Beauty: Natural Hair Terms And Tips

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Not too long ago the term natural hair was associated with that hair almost no one wanted to expose. Fast forward to today, more naturalistas are embracing their natural hair and many have come to appreciate the beauty hidden in kinky hair.

Did you transition just recently only to find yourself in a community with a new language full of shortcodes and acronyms?

Here is a natural hair dictionary to guide you and help you in deciphering some of the words you will come across, during your natural hair journey. Arranged alphabetically, we hope that this dictionary will help you in becoming more aware of your hair pattern and get confident in stating some of the issues you might lack the words for. Additionally, the definitions consist of a tip or two so read along and together let us make the natural community flourish.


ACV: Apple Cider Vinegar. A staple for a 4C naturalista. It helps tame frizz as well as treat the scalp against itchiness.

ALS – Ammonium Lauryl Sulfates or Sodium Laureth Sulfate. The ingredient in shampoos that forms lather. You need to know this why because shampoos with Sulfates tend to dry out your hair, hence they should only be used once in a month depending on the build up in your hair. Alternatively, sulfates are good cleansers for a dirty scalp.

Aloe Vera Gel – A staple for naturalistas who haven’t figured out their hair regimen yet. As your hair is acidic, AVG is a great product to balance out the pH levels in basic products. Apple Cider Vinegar is an example of a basic product.


Baggying – this is when you soak your hair with Deep-conditioner or Avocado the alternative, then you cover your head with a plastic bag or shower cap. Most people do this and leave the hair to moisturize and absorb the ingredients overnight. Apparently, you can opt to baggy just the ends of your hairs, as they are the oldest and tend to break easily due to lack of moisture.

Balancing Shampoo – recommended for its efficacy in removing build-up oils without drying the hair.

Big chop – It involves cutting off all the chemically damaged hair or relaxed ends, regardless of the length of the new growth. 5 Things No One Tells You After The Big Chop

Braid ‘n’ Curl – This is when you braid the hair to get that definition then you set the ends with rollers or curling rods. Ideally done on wet hair and then undone the following day.

Breakage – the shedding of hair due to dryness or handling it roughly, especially 4C hair. As the kinkiest, most coily hence the weakest type of hair, 4C hair should always be handled with tenderness to avoid breakage. The ends are prone to brittleness which cause tangles and hence breakage.

Braid out – A go-to hairstyle after wash day as it curbs frizz and stretches out hair. After a few days, the result is a crimped look hairstyle which you fluff to add volume and style as desired. Do not manipulate the style too much and remember to add oil to your fingertips as you unravel the braids.


Chunky Fro – like the braid out, a chunky fro is a hairstyle set in a twist then unravelled days later. Also known as a twist out. The result is hair, which resembles chunks that highlight the texture of your hair.

Clarifying Shampoo – Often referred to as shampoos that contain sulfates. Clarifying shampoos are manufactured with a higher surfactant to water ratio as they are meant for deep cleaning. Another use is that they can help you transition to new products as they strip away product build-up and dirt.  Mikalla is an example of a clarifying shampoo. Contrary to moisturizing shampoos a clarifying shampoo tends to dry out your hair, therefore, it is recommended for someone who uses a lot of styling products or once in a while for that clean feel.

Co-Wash – this is when you use a hair conditioner instead of shampoo to wash your hair. As it is more of a moisturizing step than cleaning, it can be done daily or twice in a week depending on your hair routine.

CWC – Another moisturizing method where you pre-treat the hair with a conditioner, wash with shampoo, then condition it again to preserve moisture.


Dull hair – Damaged hair shafts that leave the hair frizzy, unmanageable, easily tangled and lacking shine. It is often caused by heat, friction, UV rays and high pH products.


Frizz – often caused by dryness, this is when the hair tangles to form tight curls/coils which lead to breakage.


Go natural – refers to transitioning from your relaxed or heat damaged hair to having hair in its natural texture or state. You can either grow your hair out or decide to chop off the damaged hair. Going natural implies that you will avoid relaxers and subjecting your hair to too many heat damaging processes.

Greenhouse effect – combining all natural products with the baggying method to promote growth.


Henna – a natural hair dye that adds shades of red into hair strands. The shade depends on your hair colour and how much the henna has been enhanced.

Hair Analysis – This involves examining the hair growth patterns, elasticity, porousness, density and texture.

Hair Cuticle – These are overlaying protein cells on a hair strand that protect the hair’s cortex and medulla.

Hair Elasticity – This is the ability of a hair strand to bounce back to its shape after stretching, without breaking.

Hair Porosity – This describes the ability of your hair to retain moisture.

Hair Volume  –  Determined by tying your hair in a ponytail, then measuring its circumference. Hair volume that is more than 4 inches is considered thick. Less than 4 inches is normal and below 2 inches is thin.

High Porosity – Hair that does not retain moisture for a long time. It tends to dry out quickly, requiring one to moisturize it regularly. Hair ends tend to be more porous than the roots.

Holy Grail – staple products that bring out the desired results on your hair. As different people will have different types of hair, holy grails will tend to differ from one person to another.

Humectants – ingredients like glycerin, silicones, esters which are found in hair products. Humectants draw moisture from the air, increasing moisture levels in your hair. However, this process is determined by the dew point.


Jamaican Black Castor Oil – A staple for promoting growth, restoring hair where there are patches and importantly sealing moisture to strands. As it is thick, it’s recommended for hair ends. It is also great for growing out baby hairs.


Leave–in Conditioner – a product that moisturizes the hair and makes it more manageable. A conditioner with a good slip will enhance how effective styling products will be once used on your hair.

Low Manipulation –  A technique to prevent hair breakage whereby, you use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair. It also involves less styling, as more styling requires more manipulation. This technique is recommended for people with 4C hair as it helps preserve new hair growth. Low manipulation styles include braids and cornrows.


Moisturizing – The process of adding moisture to the hair using oil, butter, water or leave in conditioner.


Natural Hair – Hair that is not subjected to heat damaging processes, texturizing, relaxers or any other chemical treatment. How to take care of Natural Hair

No poo – Another way of to mean Co-wash. It is short for no shampoo.


ORS – Organic Root Stimulator. You find this acronym on hair products.


Plopping – Drying out your hair using a T-shirt or a cotton shirt instead of rubbing the hair with a towel. It helps reduce static which causes frizz.

Pre-poo – A technique where you treat the hair with hot coconut oil, conditioner or plain oil before shampooing. Also known as pre-condition this step helps prevent protein loss when wet combing.

Protective Styles – Hairstyles like braids, twists, flat twists coils or cornrows. They are good for tucking away ends, and avoiding breakage of hair.

Protein – Helps in building the strength of your hair strands. Products with Keratin protein add strength and protection to hair strands reducing breakage.


Rinses – products you use on your final rinse. Rinses stimulate growth, encourage length retention, lock in moisture and giving curls and coils body and shine.


Seal – Retaining moisture on your hair by using products like hydrogenated castor oil, Almond butter, Shea butter or any other product that contains silicones and esters.

Slip – refers to how effective a Conditioner or Detangler is, in coating a hair strand, which helps with detangling. The more the slip a product gives, the more manageable your hair will be.

Two Strand Twists –  a hairstyle where you intertwine two sections of hair and wait until dry. The result when you unravel your hair is called a twist out. Emotional Stages when doing a twist out. It’s super easy they said. Not!


Wash and Go – This is where you co-wash then use a cream, milk or gel to style your hair.

With this knowledge, check out these tips on how to take care of your natural hair for a fabulous look.

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I am a writer with interest in hair, beauty and fashion. I also like telling stories, but most of all I enjoy listening and reading them. If I'm not doing any of the above, I will be trying to crack a game of chess or monopoly. My biggest fear is being ordinary.