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, February 26, 2012

Importance of finding the right hairstyle

Amazingly, I have received the attention of more male prospects in one week with this hairstyle than in one whole year. Even the compliments from female strangers as well as regular clientele have just been on going. Everyone is saying the hair is very becoming on you. "I love your hair." "You have great hair."

Life has been so much easier. People are more friendly. They treat you nicer.

I just sit back and laugh a little because my IQ and personality has not changed, but I seem more accepted by society with this look. It is just amazing to me. I have the same beautiful skin and beautiful smile. However, for $40 and some style tuning, I have a weatherproof, beautiful hairstyle. This is better than sliced bread! LOL!

It makes me realize that our Blacks with kinkier hair that are not conforming to a European well groomed look will always have a rough time being accepted into society.

So to rise about the lower income bracket, one has to fix the hair, teeth, and skin first. Maintaining a smaller frame weight-wise is important too, but it is secondary to the whole facial image.

Celebrity Star Jones is a perfect example. I felt that Star Jones was one of the most beautiful plus size women on television prior to her weight loss. I was happy that she was happy about the weight loss, but the truth be told, I felt that she lost a lot of her beauty with the weight loss. The loss of beauty could have been resulted from the weight loss method that was used. It could be that natural aging took over or even stress, but I feel the face of the heavier Star Jones was much more beautiful than the skinnier Star Jones.

In a nutshell, with the advances of wigs and the unpredictable weather, paying a wig expert to assist with wig selection at your price point may be an invaluable investment. When you land a better job with your new look, just keep making improvements.

On a separate note, for those who prefer to "wear their own hair" - listen: If your hair is extremely kinky and overcurly by nature, you will not be able to achieve and maintain this level of straightness, body, and thickness all day long, every day. That is why stage plays are showcasing more wigs on their actors.

Also, I was watching the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" on yesterday. It was the first time that I noticed that Meryl Streep was actually wearing a "white haired" lace front wig cut into a bob style. I was floored.

Always, Always take care of your own real hair, but for glamour and image consistency - consider "wigging out!"

Commercial Hair Numbering System

Outre Calendar photo model has three different colors of commercial hair in her hairstyle. I will give you a hint. Colors #613, #4/30, and Orange are being used. Can you figure out which colors are where? Well, the #613 is the blonde color on the right side. The back is the 4/30 color, and amazingly, the front is a combination of the 4/30 mixed with Orange. Did you guess it right?

Let's review the most popular commercial hair colors:
#1 - Jet Black (some people like coloring their own hair jet black/blue black in order to always have an exact hair color match.)
#1b - Off Black (a natural black color)
#2 - Brownish Black ( sometimes mixing colors 1b and 2 are a great blend for relaxed hair that has a lot of sun exposure.)
#4 - Brown (warm brown color that can be used as a highlight on darker hair)
#4/30 - a mixture of brown and golden brown highlights
#1b/30 - a mixture of off black and golden brown highlights
#27 - dirty blonde (delivers a more urban look to darker hair)
#30 - golden brown
#33 - reddish brown
#613 - blonde

There are many more color options available including custom matching your own hair. Saving hair from your next one inch haircut can be a good time to submit for a color match.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black Celebrities with "kinkier" Black hair

This picture of Bobbi Kristina Brown is from the February 27, 2012 People magazine. She is the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. This is a beautiful picture of her. On a separate note, it looks like a "sew-in" weave. Whitney Houston's pictures of her in her final days of nightclubbing seemed to showcase a "sew-in" weave as well. Dionne Warwick's hair at Whitney's funeral was a mixture of gray/white roots and brownish highlights. Cissy Houston's hair at Whitney's funeral was beautiful; however, it looked to have some commercial hair integration present as well.

Actually, as I look at 90% of the Black celebrities from Queen Latifah to Gabrielle Union to Jennifer Hudson to Angela Bassett, everyone is wearing wigs and "weaves."

Part of the reason may be to avoid damaging their own hair or is it that "Black hair care products" just are not working for Black celebrities with kinkier "Black hair?"

Stars like Paula Patton and Halle Berry do not look to have kinky hair and generally are icons for beautiful hair.

I mention all of this to say that no matter how much wealth one has - maintaining "kinky Black hair" is very difficult. I have purchased countless products over the years, and I still feel that the beauty industry is a long way from meeting the needs of real Black women.

The bigger struggle is that kinky Black hair is not typically acceptable in corporate America so going "natural" really is not a reasonable answer for many.

I have met hairstylists who believe that some Black hair just does not grow long. I do not agree with them, but women with kinky Black hair must stay away from demi-permanent and permanent haircolor. Using a mild strength relaxer and allowing it to sit longer may also a better option especially if touchups are needed every 6 weeks.

It is all a work still in process. Stay tuned.
This picture is from November 5, 2012 People magazine. The Houstons have a reality show. I really think Bobbi Kristina should consider "SisterLocks" instead of the "sew-ins."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hair Makeover using the Gluefree Quickweave Method

Hair Makeover by Benita Blocker. My hair model pictured is a first time client. She had been using permanent haircolor on her soft hair; so we are going to give her hair a rest with a new protective style.

I was excited to give this classy lady a new look right before CIAA Tournament Week arrival into Charlotte, NC. To achieve her "after" look, I molded her naturally soft, curly hair down with Nairobi Setting Lotion, Salon Exclusive Designing Foam, NuExpressions Styling Gel and eventually, the Morning Glory Gro-Protect Solution.

We used three different brands of hair all in the colors of 1b/27. The 8" Sassy brand was used at the back and sides. Rodeo Neo Body Curl through the top. MilkyWay Short Series was used to circle out the closure due to the thinness of its weft.

None of the hair used was expensive. So I am not recommending the hair . . . I had this hair in stock, and I figured "let's use it!"

The Neo Body Curl hair was very soft with a lot of movement. The Sassy hair used in the back was cut down to about 4 to 5 inches. The fullness of the Sassy hair stopped at about five inches. So the 8 inch hair was a stringy 8 inches, but a full 5 inches.

My model went from a natural fro to a "diva" bouncing bob! This hair is going to have to be rolled at night to keep the curl in it.

As I Am products linked to makers of KeraCare

A fellow British blogger (My Long Hair Journey) highlighted "As I am" natural haircare products last week. I was in shock that Avlon Industries was the owner of this product line. Avlon makes brands such as KeraCare and Affirm relaxers.

According to the As I Am website, Chemist/Dr. Syed recognized that so many women were doing their natural hair at home that it was a good business move to launch a product line that can be sold directly to the public in the various beauty supply stores.

I found the AsIAm products in our local Sally's Beauty Supply store. Cost range is $16.99 to $24.99 in Sally's Beauty Supply. We will see if people buy at this price point at a Sally's Beauty Supply.

What's interesting is that the KeraCare Natural Textures line that is sold in the hair salons is around the same price. If Avlon is cutting the hairstylists out of the market, then why is the new line of products still relatively expensive?

AsIAm products are now being sold internationally. There are some product reviews on the Internet.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed. It seems that Avlon is trying to get in; where they fit in. They want to increase revenues by cutting out the salon level. I suppose that it is a smart business move. The makers of the AsIAm products show "Salon Commodities, Ltd, North Lake, IL" on the jar instead of Avlon Products.

Avlon is not the first beauty company that wanted to bypass the salon professional. Nexxus and other lines have gone mainstream as well.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cheap Hair Review

Looks familiar? Did you get sucked in to? For $10 to $15, you get three bundles of 8" hair. Pretty picture right? Well, the hair only lasts for a week or two. It is so thin and filmsy that it will not hold volume once it is applied to the head for quickweave. I have quite a few packages left from a few years ago.

The good thing is that the hair is only 8 inches long so it does not fall past the shoulders if that. I would imagine that if it was any longer that it would tangle into a "hot mess."

It is not advisable to cut this hair into any other style. Just apply and wear the curly style as long as you can.

On a separate note, I recently discovered that this hair is perfect for creating a "closure" circle. The weft is thin enough and filmsy enough to manipulate into a circle and use heat put a hard bend in it. Excuse my hand in the picture. My hand butter did not kick in. Smile. Hopefully, you can see how thin the weft is.

Curl Pattern Theory by Benita Blocker

After working with so many different hair textures and curl patterns and scalps, I have been trying to figure out how to simplify how to deal with hair. Yeah, I am going deep with this article. It is all just my theory from my brain. I did not read what I am about to say anywhere. It is just my conclusions based on my observations from my practice, but here it is . . .
Pictured is curling ribbon. I purposely cut each piece to be equal in length.

Next picture: I ran a pair of scissors down one of the pieces of ribbon repeatedly. Probably about four or five times. Each time I ran that scissor edge down that ribbon, the ribbon got curlier and curlier. As you can see the same length ribbon shrink about 75% in length? Hard to believe that both pieces of ribbon are the same length. Right? Doesn't look like the same length when one ribbon is curled all up. Right?

So you are probably guessing how this ribbon is relative to a hair strand. Well, you are looking at Type 1 straight hair to a Type 4 kinky, extremely curly hair in the form of a ribbon.

My theory is that as the hair grows out of the scalp, some of our hair follicle roots are closer to the surface of the scalp, and as they come out the edge of the follicle is acting like a scissor blade causing it to curl as it grows out.

For those with follicles farther away from the scalp surface, the hair emerges less curly and more straight.

Those whose roots are closer to the scalp (i.e. kinky curly) are probably more sensitive to relaxers. Burning can come very quickly. Scalp damage and thinning from the relaxers can also be more likely because the scalp is being exposed to relaxer touchups more often per year than someone with less kinky curly hair. Plus the root of the follicle is closer to the scalp surface making the root more vulnerable to intense damage from the relaxers.

If the hair strand is coarse and kinky curly then stronger relaxer strengths are being used to soften the strand and smooth it out. The scalp exposure is greater because the roots are curling immediately out of the scalp.

Looser curl patterns grow away from the scalp with a wave or sometimes little kinky curly, but it does not curl back on itself.

Hair that curls back on itself is usually considered a z pattern or a 4c curl pattern.

Over the decades, I really do not think that the relaxer manufacturers have had this curl pattern in mind. With recent trends of women going naturally, kinky curly, they have been forced to recognize the intensity of curl patterns that exist out there. With this said, I wished they would make more relaxer instructional videos showing speed relaxer touch-up service on ultra- kinky hair.

Some stylists prefer using the rattail comb for relaxer touchup application for kinky curly hair. I had not picked up this habit because I thought that it looked a little "ghetto." However, I may have to really re-examine whether the rattail comb can give more control and speed for those with curlier textures.

In the meantime, I still love using the sprushes.

I know that this article is very scary and discouraging, but sometimes the truth is not always pretty. I am saddened by this article because I prefer to give you a solution with any potential problem. Unfortunately, I do not have any easy answers.

Am I saying that sisters with kinky-curly hair need to discontinue relaxers if they want to keep their hair on their head? I do not know. What I do know is that extremely kinky curly hair in its natural state is generally not considered "corporate" or European enough for most professional office jobs.

What I also know is that truly relaxing extremely kinky-curly hair is forcing that hair 180 degrees in the opposite direction where looser curl patterns are not so far away from being straight to begin with.

Is the answer full sew-ins? or protective styling (i.e. wigs) for the kinky curly professional woman? I really do not know. Everyone has to answer that question for themselves.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DVD Review: Sexy Hair Metrik 2010 Spring Collection

This dvd highlights Sexy hair's version of a long haircut and a short haircut. Between the two models pictured here, which one do you think is the long haircut versus the short haircut? You probably guessed it. The model on the right is considered a "Long haircut." However, the long haircut is still in my opinion a short haircut with very little versatility. It seems to be a short bob with a side "rattail."

The Short haircut featured is very versatile and fun! I only liked the short haircut on this dvd, but even it is not on my top 10 haircuts to try.

The biggest lesson from this dvd is to keep your fringe and top hair long and versatile for styling purposes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Salon hoppers: Words of Wisdom

Recently, I ran into a hairstylist originally from Tennessee. She said that she likes living in the metro Charlotte, NC area, but as far as hair was concerned -- there are a lot of "salon hoppers." I had to laugh because she is right. People just hop, hop, hop from one chair to the next. It is frustrating to many hairstylists. Many single, professional hairstylists who want to enjoy some of the finer things in life have moved on to larger cities where there is more of a "social butterfly" demand plus more disposable income.

The seasoned salon owners know that our beauty industry has been in a decline for a solid five years or more. Smart salon owners with a large overhead sold their salons about three to five years ago nationwide.

Hair is a practice just like a doctor, attorney, and dentist. A client can go to a celebrity hairstylist and pay $500 for a relaxer service, but if the stylist does not perform relaxer services on a regular basis then the client may find that she could have gone to the "hood" and got the same look for $50.

This does not mean that the celebrity stylist is not good. It just means that stylist and the client were not a good match. Just like all doctors are not a good match. Lawyers are not all a good match. You get the picture.

Also, on a separate note, loyalty is important. Oprah has stuck with the same hairstylist through thick and thin. We all have seen Oprah's hair go through some highs and lows. Michelle Obama is sticking with her hairstylist as well and you know even she has had some high and lows as far as hair.

Clients looking solely for great "style"-they need to find someone who has the same style that they are looking for and the same hair texture and go to that hairstylist for that particular style.

Otherwise, if a client is looking for a hairstylist that cares about her individual hair texture, and the stylist goes to continuing education classes voluntarily to constantly improve their practice, then that is when you find a hair stylist that is a partner.

I have never met a perfect hairstylist. Those who are too closed minded to learn from others are the scariest hairstylists to me.

Also, as a seasoned stylist, I have learned if you talk negative about another hairstylist then you cast doubt on the whole hair profession. We all have the same state issued hair license. When I hear bad things about a hair stylist, I can usually figure out what happened without talking to the stylist. If the stylist is overworked or hungry, then they/we may make a mistake. They/we are human.

If you do not want a sleepy doctor performing surgery on you, then you do not want to be the last person of a 15 hour work day if you need a hair chemical. Mistakes will happen. Stylists must learn to schedule breaks even if it means charging more and booking less clients. I could go on and on about the hair industry, but the real salon scoop is to get to know the hairstylist beliefs, respect her pricing, understand loyalty, and give feedback. See if you can work with the stylist. Most of my clients have their own practice or business - they know that I work to find solutions and all I Do is hair and write about hair.

Finding the right hairstylist can be as simple as going to a "safe" "hole in the wall" establishment.

I have included a quick chart comparing hairdressers to doctors and attorneys. We all are regulated by a state Board. We all are in a practice where practice make perfect. We all can concentrate on a specialty such as colorist and haircuts.

Where hairdressers differ from doctors is that we typically do not accept insurance and there is no co-pay. It is totally out of pocket. Also, many clients expect hairdressers to "nail" it on the first visit; where doctors just keep you coming back for a new prescriptions until they find something that works.

Where hairdressers differ from attorneys/lawyers is that we typically do not clear a six figure salary. We can not raise pricing without losing some clientele.

Most medical and dental procedures have had multiple price increases. Hair service pricing in general have stayed the same for the last 20 years. Yet, beauty supplies have gone up. Gasoline has gone up. Housing and transportation has gone up.

For hairstylists, the passion keeps them in business. I just noticed another local salon/spa was running a flier promoting everything from "weight loss" plans to facials to "waxing" to "botox" to "massage" to "laser hair removal." "Haircuts" were the least mentioned service. No color service nor nail services were mentioned at all. I was totally blown away. This particular salon was known as a full service salon/spa/boutique. It now seems to be steering toward more "beauty and wellness." Probably a good idea. "Styling" can be so visually "subjective." Facials and massages are a "feel good" or not opinion.

Also, on a separate note, a few years ago, the Ratner company sold all of the hair salons in SC and NC to the Regis Corporation. Remember the "Hair Cuttery" turned into "Famous Hair?" Also, Salon Cielo also sold their NC and SC hair salons to Regis Corporation.

Between salon hoppers and the "family focused" lifestyle of the South, the hair industry in the South will continue to be lower paying than the more metropolitan areas of the United States of America.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hair Review: First Lady Michelle Obama

Photo credit: More magazine October 2008 (Historical photos and flipped hairstyle)

Clearly, the beautiful, First Lady Michelle Obama has a type 4 curl pattern judging by her beautiful afro in her graduation picture. (source: More, October 2008)

Clearly, during the months surrounding the Inauguration of her husband, she wore her hair very sleek, straight, and with a lot of movement. The ionic flat iron was more than likely used to achieve these looks of uninhibited movement. (source: People magazine, Special Oscar Guide 2009 Inauguration Trendsetter photos)

However, at what cost? As my followers know, I am totally against the ionic flat irons because of the long term damage that they cause. I had been following Michelle Obama's hairstyles for years because I knew that if she continued the flat iron hairstyling that she would be continuously fighting breakage and potential shedding. Photo credit: Flipped hairstyle photo came from More magazine, October 2008.

Photo credit: People magazine March 9, 2009 (Pink outfit), Better Homes and Gardens magazine August 2011 (yellow sweater), Ladies Home Journal magazine September 2010 (bluegreen dress), More Magazine February 2012 (red outfit).

She can select updos and other protective styling to allow the hair to grow out, but ultimately, as long as she continues to be styled with an ionic flat iron, she will not stabilize past her current length which looks to be chin length at the side burns area.

During the late 2008 and early 2009 timeframe, her side burns area was below chin length and in a bob hairstyle.

The length of her hair in bluegreen dress (September 2010) is the same or possibly longer than her length in February 2012 (More magazine) in red attire. In summary, a year or more later and her hair is the same length or shorter and possibly thinner. It looks to be layered more than her traditional bob hairstyle. Layers can give thinner hair more body.

Many people do not want to believe that the ionic flat iron is causing damage because it takes potentially years for the damage to show up.

Also, the flat iron manufacturers market the flat irons for shine, smoothness, and repair. However, when the damage from extended flat ironing over the years finally presents itself, it will be an on-going fight until the damaged hair is trimmed away and the ionic flat irons are no longer used on the hair that is not as damaged.

Michelle Obama's hairstyle is neat and beautiful, but clearly she has been losing length. This may be on purpose or possibly not. I am offering food for thought. Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Photo credits: Entertainment Weekly magazine Special Oscars Guide 2009 (Inauguration year photos), More magazine October 2008 (Historical photos and flipped hairstyle) , People magazine March 9, 2009 (Pink outfit), Better Homes and Gardens magazine August 2011 (yellow sweater), Ladies Home Journal magazine September 2010 (bluegreen dress), More Magazine February 2012 (red outfit)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Would you use this brush on Kinky hair?

At first glance, you probably are thinking this brush is not for kinky curly hair. It looks like a porcupine. Right? Well, I have started using more boar bristle and mixed bristle flat and round brushes on kinky hair to smooth and straighten it during my blowdrying. Guess what? It works better than the Denman brush! The vinyl bristle hold more heat and the boar bristles help with giving more tension as you gently work the curly hair straight. The boar bristles help distribute the hair's oil, moisture, and shine serums. With this particular brush, I can crush it with my hands without any pain or sticking.

CAUTION: 1) Test the brush with your hands first to determine the roughness or Softness of the brush. If the brush feels like you are going take the skin off your hand, then no -- do not use on kinky curly hair.

2)If the brush is soft enough to use as the one pictured below, then blow dry slowly with an ionic blowdryer. Careful not to use too much tension too quickly. You really need to be able to see what you are doing. Keep straight partings as you go slowly and gently through each section of damp hair.

3) For relaxed hair, get about 50% to 70% of the water out of the hair either by towel blotting and sitting under the platform dryer for about five minutes or rough dry it with the handheld blow dryer and no attachments.

4) Soaking wet relaxed hair, a brush, and a blow dryer is a recipe for disaster. Please detangle and rough dry the hair first from the roots to the ends.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wig Review: "It's a Wig" brand

"It's A Wig" brand is one of my favorite brands for over the counter purchase. It is definitely the brand that I ask for first! Pictured is me in their synthetic lace front wig. Style: B. Morning. The top picture shows full length. I cut off some of the length in the bottom two pictures.

If you have been following this blog, then you know that I just published a protective styling article. So I did weigh my wig as part of my quest to protect my own hair from the wig being too heavy.

I tucked all the hair in the cap inside out and weighed it on my food scale that I keep in the salon to weigh hair. It weighed over five ounces! I immediately started thinning it out until I got it to just under five ounces.

This wig does have the monofilament in the top! I loved it! The cost was about $40 US Dollars. I did not try on the wig in the store because most wigs with a monofilament give a very natural look. Plus I trust this brand. The lace front is a hard, inexpensive lace-like fiber. Carefully, not to rough up your own hair while wearing.