Check Out This A-Z Guide To All The Curly Hair Care Terms You Need To Know

From 'squish-to-condish' to 'no-poo!'
PHOTO: istockphoto ILLUSTRATION: Mixi Ignacio

As I and any kulot Pinay will tell you, taking care of curly hair is an entirely different game compared to doing a hair care routine for straight hair. Washing wavy or kinky strands alone entails a unique process and requires different shampoos and conditioners—and don't get me started with styling products! But, if you're just starting to embrace your natural curls, here's a comprehensive guide on all the terms you need know:

A

Air Dry

Letting your hair dry naturally without the aid of heat (like a blow dryer) and other tools. PSA: This process can take hours especially if you have a thick mane!

ACV Rinse

mixture of apple cider vinegar (one part) and water (five parts) used by curly-haired girls to remove gunk and grease and to restore the hair's shine and body.

B

Buildup

That annoying accumulation of product, grease, and gunk on your scalp. This happens when you seldom or never use shampoo or any clarifying and cleansing product.

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Baggy Method

A technique you can occasionally use when you have extra dry strands with low porosity. In the baggy method, you apply a leave-in conditioner or any other moisturizing product on your locks, cover your head in a plastic shower cap (you may also use a plastic bag or even a saran wrap), and leave it on overnight.

C

CGM or the Curly Girl Method

The regimen popularized by "curly hair evangelist" and DevaCurl co-founder Lorraine Massey (from her bestselling book, Curly Girl: The Handbook). In the CG Method, you stick to conditioner and gel for your curly hair care. You also do away with certain ingredients and some habits that damage curls, such as sulfates and shampooing.

Co-Washing

Washing your scalp and tresses with conditioner instead of shampoo.

Clumping

The beautiful phenomenon when hair strands gather (or "clump") together and form chunkier curls.

Crown

The center of the top of your head.

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Cast

A hard "cast” usually forms when you use styling products like gel or pomade.

D

Deep Conditioning

Using specially formulated products that give the strands extra body, moisture, and nourishment. It's typically done for 10 to 30 minutes once or twice a week for best results.

DevaCut

Created by the Devachan Salon in the U.S., this technique is used for cutting curly hair while it's dry and bringing out the best in each coil. While there aren't any DevaCut-certified salons or hairstylists in the Philippines that we know of yet, there are some local salons and stylists that can do a dry cut specialized for kulot girls.

Diffuser

An attachment for hair dryers that you can use to speed up drying your locks without sacrificing hair volume or curl definition.

F

Final Wash

Before adopting CGM, it's recommended you thoroughly cleanse your hair and scalp and get rid of the remaining silicones, drying alcohols, heavy oils, and other non-CG-friendly ingredients. A silicone-free clarifying shampoo is used for this, but your dishwashing liquid can work as a cheap alternative, too!

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Finger Coiling

A "training method" to make your curls more defined wherein you wrap them around your fingers, ideally while applying conditioner or your styling product

Flaxseed Gel

styling gel you can make at home which you can use to moisturize your hair and reduce frizz.

G

Gel

A curly girl's styling BFF. Alcohol- and silicone-free gels seal moisture into your strands and make them look shiny.

H

Hair Type

The classification of how curly your hair is. There are specific types of wavy, curly, and coily hair. Knowing your hair types (and yes, you can have more than one) can help you identify which products or regimens will work best for you.

Hygral Fatigue

Too much moisture in the hair is a no-no—believe it or not. It can result in "hygral fatigue," where the hair cuticle swells or expands too much. This eventually leads to breakage, so you have to aim for moisture and protein balance to avoid damaging the strands.

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K

Keratin Treatment

Keratin is the protein that gives your hair its structure. Over time, this component gets damaged, which leads to dry, brittle hair. Infusing your hair with a keratin deep conditioner helps reverse the damage.

L

Low Poo

This means occasionally using a little bit of shampoo to wash your mane with the aim of just gently cleansing your scalp and strands. When you're part of a kulot online community like the Curly Girl Philippines group on Facebook, "low poo" is usually mentioned in the context of shampoos or cleansers without heavy sulfates, silicones, parabens, petrolatum, and mineral oil.

Leave-In Conditioner

A no-rinse lightweight, water-based conditioner you apply onto your damp or dry hair for extra moisture.

LOC Method

LOC stands for Leave-In (Conditioner), Oil, and Cream. It's also the order in which you should layer styling products to ensure maximum hydration.

M

Mousse

A foamy styling product you can use that won't weigh down your curls.

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N

No-Poo

Short for "no shampoo" or cleansing and caring for your hair without the use of shampoo.

P

Porosity

Typically graded as low, medium, and high, porosity is the property of hair strands based on their ability to absorb and retain moisture.

Protein Overload

In contrast to hygral fatigue, protein overload is when your hair gets too much keratin or other proteins (like collagen or amino acids) from conditioners and styling products. The result of protein overload is dry hair, excess frizz, and less clumping.

Pre-Poo

The process of applying oil, like virgin coconut oil, to your hair and scalp a few hours or the night before you shampoo to lessen the drying effect of the cleanser.

Plopping

Gently wrapping your curls with a big cotton T-shirt or a microfiber towel to get rid of excess water. In case you don't know, drying your strands by wrapping or rubbing them with a towel results in frizz and loss of curl definition. Follow Cosmopolitan's tutorial to plopping here.

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Pineapple

In the context of curly hair regimens, doing a pineapple means gathering your hair in a loose bun or ponytail on your crown. It's the best way to tie your hair and preserve your curls, especially when you sleep on them and don't plan to wash and style the next day.

R

Rice Water Rinse

A nutritious hair treatment you can make with excess water from soaking or cooking rice. You can do a rice water rinse every week in place of a deep conditioner. 

Raking

Using your fingers to comb through your hair to either detangle it while co-washing or when applying hair styling products.

Refresh

This is the process of spritzing your hair with a mixture of water and conditioner (sometimes with a little bit of gel, too) or using other tools to redefine and moisturize the curls.

S

S2C or Squish-to-Condish

Done after co-washing, S2C means squishing your curls while conditioning them.

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SOTC or Scrunch Out the Crunch

Sporting curls with a hard gel cast doesn't look pretty but the fix is quite easy: Just scrunch your curls when they're completely dry to reveal soft, shiny waves.

Silk and Satin

The best material kulot girls can use when it comes to caps, pillowcases, buffs, and scrunchies.

Sulfates, Silicones

Ingredients that are commonly used in shampoos and other hair care products that should be avoided (or banned) from a curly hair routine.

Smasters Method

Popularized by an online curly girl community member with the username Smasters467, this technique entails applying additional gel to your curls when they're about 50 percent dry for more definition.

Second-Day Hair

The term you call your hair on the day after you wash it. Most women find their tresses look better on the second day, especially curly-haired girls. This is why the CGM recommends to just wash the locks every other day or less.

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T

Transitioning

The period after starting the CGM (or any other curly hair care regimen) when your hair is recovering from damage but not fully healed yet.

U

Unicorn Method

A technique used when cutting hair. It involves tying wet hair at the very top of your crown to create a "unicorn horn," and trimming the ends of the ponytail to create some layers.

V

Virgin Hair

Hair that has never been processed with chemicals (like straightening, rebonding, perming, etc.) and dyes.

W

Wavy Hair

That middle spot (or soft S pattern) between straight and curly hair.

Wash Day

The day you fully wash (or co-wash) your hair. When your hair and scalp adapts to the CGM well, you can do this once a week or even once every two weeks if you live in a place that's not hot or humid.

Z

Z-Shaped Curls

A type of fragile, ultra-fine coil (in the shape of the letter Z rather than the letter S) that gives hair a fluffy appearance. Unlike other types of curls, Z-Shaped curls require hydration in moderation because too much can lead to breakage.

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