Even with the new "Newbies" section, there is a huge amount of information here to read and learn, and a lot of new folks are still quite overwhelmed.
I thought maybe I'd throw an assist by outlining a few "first steps" I would suggest for a new member to orient themselves more easily and get a basic working knowledge of our "language" under their belt before diving into the site more deeply.
Step 1: Learn About "Going CG"
While some members do not follow the CG method of curly hair care, plenty do: and there are enough references on the board to make a newbie crazy wondering, "What the heck is this CG thing they are all talking about???"
"CG" is an abbreviation for "Curly Girl", the book written by Lorraine Massey in 2001, that advocates not using regular shampoos, and staying away from sulfate and silicone ingredients in hair care products. Laura Lee's All in One Guide to Going CG is a must-read for any new member who wants to understand this very popular method of curly hair care:
Laura Lee's Guide to Going CG
Step 2: Figure Out Your Hair Texture, Porosity and Density
Look at any member's signature and they will most likely list their hair texture (fine, medium or coarse), porosity (low, normal or high) and density (thin, medium, or thick). The key to understanding how to establish the best maintenance routine for your curls is to know these hair properties. The following thread will help you start to identify your own individual properties and understand why knowing this information is important:
Texture, Porosity and Other Hair Type Madness
Step 3: Get a Working Understanding of Dew Points
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the humidity that is important in understanding how weather plays a role in how your curls behave: it's the dew point. jillipoo's thread on dew point vs. humidity includes some good links to information explaining the difference between the two and why dew point is a better gauge than humidity to predict your hair's reaction to the atmosphere.
Dew point vs. humidity
redcelticcurls also has an awesome longer explanation on dew points that I also recommend as a must read:
Step 4: Find your Hair Type
While knowing your "hair type" or curl pattern does not matter in terms of determining what products to use, finding and visually identifying your curl type can sometimes be half the enjoyment of embracing your curly hair. The system created by Andre Walker is the most popular on naturallycurly.com and includes the hair classifications most commonly used by the naturallycurly.com members:
What is Your Curl Type?
Step 5: Find a Hair Twin
Once you have determined your own basic hair properties and hair type, it is often useful to find a "hair twin" on naturallycurly.com to give you a starting point on what products to use. Most members post their hair information along with current product use in their signatures, so find someone who appears to have hair similar to yours and follow them around for a while to see if you are a match. If you find someone who shares your hair characteristics, you can start using their product recommendations as a baseline to determine the best products for you.
This is by no means a complete list of all the information and resources available on the site, but once you have a handle on the above, the world of naturally curly hair won't seem nearly as intimidating