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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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Safe Gray coverage on relaxed, type 4, resistant hair

As promised, a healthy solution to gray coverage on resistant, relaxed, type 4 hair. Also, those who have color allergies, consider this semi-permanent hair color option.

As stated in my previous article, gray hair /white hair is missing all colors. So all the primary colors need to be added back into it in order to get coverage and allow for the colors to cancel each other according to color theory.

I have chosen Nairobi TruColors Semi-permanent color for its intense pigment deposit. Also, they have a professional coloring guide to follow. In order to create a "Cognac" light brown color, I had to mix #4 Mahogany (reddish brown) with Marigold (yellow gold) as well as #2 Indigio (blue black). The percentage is mostly Mahogany followed by Marigold then Indigio as needed. Test the color mixture on a white paper towel, and you are ready to apply to resistant White hair.
There is no peroxide. There is no mixing with any activator nor lotion.

Dudley's Semi-permanent color line could also be used. I do not know the corresponding color names to achieve the same light brown color, but I do know that their semi-permanent haircolor does deposit a lot of color pigment as well.
For those who want Black semi-permanent color on their resistant, relaxed white hair but have found that the Nairobi color #1 Pure Black semi permanent haircolor only stains the hair. I am going to suggest using all three semi-permanent colors to cancel each other out therefore going dark. When you add medium heat, you should get a black color to deposit.

The individual bottles of Nairobi Tru Colors semi-permanent haircolor work great on pre-lightened hair such as bleached hair or on "sun kissed" hair. However, if you are fighting gray hair and need a corporate neutral black or brown, a medley of color bottles may need to be used.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Product Review: Hair Growth Serum with Sulfur

There are so many hair growth serums on the market, but this one by Bee Mine products is working!!!! I started using this growth serum on one of my clients that came to me with a male pattern baldness. Her hair has been populating for years now underneath the wigs, but over the last six weeks, I have applied the Bee Mine Products' Growth Serum with Sulfur and the population of new hair seems to be exponential.

We have been more pleased than ever. She has not had a relaxer in years. Also, she is NOT allergic to sulfur. I highly recommend this growth serum to those without relaxer in their hair that would like to maximize thickening.

In addition, this product does not have a strong odor like many sulfur based products. Also, the growth serum does come without the sulfur. Those receiving relaxer services should know that sulfur based products are not compatible with relaxers. You need a week or two before and after relaxer services if you want to use this growth serum with sulfur.

If you have fine hair, you may not like the weight of this product from a styling perspective. Also, the client that is benefiting from the growth serum only gets the serum applied once every two weeks. A little goes a long way! We sell this trial size in the salon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Mother's Choice: To Relax or To Lock?

Age 4 - started locks; Age 8 - "locks for life!" I wanted to share one mother's decision for her beloved daughter: (Pictures provided by Arynn's mother.)
I decided to lock Arynn's hair 4 years ago after prayer, careful consideration and much research. Arynn was born with a lot of tight curly hair that is extremely dense and thick. In addition to this, she was very tender-headed. I remember literally having to put Arynn in a headlock to do even simple styles and hope no one would call DSS from her crying at the top of her lungs. With so many strikes against me, I knew I was going to have to make a decision. 3 years prior to locking Arynn's hair I had decided to get sisterlocks and was loving them for many reasons. At the time, I only knew of one other child who had sisterlocks and hers were put in by her mother who was a sisterlock technician at the time. I tried blowing her hair out and even that was a task. I even straightened with the comb a couple of times but did not like the smell of dead, burned hair. Because of the long term and sometimes short term damage that results from perms, I knew that chemicals would not be an option from the beginning. I got lots of negative feedback from adults of both permed and natural hair (surprisingly) that Arynn was too young for sisterlocks, that it should be her decision, what if she wants to cut them out later, etc. I even when to for insight. I had to do a heart check and take into consideration our family lifestyle, my husband's thoughts (he was on board from the very beginning), time management and hair management for myself and my daughter. Finally after talking at length with my consultant who agreed to actually lock Arynn's hair (other consultants did not want to even think about doing a 4 year old's hair due to the length of time, attention span, etc.) I knew sisterlocks were the way to go for us. 29 1/2 hours over 4 days later, Arynn had a beautiful head of sister locks. There have been no regrets and I still believe this was the best decision I could have made. Arynn loves her hair and can be found sashaying and swinging her hair in the mirror often. She loves the touch, look and length of her hair. Literally boys, girls, men and women of all colors have complimented her on her hair. It is literally a conversation piece and friends love playing in it.

The biggest negative we have experienced is that after going to an open house of a renown Christian private school, I was told that Arynn would not be able to attend the school with sisterlocks. When asked if that was discrimination, I was told "no" because they could pretty much make their own rules as a private school. This was prior to me deciding that I would home school her so peer pressure is non-existent in our world relative to the school side.

Hair is hair and it needs to be maintained regardless of natural or permed; so yes she has to be tightened and it does require a lot of time because she has sooooo many locks. I know other little girls with sister locks who are tightened in 3-4 hours (average time) every 4-6 weeks. In the beginning much care has to be taken with washing and banding of the hair so that the locks do not come out but after the "settle in" phase (which can take 4-6 months on the average) it's history! That is where sisterlock consultants come in. They are well trained and during your initial consultation everything from product to maintenance is covered. Sisterlocks have their own product line and special instructions, so the process is simple if followed closely. You want someone who is thorough and will answer all of your questions with patience because this is not a fad, its a lifestyle. I respect sisterlock consultants who have gone through the proper training and credentialing because truly it is an art. ( has an official SisterLock consultant registry.) Rosa Crawford (out of the Charlotte, NC area) is our Sisterlock consultant and can be found on the official website.

I believe that the trend toward natural hair has made locs of all types acceptable by people of all different cultures and races. Sisterlocks are seen on women in tv, commercials and corporately. Its healthy, beautiful and worth all the money that is invested into it. I would do it again and again. When I asked Arynn what she likes most about her locks, she simply smiles and says "everything mommy."

End of story . . . Benita, here again! I am so thankful that this mother shared her story with us! It brought back memories. I am tenderheaded to this day, and my hair was just ridiculous for my mother to manage. I wish SisterLocks was around thirty years ago, and that my mom would have gotten me started.

It is important to remember that a relaxer is permanent and has to be cut off to start over. Locks are permanent for the most part and have to be cut off to start over. So it is six one way and a half a dozen another way. Moms should not be afraid of sisterlocks for their daughter's hair. I personally want sisterlocks even smaller than the ones that Arynn has pictured above. I want micro Sisterlocks. I may have to travel to DC to get them! I will keep you posted. Until then . . . "Lock on!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Achieving Gray coverage on Resistant White Hair

I learned a new way of getting excellent gray coverage in less time during my last Chi Hair color class for curl patterns Type 1 to Type 3. (Not for relaxed, Type 4 curl patterns.)

Most colorists already know that a "N" on the color tube stands for "neutral," and that it is necessary for gray coverage. So this information is not new. Thinking about how the neutral series relates to color theory may or may not be new, but let's review anyway!

So the "neutrals" contain all three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. White hair is missing all of these colors and therefore, the white hair must be filled. In addition, all three primary colors cancel out each other netting a darker color.

On resistant white hair, even after using the "neutral" color, I found that I was not getting great coverage. It seemed to fill the white strands but not cover it so I would have to finish the color service with a low-level demi-permanent color. So it was a two step process for resistant gray hair.

Then in the Chi Color class, the instructor mentioned adding an additional "warm" color to balance out the "coolness" of the White or Gray hair. So if you combine the level N plus a level "G" for gold, then "Voila" great coverage of resistant hair in ONE step! (i.e. less time!)

Reds or golds should both work depending on if your client is going for blonde or redhead. "Black hair color" typically would not need any secondary help for gray coverage.

Even my non-resistant gray clients can tell when I add an extra "gold" to the color formula. It gives a little lighter results, but great gray coverage. Many clients like lighter haircolor to soften the gray as the new growth starts to come in.

On a separate note, I have found that the "rinse water" from a color service seems to cause damage to hair extensions. The protective coating on the hair extensions can be broken down by products with alcohol as well as water with chemical residue in it. When I speak of "damage" to the hair extensions, it means causing it to tangle especially if longer lengths are being worn.

In addition, clients with relaxed, type 4c curl patterns should not use permanent color nor demi-permanent color. Use "No mix" colors only. I recently pre-mixed three semi-permanent color together and acheived a nice brown color that seems to absorb into the gray hair without any peroxide worries. Please stay tuned for another article for gray coverage on relaxed, type 4 hair. If you are a type 4 curl pattern without a relaxer, then permanent color and demi-permanent color is safe to use.

The Most Reliable Lace Front Adhesive: Ultrahold

It was October 2010 when I first wrote an article about Ultrahold adhesive. It is still the most dependable adhesive when you do not want a "hairpiece" to move.

Unfortunately, the product can expire. I had to revisit my own 2010 article because the "yellowish" larger bottle of Ultrahold adhesive pictured to the right had started to thicken up on itself. I was thinking the discoloration was a clue in its expiration, but based on my old article, the color does not tie in to expiration. The product was clear and still expired back in October 2010.

I just bought a newer but smaller size of the Ultrahold from EC Beauty in Charlotte, NC. It is pictured to the left. It is around $10 but I use it sparingly for client services so it should last for a good year.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Achieving a Bedhead Look with a Salon Finish on Fine Hair

Hair by Benita Blocker, hairstylist. Many of my clients do not like too "fixed" in place hair. They want a great haircut and to be able to finger in place and go.
Hair by Benita Blocker, hairstylist. My client here has fine hair with a Type 4c curl pattern. We can not use any heavy sprays that would weight down the strands. Also, because of her overcurly texture, we must relax about every 6 to 7 weeks. The Paul Mitchell Mild relaxer is the strongest relaxer we can use. Because her strands are fine; the mild strength is a preferred choice. We also found that demi-permanent color is too strong for fine, relaxed hair. Fine hair should not be double processed. Relaxer and a "squeeze bottle, no mix" semi-permanent color is all that can be used.
Hair by Benita Blocker, hairstylist. My client loves style so we try to maintain a great shape. We used the traditional blow-dry and marcel irons to complete this style. At night, she can wrap and moisturize lightly with products like Bee Mine Luscious Cream Moisturizer. Unwrap in the morning and pick through.
Hair by Benita Blocker, hairstylist. We also used Paul Mitchell Extra Body Hairspray (light hold) to make sure she maintains volume as the weather is getting hotter.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hairstylists Unite Meeting: Join us!

Attention Hairstylists! I am looking to start a League focused on Kinky hair! Why?

Fresh out of beauty school, I attended the local "Black Beautician Association" meetings. It consists of elderly Black beauticians who ran the Association like a sorority or a fraternity. There were officers, fundraisers, raffle tickets, hosting of events, but when it came to how to help each other improve their business, their lips were "tight." According to the local history, politics still divided beauticians.

My thoughts are if the elderly can not seem to get along; then there is very little to pass along to the younger hairstylists.

I am looking to start a league of hairstylists to share product knowledge, techniques, and also willing to travel.

I am looking to find common ground and gain common ground amongst all hairstylist so that we can learn together versus everyone learning the hard way one at a time.

I want hairstylist to gain trust amongst each other; therefore ensuring that customers can regain trust in the beauty industry.

The first meeting will be Sunday, June 10, 2012 from 2pm to 4pm. You are to bring an open mind, product recommendations, and pen and paper.

There will be no one selling anything. There will be no dues requested as this time. There will be no cover charge. Please be willing to share your expectations from the initial meeting. If you want to be put on the agenda to speak, then let me know ahead of time.

If you want to attend to be nosy, then please do not attend. Any disruptive behavior will be kindly asked to excuse themselves regardless of your age - young or elderly. I am sorry that I have to mention this, but I have been in education classes where hairstylists were outright disrespectful to the speaker as well as disruptive to the rest of us in the class. There are no CEU credits attached with this meeting so your participation is voluntary.

I prefer a small group of quality hairstylists than a large group of disruptive women or men. We are all on the front line with all of these products always being released. We are the first to see the damage. We have to bare through it all.

I really want to leave the meeting with genuine connections within my local beauty industry. Will you join me?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Salon Highlight: Applebaum Hair Salon

The main entrance to Applebaum Hair Salon . . . Welcome!

(It changes periodically, but you are always welcomed.)

Applebaum Salon is a four styling station hair salon with two cultured marbled shampoo bowls as well as ceramic tile backbar. Stations are back to back. The salon is located in Lake Norman, north of metro Charlotte, NC.
The salon offers two waiting areas with over 20 magazine titles to choose from. The salon music is diverse and light. Artists range from Carrie Underwood to Coldplay to Michael Jackson to CeeLo Green. Also, the current clientele is upbeat and positive. No street talk; but we can not resist a little celebrity gossip news. LOL!
It also has two retail stations. One for products. One for products and tools.
We carry Bee Mine products, Pureology, KeraCare, and Design Essentials for retail sale as well as other popular sellers. The salon is near the medical offices in the Rosedale Shopping Center.
The second waiting area also offers a microwave and a refrigerator full of cold drinks. There is no charge for our drinks.
This is a booth rental salon. If you have your own clientele in the metro Charlotte area, then consider scheduling a tour at Applebaum Hair Salon!

Hairstyle and Attire Can be a Fountain of Youth

I was flattered twice in one week . . . I had a twenty year old young man who thought that I was about age 26. Then I had a thirty six year old man thought that I was age 26. Two different days. Two different locations.
So to be told that I look 15 years younger . . . really made my day!!!!

Protective styling: Rock on!

NOTE: Human Hair wig with Pink top; Synthetic wig with the neutral colored top.

Texture Talk: SisterLocks Consideration

I decided NOT to perform a relaxer touch-up, but I want to give people what they want to know: So how is my hair doing? LOL! So I am pouring it all out in this article.

First of all, most hairstylists do NOT have my kinky, wiry type of hair. So they typically do not know how to handle this type of hair. Can you see my line of demarcation? My last relaxer touch-up was about five months ago. You can see the thicker density of hair at the roots and about two inches out. Then it is thinner density where the relaxed hair starts. (I have another picture later to explain this better.) Also, I actually think that the front quadrant of my hair is type 4b, the back above my occupital bone is type 4c, and my nape area below my occiptial bone is a type 4a. Three different textures, but back to my initial point . . .

So secondly, I have purchased a "cruise ship" worth of products over twenty years without regard to price, and I am convinced that the 2 million product lines on the market have no idea how to work with my type of hair. I literally have to eat a meal and do body stretches before I start to tackle my hair. When "sistas" feel that they want to just "cut it all off" - I know exactly how they feel. (and I am an active licensed cosmetologist in three states and feel the exact same way.) Unfortunately, my huge forehead and fat jaws are not going to pull off a "crew cut." Also, the products on the market are still not for kinky, wiry hair.
My sideview: So almost an hour later, I have my hair flat twisted. Those relaxed ends gave me "hell." I did not condition because the shampoo seemed to soften and detangle enough. I shampooed with Bee Mine Botanical Moisturizing Shampoo as my final shampoo. I had to use Paul Mitchel Shampoo one and KeraCare First Lather Sulfate-free shampoos initially to get all the extra hairdressing washed out. Then I used Design Essentials Defining Creme Gel to twist. These twists are still wet. The texture between the new growth and the relaxed hair looks about the same. Now, I have to sit under the dryer for at least another hour . . .
My Backview. I have not captured the backview in awhile. Remember, my hair is wet in this picture. I still have to go under the dryer.
Okay, look closely here! My flat twists are now dry. Can you see the new growth clearer now? Honestly, the relaxed ends are still the core hair that is still twisted. The relaxed hair did NOT want to dry. Because there is such a big difference between my relaxed hair and my new growth, I really need two different setting agents. The Creme gel really is too heavy to dry my relaxed hair, and if I used a lighterweight product, then it would not be heavy enough for my new growth. Remember I mentioned "SisterLocks" in my subject? Well, SisterLocks do NOT require you to cut off your relaxed hair. They can start sisterlocking one and a half inches at the roots and leave the relaxed hair alone. So my protective styling has got me to another milestone to do something different. Yay!!!
So about three hours later, my finished style with transitional hair. Way too much work . . . way too much time . . . and I had to make it into this style. So why not relax it? I have been really meditating on this. I have had quite a few setbacks in my life: Ionic Flat irons -HUGE SETBACK! Permanent haircolor - my type of hair does not need two permanent chemicals in it! Relaxing too often - I have seen too much scalp damage out there! So for those of us who can not get a comb through our hair at the five week mark - what do you do? Okay, those with "finer" strands but same curl pattern will find that mild relaxers will straighten their hair to their content. However, medium to coarse hair need a stronger strength to straighten the hair strand, but stronger relaxer strengths are NOT good for the scalp. So people say do not put in on the scalp. With curl patterns that coil back on itself, the scalp is going to get relaxer on it. For those whose hair grows away from the scalp, thank your Higher power. Your hair is easier to part and to comb through.
So as you can see another backview, you can not see my scalp- right? Well, I will say that I am not looking forward to sisterlocks because I will be forever tied to a SisterLock technician. However, I am over 40 years old now, and I really feel that relaxers and my scalp have come to the crossroads. I can not continue to subject my scalp to damage then wait for it to recover. One day it is not going to recover. I have seen enough pictures and images in my head to know the future if I continue in my same path.

In the days of Madame C J Walker, the beauty industry was offering the "hair growers" showcasing fair-skinned Black women. Our kinky head sisters were afraid of those "relaxers" back then and that is why the "press and curl" and the "Walker hair cosmetics" were embraced. The art of press and curl is getting lost. The pressing combs are made differently now. Even the high end pressing combs by Kizure and Golden Supreme all are made differently. Please see my other articles on pressing combs. I would consider going to a press and curl, but my natural hair is resistant to heat straightening, and I do not want it burnt out. It has been about twenty years since I met a hairstylist that knew the art of press and curling without the heaviness and the right amount of heat to temporary straighten the hair without damaging it. I do not remember her name, but she was close to the Clemson, Easley, South Carolina area. After 20 years, who knows where she is now.

So in conclusion, I desire to keep a European professional look for the corporate setting. So I want a straighter look without a relaxer, the Sisterlocks are smaller than dreadlocks. I have seen a lot of pictures of SisterLocks. Please note that sisters with slightly looser textures get sisterlocks and they look absolutely fabulous. For those of us with kinky, wiry textures, our Sisterlocks may have a little more frizz as they mature, but you still will have more freedom of style without the chemicals. Also, sisterlocks do not require any pomades. They use a tool to lock the hair.

Well, you may ask whether or not, I will become a Sisterlock technician? I do not plan to. I really feel like most women in the Carolinas do not want to pay for the SisterLock service. The initial investment is steep and time consuming and if you are starting your hair over, it will be short in length.

Most women will rather pay $500 on a few long sew-ins weave services before they spend that much money for a short, kinky hairdo. Patience is key. It takes two years to start enjoying the length of sisterlocks, but at least you can keep your relaxed ends while the roots are growing out. They will look like invisible braids, but it will be your own hair.

I will keep your posted. For now, I am going to continue playing around with my wigs until I find a certified Sisterlock technician that is not going to kill my tenderhead!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Can you overcondition hair?

Yes, you can. If your hair is too soft, then it will not hold a curl. So finer hair may need a conditioning shampoo and then skip the conditioning step all together. The shampoo should leave it detangled enough.

Also, we all know that too much protein will dry out the hair and make it prone to break.

Pictured is NuExpressions Humective moisturizing conditioner. It does a great job with coating the hair for thermal styling, but it seems to have a drying effect if left on for too long. After 20 minutes, it really needs to be rinsed out. Many conditioners that have protein boosts in them really do need less dryer time. It is best to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the jar.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Would a Black Woman Cut off 5 inches of her own hair?

Shocking news: A cosmetologist friend of mine who is not working in the beauty industry at this time grew her Type 4 hair out for the last three years only to cut fives inches off of it and relax it. She seemed quite excited, but I was in shock! She said that it was becoming a lot of work doing it herself. I was still in shock. I had never met a Black woman to cut off that much natural, non-damaged hair just because she was tired of working with it. Even Halle Berry grew her hair long and cut it gradually back into a short cut. Well, Halle Berry does not have Type 4 curl pattern anyway. She is like a Type 2 or a Type 3 curl pattern.
So I could not believe that she cut a huge chunk of length off of her hair. She said that she grew out the length to wear huge afro puffs and other natural styling options. However, for relaxed hair, she preferred a shorter look. So she cut off about 3 inches in a shrinkage state. I stretched some of the 3 inch hair out to about 5 inches. That is 10 months of hair growth that she cut off. I told her that she was the first Black woman that I have met that did not mind having five inches of hair cut off.

I wonder if "Locks of Love" would accept "Type 4" hair? I believe that they need a "6 to 8 inch ponytail" which this bundle of hair that she donated to me would not qualify in length. However, I may look into this for future reference.

When my friend told me that she had cut her hair, I told her "save the hair!" Well, my first thoughts were "NO, don't cut it!" But she had already cut it. So then I said "save me some hair for my blog!" I plan to test different relaxers out on it. She gave me a sandwich bag full . . . so stay tuned. This opportunity to experiment is going to be priceless.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gray Hair: Relax or Color First?

Typically, the rule for highlighting hair is relax first then two weeks later, receive the creative color service. However, for gray hair, a client may find haircoloring is needed once a month to maintain grey coverage. Clients that are receiving color services every three or four weeks, will typically receive two color services before each relaxer service. For example: Week 3 and Week 6 may be color services and Week 8 may be a mild relaxer service. So the rule of relaxing before coloring does not apply when the client is fighting white/gray/grey hair coverage.

So what hair rules do apply or do remain the same for this situation? Use only "MILD" relaxers such as Fiberguard Affirm Mild or Mizani Mild. Even if the client thinks that they need something stronger, do not go past a mild strength. Relaxer lines such as Design Essentials and Straight Request do not offer mild strength relaxers. So be cautious of clients who color their hair at home, if you suspect haircolor, then reach for a mild relaxer and make sure that the hair's integrity is strong enough.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Protective Styling Blues

Like all good things . . . eventually it has to come to an end. I have really been enjoying the ease of keeping my hair clean, moisturized and plaited. I am getting a good size afro at the roots with the relaxed ends holding the plaits together. I have a little arsenal of new wigs to change in and out of and was anticipating relaxing my hair again in July or August 2012.

However, I have had one too many people to ask me "how my hair is doing?" Then on top of that one of my clients hugged me and cupped the back of my head/hair. I did not say anything to her, but I was rather irritated! I am one "sista" that does not like anyone touching my hair unless I expect you to touch my hair - wig or no wig.

But with that said, I had been wanting to try Affirm's Control/Time Release relaxer. My distributor apparently does not carry that one on a regular basis so I will have to see if they can get me a fresh batch; if not, I may relax the front half of my head with the Paul Mitchell Super and continue protective styling the back until I get all of my back hair passed my "solid" three inch goal. Any hair under three inches gets overprocessed too quickly and past due touch-ups are very noticeable when the hair is under 12 inches long.

So I am at the crossroads, either succumb to society pressure or stay on course with my goal. I have been wearing protective styling for about four months. Another three more months would be ideal. Stay tuned.