Terminology

I was able to glean a lot of information from hair sites since beginning my natural journey. In order to really understand any advice you receive, it’s good to know the lingo. Here are a few terms that are frequently tossed around on the hair sites that you may want to add to your vocabulary. I am not an expert and therefore have made these simple and straight to the point. I don’t like to get too scientific.

Alcohols

  • Not all alcohols are bad. See this post for more info.

BC (Big Chop)

  • Cutting off relaxed ends to reveal the natural texture of the hair. This can be done shortly after the last relaxer or years after.

Baggy

  • Applying a moisturizing agent to hair and then covering with plastic cap (or shower cap, saran wrap, etc). This is done for moisture, obviously.

Caramel Treatment

  • A hair treatment that can be bought or homemade that is essential for moisture. Main ingredients are usually bananas, molasses, and honey. Other ingredients are personal preference. The mixture usually takes on a caramel colored appearance. It gives the hair softness and sometimes is said to loosed curl pattern. Though this has not been my personal experience.

Co-Wash (Conditioner Wash)

  • Washing hair with conditioner. No shampoo necessary! Just rinse the hair with water and then wash hair with a conditioner. This method is used by many women who find that there hair is prone to being dry.

DC/DT

  • Deep Conditioning or Deep Treatment. This is typically done for 20 minutes to overnight, depending on personal preference.  If hair is very dry, this should be done once or twice a week to combat brittle hair.

Hair Types

  • Classification systems for hair based on how the hair looks and feels. There are two that are commonly used. Most people use Andre Walker’s system. You can see that here. Another less popular system is the LOIS system and you can view that here.

Hair Lengths

  • Hair lengths usually have abbreviations and if you’re new to the game, they can be very confusing.
  1. EL- Ear Length
  2. NL-Nape Length
  3. SL- Shoulder Length
  4. APL- Arm pit Length (this one had me stumped for a long time as a newbie)
  5. MBL- Mid back Length
  6. WL- Waist Length (this is as far as I’ll go)

Henna, Cassia, Indigo

  • Henna is a plant used to make a mixture that essentially conditions the hair. It is said (I say that because not everyone enjoys the effects of henna) to fortify and condition the hair. Henna also adds a reddish tint to the hair.
  • Cassia and Indigo are both called henna, the former called neutral henna and the latter called black henna. Neither are henna, however, but totally separate plants. Cassia does condition and strengthen the hair, but does not add any color (unless you have gray or blond hair). Indigo adds a blackish-blue color. Certain mixes can be done to create colors.

HG (Holy Grail)

  • A product or ingredient you can’t live without, or rather your hair can’t live without. For me, this is a product that does something for my hair that I have not found in another product

K.I.S.S

  • Acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. It pretty much means doing minimal hair care for maximum results.  This doesn’t mean you let your hair grow wild, you just take care of it without a lot of hassle and products.

LC (Little Chop)

  • Cutting off a portion of relaxed ends. This is often done in preperation for the BC.

Leave In

  • Leave in conditioner. These are usually lighter than a rinse out conditioner and provide added moisture to hair. They are a good idea if you plan to use gels.

Oil Rinse

Pre-Poo

  • Applying a hair treatment before a shampoo to help combat the moisture stripping effects of most shampoos

Poo

  • Shampoo

Protective style (PS)

  • A hair style that allows the hair to rest, so to speak, so that it won’t rub against clothes, have the fragile ends exposed, and protect it from over manipulation (which can cause breakage). For me, they also help retain moisture. Protective styles include twists, braids and buns, just to name a few.

Regimen (aka Reggie)

  • A product/hair routine done continuously to create and maintain your lovely hair

Scab Hair

  • Natural hair that grows in a different texture that normal. The hair is essentially a result of a damage from the relaxer and is not a reflection of true texture. Scab hair is often dry and brittle.

Sealing

  • Sealing is essentially “sealing” in moisture. Following the application of a moisturizer, moisture is sealed in typically with an oil or serum.

Silicones

  • Ingredients in hair products (as well as many other products) that keeps moisture from entering the hair shaft. That sounds like a bad effect, but the reason people use it is because by limiting moisture, frizz is kept down. Some people love cones, some people (like me) can’t really tolerate them.  Again, personal preference.
  • Most cones have to be washed out with a sulfate shampoo, which can be drying to hair, especially if done often.

TWA

  • Teeny Weeny Afro

Water Soluble Silicones

  • Silicone that can be removed from the hair without the use of sulfate shampoos.

ZSC

  • Zizyphus Spina Christi is a desert plant.  The leaves were powdered and used to wash hair before shampoo was available.  It leaves hair clean, shiny, healthy and well conditioned. It does not leave any color in the hair.
  • Zizyphus Spina Christi is ideal for:
  • people who have light colored hair and would like the conditioning of henna, but with no color change
  • people who can’t use any soap or detergent to wash their hair.
  • people who have fine, limp hair and would like more thickness and texturepeople whose hair needs extra protection from water, sun and dust
  • See my experiments with ZSC here

Comments

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  • Zawata

    My last relaxer was in August 2009. My hair is between SL and APL. I have no idea what to do. I just found a stylist that is willing to work w/ me w/ out doing the BC right now. I have my days of doubts. What should my daily routine be like during this process?

  • Lydia

    Can you explain how an oil rinse works? Thanks!

  • TAMEKA

    I AM NEWLY NATURAL, IV’E JUST DONE THE BIG CHOP. NOW MY HAIR IS SO HARD, DRY, BRITTLE ALMOST MATTED. IS THERE A SUCH THING AS YOUR HAIR BEING TO PEASY TO GO NATURAL? IM SO CONFUSED W ALL THE PRODUCTS PEOPLE RECOMMEND. I NEED A REGIMEN TO SOFTEN MY HAIR SO I CAN FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE WEARING IT OUT!!! PLEASE HELP ME!!! THANK YOU

  • Novella

    To Tameka:
    Buy Qhemet Biologics: http://www.qhemetbiologics
    Excellent products. Try to do alot of co washing
    it might help with the dryness.

  • ənänəməs

    Tameka, you might want to look into using coconut oil on your hair after you wash. I recently did this on a fluke and it turned out so well for me, I think it will be part of my regimen. I washed as normal, and then sectioned my hair. For each section, I re-wet (if needed, as my hair was starting to air dry) with warm-ish water, and applied a small amount of coconut oil. I combed the coconut oil through the section, plaited and went on to the next section. After I was all finished, I tied my hair up with a satin scarf. The next day, I took down the plaits and combed my hair out. My hair was the softest I remember it being since I was a little kid pre-relaxer, and had little to NO shedding even though I have notoriously shed like an animal for YEARS.

  • http://newlynatural.com kcurly
  • Shannon M

    Hi, just did the BC, relaxers just really damaged my hair to no end. I’d say its maybe 1.5 or 2 inches long right now. I’m in the Air Force and they do have certain hair stipulations, so I have been wearing a lace wig to give my hair time to grow out a little more. I also wear a wig because to be honest it’s a bit shocking to me. I have had relaxers since I was is middle school and now I’m 26 so you can imagine. I see the protective styles you have listed, I just don’t have enough length right now to do a majority of them. Is there anything I can do to help keep the moisture in while the wig is on during my work hours and even while off? Thanks.

  • Tamika

    Hi Shannon M, I am currently in the transitional phase. I made the decision to go natural in late november of ’09 and i refused to do the bc. I haven’t seen my natural hair since maybe the 6th or 7th grade…I am now 22 so I can understand what you’re feeling. I tried many different things in the beginning of my transition — flat iron (before I realized that I was forcing my hair to be something it was not meant to be, plus the upkeep was too much), braid outs, and then small rods so that my natural hair would blend easier with my relaxed ends. I’m now wearing microbraids and plan on keeping them for 2 months but I have been heavily considering doing the bc when I take them out. I’ve also been looking for possible hair styles I may be able to do with my hair, as I am certain it will not be of adequate length for a braid out or twist out — I came across the coil out. It looks simple enough and the results are beautiful on many women I’ve seen with it on the net. Try this webpage for a tutorial: http://missjessies.com/05_styling/coilout.htm

  • Ms V

    Greetings,
    This is all so new to me. I haven’t permed my hair since April of 09′. I have had a perm since I was about 8 or 9 years old and I am (47). This is truly shocking for me, however I think I’m at the point of getting the BC. I need all the help I can get on products…Help me plz!!!

  • Aja

    I’m very new to this. So do you have to do the BC in oder to be natural? I haven’t had a relaxer since March 2008. WOW, can i really do this?!

  • Ayana

    I am tranny right. My last hit of the creamy crack was April 12 2010 and I am putting my hair into natrural rehab so 2 speak!!LOL! What regime to u think i should use for my super coarse kinky tresses ??? I trying to wait 2 has some more hair b4 the BC. my daughter’s 6 and has kinky hair too , any info 4 her hair care would be nice, she has been natural since aug2008. when she was 3 , a family member put a just4me text crap in her head without my conset due 2 me moving out of state for the military.any help would be a great! thank you

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  • http://naturallycurly girl gone natural

    lets try this again I am new to the site and I am having trouble getting my comment out. what does ACV mean?

  • http://newlynatural.com kcurly

    apple cider vinegar :)

  • harriet

    how could u 4get 2 add TWA????? I “dug” 4 that 1.

  • Chick

    My daughter has been natural for about three years. Watching her style transformation over these three years has been amazing! I have worn relaxers for 37 years! I am a product of the seventies and wore a afro for 6 years then went back to relaxers. I usually wear my hair short so I was getting relaxers every 4 to 6 weeks. After consulting some more with my daughter I finally decided to do “The Big Chop”. I LOVE, LOVE my TWA! It’s only been about a week but I am so encourged and have lots of help with products and styles thanks to my daughter. I turned 60 this year, so it is never to late to make change. GO for it!!

  • http://www.greathairtransplants.com Gracy K.

    This is a great little list. Thanks for the blog.

  • PreggoJo

    I am a NEWBIE! I have always marveled with the idea of becoming natural and after finding out I was pregnant (NO CHEMICALS! ARRGGHHH) decided that it was MY TIME! I am super excited and actually have lots of friends who are supportive. I didnt go for the BC, instead I am going to try the protective styles with both micro braids and my own hair. To date, I havent permed my hair since August 2011. I had a press and curl last month, but only because I had a photoshoot and my hair was a mess! I cant wait to learn more about what to do with this mane!

  • MystifiedMe

    Hey, I’ve been natural for about 7 months now. At first after my BC I wore my TWA all the time until about the 4 month were it was getting to be too much of a hassle to keep re-wetting and combing it out daily. So I started wearing wigs while my hair was braided. Now, i’ve noticed that hair has stopped growing. It’s only about 5 inches long. I have thick 4b hair, no curl pattern noticeable and I want to know what i’m doing wrong? I stagger co-washing and shampooing and I deep condition every other week. Keep it trimmed, drink a lot of fluids, and use essential oils only (no grease) HELP PLEASE

  • http://newlynatural.com kcurly

    MystifiedMe ,have you been measuring your hair since you stopped wearing it out?

  • natural chick

    I have been natural for about 6 months and I feel that this was the best thing that I have done. Yes it is some work but it is worth every min. My hair thanks me

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  • Anonymous

    I did the BC on December 28,2011, now almost two months later I noticed that my hair, attitude, and surroundings have now changed. I love the change that I decided to do.