Our hair glossary will help you learn the terms every naturalista needs to know. Have a hair term you want to share? Tweet it @youbenatural or tell us on Facebook!

Natural Hair Glossary

Natural Hair Styling Techniques 

Bantu Knot: A hairstyle where the hair is sectioned off and twisted into knots.

Bantu Knot Out: A hairstyle created by putting wet hair into Bantu Knots and then releasing it when it dries. Creates a more defined, curl pattern.

Braid and Curl: A hairstyle achieved by braiding hair while wet and using rollers to curl it. Hair is dried completely, by air overnight or with a dryer, before rollers and braids are removed. Creates deep waves throughout hair.

Twist and Curl: A hairstyle achieved by twisting hair while wet and using rollers or rods to curl it. Hair is dried completely, by air overnight or with a dryer, before rollers/rods and twists are removed. Creates deep waves throughout hair.

Braidlocs: Locking hair with small braids. Wearer will maintain style by latching or twisting roots.

Cornrows: A hairstyle achieved by braiding hair very closely to the scalp to create raised rows.

Flat Twist: Similar to cornrows, this technique is done by twisting hair close to the scalp.

Latch Hooking/Crochet Braids: A protective styling technique where the natural hair is done in cornrows and then hair extensions are crocheted in with a special tool.

Protective Style: Any style that allows the ends of your hair to be tucked away from the elements and/or manipulation in order to protect them from damage. Encourages hair growth by reducing split ends and minimizing damage.

Twist Out: A style achieved by twisting hair while wet and then allowing it to dry completely before removing twists. Hair is left wavy.

Natural Hair General Terminology and Techniques

Big Chop: Cutting your chemically treated or relaxed hair completely off, leaving only your natural texture behind.

Pineappling: Creating a high, loose ponytail atop your head to maintain your curls and prevent tangling and breakage when you sleep.

Plopping: A quick hair drying technique done by wrapping hair in a t-shirt or other cotton material. This prevents breakage while also allowing you to quickly dry your hair without heat.

Slip: Refers to the slipperiness of a product, which often indicates how well it will detangle hair.

Transitioning: Refers to both the process and the steps being taken to move your hair from a relaxed and/or chemically treated state to its natural state.

Wash and Go: Refers to the process of washing hair, styling, and going about your day without an intensive treatment or styling process. Hair can be diffused or left to air dry.

Natural Hair Treatments and Ingredients

Keratin Treatment: A temporary straightening treatment that does not use harsh chemicals.

Co-wash: Washing hair with conditioner or co-wash products to avoid sulfates found in some shampoos to maintain hair health and softness.

Cones: Short for “silicone,” found in some hair care products.

Detangler: Type of conditioner that smooths hair by coating it to remove and prevent tangles.

Deep Conditioning Treatment: A treatment including a product used to add moisture to your hair. Process can be sealed/activated with a heat source.

Coconut Oil: A natural oil used to nourish and moisturize the scalp to encourage the growth of healthy hair. It is said to penetrate the hair follicle to strengthen it and prevent breakage. It is also often used in products to combat frizz and dandruff.

Olive Oil: A natural oil used to add moisture and shine to hair. It is also used to improve the elasticity of the hair.

Castor Oil: A natural oil used to promote hair growth. Is said to help prevent split ends, treat dandruff and dry scalp, and add moisture and shine to the hair.

Argan Oil: A natural oil derived from the argan tree, this oil is used as a deep conditioner and moisturizer for hair. It also helps to reduce frizz, add shine, and protect hair from the elements.

Jojoba Oil: A natural oil used to strengthen the hair shaft to protect it and promote healthy growth. It hydrates, moisturizes, adds volume, and increases shine, elasticity, and softness of hair.

No-Poo: A technique used by some wherein they avoid using shampoo to cleanse their hair. Many will use clear water or a co-wash instead.

Pre-Poo: Coating your hair with natural oils or conditioner and allowing them to penetrate before shampooing hair. This is done to detangle and protect hair prior to shampooing.

Curl Patterns and Hair Types

For information on determining your curl pattern or understanding your hair type, please see our page called What’s My Hair Type.