Common Curly Hair Care Terms: Definitions & Explanations

curly hair care

Pineappling? Co-washing? Shingling? 3a? 4b? What the hell is everybody talking about? Naturally Multiracial / curly hair comes with a lot of terms that look confusing as heck if you haven’t heard them before. That’s ok. There is no way to know everything. We are here to help.

This week for the Multiracial Media’s Multiracial Kids Hair Care Column we are going to explore common terms that one may hear in the Multiracial / natural / curly hair care world. Continue reading for the definitions and explanations.

Common Curly Hair Care Terms - Definitions and Explanations

Common Curly Hair Care Terms – Definitions & Explanations

(Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links but all opinions are my own)

  • Co-Washing : Basically? Washing with conditioner instead of shampoo. This is the preferred method of those with naturally curly hair because it is less drying and doesn’t strip the oils off the strands. Curly hair needs all the moisture it can get so this is a popular technique. For more details on using a conditioner vs. a co-wash I recommend checking out this article by Naturally Curly comparing the two. It does require more effort though. So get to scrubbing!
  • Pineapple : This is for those that like to leave their curls loose and out of a protective style. It is flipping ones head upside down, gathering all the curls, and putting a loose hair tie / hair scrunchie / buff around all the curls to keep them together. Do NOT tighten the hair tie as this could dent and mess up the curls. This helps keep the curls nice for the next day and helps give volume as well all while sleeping. Here is a helpful Q & A from CurlyNikki on Essence on pineappling.
  • Buff : Putting a buff on your hair is basically a big, long headband that helps protect the curls. They can be worn for sleeping, working out, while your hair is drying, etc. They come in different colors and patterns so you can really play up your style if you want. Here is a helpful video to show you how to use the buff while you sleep.
    Curly hair care

    How to wear a hair buff

  • Protective Style : A protective style is a hairstyle that protects (duh!) the hair from breakage, knots, promotes growth, and keeps curly hair under control! They protect the hair. They can be cornrows, braids, twists, and a bunch of other combinations. Many adult women also will braid up their hair and put a wig over it to protect their natural hair or wear various weaves to also reduce wear and tear on their own hair. Over on The Mixed Mama Blog I have a few examples of some kid friendly styles we did (here, here, and here).                                                            curly hair care
  • Cornrow : This is a type of braid that include braiding close to the scalp. It is similar to French braids (which a lot of Caucasian parents are more familiar with) except instead of pulling the hair over to add it you pull it under. This video is a great video for beginners trying to learn how to cornrow. [youtube]
  • Shingling : Have a lot of time on your hands? Try shingling. It involved dividing the hair up into sections, twisting the curls individually, and letting dry. It leads to AMAZING curls and definition… it just is time consuming. This post on Naturally Curly links 3 great videos on shingling if you want to check them out (you should!)
  • LCO / LOC Method : Basically L = liquid , O = Oil, & C = Crème. Its a technique used to seal in moisture. Some people find the putting liquid, THEN oil, THEN crème works better and some people find liquid, THEN crème, THEN oil works best. Trial and error is what you should do until you figure out what works for you. Personally I like the LCO steps. This is what you do after washing/co-washing the hair. Natural Hair Kids has a great infographic on some options you can use for this LCO / LOC method. curly hair care
  • Box Braids : This one is simple. Its a braiding technique that basically involves dividing the hair into little boxes and then braiding it. The size of the box changes and some people also feed weave into the braids to extend their natural hair. I did big boxes on my girl in the pic below because she was NOT going to sit for how long it would’ve taken to do smaller ones all over. curly hair care
  • Curl Type / Pattern: What kind of curl pattern does your kid have? 3a? 4b? Huh?! What? This handy little curl pattern chart I found on Curls & Potions will help you determine that. Curl Patterns Image from Curls and Potions Page
  • Hair Porosity : This is one you may hear less often but it is a great thing to know to help you determine how much moisture you need to add to your kids hair. The basics are that porosity determines how well you hair holds moisture. Low Porosity means it accepts moisture into the strands less (less pores) and High Porosity means it accepts more moisture, but also lets it go more (more pores). This post on Natural Hair Kids about Porosity & Density is a GREAT read and it also goes over how to test hair to determine its porosity.
  • Curly Girl Method : This is a GREAT and popular hair care technique that is based on a Best Selling Book: Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey. The Basics? No shampoo, avoid heat (diffusing on low is ok), co-washing, no brushes (finger comb or wide tooth comb only), no sulfates, and no non-water-soluble ingredients (i.e. silicones, petroleum, mineral oil). There are lists of products that are considered CG Friendly. If you aren’t sure if it fits the technique there is an entire CG Method Facebook Group with almost 100k members and tons of graphics to help. But just a word to the wise… only talking about products that follow the CG rules are allowed.

Let me know down below if there are any terms not listed that you’d like more information about. I will do my best to answer.

Disclaimer- I am not a professional… this is just what I’ve learned through research and trial & error. We are always learning and I am not afraid to admit if I am wrong and made a mistake. It’s ok if you do too. We, as parents, aren’t perfect. That’s ok. As long as we try as hard as we can for our children.

Again, if there are any specific topics you are interested in learning about or reading please let me know either down in the comments below or by emailing me directly at: with “Multiracial Media Column Question” as your Subject line.

Thanks for reading and good luck!


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Published on: July 17, 2017

Filed Under: Advice

Views: 1600

2 Responses to Common Curly Hair Care Terms: Definitions & Explanations

  1. […] into a easy hairstyle or into a pineapple for sleeping. Wonder what a pineapple is? Check out our Common Curly Hair Care Terms post from last weeks column.Satin Sleep Cap : This is a great way to keep curls and hairstyles […]

  2. […] If you don’t want to do some sort of style before bed, then I recommend that you minimally put hair up into a pineapple. If you aren’t sure what that is… check out the column post from a few weeks ago on Common Curly Hair Care Terms. […]

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