The curly girl glossary

Curls have a life & language of their own! Michelle Sultan takes us through phrases to describe the wild and wonderful world of curls.

Hair & Beauty

Air dry: apply no heat to the hair and simply let the hair dry naturally, causing no damage to your curl pattern.

Cast: this is when you have a hard cast feeling over the hair after applying gels or products to give the hair maximum definition whilst it air dries.

Clarify: you may need to clarify (deep cleanse) your hair if you have too much product build up. Use a clarifying shampoo to remove product build up, especially if your coils are not forming as they should.


Crunch: once your hair is dry, you may have a cast over the hair from gels or defining products. Crunching your hair is when you are breaking the cast to release the curls so that you have volume with a defined curl pattern.

Clumps: clumps are formed when you cleanse the hair after washing out the conditioner; try to keep your clumps together to avoid frizzing later in the styling process. This is the key to big, juicy and bouncy curls.


Diffuse: diffuse curly hair with a hairdryer; this is where the hair is spread more evenly through a bowl like appliance. Warm air is circulated to dry hair less aggressively than a standard hairdryer.

Finger coils: finger coiling is done on curly hair to encourage an even more defined pattern and create a ring like spiral shape.

Frizz: can happen if the hair is dehydrated. In my opinion frizzy hair is a dehydrated curl waiting to happen. Frizz is not a bad thing; it can help the hair to support volume and give it more texture.

Praying hands technique: this is a way of applying product to curls. Simply put your hands together and run them firmly down your curls whilst they are wet. This helps your curls to absorb the product making sure the product is evenly distributed into hair for smooth bouncy curls. It is important to make sure you are doing this by running your hands all the way to the ends in almost a flicking motion. This helps your ends to curl like ribbons.


Protein treatment: so your curls are limp or you’re experiencing some breakage?! No fear... a protein treatment will inject life back into your hair. But be careful not to use too much protein which can harden the hair, leaving it feeling brittle and fragile. This is when breakage can happen.

Scrunch: many curly girls scrunch product into their hair using fingertips. This helps to create a stronger curl pattern whilst the hair is wet.

Squish to condish: the sound hair makes when squishing conditioner into it. By squishing in the product, it helps to define curl patterns and add moisture during the conditioning phase.


TWA - TEENY WEENY AFRO: it is what happens when some women ditch chemical straighteners and go for a big chop. Depending on how short their stylists go they often have a TWA. TWAs can look super fresh for the wearer and helps them to start from scratch by growing out their natural hair.

Twist out: this style is done on type 4 curls, when you twist the hair using two strands with your moisturising products. Create even more defined coils, simply by leaving to air dry.


Wash & Go: is not really, what it says on the tin... It involves a complex shampoo routine making sure you are using the right Sulphate Free Shampoo. I would recommend the Imbue Curl Liberating Shampoo and follow up with a moisture/protein mask like the Imbue Curl Restoring Mask; this helps to soften and detangle. Use leave in conditioners, styling gels, pomades and mousses to help air dry and define. THEN you can go!

It is dependent on the texture and density of your hair as to how long this process will take. Remember to leave enough time to dry indoors in the winter as leaving the house with wet hair in the colder months is not pleasant.

Follow @hairbymichellesultan on Instagram.

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