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Natural Hair 101: The Ultimate Natural Hair Dictionary: Part 1

Updated on February 22, 2016

Sometimes it may feel like natural hair girls are in their own little world, speaking in their own exclusive language that can be hard to understand. Even if you are a part of the natural hair community, sometimes you can get confused about a term, word, or phrase being used.

Even so, not to worry here is the ULTIMATE natural hair dictionary is complete with some of the most common words, phrases, techniques and acronyms for natural hair. You can thank me later!!!!

This hub will be discussing the basic terms (like hair typing, transitioning) and the acronyms/abbreviations such as BC/ Big Chop and APL/Arm Pit Length. Hope this helps!!!

This girl probably just washed her hair, probably experienced shrinkage and is now rocking a TWA (Tiny Weeny Afro)
This girl probably just washed her hair, probably experienced shrinkage and is now rocking a TWA (Tiny Weeny Afro) | Source

Going Natural- is a phrase where one returns to their natural hair texture and either refrain from and stop relaxing their hair and using heat products (such as blow dryers, flat irons, and hot combs). To “go natural” or “going natural” is a conscious act and action to return to your natural hair texture (the texture you were born with). There are a variety of ways to go natural but the ultimate premise is to embrace their natural hair texture and incorporate their natural hair texture into their daily lives. Usually this can be seen in hair styles and products that work for their natural hair textures.

Transitioning – used both as an action verb and an adjective. As an action verb it’s the act of transitioning from relaxed hair texture to natural hair texture. As an adjective it refers to the period of time starting when you stopped relaxing your hair until you either A. Big chop (or BC) your hair or B. transition your hair (aka grow out your hair) long enough until there are no more relaxed textures left in your hair

Hair typing- this is a controversial system that puts different hair textures into types. This ranges straight hair to wavy hair to tighter coiler curly hair. Some people view it as helpful and some people view it as another way to divide people into categories. Either way this system ranges from Type 1 hair to Type 4 hair. There are also subcategories within these hair types that range from the letters a-c. An example would be Type 2a, 2b, 2c or Type 4a, 4b, 4c. Type 4 hair is the hair texture type that is said to best classified with peoples of African-descent. This system was created by stylist Andre Walker.

Shrinkage- this is how much natural hair shrinks. African hair is unique because of the texture when it gets wet, oftentimes shrinks.

PJ- short for Product Junkie which is someone likes to buy, try and collect a lot of hair care products in order to find either the perfect hair product or the next best thing.

HG- short for holy-grail products that are a staple in many natural hair communities

Nappyversary/Nattyversary - the anniversary of the day you became a natural. This can mean the day you BC’ed or the day you stopped relaxing your hair.

Slip- this is a term used to describe how slippery a product is (usually a conditioner or detangler). The more slippery a product is and feels, the better it will help with detangling your hair and preventing hair breakage (created by having stubborn tangled hair)

2 strand twists, a very common and popular protective style
2 strand twists, a very common and popular protective style | Source

Regimen: is a step by step (daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly) routine that details what products you use on your hair, how you style it and when you wash your hair.

HIH (Hand in Hair): a habit where one constantly touches and picks at hair. This habit can lead to frizzy hair and hair breakage.

Protective styles- these are styles that protect the hair either when the hair is transitioning or to protect it from the weather (such as a harsh winter). Protective styles include wearing weaves, wigs, extensions, or putting your own hair in twists, braids or buns. The purpose is to protect your hair.

BAA (Big A** Afro) Diva looking fierce with her shades
BAA (Big A** Afro) Diva looking fierce with her shades | Source
Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera | Source

Abbreviations and Acronyms Defined


BC- short for Big Chop, the act of chopping/cutting off all your relaxed/damaged ends.

TWA- short for teeny weeny afro, which is a very short afro, usually the result of a BC

BAA: stands for Big A** Afro, a very large afro PHRASE

MBL- short for hair that is mid back length.

CBL- short for hair that is collar bone length.

APL: short for hair that is arm pit length

EO- short for Essential Oils.

CO: short for carrier oils, also known as base oils

Cones- short for 'silicones'

EVCO- this is short for extra virgin coconut oil

EVOO- this is short for extra virgin olive oil

AVJ- Aloe Vera Juice

AVG- this is short for Aloe Vera Gel

SLS- this is short for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

ASL- this is short for Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

WARNING!!! Toxic Ingrediants ALERT!!!
WARNING!!! Toxic Ingrediants ALERT!!! | Source

Bad Ingredients

The top ingredients that a lot of naturals avoid:

ASL which is short for Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, SLS which is short for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and-SLES which is short for Sodium Laureth Sulfate and which is an synthetic detergent that is can also be found in most shampoos and hair conditioner. This one of the more toxic products and it can dehydrates hair.

Cones- this is short for silicones (toxic ingredient that is not soluble (not dissolve) in water. This in turn causes product to build up in your scalp (which makes it dirty and causes dry hair and breakage). The thing to do is to use this ingredient as least as possible or avoid this ingredient all together.


This concludes the first part of my The Ultimate Natural Hair Dictionary series. Stay tune for part 2 of my The Ultimate Natural Hair Dictionary series. Thank You!!!


Submit a Comment

  • danicole profile image

    danicole 3 years ago from United States

    @RonElFran: Haha, its really interesting that a guy has read this hub. Yea there is a whole other world with natural hair folks. And its nice to hear and see a man educating himself a bit on that. Especially if you know someone that has natural hair you can talk to them a bit about it. Thanks for reading and commenting on my hub, Ron!. Have a nice day/night!

  • RonElFran profile image

    Ronald E Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

    As a guy, this is all totally foreign territory to me. Except for “going natural,” I've never heard any of these terms before. But I enjoyed reading about them.