Phenomenal . . .

Phenomenal . . .
Life, Growth, and Connection (This sunflower was nourished by my hands.) 2010; Photography by Benita Blocker. Please become a follower of this blog.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just Benita: Having Fun with the Camera!

 Taken in 2010 . . .
 I still have my flip phone on backup . . .
 2010,  A moment in time ... loving me . . . reflecting on the past . . .

2012, Looking forward to moving mountains in 2013!  Watch out now!


Hair Humor on a Greeting Card

This greeting card is self-explanatory . . . . LOL!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Most African Americans do not have African hair!

As far as the former Confederates States of America's territory goes, I do not know how many "mixed babies" were born to the slave women on the plantations, but clearly, since arriving on the slave ships from Africa, African Americans are more American than they are African when it comes to their hair texture.

Pictured is Kenya Moore, former pageant winner, current cast member of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Yes, I believe that this is all of Kenya Moore's hair without any hair extensions.  She has historically had long, luscious hair.  But . . .  her natural pattern is probably around a type 3 versus a type 4.  I consider a Type 4 curl pattern more of an African curl pattern.  If anyone of true African descent want to comment on my categorizing of African hair, then please feel free to comment.  I have never taken a trip to Africa; so I do not know any more than what I know through media coverage over the decades.

However, I have been providing hair care services to the public for about ten years.  I have seen all types of hair textures and hair curl patterns.  I am willing to say that 75% of Black women have hair that is mixed with some other race besides Africa.  Most Black women do NOT have what I consider true African hair.  Most Black women want a relaxer to enhance style; however,  most Black women do NOT need a relaxer.

 Now for the 25% of the Black women who do have more African textured, coily hair, who do need some form of healthy management of their hair are not being catered to by the ethnic haircare lines.   Most of the "Black haircare" caters to the 75% of the Black women who have mixed hair up to about a Type 4a curl pattern.

Just as I was concluding how many ethnic haircare lines do NOT cater to tightly coiled curl patterns, I was graciously given a 2013 calendar from a ethnic haircare line which only  showcases one Black model with hair that looks like it is more African textured.  One model out of twelve . . . Do you see her on the top row in the center?  So that is not even a 10 percentile.  Wow!

So ladies with extremely tight curl patterns, the relaxer application process as it is now is not catered to you. I am just being honest.  I have been trying to design a tool to better apply the relaxer to hair whose new growth compounds at the scalp, but it is not finished yet.

Anyway, for those who are willing to try Sisterlocks, or other locking procedures, it is the best option for those that do not fit into that 75% of Blacks that have mixed hair textures.  I know - locks are hard to digest when working in a corporate, political world, but this message is worth consideration.

Gray hair: Conventional vs. Electric curling irons

So you decided to embrace your gray hair/white hair?  You periodically run a violet shampoo or voilet conditioner through to keep it "Paula Deen" or "Anderson Cooper" vibrant?  So you want to keep in it from looking yellow or discolored, right?

According to my research, Paula Deen just blowdries, round brushes, and finger styles with styling wax to achieve her "edgy" look.

As for Anderson Cooper, I am going to guess  that he would have a similar regimen followed by a hair polisher.

So what if you do not fall into the Paula Deen and Anderson Cooper "blowdry only" regimen?  So which curling iron is best - electric? or conventional (to be used with a stove)?

The answer is:  the electric curling iron with an adjustable temperature gauge.  Why?  Over the years, I have found that even after testing the conventional marcel curling irons before using them to curl the hair, some white/gray hair that is finer is subject to discolor slightly.  Medium to coarse gray hair does not make as much of a difference, but to be on the safe side, I suggest grabbing the electric curling iron with adjustable temperature control set to low to medium in order to keep white hair white.

A constant temperature from the electric curling iron takes the guesswork out of curling finer hair.  Just start at a medium to low temperature and work your way up as needed whether you are working with grey hair or not.
Example of both finishes:  Conventional stove and marcel iron versus Electric curling iron.
Hair by Benita Blocker (above, conventional marcel curling iron finish)
Hair by Benita Blocker (below, electric curling iron finish)
Both look great!  But one is a harder press than the other. The choice is yours . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Alexis Doll Hair Weave Look

 I just bought this doll from my local Goodwill store.  Her name is Alexis from the "Liv for Hair" World.  She was about $10, but she reminded of a "baby doll with a weave?"

I do not know how I feel about this doll.  I have not opened the packaging yet.  Do you have any thoughts?

I think that her hair is a wig that is interchangeable with another wig that can be purchased separately.  There are youtube videos on caring for the Liv Doll's wigs.  I was in shock to see a little girl taking the hair off her doll and washing/conditioning the "doll size wig." Where have I been?  Now, the baby dolls are wearing wigs too . . .  I am speechless.  I will open my Alexis doll for Christmas.  I will be in suspense until then.

Ivory/Beige Mesh Rollers

Most hard mesh roller brands only have the red mesh roller as the largest size available.  I literally had to jump over a few hurdles to get my hands on the beige/ivory hard plastic mesh rollers.  They are the size of the lavendar magnetic roller.  They deliver the Brazilian S- wave that everyone loves right now.  The only brand that seems to make this size roller is (drum roll please)  . . .  Efalock.  Unless you are a licensed cosmetologist, you can not really get your hands on this size roller.  Well, I bought several packs so I will not have to order any more for decades to come!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yarn Hair Extensions Unit

Yarn Hair Extension Unit handmade by Benita Blocker. Inspired by clients and blog readers.  So one of my clients mentions . .. . maybe you can develop a "clip-in" locks hairpiece.  Then one of my readers mentions the "desire" to skip over the "short locks" phase. Okay.  Yes, I got the hint!!! There is an obvious market for this unit!  I individually hand-tied the yarn myself. I could not find anything else on the Internet like it! The price is $400 US dollars. Free shipping and handling in the United States.
Partial updos are the most practical way of wearing this yarn unit, but Free style is an option as well.

So you are okay with the price?  Let me tell you more about the unit:
1) It is individually hand tied.
2) It is locks friendly. ( No attachment to the actual locks and great support system to get past the short locks phase.)
3) The unit uses an ouchless headband and is similar to a "hair fall."
4) It is easily removable.  Off at night and Easy on in the morning. You can sleep in it too!
5) It is wind friendly.  (It blows nicely in the wind, and it feels secure on the head.)
6) It is resusable.  ( Yarn can be replaced by you very easily.  One purchase from me, and you are set with the knowledge to recreate.)
7) The yarn extension unit is NOT heavy. (However, the acrylic yarn can be hot on the head. Ideal for the cold weather.)
8) It is a "ready to wear" unit with a materials list included to recreate your own units in the future.
9) It is more natural looking than a costume dredlock wig from a "costume" website.
10) Black yarn is my standard color for this unit, but if someone can find acrylic yarn that matches their haircolor, then they can send the yarn (170 yards/156 meters) along with full payment in order to receive a custom made unit.
11) I do request that the construction of this unit remain a secret, but once you buy from me, you can resell the technology of making it as your own business idea.

February 2013 update:  Scunci spring-free hair clips as pictured is included while supplies last!

Credit card orders must have the same shipping address as what is assigned to your charge card.  Please contact Applebaum Salon, Huntersville, NC USA to purchase.  Thank you for your support of my business, my blog, and my desire to advance the hair industry.  Locs and Blessings!!!!

Retired Clients, Relaxers, and Color!

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  This client is retired and fights the "gray."  About every 10 weeks, we relax with Paul Mitchell relaxer- regular strength because gray hair can be a little resistant.  We also use the Jazzing Coffee Bean color at her roots only.  It gives her a highlighted effect.  Amazingly, each relaxer service actually lifts the previous color deposits to a nice highlighted color.  The "previous color deposit" is dark at the start of the relaxer service.  So there is "white" new growth followed by "dark hair" followed by highlighted-looking hair.  But by the time we relax, there is very little dark hair left so when I re-deposit the Coffee Bean color at the roots, then you get what you see here!  Love it!
Hair by Benita Blocker.  Hair was curled with marcel iron #40 which is the same size as a aqua color magnetic roller.

Achieving the Brazilian Wave Look

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  This client started with me in March 2012.  She has Type 3 hair.  She does "wash and go" styling at home with Mixed Chicks Leave-in products and some of Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme. When she came to me, she was using the "Knockoff" products from Sally's Beauty Supply.  I explained to her about the inferior ingredients in the "knockoffs" so she started investing in the real product brands.  She and I can definitely see a difference in her hair.  She comes in periodically for straightening (Her 7th visit with me). I straighten her hair with the marcel flat iron and stove, then I curl her hair with the  #60 marcel iron which delivers this Brazilian Wave Look.
 She does not have any hair extensions.  This is all of her natural hair.  No relaxers.  She had color treated hair when she came to me in March 2012.  The growing out of the color gives her an ombre effect to her hair.
The #60 marcel iron delivers the curls of the lavender magnetic roller set which gives the S-curl, natural wave look.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sisterlocks: My Fourth Retightening Session

My new certified Sisterlocks consultant works out of a licensed salon, and she is a licensed cosmetologist as well.  Her hair texture seems similar to mine.  She is okay with clients using hairdressing in their hair.  Overall, I had a very pleasant experience.  No stress.  Whenever she had a question about something, she would ask and give me a choice.  For example:
1) For the Sisterlock that got doubled up, I asked her to make the two locks even with each other.
2) For the Sisterlocks that I had corrected, she tightened and recommended that I should have went for three Sisterlocks instead of the four that I created out of the two larger ones that were there.
3) She counted my rows on each side of my head similiar to what the previous consultant was trained to do. She and I agree that I am one row short on one side versus the other.  Luckily, I can live with the inconsistency.

Amazingly, she finished about an hour quicker than my previous consultant.  She went in a systematic order for retightening.  We discussed my relaxed ends.  We figured out that because they have rolled and doubled onto themselves forming a ball, this behavior prevented the relaxed ends from unravelling.  I showed her pictures of my initial installation because she thought the consultant put the knots on my ends.  No, according to my snapshots, my relaxed ends had no visible knots on the ends.  So we both learned something, some  textured, relaxed ends seem to maintain within the Sisterlocks framework so I may never have to cut the relaxed ends off unless I am trying to achieve a specific haircut or style.

Because of the Christmas Holiday, I elected to get this retightening completed at a four week point.  So I will see at my next six week interval, whether she is an hour faster again.  This consultant sounds like she has the speed of my Master Trainer from my class in Boston.  She said that she can do a full head of Sisterlocks in 8 to 10 hours if the client's hair is under 5 inches.  My Master Trainer did mention while I was in Boston that upon judging from a distance, my head of hair probably should have been completed in about an 8 to 10 hours timeframe.  Since I am tenderheaded and my relaxed ends were added to the framework, I would say add on another five or six hours.  The total hours still do not equal the 20 hours that I spent during my installation with my previous certified consultant, but that chapter of Sisterlocks is over, I am looking forward to the future with my new certified Sisterlocks consultant.  I feel like she is willing to partner with me on my hair.  She also inspired me to work toward my certification.  She gave me some ideas and goals to set.  Overall, I look forward to my next retightening session with her!  I am very pleased with her willingness to work with me, her professional business etiquette, and the comfort of her salon atmosphere.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sisterlocks 20th Anniversary Calendar is In!

I received my 2013 Sisterlocks calendar in the mail, and I have not stopped looking at it!  It is breathtaking!  I love it!  A nice balance of pictures and journeys.

Also, I had a great experience with my new Sisterlocks consultant!  My Sisterlock world is coming together!  I will give you more details soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Secret to Grow your Hair Back

So you have tried the steroid shots at the dermatologist and failed.  So you have tried the prescriptions and topical applications and failed.  So you have sent over a $1000.00 and still no hair, no fuzz, nothing?

Well, one of my clients, experienced this exact situation with her hairline.  After months of following doctor's orders, she and the doctors gave up. So I suggested that we try the Bee Mine Products Hair Growth Serum with Sulfur and Mango scent.  She agreed.  She figured "what the heck? Why not?"  So we applied it sparingly around the hairline at the end of her hair service, and two weeks later, we saw some fuzz in her hairline area by her next hair visit.  We both had to pause and just laugh.  After months of doctor visits, co-pays, prescriptions, special shampoos, and over $1000.00 spent, the answer was in a little $8.00 bottle in my arsenal of hair products.  This client was just one of several clients who have seen hair growth with just one application every two weeks or with every shampoo service.

This particular client also had discontinued all haircolor as well as relaxer services.  She had no other hair chemicals being applied.  No flat irons.  Just thermal blowdry services.

Make sure the growth serum is fresh from the company . . . and you have one secret formula for hair growth.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Top reasons to get your hair done!

There are five good reasons to schedule a  hair appointment:

1) Doctor's appointments - If you have a doctor's appointment, dental appointment, eye exam, or any other medical checkup, then a patient who is well dressed and well groomed may get better treatment.  It may sound crazy, but if you do not look like you are taking good care of yourself, then the "doctor" may not provide you with the best care.  No, you will not be denied care, but certain decisions may be made based on your appearance, ability to sue, ability to pay.  For instance, if the Assistant needs to touch your head to adjust your head for the eye exam machine or the dental xray machine, they do not want to touch greasy hair.  Even wearing a wig can be awkward unless you are a cancer patient.  Many assistants will spend more time talking you through adjusting your head versus touching your head. If you are going for a "sleep study," then they typically need to attach "monitors" to your actual scalp.  So full sew-ins and wigs are not recommended.  Always let your stylist know that you need to look good for your doctor's appointment or sleep study.  That way, she can allot more time for extra detail in styling.

2) Spousal request - So your spouse, domestic partner, or significant other asks "when is your next hair appointment?"  Then take the hint, communication is important in any relationship. When your partner makes small hints about appearance, it is to be respectful.  Definitely, read between the lines, you may not need a full makeover, but a fresh haircut, color touch-up, or a conditioning treatment may make a huge difference in a special date night.

3) Presentations - This reason is an obvious reason.  If you are presenting or meeting with new people and you need to project an image of expertise, then a  fresh hairstyle will assist in your delivery of your message.  Again, inform your stylist of the purpose of your salon visit: an important presentation.

4) Boss in town - So you work from home to save the company money on office space.  So wardrobe and hair may go on the "backburner" because you are not in the public eye as much.  Well, if your boss is in town and wants to meet, you still need to make a corporate impression. If you can pull it together without the salon visit, then great!  A neat ponytail goes a long way! However, if you need some help, give your stylist a call.

5) Attending a Hair class - In one of the hair classes that I attended, the instructor had us working on each other's head from scalp massage to potential full shampoo service on select students.  It was so awkward to have "protective styling" and someone is trying to do a scalp massage. Of course, if I would have known of this classroom exercise in advance, then I would have chosen to possibly straighten my hair at least for that day.  On a separate note, a full body massage sometimes include a scalp massage . . . a wig may be awkward and stressful if you are worried about it falling off!  Becoming stressed over hair would defeat the purpose of the massage.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sisterlocks: Lock Correction Completed

 My Scalp is a little tender, but I am excited about my Sisterlocks correction.  Picture above is after the correction.  The picture below is before the correction.
 Big difference right?  Believe it or not, after detailed experimenting with partings, I narrowed down that I only needed to detangle two Sisterlocks.

I applied the S-curl moisturizer generously through the two Sisterlocks and let it sit for a day. I then used the rattail comb for piercing and detangling.
 This S-curl moisturizer is very affordable, but it does give a buildup if used daily.  For detangling purposes, it was perfect.  Some beauty supply stores do not carry this particular S-curl product.  I have only found it at Sally's Beauty Supply stores.
 This the hair that was leftover from my detangling session.
 I made four Sisterlocks out of the two that were there.  They are very small, but I will let my new consultant improve them at my next retightening.
I am excited that I am no longer slave to an asymmetric look.  I will be able to do updos, frohawks, and mohawks!  Another new level of freedom acheived!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Product Review: Gray Away - Medium Brown

I wrote an article on the Gray Away in the Black color a few months ago.  It was more of an introduction to it.  Now, that I have tried the Medium Brown and the Black formulas, I like the Black color better than the Medium Brown.  Here's why:  This spray comes out with some pressure.  If you hold the can too far back, you can not control the area that the spray covers. If you hold the can too close, it is too concentrated.  So about 5 inches away as I am demonstrating in the picture above seems to work better.

The Medium Brown color has a reddish undertone.  The Black color seems to be more natural looking.

The product "airbrushes" well.  It has a decent hold, and  it is only $9.99 at CVS in the "As seen on TV" aisle.  I like it better than the Roux "Tween Time" sticks.

SisterLocks: Reasons for Switching Consultants

 I had to say a prayer before writing this article because I really needed Divine guidance.  This is a sensitive topic, and I want to delicately deliver my message so that it will be helpful to my readers.
 First of all, I am thankful to God that I took pictures at EVERY step of the way on my SisterLocks journey.  I am thankful that I have my blog articles to document all of the changes that I have been going through with my SisterLocks journey.  My purpose is to educate; not to condemn.  With that said, let us begin . . .

Do you see some of the length on my Sisterlocks after the first day of Sisterlocks installation?  Well, a lot of that length is relaxed hair. My Last relaxer: 12/19/2011. Sisterlocks installation pictured: 7/23/2012.

Let's calculate: Seven months of new growth = 3.5 inches of virgin roots. Clearly, some of my Sisterlocks are extending 6 and 7 inches long.  Also, the picture above shows the right side of my head which was completed at the top of the first day. The picture below shows the left side of my head, and it was completed at the end of the first day.
 Locking my relaxed ends into the SisterLocks framework may have resulted in the consultant making more medium size partings where I had preferred to have small partings.  I have spent hours this week trying to make sense of the difference in partings between the two sides.
 I have concluded that my right side of my head has partings that resemble narrow vertical columns which deliver small size Sisterlocks. Whereas with my left side, the narrow vertical columns seemed to have gotten wider and became more square resembling medium to large Sisterlocks.
 I will be performing "lock correction" on at least two of my SisterLocks in my sideburns area with the intentions of forming four smaller locks out of the two that I undo.  As for the rest of the inconsistencies, I believe that I can live with them.
 As far as my consultant goes, I did not expect perfection, but I did expect professionalism.  She claims that she was taught to maintain an equal count of Sisterlocks on both sides, and she was pleased with what she delivered.  When asked if maybe the relaxed hair could have played a part in my more medium sized partings, she quickly and firmly told me that "I did not have that much relaxer left in my hair."  That comment was "Strike two."  I am a licensed cosmetologist in three states, salon owner, and a full time hair professional . . . and she felt that she was the expert on relaxed hair and my relaxed hair at that?  She is not even licensed in any state for hair. I was completely done with her.  Then on top of that, I discovered that she had combined one of my locks together.  She did not tell me that she had done this.  My Sisterlocks are only four months old, and she is already having to double them.   "What the HE##?"  If my Sisterlocks were about two years old, then maybe some combining of locks may seem reasonable, but not at a three months point, and I am going regularly for tightenings.
 The only thing that I could think of is that by her overlooking locks at my 6 weeks tightening sessions, they were getting weak.  I asked her at my first retightening session, "Why does she skip around on my head for retightenings?"  She stated that she jumps around as to not get bored, but she ends up missing some of my Sisterlocks at every session.

Since my last retightening, I found two Sisterlocks so far that she missed.  That means that those locks will be put in jeopardy because they were not being tightened on a  regular basis, but I am paying her to maintain every Sisterlock(s) on my head.
Well, this was "Strike Three." The business etiquette and customer service has been below my standards.  Our personalities are in conflict, and I no longer trust her as a "partner for my hair."  It is time to "chair hop."

The Sisterlocks Training team is coming through Charlotte, NC in January 2013.  I encourage others to consider taking the class to become a Registered Trainee.  We really need more choices in Charlotte.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hair Career: Hairdresser for the Elderly

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  Thanksgiving this year was quite different for me.  Last year, I was working at the nursing home servicing some of my elderly residents.  As you can imagine, nursing homes never close. This year, the company decided to eliminate all the hairdresser positions.  Now, only independent contractors will offer hair services to the residents.  So I had more free time this holiday season, and it gave me time to reflect.
When I began my career at the nursing home, I attended training sessions on dementia.  The company had a "dementia" specialist on staff that had developed a series of training classes.  I learned to communicate with dementia patients in order to calm them and make them feel safe.  I learned body positioning. I learned to understand their world.
Hair by Benita Blocker

These skills came in handy for the seven years that I serviced the elderly.  Although, the pay was no where near my corporate engineering salary, I enjoyed making the elderly feel good about their clean head and their fresh hairdo.  When I had to transport them to their rooms, I got to see all of the pictures of their younger years and their families.  It is amazing to see that one day if we live long enough, pictures may be the only thing showing proof of our youth.

Hair by Benita Blocker

As for the short term residents that I serviced, some had been in the hospital so long prior to getting to the nursing home, a relaxing shampoo service was like "heaven" to them.  I remember so many times that the patients/residents touched my hand at the end of their hair service and just said "Thank you."  Seeing a client just smile after you made their day so much better is worth more than words could ever say.  I missed that connection.

However, what I do not miss, are the times when the residents were physically not able to bend back into the shampoo bowl.  Sometimes the wheelchairs prevented the residents from being able to receive a good shampoo.  Sometimes, so many needed hair appointments, but I had to be careful not to overexert myself because the company did not care if you injured yourself.

Hairdressing for the elderly is a specialized area of the hair industry.  Some say it's "a calling."  It is NOT a glamourous job.  Sometimes, your residents expire, but you do not want them expiring during their hair service visit.  Because of the physical toil that working with the elderly can have on your body, part-time hours are the best way to go as to not get burnt out.

Click for Nursing home video footage

Friday, November 23, 2012

Barrier Cream for Relaxed Ends

Paul Mitchell Color Block is perfect to protect hair from overlapping chemical damage.  Yes, there are a lot of "pre-protect" lotions out there, but many are "sticky."  They cause the hair to become hard to part for chemical application.  This Paul Mitchell Color Block is lightweight and creamy and makes the hair easy to be combed through as well as quite hydrated.  Great for relaxer applications and haircolor applications to prevent overprocessing of hair ends.