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Curly Hair Lingo

Curly Hair Lingo

Afro girl in cozy fashionable sweater.

Going natural (and natural hair) has its own unique vocabulary!  Here is a handy glossary of natural hair language to make your life a little easier.


ACV: apple cider vinegar water mix to clarify and remove buildup on scalp and hair

CGM: Curly Girl Method 

LOC Method: A hairstyling layering method performed in this order: Liquid/leave-in conditioner, Oil, Cream

LCO Method: Liquid/leave-in conditioner, Cream, Oil 

LOG Method: Liquid/leave-in, Oil, Gel

LCG Method: Liquid/leave-in, Cream, Gel

LGO Method: Liquid/leave-in, Gel, Oil

LCGO Method: Liquid/leave-in, Cream, Gel, Oil

SOTC: Scrunch out the crunch or cast, meaning breaking the hard gel or mousse cast 

STC or S2C: Squish to condish – squeezing leave-in conditioner into the hair to evenly coat the strands

TWA: Teeny Weeny Afro


Big Chop: the process of going natural usually refers to transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair. Some choose to cut off all their damaged hair when going natural

Dusting: trimming ends no more than a ¼ inch


Bowl Method: A technique to tighten up curls, with maximum hydration and definition. (YouTuber Jannelle O’Shaughnessy swears by it.)

Clarify: Using certain hair products to remove product build-up, dirt, and sebum that may be clogging hair follicles

Co-Wash (Conditioning Wash): Washing the scalp with a specially formulated conditioner instead of shampoo. 

Curl Cast or Gel Cast: Helps protect and preserve the shape of your hair while it is drying. Imagine a piece of fried chicken, crunchy coating on the outside, but nice and juicy on the inside. Same with your hair. 

Final Wash: Before starting the Curly Girl Method (CGM), you need to clarify and remove build-up on your scalp and hair with a sulfated (non-silicone-containing) shampoo. 

Hygral Fatigue: When hair follicles are swollen due to excessive moisture.

Low Poo: A Curly Girl (CG) friendly shampoo that does not contain sulfates but instead contains gentle cleansing agents.

No Poo: Instead of shampoo, using conditioner to wash your scalp.

Pre-Poo: Applying protective, penetrating, natural oils to the hair before washing to prevent hygral fatigue and aid in detangling 

Slip: How lubricated a conditioner makes your hair feel after applying. The more slip a conditioner has, the easier it is to run your fingers, a wide-tooth comb, or a brush through your hair. 

Styling Techniques 

Diffusing: Drying your hair with a diffuser

Plopping: A way of wrapping your wet hair in a cotton t-shirt (dry plopping) or shower cap (wet plopping)

Praying Hands: A way of applying hair product by holding hair in between hands like you are praying to create curl clumps

Protective Styling: A hairstyle to prevent breakage and for protection of the hair; also for length retention. Examples include two-strand twists, flat twists, cornrows, braids, up-dos, weaves etc.

Raking: A way to spread product through the hair using fingers spread out like a rake

Roping: A technique to create curl clumps

Root Clipping: A technique to create volume at the roots

Sealing: Locking moisture into the hair with a sealing oil or butter

Scrunching Upward: A technique to create curl patterns

Stretching: The process of lengthening curls and prevent shrinkage by using twist outs or braids out

Twist Out: Two- or three-strand twisting sectioned hair using a hair butter or gel

Wash’n Go: Washing and styling the hair in the absence of a protective style

Protecting Curls Overnight 

Buff: A sleeve of stretchy material to wear over the hair at night. 

Pineapple: A way of protecting your curls at night with a top front ponytail. 

Other Terms

Product Junkie: Someone who is always buying new hair products in search of the one that will work wonders on their hair

Shrinkage: The process of curls tightening or compacting while drying giving the appearance of shorter hair. Compacted curls tend to tangle more.

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