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, June 29, 2013

Dreadlock Analysis at 11 months

I wanted to do an individual analysis of one of my (Sister)locks at this 11 month period.  My dreadlocks have two transitions in them, but you probably can only see one transition in this picture.  The obvious transition is where I still have relaxed hair hanging onto the lock.  

1) From the scalp to the length of the clip is the finger twist tightening technique. (around 3 months of new growth)
2) From the end of the clip to the start of the "stringy end" is the Sisterlock interlocking technique.  (around 8 months midshift)
3) The "stringy end" is my relaxed hair that has been woven using the Sisterlock interlocking technique.

So I can not visually tell the difference between finger twisting and Interlocking as far as lock formation.  I can only tell where I have chemically processed hair.

My dreadlock pictured above measures over 5 inches in total length including over 2 inches of relaxed hair.  I actually wonder if I had enough new growth to have even started Sisterlocks 11 months ago.

So by my calculations, I gained about 3 solid inches of lock length in 11 months. Considering my coily, zig zag curl pattern never showed a lot of length until it was straightened by heat or chemical, I am comfortable with my growth cycle.  In another 22 months, I should be a nice full chin level bob without the relaxed, stringy ends.  It may even be sooner who knows?

Well, we shall see!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Preview: Thioglycolate Chemicals

Within the next two weeks, I will be performing the Vigorol Liquid Hair Relaxer and the Wave Nouveau with Coarse/Resistant strength rearranger.

I have had request for other chemical options besides the traditional relaxers and keratin treatments.

I am hoping the Vigorol is going to be an answer for those desiring to tame their natural hair.  It is not compatible with traditional sodium hydroxide relaxers; so clients will have to be thoroughly counselled.

The Wave Nouveau has two rearranger strengths whereas Wave by Design only has one rearranger strength.  Those with resistant hair find that the Wave by Design rearranger only texturizes their new growth.

My body wave client from a previous article is ready to advance the strength of the rearranger by using the Wave Nouveau system.  I plan to post those results within two more weeks.  I should perform the service next week.

So this article is the preview of the "thio" chemical reviews on the horizon for you in the future.  Please stay tuned!

Miss Clairol Magnetic Wristband for Updos

 When pinning up locks or buns or any updo, this magnetic wristband is perfect for holding plenty of hair pins and bobby pins!  I purchased this years ago.  It is by Miss Clairol.  I am not sure if these are still on the market but I love it.

Another great idea from another subscriber:  Will this bracelet support other accessories besides pins?
Well, clips, roller pins, and magnetic stic pics seems to stick nicely too!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

11 Months Hair Locks Check-in

I accepted a settlement offer out of court, therefore, I am free to do whatever I want with my hair now.  Yay!!!!!

Well, it took me 3 hours to finger twist/tighten my locks.  I have not had it interlocked with a tool since March 4, 2013.  I am finger twisting every six weeks.  So far, it is working.  I think that I may feel one hump in each lock where the method has changed, but you can not visually see it.  I had enough new growth this tightening session to get a good inch of twisting in.

I pin curled and banded my pin curls up overnight to get the textured look in them.  I met another lady who had successfully converted her locking method from "interlocking" to "palm rolling."  She had beautiful, long locks.  So far, I like the twisting because it does not feel as tight, and it does not make me feel so scalpy.

In addition, 9 out of 10 lock wearers that I interview, all tightening their own locks.  They only go to the loctician if their locks get past due, and they need some strands snipped because they have started growing together.

So I firmly believe that I am on the right track for me.  I do not think that I am going to split the locks.  I am just going to keep with my same direction that I have been going for the last three months.  Somehow, I think God still had a Master Plan for my hair.  Only 25% of my hair may be what I consider true "Sisterlock" size.

I will probably start calling my hair "locks" versus "Sisterlocks" only because I am changing the tightening method.  I plan to continue to preserve my original lock sizing.  If I go to a locitician, I would caution them not to double my locks.

So I am taking my lock journey down a different path.  I look forward to another few years from now.

In the meantime,  my stocking cap wigs will be on hand for corporate affairs.  Southerners seem more comfortable with long, straight hair in the business world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Product Review: Lace-It Lace Wig Bonder and Wig Release

 I picked up the Lace-It Lace Wig Skin Safe Bonder from Sally's Beauty Supply.
 It did not hold as well as the Ultrahold or the Salon Pro 30sec Extreme Hold Lace Wig Bond according to client feedback.
 Also, it did not dry clear, and it took awhile to completely dry.  So I do not like the bonder.  However, I love the Lace It Unlace Wig Release Spray.  I works similar to "Lace Release" spray.  Alcohol based.  Best used for temporary release of lace wig to re-position.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Should you Sue your Hairstylist?

Lawsuits as it relates to hair are always being tossed around. This article is based on what I know as a customer receiving hair services over the decades as well as working in the hair industry for a decade.

In my opinion, there are accidents and then there are acts of gross negligence.  Let's discuss what I think is considered gross negligence, and you should have no problem winning a lawsuit against a hairstylist.

1) Gross Negligence is when manufacturer's instructions are not followed resulting in immediate hair loss.

Example:  If the hairstylist is not using the proper measuring cup for sensitive scalp relaxers.  In the picture above, the measuring cup on the left is for Avlon's Affirm, Fiberguard Affirm relaxers. The measuring cup on the right is for Design Essentials Sensitive Scalp relaxers.  There are lines on the measuring cups.  The activator liquid should be as precise as possible when mixing the sensitive scalp relaxer.  In the picture below, I have an almost expired tub of  sensitive scalp relaxer  and the appropriate measuring cup. So when does this procedure become gross negligence?  If the hairstylist scoops out half of a "fresh" tub to conserve on product to possibly get two uses out of one "small" tub of sensitive scalp relaxer then she/he pours activator liquid into the reduced amount of relaxer without using the designated measuring cup.  So in essence, the stylist creates a "beyond super strength" customized relaxer and then puts it on the client's hair, and the client's hair breaks off 3 inches in the bowl and the cuticle is blown wide open.  This is gross negligence.  The activator liquid is the "fire" that makes the sensitive scalp relaxers work.  This mixing of a chemical should follow the manufacturer's direction exactly.  If the hairstylist uses another brand of neutralizing shampoo, then that is not gross negligence.  That is just bad practice.  But again, mixing the chemical improperly is gross negligence in my opinion.

Some of you may think that this story is far fetch, but I assure you it is not.  I was the customer when this happened to me and the hairstylist that ruined my hair that day still avoids me at all cost.  The only way that I knew what happened was because I had brought my own relaxer system with me because she was out.  (Flag!)  Then she attempted to base my scalp with "Equate petroleum jelly" until I told her "no." So she borrowed another stylist's proper relaxer base appplicator bottle. (Flag!)  After my hair length went from below my chin in the front to cheek level by the time that I left the salon, I just sucked the situation up until when I got back to my own salon and unpacked my relaxer system and realized that there was a half a tub of relaxer in my bag.  I called her to ask what did she do . . . she explained exactly what I described to you.  She was a "discount" stylist and was trying to conserve on relaxer.  After later researching how sensitive scalp relaxers work, I concluded that the permanent color (double processed hair) in the front and the "Super, Super Strength" relaxer concoction she created broke my hair off immediately.  She admitted that she did not notice the permanent color in my hair until after the relaxer service.  So did I sue her?  "No"   Could I have sued her?  "Yes"  She did not follow the manufacturer's directions.  I had a half tub of sensitive scalp relaxer as proof plus some before and after pictures.

On a separate note,  sensitive scalp relaxers should be immediately used after mixing them because they become increasingly unstable.  A hairstylist should NOT pre-mix the sensitive scalp relaxer to save time and store in the refrigerator.  A sensitive scalp relaxer mixed too soon before application can be more aggressive on the hair and cause some breakage.  This bad practice in my opinion is not gross negligence, but I would be cautious if the relaxer feels cool during the application process.  And yes, I had a different hairstylist who used to refrigerate the sensitive scalp relaxers that she pre-mixed.  I personally do not offer sensitive scalp relaxers because long term they have been proven to be more drying to the hair.  In addition, the Affirm relaxer line has improved to the point that it is tolerable for all clients including those with sensitive scalps.

2) Gross negligence is also experimenting on a client with a new chemical without knowing the ingredients or the chemical base of the new product causing immediate breakage due to chemical incompatibility.

Example: It is basic knowledge from "hair school" that thio based chemicals and relaxers are NOT compatible because they soften two different hair bonds.  Typically, thio based chemicals produce a distinct smell when applied.  So if the chemical procedure has a strong odor, then that is a "clue" to you that it may be a thio based process and should not be applied to a client with previously relaxed hair.  Breakage will occur if those two chemicals meet.  So with that said, some manufacturers will promote Keratin based services with a thio derivative to avoid saying it is thio based which is deceptive marketing.  If it is a thio derivative, then it still is not compatible to hydroxide based relaxers.  Some "texturizers" are also thio based.  I believe "Vigorol" is also a thio based liquid relaxer which is NOT compatible with traditional relaxers.

As a consumer, you should have the hairstylist write down the exact name of the "new" chemical that is being used so you can research the product in case you see abnormal changes with your hair.

All other "hair accidents" are just that "accidents."  If the hairstylist is overworked, lapse in judgement can happen.  In addition, some hair types respond differently to different procedures.

Also, hair extensions can cause damage to the hair during the removal process. So if someone is wearing   adhesive based hair extensions for three years straight, then yes, they may expect some damage has occurred over a three year span of removal and re-applications.  Who is at fault?  I believe that the courts would rule that hair extensions as well as relaxers are "use at your own risk" because both processes can cause damage, but most people take the risk because they like the finished look of a successful service.

Consumers should know that hairstylists are on the "front line."  If the manufacturers change their ingredients, then hairstylists are at the mercy of the new formula working, and customers must being patient enough to work through any additional changes that need to be made to continue achieving successful results.

Hair is a practice like a doctor/dentist/attorney.  It is never going to be perfect for everyone all the time.  We all make the best of it by continuing to learn and progress.  Let me know if you have questions about a particular hair situation.

Also, if you pursue small claims court, it may cost you over $90 to file the case.  So if your hair service in question costs less than $100 then why pay $90 trying to get $90?

So, unless the hair service costs over $200, then I do not recommend pursuing small claims court to get a refund. Most professional hairstylists will refund some monies before it gets that far.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dreadlock World is like a new Car!

Entering "Dreadlock world" is similar to buying a new car.   You never seem to see your "new car" around until you buy it and then you see your "new car" at every corner.  Surprisingly, dreadlocks have been all around apparently all of my life, but I was never aware of them until I entered "dreadlock world" myself.  I can not believe how many people have locks.

Even my family has told me that they have become increasingly aware of Sisterlocks, dreadlocks, etc.

I have just added another product line to the salon with the vision of adding additional lock clientele.

 The Scalp and Skin Refresher is alcohol-free and should be great for those starting traditional locks who need to hold off from heavy shampooing for about a month.
Nahbila's Essential Products are designed by Sonia Tutuwan Thames.  She had gorgeous long locks years ago when I met her.  I highlighted one of her tutorials in a recent blog article.  I am excited about adding her line along with my Sisterlocks products.

As far as my own locks,  the Judge Mathis television show wrote me and wants my case . . . I will keep you posted . . .

My Summer Stocking Cap Unit

With part in the center or a side part . . .

 The rain and humidity was causing my last human hair stocking cap unit  to lose curls.  In my mind, synthetic hair was starting to look more and more attractive because it would not be weather sensitive, but I liked wearing curls on the sunny days.  The human hair felt  and behaved like it was my own home grown hair.  So for this new unit, I decided on straight hair.  I did not have to apply any heat to it.  It came "straight" from the package.
JBSHair is the same company that used to make "Joie Joie" hair.  That hair was fantastic!  But the company does not offer it anymore so they suggested their "Pink Diamond" platinum line.

The "Pink Diamond" line may also become discontinued.  It is expensive with 16" hair costing about $90 a pack.  People are buying so much "virgin" brazilian hair now that it is hard to figure out what the next hottest hair trend is going to be.

This "Pink Diamond" hair felt so so good running through my hands.  Oh my, I was in love with the silkiness of it, but it does not look as natural as the "Joie Joie" hair that I used last time.  So I am bittersweet.  I hate when my hair looks tooooooo perfect because as soon as one little hair starts doing its own thing, it screams "weave."  I used four different colors again to achieve a nice blend.

My Sisterlocks were harder to cover up using the U-Be cap, but I put it on underneath the stocking cap.  I tried using two wave caps this application, but the second stocking cap was awkward when wearing the final look.  So I removed one of the stocking caps, and it fit fine. If someone has relaxed hair, then the two stocking caps may work better.??? (I think.)

In the picture above, I glued the excess stocking cap together to cut it off to avoid that extra hump in the top of my head.  For more details on how to make this customized stocking cap unit, please see my separate article on this blog for "Removable Quickweave wig."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Comparing DreadLock sizing

Traditional Locks (photo credit: are more prone to lay straight versus being "light and fluffy" like Sisterlocks. (photo credit:

My hair is not as large as traditional locks, but not as small as Sisterlocks are designed to be.

My locks at 10.5 months below in the fuschia collared shirt.

Seeing pictures of all three categories of dreadlocks, helps me to keep my sizing in perspective.

A Successful Virgin Relaxer Service

 So at age 12, my client was ready for straight hair on a permanent basis. It was time for her first relaxer.  I prepared for the virgin relaxer procedure.  I draped her with a fabric chemical cape.  I lined her shoulders with Glad Press N' Seal and connected it in the front like an additional drape.

I selected Affirm Normal and Affirm Mild as my relaxer systems mainly because they work without the burning.  I used the Normal strength to go through the midshaft through the ends.  I then went back to the roots and applied the Mild strength.  Initially, I put a 2 inch guide of relaxer throughout the hair about an inch or inch and a half away from the scalp to allow me to go through a second pass to get from my relaxer guide down the mid-shaft and all the way through the ends.  The roots and hairline were covered at my third pass through the hair.  I completed the first and second passes within 20 minutes. The product was very heavy on the hair.  I had to gently fight to get the hair parted to evenly distribute Mild relaxer to the remaining roots, but we successfully completed the full virgin relaxer application and smoothing within 35 minutes.  The salon temperature was cool.  The length was extremely long. Medium length hair will have taken less time.
In a separate article, I discussed lining my relaxer bowls to make less work for me to clean up.
We had shampooed, blow dried and french braided her hair three days prior to the virgin relaxer.  The Press N'Seal wrap stayed in place to protect the cape from getting chemical all over it.  I had to snap the picture quickly so I had a paper towel in my hand that accidently got into the picture above, but you can see how long the relaxed hair stretched to.   I then unloosed the Press N'Seal drape in the front and gathered it up with her relaxer coated hair enclosed.  I laid her hair bundle into the shampoo bowl then I gentled peeled the Press N'Seal wrap from out of the shampoo bowl and began a long, long rinse.  I blotted dry and checked the whole head, cleared the shampoo bowl neck area and then rinsed some more.  I did three shampoos with the final shampoo being towel blotted and completed with her seated upright.  The towel blot before the final Affirm normalizing shampoo made a difference.  The lather was completely white.  The first two shampoos seemed to still yield some faint pink lather.  It was definitely squeaky clean by the third shampoo.  I conditioned and color bathed the hair under the dryer for about 15 minutes.

The roots were less straight than the midshaft, but straight enough and  they can be easily taken care of at the next relaxer touch-up service.  All of the hair was straight enough for me to roll with the gray magnetic rollers.  Dryer time is about 1.5 hours.
 I did go in and straighten the roots a little more with the marcel irons, and we did "trim" the hair.  At age 12, she did not need a blunt cut.
Successful virgin relaxer service by Benita Blocker.  My client received a "First Relaxer" certificate from me with my Applebaum logo.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tool Review: MiraCurl by Babyliss

I just tried out the newest automated curling tool called the MiraCurl.  The name reminds me of a "miracle."  Overall, I was impressed with the tool and its results for the right type of hair.  The side of the tool with the "writing on it" is supposed to face the clients' head.  Pull a section of hair out, place it across the MiraCurl opening, and close the tool up.  It then automatically "reels" the section of hair into the curling mechanism.
Hold and then release after the "beep."  The curl created is spiral and uniform.

For those hairstylists who are starting to have challenges with their wrist, this tool is perfect and quick.  The hair needs to be straight going in.  Do not expect the tool to smooth the cuticle and curl at the same time.  I repeat that it is for curling hair that is already smooth and straight.  The tool is retailing for about $300. It has created a lot of buzz lately.  I do not feel like I have enough clientele who would truly benefit from this service.  So the only downside to this tool is the price.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Product Review: Pureology Precious Oil Softening Conditioner

One of my clients turned me on to the new "precious oil" category under the Pureology umbrella. I love the smell and the way the conditioner softens the hair.  I did not purchase the shampoo because the ingredients did not seem special.

The Pureology Precious Oil Conditioner has a lot of sunflower oil and very little soy protein.  It goes on very smoothly. It also works well under a heated dryer for those with relaxed hair.  For finer hair, one may want to stick to the 1 to 2 minutes without the heat to make sure the hair is not too heavy.

Semi-permanent haircolor: The Clear Choice

All semi-permanent haircolor are not equal.  I have found the Dudley's "Blank Clear" of their Fantastic Colors Conditioning Haircolor is my first and top choice for shiny hair.  Hands down.

When comparing it to the Nairobi Tru Colors' "Clear Gloss," the Dudley's gloss is crystal clear and absorbs quickly into the hair.  The Nairobi clear gloss is cloudy looking and seems to coat the hair versus absorb into it.

When charging extra for this clear color bath, the Nairobi clear gloss did not deliver dramatic results.  Whereas the Dudley's clear gloss, people are willing to pay extra after just one trial service.

Dudley's is the clear choice for semi-permanent conditioning haircolor.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Broken Shears and Shear Sharpening Services

Thank God that I have multiple pairs of quality haircutting shears.  I dropped this pair of shears apparently the wrong way, and they did not survive.  Wow!  There is a first time for everything.

I have a regular shear sharpening service to service my salon quarterly to keep my shears sharp. The service guy also sells shears.

When you pay over $200 for shears, then it is best to pay $25 to keep them sharp.  If you are only paying $50 or less for shears, then it is best to keep buying new pairs of shears.

As long as the shears are not sawing off the hair when you use them, then they are sharp enough.

I think male hairstylists like long shears. I prefer medium to short shears.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

DVD Review: Hair Locking 101

This DVD is from platform artist Sonia Tutuwan.  I purchased years ago and just reviewed it again.  She went over comb twisting, finger twisting, and palm rolling.  She also discussed when to use each of these techniques.  This DVD requires patience because sometimes it is just a visual of her comb twisting an entire head, but when she does speak, she is giving out very helpful hints.

She discusses partings, grooming, maintenance, suggested products, and tricks to keep stray hairs wrapped around the lock.

I was not ready for this video when I bought it, but it is perfect for my passion for locks as this moment!

Hot Buns As Seen on TV

 Wedding time is upon us.  No matter how long your hair is, most updos need a little "filler" to give volume.
 The "Hot Buns" come in two colors:  One for dark hair and the other for light hair.  They can be found on the "As Seen on TV" aisle.
 There are two "rolls" that come in the pack.  The price is around $10.00 USD.
 There are velcro strips up and down the fillers.  They are removable.  They assist with rolling the hair around the filler.
 However, if you just want to snap them close and use just like a typical donut filler, I would remove the velcro strips.  They pull the hair.
Hair pins can be used with this filler.  It feels the same as the regular $3.00 donut fillers that have been around for generations.  There is a built-in drawstring to secure the bun for "pin-less" application.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: Laila Ali Professional Intensive Hydrating Conditioner

The Laila Ali Intensive Hydrating Conditioner has a "baby powder" smell.  I am not a fan of the smell.  It has a thick consistency.  I cocktailed it with KeraCare Humecto conditioner to ensure adequate hydration to the hair.  It has Glycerin, Shea Butter, Wheat Protein, Marula Seed oil,  and Panthenol among other ingredients.

This conditioner seems to work best with natural, non-relaxed hair.  I have been spoiled with the aroma of my Pureology and Paul Mitchell products.  In addition, this conditioner can be purchased from some discount stores.

Overall, my curiosity was up because Laila Ali is such an icon for beauty.  However, I am going to stick with my longtime professional lines for my clientele.  It was good to experiment.  You never know until you try it!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Professional Full Lace Human Hair Wig

With the Summer heat approaching, many will be looking for cooler, protective styling options.  This particular full lace human hair wig is made from delicate lace and is special ordered from a professional distributor. The lace is breathable and soft.  You can part it anywhere that you would like.

I have seen some online human hair full lace wigs starting at $300.  This unit retails for $1500, but it is designed to last a whole year.  My client that elected to make this investment is very happy.

It comes with 18 inch hair on it. When wet, it has a wet and wavy look to it.  My client is wearing it long for now.  We will gradually cut it shorter every 3 months or so because long hair can be more prone to tangle. We sew the back down onto her cornrows.  We use adhesives to keep the front in tact.  Updos are easy with this unit.  Roller sets give it volume.  The lace is so soft that there is no need to wear an extra nylon cap which really makes this unit very cool and breathable and safe on your own hair.

This full lace wig is from the Rio Collection.  The style is called the Alexi, Yaki Perm Straight.  I have swatches for the color options.  This unit can only be ordered by professional hairstylists.