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Natural Hair Dictionary

Congratulations! You’ve decided to go natural.

Here are some terms and phrases to help you along your natural hair journey. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the lingo. Just see what works for your hair and try to keep it simple.

Aloe Vera Gel: Conditions the hair adding moisture and shine. It is also known for aiding in hair growth for people with hair loss. Aloe gel can replace many gels that have bad ingredients.

Almond Oil: Moisturises and softens hair. Softens dead skin on the scalp, making the skin easier to remove.

Anti-humectants: Any substance that repels moisture. They are used to prevent frizz.

APL= Arm Pit Length: refers to hair that reaches the armpit.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):   This is diluted with water and used as a rinse to clarify the hair and scalp, removing build up and preventing dandruff. ACV also corrects pH balance of the hair, which closes the hairs cuticle, making it smooth with less frizz and giving you ultimate shine.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ASL): Found in most shampoos, and is an ingredient to avoid at all costs because it is very drying.

Big Chop (BC): When you decide to go natural and cut off all your hair to transition.

Bagging: You can use a shower cap/ plastic cap, or plastic bag to do deep conditioning treatments.

Bantu Knots: Taking sections of hair, twisting them up and putting the twists up into little buns all over the head.

Bantu Knot Out: Styling wet or damp hair into bantu knots, allowing it to dry and unraveling all of them once they are dry.

BSL= Bra Strap Length: refers to hair that reaches the bra strap position on a female’s back.

Braid Out: Hairstyle achieved by braiding damp or moist hair and unraveling it once it is dry so the hair achieves more defined curls/waves.

Buds (Budding): First stage in locking. Small, young sections that will eventually grow out and mature as actual dreadlocks.

Carrier Oils: These oils are known as base oils and are often used to dilute essential oils(EO). They are thicker fatty oils derived from plants. They have many therapeutic properties and have huge benefits on the hair and scalp. Some carrier oils are, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, castor oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil, and shea butter.

Castor Oil: Contains fatty acids which nourish the hair and prevent dry scalp. Softens hair and moisturises. Great for generating new hair growth. Best time to use it is in the winter season or colder weather, because it is the thickest of the oils.

Clarifying: Ensures that you will remove any dirt/oils and product build up from the hair using shampoos or natural products that are said to clarify. FYI, not all shampoos clarify and can cause further build up on your hair, so make sure is says “clarifying” on the label.

Coconut Oil: Its molecular structure makes it easier to penetrate the hair shaft. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Contains protein which prevents hair breakage and loss. Softens the hair and conditions the scalp. Using it as a pre wash conditioner can get rid of dandruff.

Cones: Are silicones, an ingredient in some hair products. This ingredient is not water soluble and leaves a film on the hair strands. When using products with cones one must use shampoo to get rid of the build up it causes.

Co-wash: This is when you use conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo.

CBL: Refers to hair that reaches one’s collar bone length.

Deep Condition (DC): Is when you use a leave in conditioner on your hair for a longer period of time, either with heat or no heat. Depending on the conditioner you use, this can aid in adding protein or moisture back into the hair.

Denman: Refers to a series of brushed made by a company called Denman. This type of brush is used widely among the natural hair community to help define curls.

Dusting: Slight trimming of the hair. The hair should look like dust falling during the trim.

EO (Essential Oils): These are liquids derived from flowers and parts of many plants. Known for their healing properties and aromatic scents that have therapeutic benefits. Great for maintaining a healthy scalp. Some essential oils for the hair are, tea tree, rosemary, lavender, lemon, ylang ylang, chamomile, myrrh, basil, sage, and peppermint oil. They can be mixed with carrier oils.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): It’s incredibly moisturising and softens hair. It improves elasticity of the hair preventing breakage.

Flat Twist: Twisting the hair flat to the head, similar to braiding, but instead of using three pieces of hair, two pieces (such as in two strand twists) are used and a braiding technique using those two pieces are applied.

Fluff: Finger combing the hair to create volume.

Greenhouse Effect: The greenhouse is a technique where all natural products and the baggying method are coupled together to promote growth.

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

Hair Porosity: This describes the ability of the hair to soak up moisture.

Honey: Is a humectant , which means it draws in moisture from the air. Its a great way to add moisture and shine to your hair.

Humectants: Any substance that promotes the retention of water. Products that have humectant properties are a must for curly hair.

Jojoba Oil: Non greasy; moisturising hair oil because the molecules are small enough to penetrate the hair cuticle. This oil is closest to your natural hair oil and closest to sebum produced by the sebaceous gland. Develops new hair cell growth. It can be used to treat dandruff and dry scalp. It has antibacterial properties, adds shine and prevents split ends.

MBL: Refers to hair that reaches mid back length.

Naturalversary (Natural Anniversary): This is the anniversary of the day that you decided to no longer use relaxers, chemicals or processers on your hair.

Natural Hair Journey: Describes the personal path that someone with natural hair will take as they wear their natural hair. It can be filled with great detail of triumphs and challenges, personal revelations, and much more.

No-poo: When a person chooses not to use shampoo in their routine.

Oil Rinsing: Is a step that you do in between shampooing and conditioning. You add your favourite oil to wet strands and leave on for about 5 minutes. This step helps to detangle and adds extra moisture to the hair.

Pineappleing: a type of sleeping technique that curlies with long 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 pony tail 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.

Pre-poo: This is done before you shampoo your hair. Oils and/or conditioner are applied to the hair the night before or right before you shampoo. This process helps hair to retain moisture after being shampooed, and also softens and helps detangle the hair.

Protective Style: A hairstyle that keeps your ends protected to minimises breakage and split ends. This also includes refraining from using heat on the hair and avoiding everyday styling, combing, and brushing. Some examples are twists left in for long stretches of time that are worn tucked in, weaves, wigs, buns, and braided styles.

Protein: 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.

Regime / Regimen: This is a step by step process of what you do to keep your hair healthy and moisturised, including the use of products.

Rosemary Oil: This oil is said to stimulate hair growth. It’s great for dry hair and prevents dandruff.

Sealing: The first step is to apply a leave-in conditioner and/or a moisturising cream; these must contain water as an ingredient for it to work. The last step is applying a bit of oil or shea butter all over, or just on the ends of the hair. This process seals the moisture from the leave-in or cream into your hair strands.

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

Shea Butter: Comes from the nut of the shea tree, and is rich in vitamins A and E. It restores moisture and prevents weather damage on the hair. It is great in preventing dry scalp and does not clog pores. Shea butter is great for sealing the ends of the hair.

Slip: Refers to the feeling of your hair when conditioner is in it. If your fingers, comb, or brush can slip through your strands with ease, then you have found a winner! If a product gives you great slip, you can get through tangles easier preventing breakage and hair fall.

Stretched: When your hair is lengthened to its maximum by blowdrying, twists, braids etc.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Found in most shampoos, and is an ingredient to stay away from.

Tea Tree Oil: Unclogs the hair follicles which leads to stimulating hair growth. It can free the scalp of bacteria and fungus.

TWA: Teeny Weeny Afro

Transitioning: Means you have made the choice to transition from relaxed hair to natural hair. You can choose to transition by doing a big chop and cutting off all your hair, or you can gradually cut the relaxed hair off.

Twist Out: Is a two strand twist worn loosened out or untwisted. This style manipulates and sets the hair in a certain pattern.

Wash and Go: Is when you wash your hair, apply your products and leave as is letting it dry. No manipulation is used, you just wash and go!


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