Glossary

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Going natural is no joke. As well as all the new products and hairstyles you have to familiarize yourself with, there’s a whole new language that comes with the natural lifestyle. To make it a little easier, we decided to explain the most common terms used in the natural hair community.

band•ing

a styling technique used to prevent hair shrinkage and hopefully display more of the hair’s actual length. performed on wet or damp hair, gather the hair into one ponytail or several smaller ones, covered with elastic bands until the hair drys
“banding my hair shows off my length and helps prevent knots since my hair doesn’t curl back on itself”

clar•i•fy

washing your hair and scalp to remove product build-up, dirt and sebum that may be clogging your follicles
“i need to clarify my hair this weekend. it feels like something’s crawling up in there!”

big•chop

the first time you cut off the relaxed/permed ends of your hair leaving just the natural hair
“i just did my big chop. i’m officially natural!”

clar•i•fy

washing your hair and scalp to remove product build-up, dirt and sebum that may be clogging your follicles
“i need to clarify my hair this weekend. it feels like something’s crawling up in there!”

co•wash

colloquialism for conditioner washing – the process of washing hair with conditioner not shampoo. also known as “no ‘poo”. now there are products made and sold as cowashes
“i prefer co-washing over regular shampooing as conditioner doesn’t dry out my hair leaving it feeling like a brillo pad.”

dust•ing

the act of trimming your ends – usually no more than a 1/4 inch
“dusting my hair makes it look really healthy. need to get rid of those split ends.”

LOC•method

LOC = Leave-in, Oil, Cream. the method refers to the layering of products in a specific order to maximize moisture retention. once you’ve moisturized your hair you “loc” the moisture in with two products known to be excellent sealants: oil and cream/butter
“once i started the loc method i noticed my hair is softer.”

ma•nip•u•lat•ion

brushing, combing, detangling or styling your hair are all forms of manipulation. the less you manipulate your hair, the less breakage you will incur
“i’m on a low manipulation hair regimen. i’ve seen an extra 1/2 inch of growth this month!”

mois•ture

moisturizing your hair helps it keep its elasticity and prevents breakage. the purest form of moisture is water but moisture-based products also help to add moisture back to the hair
“i spritz my hair regularly and seal with a natural oil to hold in moisture. my hair loves it!”

ma•nip•u•lat•ion

brushing, combing, detangling or styling your hair are all forms of manipulation. the less you manipulate your hair, the less breakage you will incur
“i’m on a low manipulation hair regimen. i’ve seen an extra 1/2 inch of growth this month!”

nat•u•ral oils

most oils do not have the ability to penetrate into the hair shaft. instead, they lay on top of the cuticle, coating just the outer surface. for this reason oils are great for sealing in moisture
“my favorite oil to seal with is jojoba oil. it’s light and adds great sheen to my hair.”

porosity

your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. The more porous a strand is, the more quickly moisture will be absorbed into the cuticle. conversely, it will lose moisture just as quickly
“my hair is really porous so i always seal my hair with oil after i moisturize to lock water in.”

pre•poo

pre-pooing is the process of using a natural oil (i.e. jojoba, coconut, olive oil etc.) as a barrier to coat the hair from root to tip prior to washing. this acts as a treatment and helps prevent breakage and moisturizes the hair
“i hate pre-pooing my hair as it adds too much time to my wash day but it’s so worth it.”

pro•duct junk•ie

a product junkie (or pj) is someone who buys a lot of hair products even if they already possess something similar. the goal is to find that ever illusive product that will work wonders on their hair
“my bathroom cabinet is full of hair products. i think i may be a product junkie in need of help.”

protective styling

any hairstyle that protects the ends of your hair from breaking and over exposure to harsh elements. protective styles prevent manipulation of the hair thus encouraging length retention. protective styles include two-strand twists, flat twists, cornrows, braids, up-dos, wigs, weaves, etc
“i’m two weeks into my protective style challenge. i hope to gain 1 inch in length.”

pro•tein

protein gives the hair its structure and strength. a strand of hair is composed of mostly protein, which means your hair needs protein to grow. adding protein to your diet and/or hair care regimen combats excess shedding and breakage. but remember, you only need a little protein so always aim for adding protein to your diet vs. directly to the hair. direct protein treatments can often be too much for our hair
“i’m experiencing a lot of breakage even after taking these vitamins so i’m going to try a protein treatment.”

reg•i•men

a systematic plan designed to improve and maintain the health of your hair
“my hair care regimen is in need of adjusting. i’ve noticed that my shampoo is to harsh for my curls.”

seal•ing

sealing is the process of locking moisture into the hair shaft. the first step is either to spritz water or apply a water-based product to the hair (the first ingredient must be water/H20). then seal in this moisture with a natural oil
“i combat dryness by sealing every other day or before styling my hair.”

shrink•age

the appearance of shorter hair due to your curls tightening. this usually happens when natural hair is wet or styled in a way that does not elongate your curls (i.e. Wash ‘n’ Go). when in a shrunken state natural hair tends to tangle more as the curls are compacted together
“my hair shrinks to about 70% of its length when wet.”

stretch•ing

the process of elongating your curls to its maximum length. this can be achieved by either banding your hair with elasticated hair bands or styling the hair using twist outs, braid outs, bantu knots, braids etc
“i always keep my her stretched using two-strand twists. keeping my hair stretched cuts down on my detangling time when styling and on wash day.”

twa

twa = teeny weeny afro. it’s basically a low cut afro (less than a couple of inches). many women choose to wear their hair in twas for ease of maintenance or after their big chop
“i did my big chop and get so many compliments on my twa!”

twist•out

a very popular natural hairstyle achieved by parting the hair into sections and two-strand twisting each section with a styling product like butter, gel or a mixture of both. this style can be achieved on both wet and dry hair
“my twist outs are always fuller the bigger a make my two-strand twists.”

wash•n•go

a natural hairstyle achieved by washing the hair and applying product, usually gel, immediately after. the product holds the natural curl in place. the term wash ‘n’ go represents the speed in which the style can be achieved. the style is more popular and successful with naturals that have curly or coily hair textures
“wash ‘n’ gos are my go to style when i don’t want to spend the time twisting for a twist out”

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