The Colored Girl’s Guide to Natural Hair (Prt. 1)

In & More..., Black Care by 38 Comments

The decision to go natural can be a very exciting time in a Black woman’s life. It can also be very confusing. With all the how-to-videos, blogs and books on natural hair it can be hard to know what advice to take and what advice to toss out the window. Below is a glossary of terms for beginning Naturalistas that will hopefully help to weed out what information is useful to achieve the natural hair regimen.

Washing & Conditioning Terms:

  • Co-Wash: a method of shampooing hair in which conditioner is used as a substitute for shampoo to promote moisture retention.
  • Deep Conditioning: a method of revitalizing dry hair by conditioning for extended periods of time (usually with a plastic shower cap for 30 minutes minimum).
  • Hot Oil Treatment: to apply hot oil to hair and scalp before shampooing that helps treat damaged, dry hair.
  • Pre-Poo: to apply oils and/or conditioners to hair before shampooing as a moisturizing treatment.


Hair Length Terms:

  • Armpit Length (APL)– term defining length, hair is considered armpit length if it can be stretched to the armpits without breakage.
  • Bra Strap Length (BSL)– term defining length, hair is considered bra strap length if it can be stretched to the top of your bra strap without breakage.
  • Collarbone Length (CBL)– term defining length, hair is considered collarbone length if it can be stretched out to your collarbone without breakage.
  • Mid-back Length (MBL)– term defining length, hair is considered mid-back length if it can be stretched to your mid-back without breakage.


Styling & Maintenance Terms:

  • Big Chop– the removal of all chemically relaxed portions of the hair to grow natural hair.
  • Braid Out– a protective style in which hair is braided into cornrows or single braid and allowed to dry (if styled wet) and unraveled to produce a wavy hair texture.
  • Low Manipulation– to prevent hair breakage by maintaining hair in styles that require infrequent styles that protect ends.
  • Protective Styling– to style hair in a low manipulation design that protects ends by tucking them away and allows for frequent moisturizing.
  • Retention– growing hair by preventing hair breakage, achieved by reducing or eliminating split ends.
  • Sealing– the process of retaining moisture by applying oil to hair after using a water-based conditioner.
  • Sisterlocks– a type of dreadlocks that are smaller in size and achieve by a weaving technique.
  • Slip– a term describing how slippery a product (conditioner or oil) is which aids in detangling.
  • Transitioning– the amount of time between your last relaxer and “big chop” in which women prepare for natural hair care.
  • Twist Out– a protective style in which hair is styled into twists and allowed to dry (if styled wet) and unraveled to produce a curly hair texture.
Mia Braid out

Visual of the “braid out”

Author: Mia Brumfield

Nommo Staff



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