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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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Are pre-opened haircolor tubes effective?

 Sometimes when I am mixing colors, I do not always need a full tube of haircolor; yet,  by the time I need the haircolor tube again, I find some discoloration within the paste as pictured below.  I always try to keep a new tube available in case the pre-opened tube needs to be tossed in the trash.
Typically, it takes 25 minutes or more for permanent haircolor to process.  You do not want to waste 25 minutes of wait time, and the haircolor does not provide adequate coverage.  It is not worth the customer  satisfaction risk.  So if it doesn't look right, then just trash it and grab a new tube to open.

Curl Patterns: Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4

Type 2 Curl patterns are considered "long" in Sisterlocks world.  Type 3 Curl pattern is considered "medium" in Sisterlocks world. Type 4 curl pattern is considered "short" in Sisterlocks world.

In my opinion, type 4 curl patterns are more prone to dryness and breakage, but many people view it as "strong" and "resistant."  When type 4 curl patterns are placed next to looser curl patterns, it is much more clear how vulnerable  type 4 hair can be.  Don't you agree?

Denman brushes are best for blow drying Type 4 curl patterns. Paddle brushes are  best for blow drying type 3 hair.  Round brushes are best for blow drying type 2 curl patterns.

I am always amazed at the variety of curl patterns out there.


Switching to my Third Sisterlocks Consultant

 It's official!  My second Sisterlocks consultant and I agreed that it was best that we part ways.  As you know, I do not like "chair hopping" but I have a number of reasons for my switching to a third Sisterlocks consultant.

1) As I stated in my past article, the second consultant was about twice as fast with retightenings versus the first consultant.  However, she was sooo quick that she was missing the fine details like my hairline.  Remember how I performed "lock correction" on one side.  Well, she accidently doubled up the lock at my sideburns area on the last retightening session.  I had to "de-loc" yet again.  I was ready to scream!   I worked the two small locs away from each other and went by the next week for her to tightening the two Sisterlocks separately.  You can see in the picture below that I  now have two Sisterlocks instead of one big one.

I am happy that she fixed it for me without extra charge, but I know that I had some cross hairs between the two locks so I assumed that she was going to have to further "de-loc" but  she formed the two locs by popping the cross hairs is my assumption.  It looks nice, and I would probably have lost just as much hair by de-locking anyway. What worried me though is that she had no reservation about doing whatever it took to make those two Sisterlocks look nice. I do not want my hair ripped out, and I do want my consultant to pay attention to fine details like my hairline.  Enough said. On to my second reason for moving on . . .
2) Another regular hairstylist  started working in her salon that I knew from a past situation.  It was rather awkward both retightening sessions since the salon is an "open floor" plan.  In my initial consultation with her a few months ago, she was the only stylist in the salon.  So I had been feeling a little tension in the air  and that is not a good feeling when you are going to pay for a hair service.

3) During my last retightening visit, the other hairstylist had a client with a little child who would not sit still.  The child was not being serviced.  The mother was there for service.  The child was a constant distraction to make sure that he did not knock a shelf over and hurt himself. Also, during that visit, she stopped my tighening service to take pictures of the finished styles of two different clients that the other stylist finished.  Twice she stopped to take pictures.  I ended up paying her $80 for probably an hour and a half of service.  Her retightening service is $75 mininum.  I gave her $5 tip as a courtesy.

4) So after realizing that she doubled up my lock at my hairline after all the tension in the air, the interruptions for her to take pictures and the child running around the salon- she felt like I was wrong for bringing this to her attention.  She asked me "how is that helping my business relationship with her?"  I was appalled.  The last time that I checked, I was a client expressing dissatisfaction and a apology should have been in order. But no, I guess, she was doing me a favor by even servicing me.  I kindly told her:  "If this is not a good fit, then I will be more than happy to move on."

She said that she would be fine with that . . .  so yes, I have already booked my next retightening session with another consultant from my Charlotte Sisterlocks training class.  We both learned from the same Sisterlocks Master Instructor so I think that she is going to work out great!  I am not concerned about speed.  I am looking for quality.  She seems like she wants the best for her clients.  By attending the refresher training, it makes me feel that she is definitely committed to upholding the standards of Sisterlocks.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Rise of the new Salon direction

After completing my third day of Sisterlocks refresher training and meeting women from as far away as Pittsburgh, PA, I now realize that the new wave of "salons" will be for natural hair.  In NC, you have to earn a natural hair care license to practice in a natural hair salon.  Upon receiving that licensing, you can have a whole menu of services from lock tightening to twist sets to lock grooming to braids.  So all the things that you learned to do as a child to control your natural curl pattern, you can now get other women to pay you to do similar things to their hair.  I have been absolutely amazed that natural hair care specialist can earn as much as I do or more with less credentials under their belt.  As a cosmetologist, I can cut hair into a style, color it, and press it- but all of those advanced specialties with the exception of haircutting are not even important to the women who are embracing their natural hair care grooming options.

I placed a picture of Don King in this article because I was blown away at this "new business" wave.  NC residents who are looking to earn more money in less time could earn their licensing in a fifth of the time as it takes to complete cosmetology school.  (300 hours versus 1500 hours)  Then they can go full throttle earning unlimited money doing natural hair styling.  Simply amazing.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seven Sew-in Tracks Before and After

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  My client had length without the extensions below, but she did not have the fullness or thickness that she wanted.  We added seven tracks to achieve the style above.
My client without hair extensions was limited to updos.  Adding tracks can add more freestyle glamour!    Proper placement is key. I am a hair extension placement specialist.  My special sew-in method holds for about 8 weeks at a time.  I charge $30 per track for application.  Five to seven tracks are recommended for a nice full look.

The $30 track charge includes initial application with expert placement, haircut/blending, free retightenings within the first six weeks, and free removal.

Six Months Sisterlocks Check-in

 I completed my fifth retightening which was my second visit with the new consultant.  She completed my head in half the time of my old consultant. But I just found out in my Sisterlocks refresher course that I attended this weekend that my Sisterlocks should be tightened in the same grid pattern that they were put in.  Neither Certified Sisterlocks consultant has done this.  In addition, I realized that the new consultant doubled up one of my sideburns areas.  It was on the same side that I corrected before trying to get a smaller hairline.  So I had to undo that lock area again.  I am getting sooooo frustrated.   Not enough to get rid of my Sisterlocks, but possibly enough to spend the time to work on my own head.  I really understand why some customers take the Sisterlocks retightening class to do their own hair.  The Charlotte area Sisterlocks service options are brutal. Another classmate was also saying the same thing because she was looking for someone professional and strict to follow the Sisterlocks way of doing things.  I may switch to one of the ladies in the class.  We will see.  In the meantime, as my Sisterlocks mature, I can clearly see where my stringy relaxed hair is still hanging on, and my thicker new growth is getting longer.  The line of demarcation is pretty clear in the picture below.

As far as the Sisterlocks refresher course, it is even better now that I am taking the four day course again.  Why?  Because there was so much to learn and grasp on the first go around.  Now, that I have been "around the block" a few times, I have better questions and everything is so much clearer.

Unfortunately, there is someone else going through the same thing that I went through . . .  paid a lot of money ($600) for a "much less than perfect" Sisterlocks experience with a different Sisterlocks representative.  She came to learn the truth about her new Sisterlocks.

In my opinion, any consultant charging over $400 per head should be in refresher training every year or two years religiously.  It is good to network and re-commit to Sisterlocks rules and regulations.  Customers really need to keep detailed notes and photos and feel more freely about submitting formal, professional complaints to Sisterlocks headquarters.  I would love to see Sisterlocks keep the Consultants in check more.  I believe it takes four or five complaints submitted  per consultant for any serious action to take place.

Things to report would be 1) failure to get a Sisterlocks starter kit (the official one to mail off for your Sisterlocks birth certificate);  2) failure to maintain your original Sisterlocks grid pattern;  3) any blatant inconsistencies in the work that was done; 4) Sisterlocks falling out or unexplained thinning.  Sisterlocks headquarters prefers for you to resolve any outstanding issues directly with the consultant but if it is not going well, they can help.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Inauguration Hair: Is it a Wig?

Photo credit:  Hollywood Life.  First of all, for all of us experienced wig wearers, we know that wigs are constructed to look more and more natural.  I know no one wants to say it out loud, but many of us are thinking . . . Michelle Obama was wearing a wig for Inauguration 2013.  There is nothing wrong with wearing a wig; it's protective styling and a no fuss way to look beautiful despite one's hectic pace.

So why do I think that it is a wig?
1) When the wind blew, only the ends moved with the wind. The bang area and the core circle in the top and crown stayed in place.  Her hair classically would have blown all over evenly in the 2009 inauguration.

2) The parting down the center plus the perfectly symmetric sides are not typical for her.  Usually, her fresh haircuts are never perfectly even on both sides.  They always look nice and flowing, but not perfectly even.

3) The color(s) and texture were not consistent with what we are used to for her.  It looked great, but it was not her normal.

4) When interviewing her hairstylist Johnny Wright this week, he said that he could not discuss the "particulars" about Michelle Obama's hair.  However, for years, he has always been very vocal that Michelle Obama does NOT wear any hair extensions, etc.  So now, he is being "hush-hush."  So that's a giveaway that First Lady Michelle Obama is open to protective styling options.

I am going to guess that the wig is 100% human hair because she apparently wore it without the curls a few days prior, but it was curled on Inauguration Day.

Michelle Obama does not have to answer to anyone about her hair.  Actually, no woman has to answer to her decision to enhance or protect their own beautiful hair.  Beauty starts within!  First Lady Michelle Obama is definitely a  beautiful, fashion leader.

Now, there, I said it.  Now, let's move on to the next order of business:  Moving Forward Together!

Feb 2013 update:  I found a few pictures of Michelle Obama with bangs that look like her hair without any hair enhancements.  The thickness, color, and layers coincide more with her previous photos in the picture below.  So she did get some bangs cut.  Pictures from

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hairstyling and the Adult Moving Target

 So how do you know if your new client wants "conservative curls" (Halle Berry above) or "spicy spikes" (Halle Berry below)???
Should the hairstylist just ask or just guess?  Or is it the client's responsibility to mention the look to achieve for that salon visit?

I think Halle Berry looks great in both of these looks, but  there will always be a client to come in that wants spicy, and the stylist delivers conservative.  Or the client wants conservative and the stylist delivers spicy.

Some clients are okay with styling spritz and gel and others just want dry holding (aerosol) spray.  Some hair texture only need some molding paste and fingering.  Others need hot curls and special "piecing" of the hair.

 Above, Taraji P. Henson rocks a "disconnected" bob.   Longer pieces are hanging in the front and a shorter regular connected bob is cut into the remainder of the style.  Below, Michelle Obama has a classic bob haircut which is a traditional "connected" approach to haircutting.
So if you are a client who likes a disconnected flair to your hair, then you have to partner with your stylist to achieve and maintain that direction for your hair.  Otherwise, most haircuts are based off everything staying layered and/or connected such as the Michelle Obama bob pictured here.

In order for every client to achieve their individual hair goals, I think that clients and hairstylists both have to start viewing each hair appointment like a doctor's appointment versus the "drive-thru" lane.

In the doctor's office, you make time for it, and you pay a "nice sum" for your personalized visit.  With the drive-thru, you "order it your way" and get through as fast as you can as an affordable cost.

Hairstylists who charge higher prices should know to deliver personalized service especially when there are plenty of cheaper salon deals being advertised.

Also, I hate the "bait and switch" when it comes to hair.  Why tell a client a low price over the phone with the intention of upselling a conditioning treatment, trim, and retail product?  So what happens when the client only wants to pay the lower price quoted?  Do you further damage the client's hair because the "standard" conditioner is inadequate for their hair type?

Hairstylists should set their prices based on their retirement needs along with their industry experience and let faith do the rest.

It is post 2008, and a lot of passionate hairstylists are trying to plan for retirement knowing that their revenues may never return to what it was before the economy nose dived in 2008.  If women stop investing in the progressive stylist who is constantly trying to stay educated, then we may all wake up one day to find only the big chain hair salons such as Hair Cuttery, Regis, and SuperCuts are all that is left.  Please try to support small businesses.  Communication is key.  True professionalism is defined when things go wrong; not when things go right.

Also, if you have a special side part or styling preference, it never hurts to remind the hairstylist.  That will be one less thing that he or she has to brainstorm to remember.

Friday, January 18, 2013

One Month Anniversary with my Yarn Unit

Wow!  It's been one month since my yarn unit invention, and I am totally addicted.  I absolutely love it!  The joy that I feel and the heads that turn have been amazing.  People are totally drawn to it.  It is totally different.  I am loving how it lays on my clothes.  It does not tangle.  It is lightweight. It is simple.  It is simply amazing.

When people first look at me, they see long locks of hair, but if their eyes start digging into the roots then they can see that I have two different textures going on, but overall, as long as I keep my locks hydrated enough to blend, it is a "green" light.

With my short locks, everyone kept saying "they are growing."  I heard this over and over again.  But with the yarn extension unit, the responses were more like "I like your new hairdo." I say that I made it myself, and they love it!  Hey! What's a girl to do?  Smile.  Anyway,  this unit is worth $400, and I would like for people to stick with the same brand of yarn that is working for me.  I will direct them to a special yarn website to see if they can find the color of their hair in order to send me the yarn to make the unit.

For those who just do not have the facial shape to support a really short locks look, this unit is for you!

For those with traditional locks, you would have to find yarn that complements your size locks as well as a color match.

Please support my business and empower yourself during your short locks phase!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Does Humidity Cause Frizz?

Humidity is water. The pH level of water is 7.0.  Our body and hair's pH is usually around 4.5 to 5.0.  The higher pH level of the water from the humidity can be enough to elevate the cuticle of the hair resulting in frizz if the cuticle is not sealed.

So how do you seal the cuticle?

If you are born with naturally straight hair (Type 1 hair), then  congratulations!, your cuticles are naturally sealed shut.  Your hair probably will not hold a curl without some extra hold spritz and a hot curling iron.  Humidity should not affect your hair at all unless you damage your cuticle by using a hair chemical on it such as hair bleach, hair lightener, permanent color or a permanent wave.  Mechanical tools can damage the cuticle as well if they are too hot.

So if the cuticle becomes damaged, condition it to repair, then seal the cuticle with either a semi-permanent color gloss or silicone based serums such as argan oil, etc.  Joico has a Humidity Blocker spray that you can spray generously throughout the hair as well without worrying about stiffness.

So if you are born with any curl to your hair (Type 3 and Type 4 hair especially), then curls are prone to frizz because with every turn, there is an opportunity for the cuticle to raise.

If you are embracing your curls as a hairstyle, then a "defining" gel  (hair product) can seal the hair strands and block the humidity from getting to the cuticle layer.

So back to the original question:  Does Humidity cause frizz?   Yes, if you have curly hair, chemically altered hair, or a damaged cuticle layer from heat styling.

How do  hair chemicals damage your cuticle layer?

If you permanently alter your hair with a color treatment, relaxer, curly perm, soft curl, etc, then yes, these hair chemicals swell the cuticle to get into the hair strand to alter it, and is rinsed out and the pH level is neutralized to calm the cuticle back down.  However, the cuticle layer will never shut completely back to its original state without some styling products or a sealant.  Want to test this statement?  Let your hair "air dry" without applying any product after completion of a hair chemical.  If it dries without any frizz, then your cuticle was not damaged, and you should personally inform me because I really would want to know what type of hair you have that defies the rules. (At least, Comment below.)

Okay, back to the discussion, now that you understand what causes frizz . . . you can make better choices on hair products, styling tools, and handling of your hair.

Black and white photo above was from

Monday, January 14, 2013

Importance: Shampoo or Conditioner?

Apparently, some will agree to disagree on this one . . .  but here's my take:

If you hair is virgin/natural with no permanent color, no relaxer, no soft curl, no heat damage, no curly perm, absolutely no chemicals, then conditioner is NOT needed.  God gave you everything in those hair strands that needed to be in those hair strands.  The hair should NOT tangle when it is soaking wet regardless of the hair type.  Leave-in conditioners and styling lotions are all that is needed besides a clarifying shampoo and a moisture shampoo.  I actually learned this while working at the nursing home.  The elderly who had no chemicals received roller sets.  Their curls lasted longer with a shampoo service only.  Why?  The conditioners would make the hair too soft to hold a curl for the two weeks that was needed for some.  There is such a thing as too soft.

Now, for you naturals who color-treat your hair or flat iron your curls straight, then yes, conditioning will repair any damage from chemicals, color, or mechanical tools.  Now, wasn't that simple?

Speaking of arguments . . .  in regards to Sisterlocks, I had a "Sista" to tell me that she knew someone who was doing Sisterlocks for $200.00; I told this "Sista" that I paid $750.00 for my Sisterlocks; then a caucasian lady interrupts us to inform us of her $10.00 clipper cut from Great Clips . . .  talking about perspective . . .

Official Hair Watch: Anne Hathaway

 Yes!  Anne Hathaway did win a Golden Globe Award for her role in the movie "Les Miserables."  Thank God that she did not cut off all of her hair in vain.  She is a beauty person from what I can see from the media's projection of her, but I would have advised her to have tucked all of her lovely, long hair under a wig and cut the wig hair for the movie scene.
 In the movie "Dark Knight Rises," she plays Catwoman.  She did excellent in this role.  I loved the hair!
At the 2013 Golden Globes, you can see that her hair is growing back. Everyone's hair typically grows a half inch per month.  Anne Hathaway is on my "Hair Watch" list!

2013 Applebaum Salon Collection

 Our 2013 Photo Shoot was a success!  Our host location was Noodletasia restaurant in Huntersville, NC.  Photography by Soul Art Photography!

My clients styled their own hair and applied their own makeup for this photo shoot.  I wanted to showcase real women, real life, and good spirits.  My goal is:    Wholesome Hair and a Wholesome Life at any age!  Special thanks to these clients who showed up for the photo shoot!  It would not have been a success without you!

 I focus on the health of the hair first, then I focus on style.  If you have a special occasion, then I can put extra emphasis on glamour!  My clients typically are beautiful from within, and this makes my job easy to radiate the beauty out.  Positive energy and productive attitudes.  Consider joining our hair family!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Hollywood Trend: The SideSweep!

Photo from Yahoo Movies!  Jennifer Lopez's side sweep is the latest Hollywood trend.  This picture is from the 2013 Golden Globe Awards show.  She is wearing a gown by Zuhair Murad.  The side swept hairdo is perfect for this gown.  JLo leads in the category of hair and fashion.

Dry your Hair Overnight Solution

 Pictured is my ancient soft bonnet hair dryer by Gold n' Hot.  It still works!!!!
 The soft bonnet is pretty large in size with adjustable closure.  From rollers to braid-outs, this soft bonnet should fit your head size to set your wet set overnight.
 The hose connects to the soft bonnet deliver hot air either on low or high setting.  It is not too noisy either.
 The soft bonnet and the electrical cord are stored in the hidden compartment  underneath the air hose.  I would sleep with the hose protruding from the forehead. A timer can be set if you do not want to run the soft bonnet dryer all night.
Everything seen in these pictures stores away neatly and compactly with the handle for the case.  No more fears of shampooing your hair at night and not drying by the morning!

Now, if you are not sleeping alone, I promise that this particular dryer is no louder than a big fan or a big heater equalizing the room temperature.

And I thought I had an old version . . .   LOL!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Type 3 and Type 4 Side by Side Comparison

These hair samples both came from African American women.  In Sisterlocks world, the type 4 curl pattern is called "short" because of the diameter of the curl.  The type 3 curl pattern is considered a "long" curl pattern because of its diameter.  Can you guess which curl pattern is easier to lock and coil?

The answer:  Type 4 or short curl pattern.

The Type 3 curl pattern is much harder to lock.  Actually, wash and go is the easiest maintenance for this type of natural hair.  This curl pattern cost less to maintain and is accepted in more "social circles" in its natural state.

Those with a Type 4 curl pattern typically would be more dependent on relaxers to achieve a sleeker, straighter look.  Also, texurizing a type 4 curl pattern will NOT deliver a Type 3 curl pattern.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Snow-wo-man with Hair Extensions?!

I was reading on the Yahoo! News website about the rare snowstorm that is blanketing Jerusalem.  This snowman picture caught my attention.  This snowman has spiral curls that look like real hair.  I remember when hair extensions and wigs were taboo to discuss.  Now, even the snowman , I mean the snow "woman" has hair extensions??????

January 12, 2013 Update:  After researching Jewish customs, I did find images of men with long side curls.  The curls are called "Payot curls" or "Payos."  I  do not remember seeing any men in my immediate surroundings in my life wearing  these curls, but thanks to one of my followers, I was enlightened.  My apologizes if I offended anyone by calling the snowman a  snow-woman.
The picture above is from

Yarn Braid Extensions: Caution when wet!

One of my clients just came back from Nigeria (Africa), and she saw a LOT of yarn braid extensions in all different colors.  I introduced yarn braid extensions in a previous blog article under the name of  "genie locs."

I also just washed my yarn extension unit, and I realized that the yarn soaks up a LOT of water.  Luckily, I can wash the unit without it being on my head, but it went from being weightless in my hands to feeling like a gallon of water.   I was amazed at how the yarn sucked up water like a sponge and retained it.  Wow!  I literally had to wring my yarn unit out as much as I could, and it was still extremely wet.  I could not imagine going swimming with yarn extensions in my hair without seeing some breakage later from the water weight of them.

I literally was amazed to discover what seemed like a lightweight hair fix could be devastating when wet and attached to actual hair.  I recommend caution when choosing the genie locs service for any extended period of time.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Texture Takeoff!

 Photos from Lucky Magazine, Februaury 2013 edition.
This picture was taken from one of my hair industry magazines.

A lot of Type 3b to Type 4a texture is being showcased everywhere.   How about ladies with type 4c, resistant hair?  I would love to see a broader spectrum of curl patterns or locks.

These women are beautiful, but I  have not seen my hair type yet in these fashion magazines.  Let us see how 2013 shapes up!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Resistant hair: No Match for Relaxers plus Length

 So everyone is familiar with the different hair types being Type 1 through Type 4 with subcategories of a, b, and c.  Now, let's take the discussion one step farther . . .  Resistant versus Non-resistant.  Someone with a Type 4c curl pattern may have a finer and less resistant behavior than another individual with a Type 4c curl pattern who has a coarser, more resistant behavior.  So both people can have similar curl patterns, but the texture of the strands may dictate its resistance behavior and shrinkage behavior.
 This miniature "slinky" represents a "resistant" hair type.  When elongated, it naturally wants to spring back into its original condensed form.  This "resistant" hair behavior is excellent for locking because it likes to coil around everything in its path.  Extensions, braids, etc.   However, to straighten or relax this type of resistant hair, the relaxer has to work very hard to soften the bonds to rearrange them not to behave in its natural behavior.  Sometimes a mild strength relaxer is not strong enough to straighten a resistant hair type, but the toxic dangers to the scalp remain the same.  Alopecia and thickening of the scalp can results from prolonged relaxer exposure in an attempt to straighten resistant hair.
To test your resistance of your natural hair, just pull a strand of elongated hair from your head or comb and  drop it in a clear cup of water.  If there is no product or oils on it, then you should be able to see the hair strand do one of two things.   1) Either it will very slowly start to coil and shrink within a few minutes or 2) it will quickly coil and shrink at the "speed of light" like in two seconds.

If it is "speedy" then the hair is resistant.  If it is "slow" to coil, then it is non-resistant.  Non-resistant hair can grow long with the use of mild relaxers, but it may be harder to lock because of potential unravelling.

Now, resistant, coarse hair, is very difficult to grow long using relaxers.  Locks will grow it long, but relaxer and other straightening services will become a battle between style and health.  If a person with resistant hair can manage to style their hair for 8 to 10 weeks at a time in between relaxer touch-ups, then long length is possible.  However, most women with resistant, coarse hair can not get past their hairline becoming kinky within the five weeks period.

Decisions, Decisions.  Food for thought for those sitting on the fence about what to do next with your hair.