hard and unmanageable.

Protein Sensitive - some naturals cannot tolerate the addition of protein to their hair, this includes protein treatments and hair products that contain protein. This is quite common for those with 4c hair. The slightest addition of protein causes the hair to become severely hard, like a brillo pad.

Protective Style - a style in which the ends of the hair is protected and requires little manipulation. Common protective styles include braids, twists, crochet and weaves.

R

Regimen - a hair routine that you follow to ensure healthy hair. This routine includes how often you wash and deep condition the hair, which products you use, when you moisturize your hair, etc.

Relaxer - a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically "relaxing" the natural curls. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, although some formulations are based on ammonium thioglycolate instead.

 

S-Z

S

Satin Bonnet - protective headdress usually worn at night to protect the hair and retain moisture.

Scab Hair - Newly grown hair that is dry, wiry and crinkly. If you recently big chopped and previously had a relaxer, the follicle may have been damaged previously from using the relaxer. Scab hair doesn’t represent the actual texture of your natural hair.

Sealant - an oil or butter that seals in moisture

Second Day Hair - refers to the second day after the hair was styled

Sectioning - parting the hair in smaller parts to make manageability easier. Sectioning can be done to moisturize the hair, wash the hair, or to apply heat.

Serum - hair oil

Shed Hair - hair that breaks from the scalp. There will be a white bulb at the root of the hair.

SL - shoulder length

Shrinkage - when the curls, coils, or kinks shrivel up. Some natural textures naturally have shrinkage, with or without moisture.

Silk Press - modern day press and curl that gives natural hair the look like it has been relaxed. It allows the natural hair to be very straight, shiny, silky, and soft

Slip - describes how slippery a conditioner or detangling product is. If a product has great slip that means it conditions/coats the hair shaft with ease and aids in the detangling process.

Staple Product - a product that you love and that you can always go to for great results

Single Strand Knot (SSK) -  a knot formed from a strand of hair that has wrapped around itself

Stretched Hair -hair that is elongated

Stringy Ends - when the ends of the hair does not have a curl pattern but, rather is straight and straggly at the ends.

Styler - products that are used to achieve hair styles

Sulfate Free - usually refers to shampoos that lack sulfates. Sulfates are cheap and effective detergents but, are harmful to the hair.

T

Tension Method - a method stretching the hair without direct heat to the hair. A blow dryer goes along the length of the hair elongating it

Transitioning - the time period in which one grows out their relaxer to return to natural hair

Third Day Hair - refers to the hair three days after it was styled

Trim - clipping the hair to make it healthy; usually just the ends

Two Strand Twists - twists achieved by hand over hand with two sections of hair

Twist ‘N Curl - refers to styling the hair in two strand twists and adding rollers at the ends of the twists.

Twist Out - refers to the style of unraveled twists

TWA - Teeny Weeny Afro

V

Volume - refers to the hair’s height

W

Wash Day - the day in which naturals wash their hair

Wash ‘N Go - the act of washing the hair and applying minimal product and going. There is no styling, just a simple separation of the curls

Water - the number one moisturizer for natural hair. Must be sealed in to retain moisture

Wide Tooth Comb - comb with large spaces in between the teeth. This allows for less tension and friction when detangling

WL - waist length

3abc/4abc These numbers followed by a letter is a from a hair type classification system created by Andre Walker. Type 3 hair is curly with a visible curl pattern. Type 3 curls can range from big ,loose, bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews. Type 4 is kinky, or very tightly curled, with a less visible curl pattern. Type 4 curls can range from tight zig zag curls to extremely tight coils.