Relaxed Hair Glossary

The following is a listing of terms most associated with relaxed hair.  Please view out Natural Hair Glossary for other terms that may be relevant to both relaxed and natural hair.

APL | Arm Pit Length

A term used to describe the growth of your hair when It has reached your arm pit.

BSL | Bra Strap Length

A term used to describe the growth of your hair when it has reached the area down your back where your bra strap is located.

Color Treated

Hair that has been dyed with henna, a color rinse or permanent hair dye.

Cones (Silicones)

Ingredients in some hair care products that help to condition the hair and give some shine to the hair.

CS | (Chemically Straightened)

Hair that has been permanently straightened by a chemical process. This includes the chemicals used in permanent waves and relaxers.

Line of Demarcation

The point where the new growth (hair that has not been relaxed) and relaxed hair meets.  When applying a relaxer, it should only be applied to the new growth to avoid overlapping chemical services.

MBL | Mid Back Length

A term used for when the hair grows and reaches the middle of your back in length.


Abbreviation for new growth.  New growth is the hair that has grown from the root (scalp) and has not yet been relaxed.

No Base relaxer

“No base” relaxer creams have a lower concentration of lye and may be applied directly to the hair roots without requiring the
protective “base” layer, although these weaker products may still irritate the skin of some people who must therefore coat their scalps
beforehand anyway.

No Lye Relaxer

“No-lye” relaxers are of three main types. One type operates on the same general principle as lye relaxers but uses
a slightly weaker alkaline agent, such as potassium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, or guanidine hydroxide. The last of these is not pre-formulated, but rather is generated at the time of use by combining a cream containing calcium
hydroxide (slaked lime) with an “activating solution” of guanidine carbonate.  Another type of “no-lye” relaxer uses ammonium thioglycolate, which is also known as perm salt for its use in permanent waves.


Hair that has had too many chemical services (relaxing, coloring, etc.) applied to the hair within a short
amount of time.  As a result, the hair will become lifeless and described as “over-processed.”


The process of applying relaxer to a part of the hair that has already been relaxed previously.


A relaxer is a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with afro textured hair, which makes hair
less curly and also easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls.

Scalp burns

The “scabs” found on the scalp after receiving chemical services.


The use of a mild relaxer to semi-straighten the hair.  The relaxer is applied to the hair and left on for a very short amount of time in order to loosen the curl pattern.

Touch-up (also known as re-touch)

The process of applying relaxer only to the new growth to create a freshly straightened look.

Virgin hair

Hair that has not been relaxed.  (A head full of natural hair that has not been relaxed.)

Author: Nicolle

Nicolle is a hair enthusiast that has always enjoyed reading hair care books and Black hair style magazines and likes to stay informed on the latest fashion trends. She has been natural for several years and loves the versatility of natural hair.

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