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Glossary-Banner Curly Girl GlossaryCURLY GIRL GLOSSARY


Understanding all the terms of a Curly Girl Glossary can be hard. Knowing the difference between Plopping, a pineapple and an ACV rinse can leave you feeling very confused.


The Curly Girl Method can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there that it’s hard to know where to begin. This Curly Girl Glossary is a great place to start.

There are so many acronyms. You’re left feeling like you need a special dictionary just to hold a curly girl conversation. That and the weird looks you get when you say “I plop” or “do you squish?”. My personal favourite of the Curly Girl Glossary, is telling someone that “you no-poo” your hair and the raised eyebrow that undoubtedly follows.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive run down. This is a good place to start and you can always refer back to this Curly Girl Glossary in the future. 


ACV Rinse 

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse is used to restore the pH balance of your hair. It works to close the hairs cuticles making the hair less frizzy and increasing shine. A homemade ACV rinse: mix ¼ cup of ACV to 2 cups of water.


 a natural hairstyle that typically requires picking the hair into a rounded shape. Often referred to as a ‘fro.


Bantu Knots

a method of twisting sections of hair tightly into neat knots and securing them with hair pins.


Big chop which refers to cutting off a large portion of relaxed or damaged hair during the transitioning process.



the hard result you get when using gel in styling and your hair dries.


Curly Girl

CG Approved

Curly Girl Approved usually means that the product in question are approved for use whilst following the Curly Girl Method. They don’t contain prohibited ingredients such as silicones, sulphates, parabens etc.


This is the process of using a clarifying shampoo from time to time to really give your hair and scalp a good deep clean. Clarifying can help to remove build up and residue from your scalp and hair in such a way that it doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils. Signs that you need to clarify include build up, frizz and lack of volume.

Depending on your hair and curl type, the frequency to clarify changes. Typically you would clarify every few weeks to every few months.


the use of hair clips to encourage root volume or curl pattern whilst drying.


This is where the hair forms clumps. The hairs gather together to form bigger curls.


The same as Cast, the hard result of using gel.


Using a conditioner or a more specific cleansing cream or product specifically for co-washing to cleanse the hair without creating a lather. These products contain fewer harsh chemicals such as sulphates.

Curl Pattern

Every curl is different. Each person’s curl pattern is unique. Therefor this is the unique shape your curl pattern takes. Much like finger prints

Curl Type

As we looked at in Curl Club – Lesson 2, there are different levels of curliness. A 2 which is wavy, a 3 which is curly and a 4 which is kinky curly. Within each level there are also degrees of intensity. This is denoted by either an a, b or c.


Someone who has curly hair, whether it’s type 2, 3 or 4. It is also used to identify people who are following the curly girl method.


Day 2, 3 etc

This is a way of describing how long it has been since a Wash day. Typically curly girls do not wash their hair daily. You’ll often see people referencing, for example, Day 3 Curls. This means 3 days since wash day.

Deep Conditioning

As we learned in Curl Club – Lesson 1, curly hair is drier than our straight haired counterparts. More moisture is needed to maintain healthy hair. One of the ways we do this is by doing a “Deep Condition” at a frequency that suits your hair. Deep conditioning is normally done out of the shower for a longer duration and gentle heat can be applied to deepen the treatment. Wrapping the hair in a plastic bag or shower cap and using a hair dryer is great way to add this heat.


a measure of how close each individual hair strand is packed together on your scalp. Ranges from low to high.


The wide attachment that fits to your hair dryer that disperses the air slowly and helps to reduce frizz. A diffuser creates a less forceful drying effect.


Do it yourself, making your own products at home.


A light trim of your ends, so fine that it looks like dust. Often done between full trims.



hair around your hair line including he fine baby hairs. These can sometimes be styled into elaborate designs. Extra care is taken with these hairs because they can break off easily and cause hair loss on the hair line.


place a small amount of product on wet hands and rub together vigorously. This changes the consistency and spreads the product for easy application.



Describes leave-in conditioners and other hair care products that plump the hair.

Final Wash 

A “final wash” is performed using sulphates to completely remove all build up before starting the Curly Girl Method, This is so that your hair is as close to ‘natural” as it can be. Using regular dish liquid will do the job or Redwin Tea Tree Shampoo.

Finger Curling/Coiling

The practice of coiling your curl clumps around your finger to exaggerate the natural pattern.

Finger raking

Running your fingers through your hair to distribute product evenly through your hair or to detangle.


the technique used to add volume and shape to natural hair. You can use your fingers or a hair pick and gently fluff the roots to give volume.


Hair Goals

a phrase used when one curly girl sees another curly girl and wants to achieve a similar result, look, style.

Holy Grail

a tried and tested products that achieves good results every time.


a moisturising ingredient in hair care products to keep the hair from being dry.



Jamaican Black Castor Oil, an ingredient used in several hair care products. The most common reason people seek out Jamaican black castor oil and its benefits is to help with hair growth. The fatty acids improve the overall health of each hair follicle. This helps ensure consistent hair growth and can even help you achieve thicker hair. 


Leave-in Conditioner

Leave-in conditioner is used as a filling agent to leave the hair plump and hydrated


A hair cleanser that has lower levels of surfactants. These shouldn’t lather as much as traditional shampoo and is milder on the hair. Look for CG approved ones.

LOC Method

A method of layering liquid/leave-in, with oil and then a curl cream. This ensures long lasting moisturised hair in between washes.

LCO Method

A method of layering liquid/leave-in with cream and then oil. This ensures long lasting moisturised hair between washes.


Micro-fiber towels

Using a towel to dry your hair causes friction. And friction causes frizz. Towels also absorb too much water which is counterintuitive when you are trying to get more moisture into your hair. Instead use a micro-fibre towel or even a cotton T-shirt to wick away excess moisture.


the method of using your chosen fabric (micro-fibre, t-shirt or even a kitchen towel) to squish the hair gently to remove excess product or liquid. You take a section of hair and gently squish it up towards the scalp. Using the same area of your fabric, move on to a new section of hair. Keep going until you have done the whole head. Removes excess liquid whilst not taking away too much of the product you just put in. 



A cleansing product that contains no sulphates and doesn’t lather at all.



A preservative commonly found in beauty products which can interfere with  hormone function. It is not strictly bad for your hair though so do your own research and decide what you are comfortable with. Check out this link to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners for more info. 


Gathering long curly hair on top of the head, using a curl friendly hair tie to secure them and protect the curls whilst sleeping or working out etc.


Carefully placing all of your hair in a t-shirt or micro-fiber towel to soak up excess water before finishing your styling routine. Also referred to as “plop”


The amount of water your hair can absorb is determined by the porosity of your hair. You can have high porosity which means you hair loves water and gets wet easily and absorbs moisture. Having low porosity hair means your hair repels water and can take some effort getting soaked in the shower. There is also medium porosity which is a balance between the two.

Praying Hands

Using the palms of the hands, in a prayer position, to smooth the hair down and encourage clumping. Apply a small amount of product to wet hands and emulsify. Squash the hair between the palms and move hands downwards towards the end of the hair.

Product Jukie

Someone who is a serial product purchaser. They are on a quest to find the ‘holy grail” product and keep purchasing new products before old ones are finished and used up.

Protective Styles

A hair style that is used to protect the hair from outside factors such as the weather or chlorine. It can also be used while sleeping to prevent hair damage from moving whilst you sleep.


Using a strong moisturiser or oil treatment before shampooing. This can be done as and when you need.


Protein gives hair structure and definition. It is important to find a balance between this and moisture.



A method of refreshing your curls without having to do a full wash and style. Often a specifically formulated refresh spray is used but you can also use water, water with a drop of conditioner or lavender oil or other scalp oil or even gel. This helps to revive curl shape, refresh scent and even reactivate hair products. Find what works best for you. Be mindful though, not everyone can refresh. Some curls just look best done from scratch.


Scalp Massage

Rubbing the scalp and hair roots with the tips of your fingers or utensil to stimulate and cleanse the scalp, encourage hair growth and moisturise.


the normal occurrence of dead hair being removed when raking or using a comb on your wet conditioned hair. Up to 200 hairs can be shed in a day, more depending on stress level and health. If hair is not manipulated for a period of time, higher levels of shedding could be experienced.


A curl will shrink as it get drier. The more shrinkage you have, the curlier your hair is.


Also known as “cones”. A synthetic compound found in many hair care products. They act as a sealant and smooth down the hair shaft reducing frizz, giving the hair a nice shine and reducing friction. The trouble with silicone is most are not water soluble and cannot be easily removed. They also cause build up. They seal the hair which means moisture is locked out. A sulphate is needed to remove them which can be found in drying shampoos.


Slip feels like wet slimy seaweed. When you apply product to your hair, it should have that wet seaweed feel. The more slip a product has, the better. This helps to detangle and prevent breakage.

SOTC/’Scrunch out the Crunch”

The action of gently squashing the hair with your hands, a t-shirt, micro-fibre towel or even a silk or satin pillowcase. This “breaks” the cast leaving you with soft touchable curls.

SC/ Squish to Condish

A method of squishing your products into the hair. Turn your head to the side or upside down and then squish a clump of hair right up to the root in your palm. This encourages the hair to take in moisture and also helps the curl pattern to form.



A regular cotton t-shirt used to wick away moisture, or excess product and also used to SOTC.

That sums up this Curly Girl Glossary, but the list is by no means exhaustive. It will be updated from time to time. It is a good place to start and covers many of the terms you will come across.

Is there anything we’ve missed from this Curly Girl Glossary? Have you come across a word you don’t know? Contact Us or comment! 

Until next time,


Yours Curly