If you paid attention in history class, you might remember W.E.B. Du Bois' philosophy on double consciousness. His theory illustrates how Black people have to navigate American society by seeing themselves from their own perspective and the perspective of others. Because of this, Black people (and POC in general) find themselves code-switching, depending on who they are speaking to in order to explain their needs, wants and circumstances. This especially happens when trying to communicate their beauty needs.
I’m all too familiar with the code-switch. During undergrad, In an attempt to make the campus climate more inclusive to the needs of their students of color, my school opened a hair salon in the college union during my junior year. The problem: none of the beauticians were of color, except for the barbers. Because of this, other classmates and I spent more time explaining Black hair terminology to the hairdressers than getting our hair done. The beauticians couldn’t comprehend how we described our hair, products, and even styles despite being licensed cosmetologists.
To help other stylists like this, those who are curious, and in good (educational) fun and nostalgia, here are Black hair sayings or terminology we’ve grown up hearing or created along the way:
Miss Celie Braids
Whether you’re sectioning your hair for your two-strand twist, sew-in, or simply too lazy to style your hair, the terminology comes from defining the look Whoopi Goldberg’s character Miss Celie had in the timeless movie, The Color Purple.
No, this is not about the place in your home where you cook or store food, but the nape of your head.
The complete opposite of your kitchen is your edges: the hair in the front section of your head. In the 1980s-90s, laying your edges with a toothbrush and gel in a finger wave style was trendy. Today, going on Instagram will prove the trend has revived itself in numerous ways. Here’s a tutorial:
Your leave-out is the hair that has not been sewn into your weave. It is usually styled in a u-part in the front section of your hair. This allows you to style your own hair any way you want and helps blend in your natural hair with your weave of choice.
Here’s an example:
Photo: Lauren Mechelle
The hair that has grown in since you braided your hair or put a relaxer in is called new growth. Seeing new growth also indicates when you need to re-braid your hair, get a perm, or identify how much hair has grown since you transitioned from chemical processed hair to natural hair.
Everyone’s hair sheds when they comb it but heavy shedding can be an indication of thinning, dry or brittle hair. You should be keen on observing how much your hair sheds. It ultimately clues you into the overall health of your hair.
LAID (also, LAIDT)
The word laid is usually used in the context of someone’s hair that is voluminous with no stringy ends and coiffed to perfection. It doesn’t matter if the hair is relaxed or natural, short or long, once every strand is in place it’s imperative for you to tell the person with said laid hair: “Honey (Hunty) your hair is laid to the gawds (gods).” It doesn’t always have to be to “the gawds” too. The more extravagant the hair, the more extreme the phrase can get. I.e.: Your hair is laid to the moon and back. It should also be noted, if the hairstylist has truly outdone themselves with the hairstyle, you add a “t” to laid; when using the word LAIDT means there are no words you can express to capture how glorious the hair looks. Teyana Taylor and our Mayvenn Made patrons are examples for people whose hair are always laid or laidt:
If you are a woman of color, you know wash day means you’ll be doing your hair for most if not the whole day. From shampoos, hot oil treatments, deep conditioners, leave-in conditioners, protein/vitamin treatments, hair masque and the list goes on, no matter the hair type, moisture is absolutely needed for hair to be healthy and maintain a balanced PH level. Here are some pictures of all the products women from around the world use when it’s their wash day:
Back in the day our lipgloss was poppin’. Now it’s our curls. When curls are looking luscious and have been nourished by oils/styling creams to set them to perfection, it’s only right to pose for the camera and let the world know your curls are poppin’ like the ladies below:
If you witnessed Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, then your wig, weave, edges, kitchen, headscarf and even scalp have most likely been snatched. We mourn their death. It’s appropriate to say this when you’ve watched an incredible source of entertainment, heard some hot tea (gossip), or if you’re in a state of disbelief.
Rihanna made this go-to-bed protective style famous during her 2013 American Music Awards appearance. Usually women who get a silk-press or roller set, style their hair by wrapping it around their head with bobby pins or silk headscarf. This style helps previously styled hair to remain bouncy and sleek without having to re-style.
Bubbles VS BowBows (some spell the latter as BooBoos):
Growing up, my mother and sister would section my hair and wrap the hair accessory around my hair to keep it in place. In my family we called them "bubbles", but I have had friends pronounce them BowBows. Where do you stand on this “intense” debate? Oh and by the way, they are also called ponytailers on Google. 😂