Sunday, October 2, 2011

Transitioning to Natural Hair Series - Part I

So you’re thinking about transitioning your hair from relaxed to natural?  Welcome to our Transitioning to Natural Hair Series!  You have questions, we have answers.  In this series we will educate you on three things:  the frequently used jargon and terminology in the natural hair community, provide you with steps to help you prepare for the transition from relaxed to natural hair, and show you some transitioning styles that will give you a well put together look while maintaining the health of your new natural strands.  We want this to be interactive for our clients and visitors, so if you have questions, please post them in the comments section below.  We’ll be sure to address your questions by responding directly to your comment or by creating a separate blog post if enough people inquire about the same thing!  

Natural Hair Jargon

Ever go into a natural hair forum or watch a Youtube video of your favorite natural and wonder what they were talking about?  As a new natural, it can be kinda confusing understanding the lingo and jargon in the natural hair community.  Well never fear, below we've defined some of the most common natural hair terms.  Take a look below!

3c/4a/4b/4c -  A hair typing system created by Andre Walker that describes your hair ‘s curl pattern
ACV Rinse – apple cider vinegar; this is often used as a final rinse (diluted) to seal the cuticle
APL – a way of measuring your hair’s length, arm pit length
BSL – a way of measuring your hair’s length, bra strap length
CBL – a way of measuring your hair’s length, collar bone length
BC – Big Chop! Cutting off all of your relaxed hair  
Baggying – the method of coating the hair with conditioner and leaving it on & covering with a bag (conditioning bag, shopping bag, etc), ideally overnight
No poo (co-wash) – the act of cleansing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo, it is supposed to prevent the stripping of natural oils from the hair
BAA – big ass afro
TWA – teeny weeny afro
PJ – Product Junkie!  Someone who buys every popular hair product  or natural hair styling tool
Moisturizing – the act of adding water to the hair
Sealing – trapping moisture (water) in the hair with oils or a butter like shea or cocoa
Essential Oils – an oil that is distilled, usually by water or steam from the roots, leaves, or stems of a plant.   They are very concentrated and should not be applied directly to the skin.  Some examples are lemongrass, sweet orange, rosemary, tea tree, peppermint, etc.
Carrier oil – an oil that can be used to dilute essential oils.  They are also good for sealing in moisture. Some examples are olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, & grapeseed oil
Humectants – ingredients in hair products that help draw moisture from the air into the hair shaft.  A couple of examples are glycerin and honey.
Dusting – trimming less than ¼ inche of hair, usually to remove split ends
Slip – the slipperiness (is that a word? LOL) of a conditioner or detangler, the more slip a product has , the easier it is to detangle the hair
DT or DC – deep treatment or deep conditioner, usually when a conditioner is left on the hair for more than 15 minutes to increase moisture retention and/or to assist with detangling
Plopping – a technique for drying your hair where you pat your hair with a t-shirt or terry cloth towel to dry your hair instead of using a regular towel, this reduces frizz
Wash & Go – styling your hair in its naturally curly state by applying a curl defining gel or cream
Shingling – The application of a curl defining gel or cream to the hair by taking finger and raking it through in sections.  This helps to define and set your natural curl pattern.
Two strand twists – When a small section of hair is separated into two equal section and then twisted around each other
twist out source
Twist out – Undoing 2 strand twists for a wavy effect    
Braid out – When hair the braiding into individual plaits and then undone after drying, resulting in a crinkly effect
Second day hair – a  2nd day hair style where the previously achieved pattern (via twist out, braidout or wash and go) remains and looks great with no major manipulation or recreation of the original style
Shrinkage – the amount of length that is loss (from when hair is fully extended) when hair dries in its naturally curly state
Stretched hair – a method of maximizing the hair’s length by first setting the hair in a manner that reduces the amount of shrinkage
Single strand knots (fairy knots) – when a strand of hair get a small knot on its strand (these should be periodically cut so other strands do not get tangled and create a bigger knot)
Silicones (cones) – ingredients found in hair care products that are not water soluble.  Failure to remove silicones (with shampoo) may result in buildup which can lead to dry hair.   
SLS – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – a cleansing ingredient found in harsher shampoos.  This ingredient tends to strip natural oils and moisture from natural hair leaving it dry

This is not an all inclusive list but just some key buzz words that you will encounter when talking to other naturals.  Can you think of a word, abbreviation or phrase that you’ve heard that you can’t figure out what it means?  Post it in the comments section below and we’ll define it for you.  Did we miss one that you know the definition for?  Please share.

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