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FEATURES Apr 19 2012 12:05AM
Nathalie Mezard

Decoded: The ABCs of Natural Hair

By G.G. Renee Hill, The Write Curl Diary

Are you a PJ who BC’d and loves a good WNG?  There's a lot of jargon thrown around on natural hair blogs and forums, and if you're new to the conversation, it can be quite puzzling.  Well, you can (TMN) thank me now because I'm about to help you decipher the word play, so you can get clear on what it all means for you.  

A is for APL (Arm Pit Length) which refers to length.  BSL (Bra Strap Length), CL (Collar Length), MBL (Mid Back Length) and WL (Waist Length) are all common descriptors.

B is for BC (Big Chop). This is the courageous act of chopping off your relaxed hair. Some opt to do the Big Chop with only an inch or so of new growth remaining on their heads leaving them with a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro).  Another option is the (LTT )Long Term Transition where you cut the relaxed hair out gradually.  Either way, the first day you step out with your freedom hair (relaxer free) is a milestone moment.  Relish it.

C is or Co-washing which is conditioner washing in place of shampoo. Conditioner washing is a widely accepted method to keep highly textured hair moisturized. Yes, I said it. No shampoo. But wait, the plot thickens. C is also for 'cones, which is short for silicones. Most commercial conditioners contain silicones which can cause build up if not shampooed out. (Dilemma? It doesn’t have to be.  See O for Organic.)

D is for DT/DC (Deep Treatment/Deep Conditioning). Nothing new here.  However, the idea of Pre-pooing (DC’ing) before you wash, may be unfamiliar. Some naturals find this preferable as it softens your mane and makes it less likely to tangle during the wash process.

E is for EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and it is used for pre-pooing, conditioning, and moisturizing. EVOO is a popular oil among naturals along with Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (often referred to as EVCO) because they absorb into the shaft rather than sitting on top of the hair like mineral oil.

H is for HIH (Hand in Hair) syndrome, also known as HIF (Hand in Fro).  You know how it is when you can’t keep your hands off a new lover?  ‘Nough said.

L is for Low Manipulation and this refers to styles like twist outs, braid outs and bantu knot outs that require little to no combing or brushing.  Likewise, Protective Styles like buns, updos, twists, and braids are options that help to minimize damage and retain length.  These are also great styles for LTT’s who are catering to a fickle combination of relaxed and natural hair.

N is for No-Poo or No Shampoo.  As mentioned earlier, many highly textured women opt to forego shampoo due to harsh surfactants (foaming agents) like SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) that strip the hair of natural oils.

O is for Organic. The synthetic ingredients in most commercial products are harsh, particularly on curly, kinky hair. Some benefits of using organic, all natural products include more shine, manageability and softness along with less product build-up.

P is for PJ (Product Junky).  This is a person who’s addicted to trying new hair products. Trying different products is fine, but thinking that you’re going to find one that turns your hair into something it’s not is wishfulthinking.com.

S is for SSNs (Single Strand Knots) also known as Fairy Knots.  These occur when a single strand of hair wraps around itself and forms a tiny knot.  A Search & Destroy session involves sectioning your locks and strategically cutting off these forsaken ends. 

Wis for WNG or Wash N Go which is the process ofwashing (or co-washing) your hair and letting it dry as is.  For many of us, this style is not as simple as it sounds, plus it can be a breeding ground for SSNs.  Keep it simple.  Don’t try to force it with copious amounts of product. There are other ways to let your soul glow. #punintended

Z is for Z Pattern which describes the curl pattern of 4B hair.  Hair typing systems, which categorize hair into groups (like 3a, 3b, 3c, 4a and 4b) can be helpful in identifying common characteristics - but I caution you against type casting your tresses.  Always pay attention to its uniqueness.  Speaking for myself, they just can’t box me, boo.  My hair has too many personalities.  But I recognize the intention.

I do hope this guide is helpful and maybe even a little fun.  After all, you should enjoy this experience!  If you can be open to relearning a few things and not taking yourself to seriously, transitioning will be a very enlightening experience for you. 

(HTH) Happy to help! 


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