Natural Hair Terms


Ever been in a conversation with someone on natural hair or watched your favourite natural hair blogger/vlogger and they use some terms like TWA or DC or maybe wash day and you were confused as to what they were referring to?

We know rightIt happens a lot especially as a new natural. You are not yet conversant with the terms used in the natural hair community.

This glossary contains all the natural hair terms you need to know as a member of the natural hair community. We have explained it in the simplest way possible for easy understanding.

Here are the natural hair terms every natural should know;

  • Big chop: the process of cutting off the relaxed, permed or just the damaged ends of your hair leaving only natural growth.
  • Wash and go: when you wash your hair and wear it in its natural curl pattern without manipulating it whatsoever.
  • Detangling: The process of using a detangling tool or fingers to take out knots.
  • TWA: Stands for Teeny Weeny Afro. Hair that is about an inch long or below.
  • Co-Wash: The method of washing your hair with only a rinse off conditioner.
  • Protective Style: A hairstyle that helps protect your hair from damage and too much manipulation.
  • Clarifying: The process of cleansing and removing build-ups of oils and styling products from the hair.
  • Shrinkage: Used to describe a decrease in the visual length of natural hair.
  • Holy Grail: A product that one has tried, achieved good results with and remain loyal to.
  • Line of Demarcation: The line on the hair where natural hair growth and chemically processed hair meet.
  • Humectants: These are ingredients that help draw moisture from the air into the hair shaft. However, if there’s no moisture to pull from the air, the humectant can take moisture out of your hair.
  • CWC: Condition, wash, condition. Hair is pre-pooed with conditioner before shampooing to prevent loss of moisture. It is then conditioned again after shampooing to enhance moisture.
  • Low Manipulation: This involves reducing the number of times you detangle and style your hair. The less you manipulate your hair, the less breakage you will have.
  • Dusting: This is a hair trim where less than ¼ inch is cut off. It is also known as “light trim”. The hair that is trimmed off should resemble dust.
  • Deep Conditioning: Saturating your hair with a; product that is formulated for deep conditioning treatments and covering it for a period of time. This generates heat to open up cuticles for penetration.
  • Transitioning: The process of allowing your natural hair texture to grow while the relaxed or chemically treated hair is trimmed in stages.
  • Hair Density: Refers to the number of strands on your hair. You can check your natural hair density buy looking at it in its afro state.

If you can see your scalp with no effort, then you have LOW HAIR DENSITY

If you can see your scalp with little effort, then you have MEDIUM HAIR DENSITY

If you cannot see your scalp at all, then you have HIGH HAIR DENSITY

  • Plop: Wrapping your hair in a t-shirt or microfiber towel to absorb excess water that would drip otherwise.
  • Pre-Poo: The process of saturating your hair with a product (oil, butter, etc) before shampooing to enhance moisture.
  • Braid Out: A protective style which the hair is braided and left overnight or for some days after which it is unravelled.
  • Cones: Surfactants present in hair products that strip hair of its natural oil.
  • Carrier Oils: These are base oils used to dilute essential oils examples include; coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, etc.
  • Clumping: adhering strands of hair together to form bigger chunkier curls usually achieved using styling gels and butters.
  • LCO/LOC: A hair care regimen used to retain moisture for a long time where

L – leave-in-conditioner or water, O – oils, C – butter or cream

  • Moisturizer: A water based product
  • Sealing: Applying oils or creams to the hair after moisturizing to help retain moisture.
  • Shedding: This is falling out of hair from the scalp with white bulbs at the root.
  • Scrunch: Gently squeezing/pushing hair from ends to the root.
  • Slip: the property of a conditioner, moisturizer or shampoo which makes it easy to slide a comb through the hair. The higher the slip, the better it is for detangling the hair.
  • SLS (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate): A surfactant present in most shampoos and deep conditioners which causes it to lather. It strips the hair of its natural oils leaving the hair with a squeaky clean feeling
  • Texlaxed: Hair that has been chemically altered (usually with loosed curls) through the application of texturizers, a mild form of relaxers.
  • Baggy: The practice of covering the hair at night with a plastic shower cap for the purpose of enhancing moisture. This method id thought to reduce breakage, split ends and dryness.
  • Banding: A styling technique used to inhibit hair shrinkage and thereby display more of the hairs actual length.