The Ultimate Curly Girl Method Glossary – Curly Hair Terms Explained

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This post is your curly girl method glossary to help you understand all the ridiculous terms we have for different styling methods and techniques unique to the curly girl method.

When I first started the CG method I was so confused by the words I would read like SOTC, LOC, and plopping. I had no idea what these meant and felt frustrated at times.

So here I have rounded up all the curly hair terms with explanations and pictures so you don’t have to feel the way I did. And if I left anything out, let me know in the comments and I can add it in.

curly girl method glossary

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ACV rinse – An ACV rinse is a mildly clarifying rinse using apple cider vinegar. It’s beneficial for those with hard water and helps soften and give shine. To do this mix 1-2 tsp into 8 ounces of water and pour over your hair after conditioning then rinse out. You can watch my ACV rinse in this video.

Air dry – This one is pretty simple. It just means you let your hair dry naturally without any heat/dryer.

Big chop – the big haircut curlies do to chop off the damaged hair and speed up the transition process

Bonnet – a cap used to protect curls overnight

Bowl method – a way of applying styling products using a bowl that is very hydrating. You can see how to do it here

Breakage – when hair snaps and breaks because it is too dry, damaged, or has too much protein

Brush styling – a method of styling curls that involves running a special brush through the hair with product to create smooth curl clumps

Buff – a tubular piece of fabric (traditionally used around the neck in winter sports) used to protect curls while sleeping

Delilah Orpi the Holistic Enchilada in a hair buff for curly hair
wearing a hair buff

Build-up – when products, natural oils, and minerals from water build up on hair over time causing dull, heavy, or frizzy hair

Cast – the hard, stiff feeling curls have from drying with gel and other styling products

Canopy – the top layer of hair

Clarify – the removal of buildup using a strong shampoo with olefin sulfonate or a sulfate

Clipping (root clipping) – using clips to lift the roots for more volume

Clump – big sections of curls that stick together

Delilah with wet hair showing her curly hair clumps
wet curl clumps
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Cowash – using a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo and doing a lot of scalp scrubbing

Cocktail – mixing styling products together to apply at once

COTC – stands for “clap out the crunch”, a method of clapping your hands over your hair when the cast has dried to soften the crunch and release the cast

Crown – the top, back part of your head

Crunch – another word for cast, the hard feeling your hair has when it has dried with styling products

Density – how much hair you have, from low to high

Detangling – removing knots and tangles

Diffusing – drying hair with a diffuser, which is a bowl-like attachment for hair dryers

Dry plop – plopping wet hair in a towel or t shirt as part of the drying process

Drying alcohols – alcohol ingredients in hair products that speed up drying time but should be avoided

Emollients – hydrophobic oils that act as anti-humectants and seal the hair

Essential oils – plant oils used to add scent and therapeutic properties

Fatty alcohols – moisturizing alcohols used in hair products

Finger coiling – a method of styling where you coil curl clumps using your fingers

Fluff – using your fingers or a comb to massage the roots and create volume

Gelatin treatment – a protein treatment using gelatin to make a hair mask

Glycerin – a common humectant used to attract moisture to the hair

Holy grail – a term used for products that always give you great results

Hair type – the classification of your hair, from wavy to curly and coily

Halo frizz – frizz on the outer layer of the hair

Heat damage – damage caused by heat styling

High porosity – hair that has a more open cuticle and absorbs products and moisture easily

Humectant – an ingredient that attracts moisture from the environment

Hydrate – to moisturize with water

Hygral fatigue – when your hair cuticle is damaged due to excessive moisture entering and exiting the hair cuticle

Glazing – a method of applying styling product by gently gliding it over hair

Keratin – a type of protein used in hair products and also the protein our hair is made of

LOC – a styling method where you layer leave-in, curl cream, and oil in that order

Low poo – a sulfate free shampoo

Low porosity – hair that has a tight cuticle and has difficulty accepting moisture and products

Manipulation – forming the curls into shape with your fingers or a brush

Medium porosity – hair with a cuticle that is moderately open and is fairly easy to manage

Medusa clipping – a way of clipping hair to protect it overnight. You can see it here

Micro plop – a modified method of plopping where you use the towel to push the hair up towards the scalp and press for a few seconds

No poo – not using shampoo, co-wash

Pineapple – a hairstyle where you pull your hair up into a ponytail at the top of your head as shown below. This is typically done to preserve curls while sleeping or working out

Delilah with her hair up in a curly hair pineapple

Pixie diffusing – a method of diffusing by putting sections of hair into the diffuser and pushing it up towards your scalp

Plopping – using a t-shirt or towel to collect your hair on top of your head and let dry

Porosity – how porous hair is, from low to high

Praying hands – a method of applying styling products by gliding your hands across the hair on both sides in prayer manner

Pre-poo – using an oil or treatment product on the hair before cleansing

Protein – what makes up our hair. Proteins can be used as ingredients to help strengthen hair

Protein treatment – a treatment or mask that is heavy in protein to help repair hair

Pulse – a method of applying products by repeatedly scrunching at the top near the roots

Raking – finger combing product into the hair

Rake and shake – a method of applying product by raking from the roots just to the ends then stopping with the ends still in your hand and shaking it to help it clump

Refresh – to restyle hair the next day or days after wash day

Rice water rinse – a protein treatment where you heat rice in some water, strain it, and use the milky water to rinse your hair. See more about rice water rinses here

Roping – squeezing product into the hair as if you were squeezing a rope repeatedly in a downward motion

Scrunch – squeezing the hair upwards

Shrinkage – the difference in length once hair has dried

Silicone – a hydrophobic ingredient that coats the hair, builds up, and can only be removed by using sulfates

Slip – how slippery a product makes the hair feel

Smasters – a method of applying product where some product is applied during the drying process

SOTC (scrunch out the crunch) – scrunching hair once it has dried into a crunchy cast to release the cast and soften hair

STC (squish to condish) – squishing water and conditioner into the hair in place of simply rinsing out conditioner

Sulfate – a cleansing ingredient common in shampoos that is drying and should be avoided in curly hair

Squish – squeezing the hair upwards when it is full of product

Texture – the thickness of each strand of hair, from fine to coarse

Transition – the period between starting the curly girl method until your hair has returned to its natural curls

Wet plop – plopping in a shower cap to help retain moisture

I hope this was helpful and as I mentioned above, let me know if I left any terms off the list.

Master your curls quick start guide cover with a side by side comparison of Delilah's waves in the past and her full curls now.

If you want help with embracing your naturally wavy or curly hair, you can join my FREE email course and download my FREE pdf guide, THE QUICK START GUIDE TO MASTERING YOUR CURLS, full of everything you need to know to get started and bring out your beautiful waves and curls.

You can also read my other popular posts on curly hair:

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70 terms to know the ultimate curly girl method glossary

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