Natural Hair Glossary



Before we get carried away with other interesting topics, I do not want to take for granted that we all know the meaning of the terms frequently used in the natural hair community. If you are new to natural hair, it can get confusing and overwhelming. So here are some terms and their descriptions:

ACV Rinse (Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse) – to rinse your hair with a solution of ACV and water. ACV’s acidity is close to that of natural hair. It is considered a good conditioner and cleanser (see also no-poo).

Big Chop – to cut all your chemically treated hair off and remain with your natural hair, or to cut a significant amount of length off your natural hair.

Co-wash (Conditioner wash) – to wash your hair with a conditioner (see also no-poo).

Detangle – to separate each strand from the other. Due to your curl pattern being kinky coily, hair strands easily wrap around each other. Thus detangling is the process of separating the strands.

Double Strand Knot – when two strands of hair create knot.

Hair Porosity – your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. High porosity means your hair strands absorb a lot of moisture quickly, but also lose moisture (or dry up) quickly. Low porosity means that once moisture is in your hair strands it stays longer and does not dry out fast. However, products tend to sit on the hair and don’t easily penetrate the hair shaft.  Medium porosity is balanced porosity, hair absorbs and retains moisture well.

Hair Regimen – your hair care routine. It includes what you do (e.g. wash, moisturise, deep condition, protective style), how often (frequency) you do it, and the products you use.

Hair Type – a system created by Andre Walker which helps you to identify your curl pattern which in turn helps you understand the characteristics of your hair. Understanding those characteristics helps you to make better choices relating to handling your hair and products you use. Hair type, though, in its entirety not only speaks to curl pattern but also to other aspects such as porosity, density and thickness. All of which should influence the choices you make about your hair. The hair typing chart ranges hair from 1A which is straight hair, to 4C hair with is kinky coily hair.

Heat Damage –damage to your hair strands caused by excessive heat. Direct heat from appliances (especially when used at very high temperatures and/or not using a heat protectant) immediately strip the hair of all its moisture. You know you’ve got heat damage when after wetting your hair, it does not revert to it natural curly state. Hair also feels rough and very dry, and ends break easily.

LCO  (Liquid (or leave-in) Cream Oil) – the process of adding and sealing moisture to dry hair by adding water or a leave in conditioner, then a cream and then an oil.

LOC (Liquid (or leave-in) Oil Cream) – the process of adding and sealing moisture to dry hair by adding water or a leave in conditioner, then an oil and then a cream.

Low Manipulation style – styles requiring no direct heat, e.g. braid outs, twist outs, perm rod set, etc.

Multi Strand Knot – (I can’t say I’ve heard this term before, but I sometimes get these) when more than two strands of hair create a knot.

Natural Hair Journey – the experience of discovering what your hair likes or dislikes over time. No two heads are the same so each one’s journey is unique.

Nopoo (No shampoo) – washing hair with an alternative gentle to shampoo such as apple cider vinegar, conditioner, clays, etc.

Parabens –  controversial preservatives found in cosmetic products. Click here to get the science behind it and its effects on your hair.

Pre-poo  (Pre or before shampoo) – to add an extra layer of protection (usually a natural oil and/or a deep conditioner) to your hair before shampooing in order to lessen the impact of harsh ingredients (e.g. sulphates) found in many shampoos that strip hair of its natural oil – sebum. (there are sulphate-free shampoos on the market)

Protective Style – a style that keeps the ends of your hair tucked away and shielded from the elements e.g. buns, cornrows, braids. These styles help in retaining length. Protective styles can be considered low manipulation.

Sebum – natural oil our skin (sebaceous glands) produces.

Shrinkage – the phenomenon when your natural hair comes in contact with water or a water based product.  It is a natural tendency for kinky coily hair to spring up showing that it is healthy and full of elasticity. Your shrinkage is the difference between your shrunken hair and your pulled out/stretched hair.

Silicones – artificial oils (dimethicone) often used in hair care products that prevent moisture from going into or out of your hair. There are newer ones (amodimethicone) that are water soluble. (read more)

Single Strand Knot – when a single strand of hair loops around itself and creates a knot.

Transition – the process where, after you’ve decided to go natural, you allow your natural hair to grow out without cutting the chemically treated part. The intention is to, after some time, big chop the relaxed hair and remain with all natural hair.

TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) – when your natural hair is still quite short.

Water Only Method – the approach of using water only as part of your hair regimen; no oils, no creams, etc. This is where, by scritching and preening your hair with the aid of warm water daily, you encourage sebum down your strands in order to coat them. This method also involves massaging you hair daily.

Feel free to add to our lexicon any term I’ve missed, by commenting below!



where it all began…

Altogetherlovelycoils: My Natural Hair Journey. Pics from 2012 to 2016

My natural hair journey really started in 2008, long before I discovered the natural community. I always had long relaxed hair. But it reached a point where it was starting to look thinned out and resembled a wet cat. After contemplating for what seemed to be ages (mostly out of fear of how I’d look) I decided to cut it all off! After cutting it I proceeded to the stores to buy some new products to cater for this new hair that would soon be growing.

I bought Organic Root Simulator products. I particularly leaned towards the Olive oil range. I’d wash my head everyday and soon started seeing my new growth. When it got a bit longer I bought other products to treat and condition it. When it got to a length I could tie in a lephondo (afro puff), I started neglecting it and that’s when trouble started!

Late 2011, after a period of total neglect, I noticed I had a “stadium” right at the back of my head! The horror! I felt the back of my head and there was a patch of hair missing! I reached for my portable mirror, sped to the bathroom, and created a reflection to see the back of my head. I was devastated. I only had one option – to cut it again and start from scratch. I did just that and afterwards I did things differently.

This time around I literally went on Google and typed in the search box “how to take care of black natural hair”. Boy oh boy, a new world was opened to me. I got introduced to an online hair community. People who looked like me and had the same type of hair as mine, and they grew it beautifully, healthily, and long. I got introduced to natural hair jargon like big chop, TWA, 4C, LOC method, cowash… I even learned to create my own products and handling my own hair – from styling to trimming! Talk about empowerment.

Eight years and 2 big chops later, I am still learning! And through this blog I hope to share what I have learnt over the years.

Welcome 🙂