Natural Hair Terms

There is a lot of jargon and abbreviations that are used in the natural hair community/movement. I decided to compile this listing of the commonly used terms that I may use on this site and that you may hear of during your natural hair research and journey. I am sure that there are many more to be added, if you know of some that are not listed here please don’t hesitate to contact me in order to have them added to the list. Hope this helps!

Big Chop (BC) – To cut all relaxed/chemically treated or heat damaged hair down to the new growth in order to start their natural hair journey.

Co-wash – To wash your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo, conditioner wash.

DC – Deep condition or to give your hair a deep conditioning treatment or mask.

Detangle – getting all of the kinks and tangles out of your hair. It’s best to detangle your hair while it is wet and full of a detangling conditioner.

Dusting – The trimming of 1/4″ of less of the ends of your hair.

Hair Type – You may have come across references in the natural curly hair community comment that they are 3c, 4a etc. These references are to a curly hair type classification system that all lovely natural locks fall in to:
     Type 2 wavy and tends to stick close to the head. The curl or wave is usually in the shape of a letter S.
             Type 2a thin and easy to straighten or curl.
            Type 2b medium textured tends to frizz.
           Type 2c hair is thick, course frizzes easy and resistant to styling.
     Type 3 curls form a loopy S pattern have a lot of body, well-defined, springy, soft and fine. Needs extra moisture.
           Type 3a very shiny, naturally loose and big. 
          Type 3b bouncy ringlets or tight corkscrews with a medium amount of curl.
          Type 3c kinky or very tight curls, fine in texture with a lot of strands densely packed together. Challenge to straighten.
     Type 4 kinky, or very tightly curled, clear visible curl pattern. Needs extra moisture because it can be fragile.
          Type 4a tightly coiled, when stretched, has an “S” pattern. Tends to have more moisture than 4b; definite curl pattern.
          Type 4b hair has less of a defined curl pattern, has a “Z” pattern. Instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter “Z”; feels like cotton.

Heat Damage – excessive heat styling of your hair. Heat crack’s the hair’s cuticle and withdraws moisture which leaves hair dry and brittle. If you use heat stylers way that you can tell if your hair has heat damage is when it’s wet. If there are sections that are straight do not form your natural curl pattern it may be damaged from heat.

Holy Grail (HG) – Your tried and true products.

Lengths – The objective of many naturals is to achieve length. And when you go natural and learn how to properly nurture your hair you will see tremendous growth. Many set natural hair length challenges that they aspire to. So you will see many make reference to the following:

     APL Arm pit length
     BSL Bra-strap length 
     CL Chin length 
     MBL Mid back length
     SL shoulder length

PJ = Product junky  - A person that is “addicted” to buying, collecting and trying hair care products.

Pineappleing – A technique for longer locks to putting it up at bedtime in order to preserve your curly hair style. Pull your hair up to the top of your head into a high but loose ponytail using a satin scrunchie or ouchless ponytail holder and go to sleep on a satin pillow case. I also use an oversized satin bonnet with this technique. In the morning take down and shake gently and your all of your curls are  preserved.

Scrunching – a technique to help with boosting your hair’s natural curl or wave pattern. You can use the scrunching technique on wet or dry hair. Scrunching is taking sections of your hair and crumple them into your hand and work up towards your scalp. Start with underneath sections then work your way up. For longer hair you may need to flip your head over or to the side to get all sections scrunched. If you scrunch wet hair dry it by sitting under a dryer, diffuse with a blow dryer or let air dry. I like to let mine air dry. Once dry, do not touch your hair unless you are scrunching in moisturizer, oil or glosser otherwise touching your hair at this point may make it frizzy or poof out.

Shingling –  a technique of applying a curl promoting styler to sections of your hair as you stretch and elongate to boost your hair’s natural curl pattern. When your hair is soaking wet and detangled, either after shampooing and conditioning or co-washing, section hair into small sections, apply product (creamy curl styler or gel, I prefer eco-styler argon oil gel) from roots to the ends of your hair while stretching your hair. I use my Denman brush after applying the product to stretch. Do this throughout your entire head of hair. When done with shingling, scrunch your hair all over to add a product like an anti-frizz serum or oil and to help define and set the curls. Then dry your hair by sitting under a dryer, diffuse with a blow dryer or let it air dry. I like to let mine air dry. Once dry, do not touch your hair unless you are scrunching in moisturizer, oil or glosser otherwise touching your hair at this point may make it frizzy or poof out.

Shrinkage – when your hair draws back or shrinks causing the length to look shorter than what it actually is. For example a lot of shrinkage happens when natural hair is styled in a wash & go. When that style completely dries your curls become tight and shrinks.

Stretching – a technique used to extend your shrunken curls, showing length.

Twist & Curl (TNC) – a curly hair style where you double strand twist your hair and roll the ends.

Transitioning - In stead of chopping off all of your chemically treated hair, you let your hair grow without getting more relaxers with the intent of going natural. When I transitioned I did regular deep conditioning treatments, got 1′ to 1.5 ” of my hair cut every 4-6 weeks and sometimes wore protective styles.

Twist Out - To double strand twist your hair let dry, either let air dry or sit under a dryer, gently take the twists apart and style.

Wash & Go (W&G or WNG) – To wash or co-wash your hair, add a styler cream or gel by shingling in, shake and Go. Let your hair air dry and go or dry using a diffuser.