Hair Care Terms Dictionary

Hair care is talked about so much now and there are a battery of terms to describe all manner of things to with or for their hair. These terms can often sound like a foreign language. This resource hopes to explain the terms in an accessible manner.


2nd Day Hair – is a term used for hair that still looks good the next day, doesn’t require re-styling and is frizzy after being styled the previous day.

ACV – Short for Apple Cider Vinegar. It is used as a final rinse after shampooing and before conditioning beacause the acidity is close to that of natural hair so it therefore serves as a good conditioner and cleaning agent.

Afro – Hairstyle that is rounded in shape and consisting of a mass of curls

APL – Short for Armpit length; used to describe hair length that is up to the armpit.

AVG – Aloe vera gel.

Argan Oil – This is an oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree grown organically in Morocco. It can be used as a fast absorbing daily moisturizer or to heal and condition cuticles and split ends. It is also known as Moroccan Oil and can also be used for the skin.


BAA – Short for Big Ass Afro. A term that signifies a really large afro, the opposite of a TWA.

BAGGY – A method that helps reduce breakage by using plastic caps or shower caps on the hair either overnight or for long hours, which in turn helps seal in moisture.

Banding – Due to the shrinkage nature of natural hair, the banding method is used as a method of stretching the hair to display more of the hair’s actual length. It is a heatless stretching method that involves applying tension to the hair with the use of hair bands across the length of the hair. Another method of stretching is the Threading method.

Bantu Knot – Also known as Zulu knots. Bantu Knots is a heatless way to get curls. It is done by sectioning the hair and twisting each section which is afterwards wraped around itself. It can be secured with a bobby pin.

Bantu Knot Out – An hairstyle created by releasing the Bantu Knots done on damp hair after it dries. The result is usually a defined curly hair.

BC – Short for Big Chop. It means cutting off all relaxed or chemically-treated portions of the hair

BNC – Short for Braid and Curl. It is an hairstyle achieved by plaiting damp or moist hair and curling the ends with rollers or flexi rods. The rods are then taken out when hair is dried to reveal curly hair. It is also an heatless way to achieve curls on natural hair or any hair for that matter.

BRAID OUT – An hair style that deals with braiding the hair (usually on damp hair) and later unraveling the braids to reveal a more defined curly hair. It is also another heatless way to achieve curls.

BREAKAGE – Hair breakage refers to strands of hair that break mid-way and splits off before its life cycle is complete due to hair damage weakness usually from poor hair care.

BSL – Short for Bra Strap Length. A hair length reference to when the hair reaches where the bra strap is positioned.

Buds – Short for Budding. It is the first stage of dreadlocks and locking your hair.


CARRIER OIL – Also known as base oil. It is used to dilute essential oils. They are so named because they “carry” the essential oil onto the skin. Carrier oils do not contain a concentrated aroma, unlike essential oils. Examples include olive oil, jojoba oil, almond oil etc.

CBL – Short for Collar Bone Length; used to describe hair length that is up to the collar bone.

CG – Short for Curly Girl. It is a method introduced by Lorraine Massey, whereby you go shampoo free and condition wash instead. Every other styling process is done with silicone & sulfate free products.

CLARIFY – It is the process of cleansing the hair to remove product build-up of oils, styling products, tap water minerals and/or medications from the hair. This process is achieved with the use of clarifying or cleansing shampoos or baking soda rinses or use of clay.

CLUMP(ING) – Hair strands that are joined together to form bigger curls.

COILY – A term used in reference to the to reference the texture characteristic of natural Type 4 hair. The coils are most evident when the hair is wet and/or defined with a curling custard/ gel. It usually remains evident when the hair is allowed to dry naturally undisturbed from a soaking wet stage.

CONDISH – Short for Conditioner

COWASH – The practice of cleansing the hair using a conditioner instead of a shampoo.

CREAMY CRACK – This is a term used to refer to chemical relaxers. The term was coined with the thought that the use of relaxers is addictive.

CROTCHET – The process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials using a crochet hook or a bobby pin.


DT or DC – Deep treatment or deep conditioner. Deep conditioners are used to replenish and restore hair moisture.
DUSTING – Trimming of the hair, typically ¼ inch or less. The amount of hair trimmed is usually so small that it appears as dust.

DETANGLER – A detangler is anything that helps to separate the curls and coils of natural hair with no stress or pain.

DETANGLING – A process whereby a Detangler is used to soften and smoothen hair for manageability.

DIY – Short for Do-It-Yourself. It involves making your own product yourself rahter than purchasing a store-bought p


EO – Short for Essential Oils. These are oils that promote healthy hair and also need a carrier oil before it can be applied. It is a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and has the characteristic odour of the plant from which it is extracted. (Example includes Rosemary Oil, Lavender Oil, Basil Oil, Sage Oil, Peppermint Oil, Lemon Oil etc.)

EVCO – Short for Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Used as a natural hair care product to seal in moisture.

EVOO – Short for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Used as a product for shine. Also used as a pre-shampoo treatment. Can be used for several other hair treatments.


FLAT TWISTS – A hair styling option similar to cornrows whereby the hair is twisted flat to the head.

FLUFF – Fluffing is used to add volume, maximum fullness and shape to natural hair by use of combing through hair with the fingers or use of a pick comb.

FRO – short for Afro


Hand in Hair Syndrome – This involves making a habit out of constant touching or manipulation of hair. This in turn leads to hair breakage and split ends. It is jokingly referred to as a disease in the natural hair community.

HENNA – Henna is a powdered extract derived from a plant and it serves as a natural colorant, hair dye, a hair conditioner and strengthener.

HEALTHY HAIR JOURNEY – An expression used to describe the journey a woman takes to achieving a healthy hair.

HOLY GRAIL – This is a term used to describe products that have been tried and tested by an individual and can be recommended on this basis to another.

HUMECTANT – A substance that attracts and retains moisture in the hair such as glycerin, honey, propelene glycol.


JBCO – Short for Jamaican Black Castor Oil. Helps with hair growth,thickens and strengthens the hair.

LEAVE-IN – Also known as called Leave in Conditioners. It is a hair care product applied and left in the hair to keep hair moisturised. A good leave-in conditioner can help detangle strands, tame frizz and keep curls soft and smooth.

LOC/LCO – A simple hair care regimen that represents L-Liquid(that is Leave-in conditioner or Water), O-Oil, C-Cream or Butters. It is expected to be done as a daily routine to keep the hair mosturized.


MBL – short for Mid Back Length; refers to the length of the hair at the mid-back position.

NAPPYVERSARY – A celebration or birthday of your natural hair journey. Just as it is said Happy Anniversary, we say Nappyversary!

NG – Stands for New hair Growth.

NO POO – (as in no Shampoo) A method of using strictly only conditioners and not shampoos to cleanse the hair, this is also known as Co-washing. This is done to help retain moisture.


PINEAPPLE (ING) – A method in which the hair is packed in form of an updo and tied with a scarf before sleeping so as to preserve curls. It is achieved by placing your hair in a high loose ponytail on top of the head and sleeping on a satin pillowcase. This procedure helps preserve the coil/curl definition of the style overnight, and also provides some stretch to the hair.

PLOPPING – It is a way of drying the hair by wrapping the hair in a cotton T-shirt. It is done performed after cleansing as it helps to absorb excess moisture from the hair. It also helps to decrease drying time and reduce frizz.

PRE-POO – A method of applying a mixture of oils or conditioner to the hair within a time frame before washing with shampoo to help reduce the loss of oils in the hair when shampooing.

POO – Short for shampoo.

PRODUCT JUNKY – A term used on an individual who buys products on impulse.

PROTECTIVE STYLE – A hairstyle that keeps your hair protected and helps curb hand-in-hair-syndrome.


REGIMEN – A hair care routine that is religiously followed. It may include hair products and styles.

S&Ds – Short for Search and Destroy. This is a process of searchng out for any clumped hair that may lead to knots and split ends and get rid of them with a hair shear/ scissors.

SEALING – A method of applying oils or/and moisturizers to lock in and retain moisture in hair.

SHEDDING – Hair strands that fall off from hair shed from the scalp of the hair in which a white bulb is present at the roots which is completely normal as we shed 50-100 hairs per day.

SHRINKAGE – A term used to describe an obvious reduction the shortage of the actual length of hair as a result of the tightness and elasticity of the hair. It occurs as the hair dries up and re-coils into its natural texture pattern.

SL – Short for Sister Lock. This refers to tiny uniform dreadlocks.

SLIP – Short for Slippery. A term used to describe a conditioner, moisturizer or shampoo that easily glides through hair.

SLS – Short for Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate. It refers to a high volume of synthetic chemical present in some most shampoo and conditioners which causes it to lather and because of its drying effect, its strips the hair of its natural oils.

STRETCH – Strectching allows you to see your actual hair length. It inhibits hair shrinkage which is a characteristic of natural hair.


THREE STRAND TWISTS – These are done by dividing hair into three parts and twisting them together.

TNC – Short for Twist and Curl. A hairstyle achieved by installing a two strand twist and curling the ends with perm or flexi rods. It is left to air-dry or with the use of a hair dryer.

TRANSITIONING – The stage where the use of relaxers and other harmful chemicals are no longer used on the hair. At this stage the hair is allowed to grow out and the chemically damaged parts are trimmed off to allow new growth.

TWA – Short for Teeny Weeny Afro, it is usually the hairs first growth stage after the Big Chop.

TWIST OUT – A hairstyle achieved by unravelling a two strand twist to reveal a crinkly wavy hair texture.

TWO STRAND TWIST – This hairstyle is achieved by taking a section of the hair and dividing the hair into two parts and twisting the parts.


WASH & GO – A hairstyle term used to refer to the washing, conditioning and application of gel or other styling products to define hair curls. The hair is allowed to air dry on its own after the washing and application of styling products. You just wash and GO!

WET & GO: This process is the same as with a typical wash and go except that the hair is drenched or sprayed with only water to define the curls and styled.

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