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Curly Hair Glossary

Starting your curly hair journey can be overwhelming. So many questions.... Which Curl Shampoo do I need, what's the best protein treatment for curly hair, WHY DO I EVEN NEED A PROTEIN TREATMENT? And then there's the abbreviations..... Plopping? SOTC! Poo and No Poo.... what the heck?

To make things a little easier, I've compiled a glossary of some of the more common curly hair care abbreviations and terms. Hold on tight... there's some doozies!

  • CGM - Curly Girl Method: A curly hair care method developed by Lorraine Massey. Lorraine initially shared her wisdom in her book "Curly Girl: The Handbook." It encourages the use of sulfate-free, silicone-free, and drying alcohol-free products to enhance natural curl patterns.

  • Co-wash - Short for "conditioner wash." This involves using curly hair conditioner to cleanse the hair and scalp without the use of shampoo.

  • Sulfate - A type of surfactant commonly found in shampoos, known for its ability to create lather. Sulfates can be drying and potentially damaging to curly hair.

  • Silicone - A type of synthetic ingredient found in many hair products, including conditioners and styling products. Some silicones can create build-up and prevent moisture from penetrating the hair shaft. Read more about ingredients to avoid and why

  • Transition Phase - The period when someone switches from their previous hair care routine to the Curly Girl Method. During this time, the hair may go through an adjustment period as it adapts to the new products and techniques.

  • Porosity - Refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture. There are three types: low porosity, normal porosity, and high porosity.

  • Pineapple - A nighttime hairstyle where the hair is gathered loosely on top of the head, resembling the top of a pineapple. This helps prevent frizz and flattening while sleeping.

  • Plop - A method used to enhance curl formation and reduce excess moisture after washing. It involves wrapping wet hair in a Curl Towel (or an old t-shirt)

  • Scrunching - The process of gently squeezing and lifting the hair towards the scalp to encourage curl formation.

  • Curl Clumps - Sections of hair that naturally form into defined curls or waves. The goal of the CGM is to encourage the formation of healthy, well-defined curl clumps.

  • Leave-In Conditioner - A conditioner that is not rinsed out after application and provides additional moisture and protection to the hair.

  • Deep Conditioning - A treatment that provides intense moisture and nourishment to the hair. It is typically left on for an extended period of time.

  • Cast - The initial firm or crunchy feeling that can occur after applying styling products. It helps hold the curl shape and is later "scrunched out" for a softer look.

  • SOTC - Scrunch Out The Crunch. This refers to the process of breaking the cast by scrunching the hair to reveal soft, bouncy curls.

  • Gel Cast - The firm hold created by applying a gel or styling product to wet hair. It helps define curls and reduce frizz.

  • Diffuser - An attachment for a hair dryer designed to disperse air more gently and evenly, helping to dry curls without causing frizz.

  • 2A, 3B, 4C, etc. - The hair type classification system developed by Andre Walker. It ranges from straight (1) to tightly coiled (4), with subcategories for each type.

  • Holy Grail - Refers to a product that works exceptionally well for a person's hair, often considered a "must-have" in their routine.

  • Pre-poo - Short for "pre-shampoo." This involves applying a treatment, such as oil or conditioner, to the hair before washing to provide extra moisture and protection. You might also see Low-Poo (a gentle foaming shampoo) and No-Poo (cream cleansers) mentioned.

  • Clarifying - Using a clarifying shampoo or treatment to remove build-up from the hair and scalp. It's important to use a sulfate-free clarifying product IF you're following the CGM strictly.

  • Refresh - The process of reviving and restyling second or third-day curls without washing the hair completely.

  • Frizz - Unwanted, unruly, or undefined hair strands that can be caused by factors like humidity, damage, or dryness. *Note that there is Good Frizz and Bad Frizz - Good Frizz helps gives body, volume and bounce to curly hair. "Bad" Frizz is more likely from damage, needing more moisture or needing stronger hold products.

  • Protein Treatment - A treatment that contains proteins to strengthen the hair and improve elasticity.

  • Humectant - A substance, often found in hair products, that attracts and retains moisture from the air. These can be friend or foe, depending on your hair, location and weather etc.

  • Slip - Refers to the slipperiness or smoothness of a product, like a conditioner, which helps with detangling. A product having "good slip" means that it feels smooth and silky in the hair and makes detangling a breeze!

  • Protective Styles - Hairstyles that tuck the ends of the hair away and reduce exposure to environmental stressors, helping to protect and retain length. This is more commonly spoken about in the USA and amongst POC communities.

  • Scalp Massage - The act of gently massaging the scalp to stimulate blood flow and promote a healthy environment for hair growth.

  • DIY - Do It Yourself (Bet you didn't already know that one🤣) With curly hair, this generally refers to homemade treatments or products.

  • Emollient - A substance that helps soften and smooth the hair, often found in conditioners and styling products.

  • Frizz Halo - Refers to the little fluffy "halo" of baby hairs or frizz that you might see around the hair line or the top of the hair

  • Shrinkage - Refers to when curly or coily hair appears shorter when dry compared to when wet.

Remember, finding the right combination of products and techniques is a personal journey, and what works best can vary from person to person. Hopefully this helps you wrap your head around things a little more though! I'd love to hear any other terms you've heard that I missed! xx Kaycee

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