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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Monday, May 27, 2013

Locks: From Interlocking to Twist Tightening

 I have about 10 to 12 weeks of new growth at the roots in the picture above.  I finger twisted the new growth in a clockwise direction in the picture below.  I believe the locks will mature just fine with the change in tightening methods.  I am keeping my original Sisterlocks partings until my case with my original Sisterlocks consultant is resolved.

Introduction to Beth Minardi Haircolor

When dealing with double processed hair (relaxer and permanent color), I prefer to stick with a haircolor line that has a 1:1 ratio of color vs. developer.  Also, I like that fact that the Minardi haircolor line has a 5 volume developer versus the 10 volume.

I am uncertain if this color line is progressive or not, but because Beth Minardi understands the importance of keeping the gray hair covered, I feel certain that this haircolor is going to become my new favorite.

I currently use Schwarzkopf haircolor in the salon which is also a 1:1 ratio, but with some recent company reorganizations, it sent all of us into a frenzy trying to get our hands on the new packaging, training, etc.

Everyone always needs a backup plan.  I spoke with a few Minardi representatives recently.  Here is what I learned:

1) They do not offer a semi-permanent color in their line.  Just demi-permanent color in either cream or liquid as well as permanent haircolor.

2) The "ICE" category is like a "NN" but it is not to be used alone.

3) The Liquid Demi-permanent color can be used as a filler during color correction services.

4) The cream Demi-permanent color is more alkaline than the liquid demi-permanent color.  The liquid formula is more acidic and sheer.

5)  The Demi-permanent color is in purple packaging, and the corresponding backbar shampoo and "after-wash"  has purple labelling.  The permanent color is in orange packaging, and the corresponding backbar shampoo and "after-wash" has orange labelling.

6) Clients with less than 50% gray can get solid gray coverage with the demi-permanent color.

7) Permanent haircolor has a 45 minute suggested processing time.  That's a good window for application as well.

I have noticed the swatches look darker than the usual color levels that I work with.  I will have to keep everyone posted as I get more experienced with matching the color levels for this particular line.

Official 10 months Sisterlocks Update

So it took me 2 hours and 40 minutes to finger twist/tighten my entire head of locks with Aloe Vera Gel.  I perm rod set and dried my hair for another hour and a half.  Can you tell that I did NOT interlock at all?  Of course, the top picture is my favorite side of my head.  The consultant started out with the right size Sisterlocks in the front at the beginning, but as you can see in the picture below,  the other side of my head, the locks got larger.

So I still have a lopsided front, but curls hide a lot of imperfections! Also, in a nutshell, I like 25% of my locks, and the other 75%  of my locks I do not like because they are large and "too large."  However, as they get longer, I will hope that I will grow to love them more.

Now, for some more exciting news . . .  I heard from the Judge Mathis television show this past Friday.  They can not subpoena anyone, but if my original consultant agrees to allow Judge Mathis to hear our case, then we can finally move forward.

I kept all my original partings during this self-retightening. The aloe vera gel is natural and non-sticky.  I did not use any tools.  My original partings still look very much in tact as I was separating them.

 I sincerely hope that she agrees to settle this case with Judge Mathis!  I will keep you posted!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When is Styling Gel Expired?

With so many places to buy styling gels, from the drug store to the grocery store to the beauty supply store, how do you know if the gel is fresh? Very few have expiration dates on them.  Well, based on the consistency of the two "lumpy" gels above, I consider them expired based on the following characteristics:

1) jelly consistency
2) slight discoloration
3) slight stickiness

The two "expired" gels that are pictured are 1) NuExpressions High Sheen Styling Gel and 2) Kinky-Curly Curling Custard.  I had both gels for a couple of years or more.  I had not used them often and have since moved on to the IC Hair Polisher Styling Gel for the clear option.

The "fresh" styling gel should be smooth and spreads on like "soft butter."

Even the Ampro Pro Style brown styling gel which is an "old school fan" of many people has a smooth consistency when it is fresh.

Expired gels are not going to harm the hair, but it is not going to deliver optimum performance.  For example, when doing the quickweave, you need the styling gel to coat the hair uniformly and properly to protect the hair from the glue.

I do not know if anyone ever wondered about when to throw out gel, but the characteristics described within this article should be a guideline for twist and lock gels to styling gels.  So lumpy or jelly-like gels should be tossed into the trash.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Pressing Pad for Hair

About five years ago, I met another Californian hairstylist at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills.  She told me about the pressing pad.  I special ordered a couple of them from off the Internet.

They remind me of an "ironing board" for the hair.  This pad is great for longer hair because the pressing comb starts to cool down as it runs down the hair strand.

For coarser and/or resistant springy hair, this pressing pad has been extremely helpful.  The pressing pads that I have seen in the local beauty supply store are not as plush.  You do not want want to burn yourself!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Denman Straightening Brush

As you know, the Denman brand is well-known for quality brushes.  Well, this Denman model is the D79.  It is called their thermoceramic straightening brush.

 It closes similar to a flat iron. The short boar bristles inside the brush aid in gliding hair straight.  This brush is now a  God send for me.  80% of the online reviews were very favorable for this brush.

Occasionally, I get clients who have resistant, long, thick natural hair.  I tried the paddle brush, the traditional Denman brush, round brushes, vented brushes, and comb attachments.  None of these worked without maximum effort.  Most of the time, there was too much hair to control at one time even after dividing the hair up into many sections.

So finally, I gave the Denman straighening brush a try.  I was able to control my sections as I blow dried on medium heat. I only closed the brush partially and kept working it like I was flat ironing with a handheld blow dryer in the opposite hand.  Once the section was about 80% dry, I used the comb attachment to finish out the straightness.This has been the best combination of tools thus far for long, thick, resistant, natural hair.

Actually, this Denman straightening brush is probably good for short, resistant, natural hair as well.  Any hair that springs back really quickly when stretched out can be controlled with this straightening brush.

The uans crema conditioner also provided great moisturizing in a short amount of time.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Unisex Pompadour Haircut

 I just finished a Paul Mitchell haircut collection class this week!  I learned a way to perform the Pompadour haircut.  Although Janelle Monae's hairstyle above is not a haircut, her hair shaping sets the pace for the pompadour look.
 The Pompadour haircut on Justin Bieber.

The pompadour haircut on singer Pink.

The most surprising thing about the pompadour haircut that I learned in this Paul Mitchell class was that the center section does not  have to be perfectly symmetric on both sides of the head.  As seen in this picture and as confirmed by the instructor,  one parting is slightly lower on the side than the other.

Also, using a clipper with a #1 guard and buzz off the rest of the hair that is not in your center mohawk sectioning was good to know.  Leave a triangle crown area in the back for solidity and in case there are any cowlicks.

Regardless of the sex of the client, the pompadour haircut is almost identical in technique.

The Fishtail Braid Hairstyling

Were you looking for a new ponytail option for the summer heat?  Fergie is sporting a loose fishtail braid using a chunky technique.  Once you fishtail braid your ponytail and anchor it at the bottom, then you can loosen it up for a messier, beach look.

Rihanna is sporting a fishtail braid using small pieces at a time.  Photo credit from
The fishtail braids can be exotic and elegant at the same time.

 Fishtail braid by Benita Blocker.  

I used small pieces to make this fishtail braid myself.  There are quite a few online tutorials.  Starting the fishtail braid is a little tricky, but with practice, it is a "piece of cake."  The brown fishtail braid above was about my sixth practice round.  I have mastered three techniques of fishtail braiding now.

1)  Chunky (big pieces)
2)  Non-chunky (small pieces)
3)  Chunky with Extreme tension

In the DVD called a "Fishtail Twirl" that I purchased years ago, I learned how to make the fishtail braid with a lot of tension to it.  I did not find any online videos showing this extra step showcased in this video featuring  platform artist Samantha Huntley.  Overall, the camera angles were not shot well in this video. By learning the basics of fishtail braiding from the free online tutorials, I was able to figure out what Samantha was doing when the video camera angles were focussed on the wrong side of her hands.  This DVD inspired me to try these chunkier, tighter looking fishtail braids below.  These were my 4th and 5th practice rounds.

The $2.00 jumbo braiding hair was used with these black fishtail braids.  As seem on the DVD cover, this tighter  (chunky with extreme tension) version of the fishtail braids can be sealed at the ends and twisted into an updo.

In the picture below, I am showing my looser fishtail on the left and the DVD cover of the tighter, chunkier fishtail updo on the right.

For Fishtail braided styling for loc wearers: Go to
Click on link above to see a video for a Loc style updo by youtuber marijahbetula.

Photo source:

Have fun with your fishtail braided hairstyles!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jambu Shoes: A Good Fit for Hairstylists for the Summer!

 As professional hairstylists, we have to wear closed toe shoes.  Because of my natural habit of twisting my feet, I steer away from platform shoes.  Even low platform shoes are a problem for me.  Jambu has platform shoes that are very cute and comfortable, but I decided on their flats.

 So far, I love these Jambu shoes.  They are comfortable.  I bought them in a neutral color to go with everything.  It is the spring/summer, and I wanted to start wearing maxi dresses.  Sneakers and a maxi dress was not acceptable even by my standards.  So now I am comfortable and chic.  My toes can breathe even with a closed toe.  No more sweaty feet! Yay!  The shoes are Eco-Friendly and Trail Rated.  My local Lebos shoe store carries them!  They run around $100 or more, but they are really, really worth it!!!!

I overheard two ladies discussing the Jambu shoe brand on my flight to Boston for my Sisterlocks training last August. I have been looking for them ever since.

Review: Golden Supreme Elite Heat Tester

 I purchased this Golden Supreme Elite Heat Tester a few years ago.  I felt it was slowing me down, and I was scared that I was going to break the test band/plate.  During that time, I was still trying to learn how to work the marcel curling irons.  I had too many new things going at one time.  So I put this tester away.

Well, now, I have Mastered the marcel curling irons.  When I am on a roll, I do not need to test the marcel iron unless I have stopped to part the hair or had some interruption in service.  Usually, I would use a white paper towel and look to see if the paper towel changes color.  Do not get me wrong, the paper towel method has worked over the  years, but why not add my new tool back to my regimen?  I paid about $100 for it a few years back.  Yes, it's time to set it back up.  I will not need to use it when I am  quickly curling hair, but when I am uncertain of the temperature of the iron.  All I have to do is lightly hold the iron on the test plate.  The instructions emphasize "light touching" to avoid breaking it.

The three categories of heat are shown.  Relaxed hair and fine hair are at the lower temperature range, and the coarse, natural hair falls at the top temperature range.  There is even a "too hot" light.  I am excited to add this tool back to my thermal routine.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tips for Healthy, Shiny, Stylish (Dread) Locks

From the Desk of Loctician/Cosmetologist Benita Blocker:

1) If you want maximum styling options, then the locks need to be retightened at a 90 degree angle from the scalp.  This can be done by completing a half or full interlocking rotation at the end of  any non-interlocking technique.  Otherwise, the lock should be held straight out from the scalp when tightening the new growth. 

2) All twisting should be completed in a clockwise pattern.  Keep your clockwise rotation consistent.  This will help with lock uniformity.

3) Determine your natural curl behavior.  If you pull your natural hair out, does it spring back like a "slinky" toy? or does it stay extended and gradually shrinks back up?  Does your hair ever coil back onto itself or does it just wave out?

If you have "slinky" behavior, the comb twist with a fine tooth barbering comb is my best recommendation to grab and keep all of your coily hair pulled into the lock.  This should prevent the locks from thinning out as well as keeping them uniform.

If you have less coily hair that grows away from the scalp, then palm rolling or some form of interlocking would be better.  The comb twisting may make your hair harder to lock so I do not recommend  comb twists for retightening.  

4) All hairtypes can start locks with comb twisting to get scalp partings as desired.  Interlocking may need to be combined with the comb twisting to get "hard to lock" hair to hold.

Questions about interlocking and interlocking tools?  Some hints and suggestions are included in articles within my blog, but you can also research other sites as well for making your own tools or purchasing speciality tools.

5)  99% pure aloe vera gel can be found at Trader Joes.  It has healing and moisturizing properties.  It will probably save you money from the stockpiling of all the natural hair gels on the market now.  Make sure that you are not allergic to aloe vera.  The Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking Gel also has been highly recommended.

6) If a lock breaks off, then save it to be mended.  If the broken piece is a small tip, then trash it.

7) If your locks look dry, then your scalp may not naturally produce enough oil to keep the locks moist.  Everyone's oil production is different.  If your locks need help with moisture, joboba oil or Jamaican Mango and Lime Island oil have received great recommendations.

8) Everyone's hair texture is unique to them, you have to find what works best for you.  If your locks are not forming the way you want, then consider switching locticians.  You will need to allow at least 4 months to see if a new locking routine is working.  You will judge by the new growth area up to start of the existing lock after the locking change.

9) Remind the loctician that you do not want locks doubled up in order to maintain your original grid.  If the loctician encounters a lot of locks that need doubling, then either the locks are not staying hydrated enough or the locking method is not working for your hair type.  Partner with the loctician to figure out what can be done.  If the loctician does not have any suggestions and does not offer to research into some suggestions for you, then you need to move on to another loctician.

10) Lock grooming and lock tightening are two separate services.  Some minor lock grooming can be done at lock tightening time, but if you let your locks get seriously past due, then a lock grooming session may need to be scheduled separately from your tightening service.  Lock correction is a separate specialty service as well.  A long term plan needs to be set in place and the loctician needs to be on the same page with you.

I hope this information has been helpful!

Almost 10 months: Sisterlocks and Wig Refresh!

 Since I have not resolved my complaint with my original Sisterlocks consultant, I refuse to have anyone to work on my hair unless they are listed as active with Sisterlocks headquarters.  So since I am a registered Sisterlocks trainee and my "super sized" Sisterlocks in the back of my head are big enough to start finger twisting, that is what I did.  As stated in one of my recent articles, I used the 99% pure aloe vera gel for twisting, moisturizing, and healing.  I also distributed jojoba oil through out.  I am going to continue to let my Sisterlocks in the front free form.  The more texture that I have in the front, the better my stocking cap wig stays on.

Speaking of my custom made unit, I washed it and repaired it again.  The quality of hair that I used is holding up.  I am sooooooo pleased.  This unit helps me with my corporate image until my locks get longer.
Hair by Benita Blocker, May 2013 Fresh wash and curl!

I have been really studying my curl behavior.  It spring rolls like a "slinky" toy.  Have you ever tried to undo a "slinky?"  It is hard to re-train a slinky to do anything but what it does.  So I really do not think a "crochet hook-like" tool is going to be able to pull my "slinky curls" into my locks properly for retightening.  I firmly believe that the fine tooth barbering combs are the best tool for my hair type.

My hair type will benefit from comb twisting to grab all of my hair and get it secured.  Those who have less springy hair that grows away from the scalp will do fine with interlocking methods such as Sisterlocks or even palm rolling.  I do not feel that my hair would benefit from palm rolling because palm rolling does not grab my "spring rolled and parked" curls that are hovering at my scalp.

I have identified a loctician who may be able to comb twist my locks in the future.  I have no idea what to do about the front locks yet.  I can massage and finger twist the back locks myself because they are larger, at least, until I resolve my Sisterlocks complaint. I hope to have the issue resolved within the next 45 days.

I want to keep as small of locks as possible using the comb twist method. I may still interlock my hair in combination with the comb twist if I find that I need a little extra hold.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hair Combs: Colors, Shapes, and Quality

Did you know that dark colored hair should be cut with a light colored comb, and the client should be draped with a light colored cape?   And vice versa, light colored hair should be cut with a dark colored comb, and the client should be draped with a dark colored cape.

So the next time that you visit a haircutting salon, check for the contrasting colors between the hair color and the drape and combs.

I have invested in a multitude of colors for capes, but only recently have I focussed on increasing my inventory of cutting combs.  For roller sets, "how fine of teeth is in the comb" is more important that the color of the comb.

Also, the quality of the material that the comb is made of can be determined by running your fingernails down the teeth of the comb.  The louder the noise that comes from the comb, the cheaper the material.

Carbon combs are black in color and are considered ionic.  They are great for use with hot tools.  The color of the comb is only important during haircutting services.

I recently realized that I use about five combs per person on any given day.  The red comb above is for dry detangling.  The clear/gray comb is seamless and is for wet detangling.  The two carbon combs in the pictures can be used for haircutting and hot tools respectively.  A rattail comb is usually used for roller seting as well.  The three-way comb is used for final styling.

Pictured above is a "twist" comb.  I feel the teeth are too wide for tightly coiled hair.  A Barbering comb would be a better fit.

Barbering combs go from small teeth to big teeth on the same combs.  They seem to be best for comb twists.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Dreadlock Maintenance Regimen: Aloe Vera Gel and Jojoba Oil

 Photo credit:  I wanted a distinguished picture representing dreadlocks, and I stumbled across this one.  Even the doll has dreadlocks.  Interesting?  What's more interesting is that I ran into an African American woman with the most beautiful, shiny, healthy looking dreadlocks that I have seen in awhile this past weekend. So I was compelled to ask her what was she doing that most everyone else that I see walking around with "dry looking" locks are not doing.  So she told me . . .
She runs pure Jojoba oil through her locks and twist and tightens the roots with natural aloe vera gel.  The aloe vera gel looks like clear styling gel except it is moisturizing, not sticky.

I was really impressed that only two products was all she needed to get that shine thoughout her locks.  The 99% pure aloe vera gel is natural so you can not really overuse it.  She stated that the Joboba oil is expensive so she uses it conservatively.  She did mention an occasional apple cider vinegar monthly rinse to get rid of lint, but she does not believe in all the different brand name products on the market with all the different ingredients in them.  She is allergic to haircolor and wants to stick to as many natural solutions as possible.

I have also discovered that by using a color gloss or semi-permanent color, I also get incredible shine in the dreadlocks. Anyone who is permanently coloring their dreadlocks should consider the semi-permanent color in order to maintain a shine and seal.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Texturized hair: Before and After

One of my clients decided on texturizing services for her hair in order to get a "wash and go" effect.  In the picture, the two different curl patterns came from the same client.  Which curl pattern do you like best?

The curl pattern on the left is her natural curl pattern with some demi-permanent haircoloring. The one on the right was texturized with Fiberguard Affirm Mild relaxer for about 10 to 12 minutes.  The real lesson is this:  If your natural curl pattern does not look like the curl pattern on the left hand side of the picture, then you are not going to get the texturized curl pattern on the right hand side of the picture.

So for all those "kiddie perms" that people buy hoping for the "perfect" curl pattern.  Just remember that your finished product really is determined by the type of curl pattern that you start with.

For some people the curl pattern on the left hand side may be the final texturized results based on a  kinkier, coily curl pattern from the start.  With this being the case,  paying for a texturizing service may be a waste of time if you are still wanting the curl pattern on the right.  These are the cases where I really would love for people to embrace locks.  Even consider microlocks without investing heavily into the proprietary Sisterlocks.

There is another blogger at that I absolutely adore . . .  traditional locks can be so beautiful!

Charles Ramsey: Hair Before, Hair After

Charles Ramsey is the gentleman who assisted in the rescue of three women in Cleveland, Ohio who had been missing for 8 to 10 years.  According to the online interviews, he stated that his father taught him that if he can raise a hand at a woman, then he should be able to give a woman a hand.  So that is what he did!  He has been praised for his bravery that set three women free from captivity at a neighboring house.  He has an entourage that is travelling with him on public appearances from Good Morning America to Anderson Cooper.  Charles Ramsey has gone viral internationally.  In the picture above, his camp has cleaned up his image.  In the picture below, he was just a "diamond in the rough."

Charles Ramsey is quite brilliant in my opinion.  I believe people are drawn to him because he is "real" versus the "politically correct, polished, professional."  NeNe Leakes of the "Housewives of Atlanta" reality show gained notoriety from her "keeping it real" attitude from first season's appearance.

Well, Charles Ramsey has a haircut and a new image despite the mockery that he initially received for his candid interview and "mullet" hairstyling.

I am even going to forecast that Hollywood is going to cast him into future movies (plural).  He has all the characteristics of a great actor.  He interviews very well.  He is at the start of something big!  You can not pay for the magnitude of publicity he has received!

And if his camp is hiring in the future, I am fan, please consider me!!!!

Photo credits: ABCnews and


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Brazilian Blowout Conditioning Turban

I still have my conditioning turban from my Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Treatment line.

My interesting discovery is that I finally sat under the dryer with this turban for my own conditioning, but instead of feeling intense heat, the lining of this turban seemed to block the heat from the dryer.  My plastic cap never really heated up. I felt the heat all around my face except on my head.  The terry cloth seemed to redirect heat away from my head.  This turban may be ideal for a sauna environment when you are trying to keep your head cool versus hot.

Lining the Relaxer Bowls

 Cleaning out relaxer bowls was a clean-up task that was taking up extra time. So I decided to start lining my relaxer bowls.  So far so good!  I do not have to wash extra chemicals down the drain.  I can just toss the liner in the trash can.

As you may remember from a previous article, I have used disposable cake decorating bags before for other time saving tips.  Well, I purchase the Wilton's 16 inch bags to line the relaxer bowls.

 Wilton has 12" and 16" disposable decorating bags.  I prefer the 16" size. (Large)

You can puncture the bag to get the bowl handle through it in order to make a nice well to work from.  There may be some relaxer bowls that are too big for the liner.  So use your best judgement as to relaxer bowl size compared to the size of the decorating bag.