18 Words That Mean Something Totally Different When You Have Natural Hair

The curls have a language all their own.

1. “Wash Day”

20th Century Fox Television / Via youtube.com

Common meaning: A day for doing laundry.
Curly meaning: The day you wash your hair, which you plan your whole week around.

2. “Poo”

Common meaning: The stinky stuff.
Curly meaning: A shortened version of “pre-poo,” which is a concoction created to strengthen and prepare hair for washing.

3. “Perm”

Common meaning: A chemical treatment to make your hair super curly.
Curly meaning: A chemical treatment to do the exact opposite. Sometimes called a relaxer, this actually loosens curls or completely straightens.

4. “Kinky”

Paramount Pictures / Via dopaliciousdistrict.com

Common meaning: Those freaky-deaky things you ONLY do for someone special.
Curly meaning: A super tight curl pattern.

5. “Co-wash”


Common meaning: All-together now, let’s take a shower!
Curly meaning: Washing your hair with two conditioners instead of a shampoo and conditioner.

6. “Shrinkage”


Common meaning: An unfortunate thing that happens when a man is chilly.
Curly meaning: An unfortunate thing that prevents you from ever truly knowing how long your hair is.

7. “Arm strength”

Win McNamee/Staff / Getty Images

Common meaning: Something you get when you DO curls.
Curly meaning: Something you get because you HAVE curls.

8. “Pick”

Paramount Pictures / Via n3wjackcity.tumblr.com

Common meaning: To choose something.
Curly meaning: The wide-toothed comb you use to attempt combing your curls. Then your curls laugh at you for trying, and you decide it’s better used as an accessory.

9. “Treatment”

Fox / Via listal.com

Common meaning: Therapy for your mind and/or body.
Curly meaning: Therapy for your hair which indirectly soothes your mind and your body.

10. “Poof”

Common meaning: Something a fairy godmother might say.
Curly meaning: What most would call a ponytail becomes a poof when you have big hair.

11. “Waves”

Flickr: 73230975@N03 Creative Commons

Common meaning: Something you can surf on.
Curly meaning: Something that your hair does. Sometimes. When it feels like it.

12. “Stretch”

NBC / Via youtube.com

Common meaning: What you do before and after a workout.
Curly meaning: The use of braids, twists, rods, etc. to combat shrinkage (see #6).

13. “Olive Oil”


Common meaning: A necessary and wonderful cooking oil.
Curly meaning: A necessary and wonderful hair product for sealing in moisture.

14. “Steamer”

Common meaning: A tool for cooking yummy veggies. Or, for you nautical types, a type of boat.
Curly meaning: A tool that makes hair really happy. And if you can eat steamed veggies while you’re steaming that’s a win-win.

15. “Diffuser”


Common meaning: A smelly good thing that’s a perfect housewarming gift.
Curly meaning: The one thing that turns a blow dryer from an evil frizz monster to helpful hair tool.

16. “Rod”

Common meaning: Rod Stewart. (What, there’s another use for this word?)
Curly meaning: Used to set and stretch curly hair and give it some semblance of a uniform look.

17. “Knot”

Flickr: 19779889@N00 Creative Commons

Common meaning: A secure form of tying.
Curly meaning: Same, except in your hair. And painful. And annoying. And constant.

18. “Afro”

Common meaning: A style popular during the disco era.
Curly meaning: MY HAIR.

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