Do you want to speak curly? Interested in learning a whole new language? As a new natural, I remembered being boggled by so much new terminology thrown around in the natural hair community. It was overwhelming! Here is an ongoing reference page of commonly used natural hair terms and acronyms you should know as you navigate through various blogs, forums, and videos.
If you come across a term not listed here, leave it in the comment section and I will add it to the list.
2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c, 4a, 4b, 4c: Curl types. The higher the number, the tighter the curl pattern.
2nd-, 3rd-, 4th-Day Hair: Hairstyle that is wearable days after the first day of styling.
Accordion Method: This is the process of squeezing and scrunching a product into the tresses of the hair to encourage and natural waves.
ACV: Apple cider vinegar used to clarify hair and scalp and seal the cuticles.
Afro: Natural hair that is styled into a round shape when loose.
Alopecia: The loss of hair that can be caused medically or induced by the wearing of super tight hairstyles such as ponytails, braids, and extensions. This type of alopecia is called traction alopecia.
ALS: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. These chemicals are the agents that create lather in shampoos (especially the cheaper brands). They can be very drying to natural hair and may lead to breakage, damage, and hair loss. Sulfate-free products are recommended for cleansing natural hair.
Argan Oil: A natural oil derived from the argan tree. It helps reduce frizz, add shine, and protect hair from the outside elements.
AVG: Aloe vera gel used to moisturize and provide hold to the natural hair.
APL: Armpit length hair
BAA: Big a** afro. Picked out with full black power!
Banding: A no-heat method of elongating hair texture using bands or hair ties.
Bantu Knot: The process of sectioning the hair and twisting the section into knots.
Bantu Knot Out: The unraveling of bantu knots to create voluminous curls.
BC: Big chop. This is when you chop off your relaxed ends rather than gradually transitioning.
BM: Brick and Mortar is a physical store location.
Breakage: This is where a part of the hair is broken off along any portion of the hair length rather than shedding from the root (indicated by a small white bulb). Breakage can be caused by over-manipulation, poor protein/moisture balance, tight hair styling, and heat/chemical damage.
Braid: A hairstyle that involves taking a section of hair, separating it into three pieces, and braiding them around each other. Also know as a plait.
Braid Out: The process of braiding the hair and removing the braids to create a crimple curl pattern.
BSL: Bra strap length hair
BSS: Beauty supply store
CBL: Collarbone length hair
Clarify: The process of removing product build-up from scalp and hair.
Clarifying Shampoo: A type of shampoo that is used to remove product build-up from the scalp and hair. It can be very drying and is not recommended for weekly use.
Clumping: The process of clumping or shingling smaller curls together to form bigger and more defined curls.
Cones: Short for “silicone,” found in some hair care products that provides slip and shine. Can promote damage to hair in some cases.
Cornrowing: The braiding of hair close to the scalp to create raised rows.
Co-washing: The process of “washing” the natural hair with conditioner only before moisturizing and styling.
Creamy Crack: Relaxers
Cuticle: The tightly overlaying protein cells on the hair strand that protect the inner layers of the hair known as the cortex and the medulla. The cuticle can slightly raise and lower due to varying temperature and pH on the hair. Damage occurs when the cuticle chips away thus exposing the inner layers of the hair.
DC: Deep condition (or -er, -ing)
Deep Conditioning: The process of providing an intensive moisturizing treatment to hair. Commonly heat is used for up to 30 minutes for maximum results.
Detangler: Type of conditioner or slip product that smooths hair by coating it to remove tangles.
Detangler Tool: A tool such as a wide-toothed comb or brush used to remove tangles and shed hairs.
Detangling: Process of removing tangles and knots from the natural hair. For more information, click HERE.
DIY: Do it yourself. Pretty much this is a part of your natural hair journey if you are caring for your own hair without going to a salon. DIY also refers to the concoction of homemade products, rinses, and other recipes for the hair.
DT: Deep treament. This can be a protein, oil, moisturizing treatment longer than the standard 5 minutes.
Dusting: The process of trimming very little off of the ends of the hair. The amount trimmed is minimal and looks like dust on the floor.
EL: Ear length hair (hair that reaches the bottom of your ear lobe).
EO: Essential oils. Some most commonly used eo’s used for natural hair are peppermint, lavender, tea tree, and rosemary.
EVCO: Extra virgin coconut oil. A natural oil used to nourish the scalp and combat dandruff to encourage the growth of healthy hair. It is small enough to penetrate the hair follicle to strengthen it and reduce frizz and breakage.
EVOO: Extra virgin olive oil. A natural oil used to seal in moisture and add shine to hair.
Finger Detangling: The process of using fingers to remove knots and tangles from the hair. This is generally the most gentle way of detangling and is for big knots and tangles.
Flat Twists: The two strand twisting of hair close to the scalp to create raised rows.
Flax Seed Gel (FSG): A natural hair gel made from boiling flax seeds. Read about our process HERE.
Fluff: The process of finger combing the hair to create volume.
GHE: Green House Effect. This process involves applying a water-based moisturizer to hair and covering it with a plastic cap overnight to give your hair a super hydration treatment. This is also known as the baggy effect or .
Going Natural: A term used to describe the process of stopping chemical relaxing and growing out the natural hair texture. This is also called transitioning.
Hair Density: The number of hairs growing on the scalp per square inch. The density can be quantified as thin (low), medium or thick (high).
Hair Elasticity: The natural hair’s ability to be stretched out and return to its regular shape without breaking or snapping. If the hair stretches too much without returning to its original shape, a protein treatment may be needed. If the hair stretches a little bit before breaking, a moisturizing deep treatment may be necessary to correct the problem.
HBL: Hip bone length hair
Heat Training: The process of regularly applying heat to natural hair to keep it stretched or straightened.
Henna: A natural plant-based hair dye.
HG: Holy grail. Products and techniques commonly used in the natural hair community that are tried, tested, and beloved aspects of one’s natural hair regimen.
HHJ: Healthy hair journey
HIF: Hand in fro (See HIH below)
HIH: Hand in hair syndrome. Constantly touching your curls can gradually chip away at the hair cuticles and increase the risk of breakage and premature damage.
High Porosity: High porous hair that quickly absorbs water but quickly loses it as well. Generally the more damaged the hair is, the more porous. Also, the ends are typically more porous due to being the oldest part of the hair and the most manipulated.
HL: Hip length hair
JBCO: Jamaican black castor oil. It is used to stimulate and promote healthy hair growth. It can also help prevent split ends, treat dandruff and dry scalp, and add shine to the hair. A little goes a long ways with this thick oil.
Jojoba Oil: A natural oil used to strengthen the hair shaft to protect it and promote healthy growth. It increases shine and hair.
KCKT: Kinky Curly Knot Today. One of the main ingredients in Kimmytube’s infamous leave-in conditioner recipe. Google it!
Leave–in Conditioner: A conditioning product that you do not have to rinse out of your hair and is usually applied before styling.
Length Check: The process of measuring out the length of the natural hair to gauge retention and progress.
Length Retention: The gaining length to the hair by reducing or eliminating breakage from the ends of the hair. Protective styling and maintaining a good moisturizing regimen promote healthy length retention.
Line of Demarcation: The point along the hair where the unprocessed and chemically processed parts meet during transitioning. This is also the weakest area of the hair where a lot of breakage can occur.
LOC/LCO Method: Product layering technique used to maximize moisture retention. L is for liquid, O is for oil, and C is for cream. L is always first but the O and C are interchangeable. For many women, the order matters!
Low Manipulation: Manipulating the natural hair on an infrequent basis (such as once a week or every two weeks). The less the hair is manipulated, the less breakage and damage that occur.
MBL: Mid-back length hair
Moisturizing: This is the process of retaining water in the hair by using an oil and/or butter to trap or seal in the moisture.
Nappyversary/Naturalversary: Just like your anniversary but for your hair when you first became fully natural.
Natural Hair: Hair that has not been texturized, relaxed or been chemically altered in any way. This is also called virgin hair.
Natural Hair Guru: An individual with a wealth of knowledge concerning natural hair or their own hair care who share this information with a vast audience of people.
Natural Hair Journal: An electronic or physical journal where the natural hair journey is documented. Many naturals use a notebook, planner, vlog, blog, and website to keep track and share their journeys with others just like we are doing at Beautifully Curled.
Natural Hair Nazi (Also known as the Natural Hair Police): Individuals who have a very extreme belief and opinion when it comes to natural hair. Their is often black and white and all-inclusive and can be offensive to many who opposes in the natural hair community. Just remember, we are all on a natural hair journey. What works for one may not work for another and vice versa. And guess what, that’s okay! This journey is not a one-size-fits-all. Do what works for you and not because someone is pounding their opinion down your throat. Stand firm in your journey!
NG: New growth
NHC: Natural hair community
NL: Neck length hair (reaching the bottom of the neck)
No-poo: The process of using something other than shampoo (like ) to wash your hair.
Pineappling: A bedtime routine that involves gathering a loose style toward the top of the head to preserve its definition or curl pattern overnight.
PJ: Product junkie (This minimalist momma prefers pajamas instead). A person who likes to try the latest product or tool on the market and has a huge stash of products to show for it.
Plopping: A quick hair drying method that involves wrapping the hair in a t-shirt or other cotton material. This helps reduce breakage and friction while allowing the hair to dry quickly without heat.
Porosity: The hair’s ability to soak up and retain moisture. The more porous a strand is, the quicker will be absorbed into the cuticle and vice versa.
Pre-Poo: The process of applying a conditioner and/or oil to hair prior to washing to restore moisture and/or loosen tangles and knots.
Protein: The building block of hair, specifically known as keratin protein. Protein is added to many hair products to help mend, protect, and strengthen hair strands.
PS: Protective styling. Styling of the natural hair that keeps it stretched and the ends out the way of certain elements such as weather, friction from clothes, and manipulation for an extended period of time. Protective styling can be effective at maximizing length retention.
Regimen: A daily or weekly hair maintenance and styling routine. Click HERE to get a free regimen starter packet.
S&D: Search and destroy. The process of carefully examining individual strands for splits and trimming them away rather than do an overall trim/chop. The process is thorough but very time consuming.
Scab Hair: Newly grown hair after transitioning that has been damaged from process and it is not a true representation of your actual hair texture. This hair is typically dry, wiry and crinkly.
Sealing: The process of applying oil, cream, or shea butter to the ends of the hair after using a water-based moisturizer to seal the hair and help retain moisture.
Sebum: The natural oil from the scalp that coats and protects the hair and gives it sheen or makes it shinier. The curlier the hair, the harder it is for the sebum to travel down the entire strand.
Shingling. The process of combing gel, conditioner, or pomade into the hair from the roots to ends, allowing the hair to stretch and the curls to become more defined.
Shrinkage: The shortening of hair length due to the tightness of curl pattern/texture.
SL: Shoulder length hair
Slip: Used to describe how slippery a product is. This is most relevant when it comes to detangling. The more slip a product has, the easier it is to detangle knots from the hair.
SM: Shea Moisture
SSK: Single strand knot. Those little knots found at the ends of single hairs that are commonly caused from over manipulating the hair and shrinkage (aka not keeping the hair stretched). The only way to remove those is via a trim.
Terminal Length: The maximum length before your hair reaches the end of its hair cycle and sheds.
Transitioning: The process of growing out natural hair and gradually trimming away chemically processed ends.
TWA: Teeny Weeny Afro
Twist And Curl (TNC): The process of twisting the hair and adding rollers/rods at the ends to create an even curl definition once untwisted.
Twist Out: The process of creating twists, allowing them to set, and untwisting them to create a corkscrew/wavy curl definition.
Two Strand Twist: A hairstyle that involves taking a section of hair, separating it into two pieces, and twisting them around each other. This is also known as twists or simply twists. Three strand twists is another variation.
Virgin Hair: Hair that is natural and has not been chemically processed or altered.
Wash and Go: The process of washing, conditioning, and detangling hair and letting it air dry. The curls can be clumped/shingled before drying to create a more defined curl pattern.
WL: Waist length hair
WNG: Wash n go