Get up to speed on some of the terminology used to describe Natural Haircare. Here are some frequently used words that you’ll probably hear or read as you delve deeper into the world of kinky, curly hair. Some words have different meanings, depending on the regions where they are used or personal preferences. Read on for our take on natural hair vocabulary words.
Big Chop – A big chop is the act of cutting a significant portion of the hair. Usually the hair is cut down to the new growth. People who have relaxed hair or damaged hair might choose do a big chop, or drastically cut their hair to remove the relaxer or the damaged parts. Also referred to as the “BC”.
Braids – Typically braids can include cornrows or plaits of all sizes. Braids are formed with three strands of hair, which are intertwined in a specific pattern.
Braid-out – A braid-out is a style in which plaits or cornrows are removed from the hair, leaving behind a crimped pattern.
Cornrows – When hair is braided in such a way that the braids are attached to the scalp, the style is called cornrows. They are sometimes, but not always, vertical.
Co-washing – Washing the hair using conditioner instead of shampoo. Co-washing is recommended as a way of retaining moisture in the hair. Hair is washed and rinsed in the same way one would use shampoo.
Curl Pattern – The shape or “pattern’ of your natural hair. Curl patterns vary. Some hair is tightly coiled with a “z” shape pattern. Some patterns are similar to small, tightly coiled spirals, while other patterns range from loose spirals to waves. Stylist Andre Walker developed a system that defines each curl pattern. Learn about curl patterns including help with identifying your pattern here.
Dreadlocks – A method by which hair in its natural state is twisted and allowed to matte together, creating a tightly woven, often rope-like hairstyle.
Flat twists – These twists are attached to the head. They are similar to cornrows, but they are formed with two strands of hair instead of three.
Hair Stretching – Method that allows you to add length to natural hair by releasing some of the natural coils. Braids, plaits, twists, even a blow dryer on low heat aimed at the hair roots can used to stretch kinky curly hair. There are also products that can be used to elongate the curl pattern for those who want more length.