Commonly Used Words/Terms
2nd, 3rd, 4th day hair – Refers to the number of days since you last styled your hair. If you styled your hair yesterday, today you have 2nd day hair.
ACV Rinse - Apple cider vinegar rinse. Commonly used as a final rinse. ACV rinses can be used to clarify hair and restore the pH level.
Alopecia – Hair loss. Some types are medical, but the most common type among black women is Traction Alopecia cause by pulling the hair with tight hairstyles, weaves, ponytails, etc.
APL – Refers to hair that reaches the arm pit area when stretched out.
Baggying – A method used by some naturals to moisturize their hair. This is done by adding moisturizer to the ends of hair (or the whole head), then applying a plastic bag or shower cap for several hours.
Big Chop (BC) – Refers to cutting off all relaxed ends, regardless of the amount of new growth left. The big chop is the haircut that takes you from relaxed or transitioning to 100% natural.
Braid-n-Curl (BNC) – A style technique for naturals with longer hair or looser curls. Hair is braided then the ends are set in rollers. Creates great curl definition.
Braid out – A style created by braiding the hair, letting it dry completely, then taking the braids down and pulling them apart to create a style.
BSL – Hair that is Bra strap length when stretched out.
Build up – the coating that hair products, especially those with heavy silicones, leave on your hair.
CBL – Hair that is collar bone length when stretched out.
Carrier Olis – Also called base oils. These oils are used to dilute or “carry” highly potent pure essential oils that are too strong to use directly on skin or hair. Some examples of carrier oils are: Olive, Grapeseed, Vitamin E, etc.
Clarify – To remove product build up from your hair by using a clarifying shampoo, ACV rinse, or baking soda.
Co-wash – Short for conditioner wash. It’s a method of washing hair with conditioner instead of shampoo
Cones – short for silicones, are ingredients found in hair products that coat the hair making it feel softer. Since silicones are not water soluble, they can be hard to remove without shampoo. When cones are not removed from the hair properly they create a barrier that keeps moisture from getting to your. As a result, hair becomes brittle and breaks easily.
DC/ DT – Deep conditioner or deep conditioning treatment
Demarcation Line - Is the point where relaxed ends and natural textured new growth meet. This is the weakest point of transitioning hair and will break easily unless handled with care.
Density – Hair density is the number of hairs growing on one square inch of a person’s scalp. Density is referred to as being thin (low), medium or thick (high).
Dry combing – Combing your hair while it is dry
Dusting – A type of hair trim that takes off one quarter of an inch or less. It’s called dusting because the hair’s trimmed are so small it should almost look like dust falling to the floor.
Elasticity- The ability of the hair to be pulled or stretched out and still return to its normal shape without breaking.
EO – Essential oils are the highly concentrated essences of plants. These oils are very potent and cannot be used on skin or hair unless diluted in a carrier oil.
EVCO – Extra virgin coconut oil
EVOO - Extra virgin olive oil
Finger combing – combing or detangling by slowly working your fingers through your hair
Hair Cuticle – The outer cells of the hair strand that overlap like shingles to protect the inner layer of hair.
Hair regimen – A hair care routine tailored to meet one’s specific needs. The techniques and products you use to grow and maintain your hair make up your regimen.
Humectants – Ingredients in hair products that help draw moisture from the air, into the hair shaft. However, hair can still become dry if the air is dry as well. Humectants should only be used when moisture is in the air.
Length Retention – Growing long hair by handling it in a way that reduces or eliminates breakage and split ends. On average, hair grows half an inch per month (regardless of ethnicity). That’s around 6 inches a year if no breakage occurs! Maximum length retention can be achieved by keeping hair clean, moisturized, and wearing protective styles that protect fragile ends and require little manipulation.
Low manipulation – Touching or disturbing the hair as little as possible. The less you touch, comb and manipulate your hair, the less breakage you will have. It can also refer to styles – low manipulation hairstyles are ones that, once created, take little effort to maintain the rest of the week (or at least a few days)
MBL – Refers to natural hair that reaches the mid back when stretched out.
No-poo – No Shampoo. Refers to Lorraine Massey’s method for washing hair with conditioner (co-wash) instead of shampoo.
Pineappleing – A bedtime hair sleeping technique that naturals with long hair use to preserve and protect curls overnight. 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. It’s best if you use a silk or satin scrunchie instead of an elastic that may leave a weird bend in the hair. In the morning you take it down and shake it out gently and all of your curls will have been preserved.
Porosity – The ability of the hair to soak up moisture. The more porous hair is, the more quickly water will be absorbed.
pre-poo – A treatment placed on the hair and left on anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. You can use oils, conditioner, or a mixture of both.
Product Junkie (PJ) – Someone who is addicted to buying new hair care products, even when they have more than they can use already. They just can’t resist buying or trying another one.
Protective Styling – A style that requires little manipulation, protects the ends of the hair by keeping them moisturized and tucked away from wind, rain, sun, and cold. Common protective styles are buns, french braids, and flat twist.
Sealing – Is the process of sealing moisture into hair with oil or hair butter. Water based moisture is the only kind that can penetrate the hair shaft and impart moisture. Oil based moisture can only coat the hair shaft and lock moisture in (or out). It’s best to seal on wash days after your hair has been nicely conditioned and is still wet or damp. Hair can also be sealed nightly, this is especially important for those with longer lengths. To seal at night, start with a water based moisturizer like a leave-in conditioner or cream with water as the first ingredient. Then apply the oil or butter of your choice to coat your strands and lock in moisture.
Search and Destroy (S&D) – Women with longer hair sometimes examine their ends and individually snip the split ends they find. This cannot replace getting your hair trimmed by your stylist and should only be done in good lighting with sharp hair cutting scissors.
Sebum – A natural oil produced by glands in the scalp that protects the hair and makes it shinier. With straight hair, the sebum can travel easily down the hair strand giving moisture and shine. With curly or coily hair, the sebum can’t travel very far because the hair has so many twist and turns. Therefore, curly hair is more dry than other hair types.
Shrinkage – Refers to the way curly or kinky hair ‘shrinks’ when wet causing it to appear much shorter than it is. Depending on the size and degree of curl, some hair can shrink up to 75% of it’s true length.
Slip – The slippery feeling some products give your hair. The more slip a product has, the easier detangling will be.
Sulfates - The chemicals used in products to make them foam. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are two examples of sulfates commonly found in shampoos. Many naturals avoid them at all cost.
Transitioning – The process of growing relaxed hair out into natural hair
TWA – Teeny Weeny Afro
Twist-n-curl – Two strand twisting the hair and setting the ends with rollers.
Twist out – A style created by two strand twisting the hair, letting it dry, then taking the twist down and pulling them apart to create a style
wash & go – This one is pretty much explains itself. Washing the hair, applying the leave-in or product of your choice, and going about your day. No styling involved
Wet combing – Combing your hair when it is wet and has conditioner on it. Many naturals swear by this technique and this is the only way they comb their hair.