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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Thursday, September 26, 2013

PhenomenalhairCare Blog 4th Anniversary Update

Hey Everyone!  I have been all over the place with hair topics - I know.  Sometimes technical, Sometimes fun, Sometimes serious, Sometimes heartfelt, Sometimes strategic.

I must say that the 95% of my clients are not natural nor do they have locks.  I suppose as my microlocks get longer, then I will attract more lock clientele.  So hair extensions and relaxers and roller sets and blow dry styles represent my clientele and will probably dominate my hair topics in the future until I gain more length on my own locks.

My blog has now reached over 350,000 pageviews within the four years of its existence.  I have over 600 articles posted.  I am looking for a literary agent to possibly turn the blog into a book in the future.  Possibly within another two years when my microlocks past shoulder length.  I am also desiring to open an ultimate hair salon in the Beverly Hills, California area.

So thanks so much for your support of this blog.  I am open to guest writers for relevant articles.  So I am excited to enter into year five learning more and sharing more for all those hair enthusiasts!  (Not just Black hair, although 80% of my clientele is African American, I love all hair!)

Have a Great hair day!

Safe Shampooing with bonded Hair extensions

So you bonded some hair extensions in your hair with hair glue, and you want to wash it without the extensions coming loose?  Yes, it can be done!

The Paul Mitchell shampoo one does well to cleanse the hair without the tracks slipping out.  I suggest gently massaging around the actual tracks to not rip your own hair.  The Paul Mitchell shampoo seems to work without loosing the glue. I suggest using leave-in conditioners instead of using a separate rinse out conditioner only because a conditioner may cause the glue to slip which would defeat the purpose of washing your head with the bonded extensions in.

I still do not recommend keeping the bonded extensions past four to 6 weeks.  Removal of the bonded glue will still be messy when the time comes.

Also, if you are using Morning Glory glue protection or any other brand of glue protection, then you should not shampoo until you are ready to remove the bonded hair extensions.

The Paul Mitchell Shampoo one wash is for those who are bonding hair extensions directly to their own hair.  Preferably a few tracks for limited style enhancement versus a full head.

Apex Pressing Oil

 Another hairstylist referred the Apex pressing oil to me for old school pressing.  So far I like it.  It's made of petroleum and lanolin.  Lanolin is a natural oil found in sheep's wool to protect them from the cold weather according to online research.  Most reviews of the Apex pressing oil is favorable.  When used sparingly, I found it to work well to moisturize without weighing the hair down.  I used it in place of the curling wax.

 I was told that the pressing oil was in this tin because in the old school days, the heat from the stove would help melt the pressing oil within the tin.  So, in other words, the tin jar would conduct some of the heat to warm the pressing oil.

According to the instructions on the jar, the pressing oil can be used as a daily pomade.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Relaxer Color Indication

 As I was washing out a relaxer bowl, I squirted some Nu Expressions 10 in 1 into the shampoo bowl to show the hot pink color indication when relaxer residue is detected.

Please see Relaxer tips article on this blog for September 2013 to learn more about NuExpressions 10 in 1 conditioner.

Official 14 months into my Microlock Journey

 Cooler weather means more fun with cosmetics!  So today is officially 14 months from my Sisterlocks birthday! (July 24, 2012)  I don't have a lot to say besides full steam ahead.  My crown area and top is still recovering from relaxer scarring so it is still a little sparser than the rest of my head, but I do not feel like it is as extreme as it was 10 months ago. So no yarn unit for the winter, but I may try for the stocking up wig for a little variety.

New Relaxer Application Concept by Benita Blocker

 After several months of visualizing this concept, I have finally gotten a first functional prototype for this relaxer application tool.

 It works like applying base with a nozzle tip.

For those who want to try to duplicate this tool design, please notice how clean the barrel of the tool after pushing out the last bit of relaxer that is still at the tip.

I am purposely using this article as an introduction to a new revolutionary method for relaxer application.

Benefits of this new technique:

1) It will save on relaxer costs because there will be no leftover to throw away.
2) There will be no cross contamination for stylists who do not want to throw away relaxer overage from a completed client service.
3) For tightly compacted curl patterns, you can part the new growth and apply relaxer at the same time.

This prototype tool and technique is designed by Benita Blocker with Applebaum Enterprises.  I will be offering classes on this prototype, and I am open to talking with relaxer companies who want to assist with a national launch of this concept.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cameron Diaz Hair color for the Counselor movie

I just saw the trailer for the movie the "Counselor."  I loved this new haircolor placement on Cameron Diaz.  To achieve this look, I would create the bob haircut. Secondly, strategically darken the roots and quadrants needed to create this look and rinse out.  I would then rough dry the hair and lift the remaining quadrants to blonde.  Of course, if the client has gray hair, then you would be depositing blonde color.  Picture credits: and


Saturday, September 21, 2013

SisterLocks should not be Overtightened

 Unfortunately yes, this was the back of my head in December 2012 after returning from a tightening session by the second certified Sisterlocks consultant from the list that I patronized.  I was only four weeks from my last retightening completed by my original certified Sisterlocks consultant. Instead of this new consultant turning me down for retightening, she tightened my whole head, charged me $75 for an hour and forty-five minutes of labor (no shampoo service) and mentioned that I probably should wait longer between tightening sessions.

By the time I made it back to my salon and really started to see at how bare my scalp was, I became desperate to figure out how to salvage my self esteem.  Of course, I was still trusting in the consultants recommended by, and I just was trying to deal with what was being dished out the best way that I could. This is why my yarn unit was created.  I needed a fix. I needed a "plan B" that would blend with my existing Sisterlocks. Yarn was the only thing that I could think of that would blend with locs. Then my making of the yarn unit was a combination of design considerations that I had been exposed to over the years.

I believe that Sisterlocks are supposed to be about empowering women, but for me, it tore me down over and over.  The founder of Sisterlocks was quiet throughout my entire ordeal with the exception of the fact that she did not approve of my yarn unit being promoted in conjunction with her Sisterlocks name despite all my letters of complaint as well as suggestions for improvement for the Sisterlocks organization as a whole.

I am willing to forgive, and I sincerely hope that my ordeal will help others understand that the listing does not guarantee any more than the consultants listed have met minimal renewal qualifications.

Well, below is my head again, May 2013.  I was two months Sisterlocks free.  Big difference right?
The lighting is different in this picture.  No flash, but you get the idea.  My scalp began recovering after separating myself from the Sisterlocks technique.  For some people, Sisterlocks work because of their hair texture, their scalp's natural oilyness to keep their locks hydrated or a maybe it's their consultant.  I do not know why it works for some and not others, but it did not work for me.  What does work for me?  Finger twisting and natural hydrating styling products.

I always try to make lemonade out of lemons.  I am so happy to be far enough past my bad experiences with Sisterlocks consultants that I could share with everyone the driving force behind the yarn unit and stocking cap units.  I still like the stocking cap units for a corporate straight hair option, but I no longer feel the need to hide my locks anymore in embarrassment.  God can bring you through . . . I am a witness.

Nutrition: Hairstylists Must Power Up on Peak days

 Would you want your surgeon to be operating on you running on empty?  When it comes to hairstyling or hairdressing, you do not need to be running on empty either.  Just like a cell phone battery, if you are at 10% and expect to get full performance, you are kidding yourself.  Even if you put the cell phone on the charger and keep using it periodically, then it takes forever for the cell phone to fully charge.

This is the same way with our bodies.  If we completely lose energy, the day goes south really fast.  So I have been working on food options that are practical that will keep you at full capacity until you get a solid hour and half break.

1) KW Collards are fully cooked collards in a jar.  Just scoop some into a microwave safe bowl - disposible if possible and microwave.  The jar does have to be refrigerated once opened.

2) Lou's Naturals Garrett Valley Turkey Snack Sticks is a jerky that is gluten free. The turkey used in the snack sticks is free of antibiotics.  There are six sticks in a pack. Sodium:  430mg for those who are sodium conscious.

3) Larabar (Apple pie flavor is my favorite)  nutrition bar is gluten free, soy free, dairy free.

4) Fresh fruit such as bananas and nectarines.

5) Nuun electrolyte enhanced drink tabs are good to add to your water bottle to make you feel like you have a flavored drink.  The Citrus Fruit flavor is my favorite.

6) Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews are great for an extra 45 minutes boost.  Fruit Smoothie is my favorite flavor.

7) If you have a George Foreman grill, you can cook many things quickly.

If anyone wants to add any other ideas, please comment below.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Relaxer Review: Affirm Control Normal Formula

 The traditional Affirm relaxer line has a  "control Formula" that comes in Normal strength.  It was designed for those with slower application times.  My regular distributor did not stock this formula so I had to special order it from another regional distributor.  The timing guide and ingredients on the Control Formula tub was the same as the regular Affirm Normal tub.  The Avlon representative from Avlon headquarters said that this fact was not a mistake.  Yet, I still am unclear how the only packaging difference between the regular Normal and the Control Normal is that the Control label is identified on the tub. So be it,  I decided the only way to know the processing time was to experiment on a hair sample.

The hair samples came from the same source of natural hair.  There may be some permanent color in this hair sample.  I am unclear if this hair samples donation is color-treated. 

I applied the Control Normal formula to the hair sample first.  Then the regular Normal formula was applied to the second hair sample about a minute later.

 At the 10 minutes mark, I did not see much difference in the processing time.

 By the 20 minutes processing time, the two hair samples looked the same to me.

 After conditioning and neutralizing, I was pleased with the Control Formula.  I allowed it to process the longest.  It was the first applied and the last that I rinsed out for a total of 28 minutes.  The hair felt just as soft or softer than the traditional Normal strength Affirm relaxer which only processed about 23 minutes total.

Most hairstylists have a general idea of a relaxer processing time based on the hair texture of the client.  For clients, that a seven minute application and a seven minute smoothing is plenty to complete their total relaxation time within 15 minutes, then the control formula is NOT needed.

For those clients that need 15 minutes to get through the new growth for application and another 10 minutes to smooth out for a total relaxation time of 25 minutes, then the "Control" formula could be an option.

No one seemed to offer any encouraging words regarding the Control formula when inquiring at Avlon headquarters as well as my regular distributor.  I was told repeatedly that the control formula was for those with slow relaxer application speed like new hairstylists to the industry.  However, from my observation in this trial run, the control formula would be great for those clients with closely compacted new growth who are already in the normal strength Affirm relaxer which require 25 minutes processing anyway.

The control formula only comes in Normal strength so color-treated hair is still not encouraged.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Haircut in Progress: How much correction is needed?

This picture is from Facebook discussion.  Some artists thought it was a horrible haircut; others thought that the haircut has a lot of potential with some blending.  My thoughts are:

In order to salvage the length, I would razor the tips all over to soften the bluntness, lightly filet the hair in the bottom layers to blend and allow the rest to grow out for about six months and trim the bottom length up gradually as it grows out.

I assume that this lady's hair was cut while wet to end up with that many blunt ends.

Curls with or without extensions should allow for a softer look.

Achieving Bra Strap Length Using Fusion Extensions

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  My client wanted to extend her below shoulder length hair to bra strap length.  We decided to use strand by strand fusion hair extensions application.

To save money, she had me to color some blonde colored strands to match her hair.   8 bundles of 10 strands.  I left the bundles tied in order to not lose track of them.

After untying the bundles, you can see the original blonde color of the hair extensions.  Based on the color wheel, in order to neutralize the yellow/gold, I needed red/violet.  I used Schwarzkopf Igora10 haircolor for quick processing. I let it process for an extended period of time because I was going for a dark color, and I was servicing another client as well.

 I decided on the following color formula:  1.5 oz of 3.0 tube and 1.0 oz of 4.89 tube and 10 volume developer.
 I did shampoo and condition them appropriately to avoid tangling.  I also straighten them and ran them through my drawing cards with help from an assistant.

Color wheels are important when correcting color and altering hair extension haircolor. The blonde hair extensions were remy premium hair extensions.  I did not advise coloring hair extensions that are not premium or remy quality.  The haircoloring causes some damage to the strands so start with high quality to ensure that the hair will not tangle when put in.

Are you wondering how many strands were used in my client's hair to acheive the first picture?  97 strands.

All Semi-Permanent Haircolors are not equal!

Within an hour, the Goldwell Elumen High Performance Semi-permanent haircolor in "black" had destroyed the top gloss coating of my tint bowl.  Gray coverage on the hair worked well though.  My client's hair look great and has remained healthy through two or three Elumen applications!

 At another color session, the tint brush suffered damage to its glossy coat using the same Goldwell Elumen high performance semi-permanent haircolor.  The haircolor was sitting for hours before I rinsed the color off the brush to discover this discoloration.  That is why I did not leave the haircolor in the tint bowl past an hour the next usage, but I still got discoloration.  I will have to avoid using transparent glossy tint bowls and brushes in the future with any of the Elumen haircolors.

 This haircolor does not require any mixing with an activator type lotion.  It is used immediately from the bottle.  It has been providing excellent gray coverage in-between relaxer services.  I will not advise it on the same day as the relaxer because of its high performance action.

I see a Lactic Acid and sodium hydroxide in the ingredients list.  So I believe the cuticle is slightly swollen to make this semi-permanent haircolor high performance.  It also leaves a slight line of demarcation.

According to other online reviews, Elumen holds almost permanently to damaged hair.  People like Elumen red color(s) because they do not bleed out nor fade.  Damaged hair is considered any hair that has been chemically altered or mechanically roughed up.

Overall, the Elumen haircolor should be used with caution.  I would use a protective barrier around the hairline to avoid a hard line.  This protective barrier may not be an uncommon practice, but with Elumen darker colors, forgetting the protective barrier may be a battle that you do not want to fight at the end of the hair service.  Also, gloves are essential.  The Elumen haircolor seems to stain the hands instantly.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Treatment 2013

 I just completed a Brazilian Blowout smoothing treatment class to get the latest updates.  I originally was certified in April of 2010.  I have extensive experience with this product.  I want to say upfront that this treatment is NOT a straightener nor a replacement for a relaxer.  If your client or your own hair is a type 2 or type 3a, then you may achieve a straightening effect from the treatment.  Otherwise, I would not recommend this treatment to a woman of color with a type 4 curl pattern.  The Brazilian Blowout treatment will soften a type 4 curl pattern, but it will not elongate the curl.

Now, for the updates, the company does admit when enough heat is applied to the hair, formaldehyde can be produced so only well ventilated salon environments are recommended for use of this smoothing treatment.

They also recommend using the "smart glasses"  for both the stylist and the client as another precaution.

They have more new products in the Brazilian Blowout retail line for styling and for aftercare volume.

An all boar bristle round brush or paddle brush is recommended for blowdrying the solution dry.  A metal base brush apparently will create too much heat, and we are trying to avoid formaldehyde emissions.

Shaking up the bottle before dispensing the product is also key to making sure the mixture is consistent. The shelf life is 18 months.

The treatment is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.

The model's final styling was finger blowdried without a brush.  This model's hair responded like a straightener, but several passes of the flat iron was used throught the model's hair.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Relaxer Tips and Talk

For those who are not ready to go natural, here's some helpful relaxer tips and talk:

1) For those who have long length, make sure that the relaxer residue gets shampooed out of the ends as well as the roots.  Many times, I have focussed mainly on making sure the roots are free of relaxer residue.  I am thinking that since I only put the relaxer application at the new growth at the roots, I should not need to focus on the ends of the hair.  However, to the contrary, we do need to focus on the ends because they are getting hit with all the runoff water from the relaxer.  Those long ends will also soak up the relaxer water in the shampoo bowl as we thoroughly rinse, rinse, rinse.  Just make sure that you work neutralizing shampoo vigorously through the hair ends with each lathering; otherwise, if relaxer get trapped in the hair ends, then it will begin "creeping oxidation."  The client will experience split ends, frizziness, breakage, and some hardness in the ends.  How to correct this?  At home, client can use a lot of moisturizer to keep the pH from elevating until  she can make it into the salon for a deep cleansing shampoo in order to clarify the residue out of the ends.  After clarifying the ends, then another neutralizing shampoo lather can be used through the ends for pH balancing.

2)  Keep some NuExpressions Super 10 in 1 Conditioner on hand.  I believe it is the only conditioner on the market with a color indicator in it to identify relaxer residue and begin to neutralize it.  At the nape, sometimes I am uncertain if I see suds or diluted residue, I spread some of this 10 in 1 in that area, and if it turns HOT pink, then I need to rinse and shampoo again. So at any time, you question anything potentially relaxer related, just squirt the NuExpressions 10 in 1 and the truth will be revealed.  Clear or White means that no relaxer is present.  Again, Pink means relaxer is present.  Many neutralizing shampoos have color indicators which is good, but what if you have white lather after testing an area - with the conditioner you can leave it on and add their main conditioner to the rest of the head without having to worry about rinsing shampoo out.  The 10 in 1 conditioner saves time when everything is all clear.

3) Breakage points are at every turn in your natural curl pattern.  The less natural curl that you have, then the less break points and the least amount of relaxer penetration points.  The more curl to the hair, then the more breakage points to be concerned about.  In addition, even after the relaxer seeks out all the di-sulfide bonds and smooths them out, as one of my clients pointed out, the breakage points are hidden because they are relaxed straight, but they are still there.  This particular client never cuts her hair.  Two years without a haircut so far, but with swimming and her active lifestyle, her length seems to just maintain a medium below shoulder length.  She still gets relaxer touch-ups every three months, but she realizes that it seems that her length stays close to stagnant.  Actually, this reminds me that I need to ask her to come in for a protein treatment a week before her relaxer service.  I only would see her when she calls for her chemical appointment.  I need to push to get more people either doing their own protein treatment at home every couple of months or they should come into the salon for the treatment. The protein treatments will reinforce the integrity of the strands to prepare them for a chemical service.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

MicroLocks: My 13 Month Check-in

I am past my 13th month now.  I decided to call my former Sisterlocks . . . Microlocks.  I have found that by week 6, my roots start looking unruly and apparently, by other's facial expressions, past due for re-twisting.  Luckily, that means about an inch in new length for my micro-locks every six weeks.  My locks in the back of my head have gained enough length that I can now "whip it" around.  Can we say movement?  LOL!

 I have also received comments/questions wondering if I have extensions attached to my hair.  Nope - It's all just my hair!  No tools.  Just raw honey, jojoba oil, and my finger twisting.  No conditioning either.  Conditioners are mainly for damaged hair, but I did try an apple cider vinegar rinse.  Note for the future: vinegar burns when it runs into your eye, but no lost of eyesight so far. Smile.

I decided on the vinegar after reading one of my old blog posts reciting a regimen that another women recommended.  My blog is a great reference for me as well.

In this picture, I started re-twisting my front locks versus starting in the back which is how I have done in the past.  Since my front locks are smaller and more tedious, I decided to start with them for re-tightening.  I am happy that I did.  I was able to get my retightening session down to 3.5 hours using the honey versus the 5 hours the last go around. Yes!

You probably noticed that my front locks look more scalpy than my back.  I definitely encourage anyone who feels too scalpy, to allow their locks to get a little past due and ask the technician to not overtighten.

I am still a little sticky from the honey, but I really feel that the healing properties of the honey outweigh its messiness.

Also, as far as maintenance goes, another regimen that someone shared with them is tightening every 2 weeks.  One 2 week period is self tightening, and the other 2 week period is tightened by the loctician.  Of course, she had larger locks than mine, but they were not huge.  I assume 1 hour to 1.5 hours self-retightening.  I too am about ready for a loctician.  I am feeling a bit lazy, and I know my lock behavior now enough to instruct the loctician not to double up the locks.

Well, I am six months Sisterlocks free.  I am happy that only 25% of my head has the small Sisterlocks in it.  I have repeatedly heard stories of the really small Sisterlocks shedding or breaking.  Knowing now that the normal shedding hair drops down into the locks to form a dreadlock, extremely small locks could become weak from the weight of the shedded hair.  Even my size locks require keeping the new growth connected to the lock to support the lock's weight and updo styling.  The less stress on the locks, the less thinning. Head bands cause stress if worn for more than a couple of days.  I am learning as I have tried some tricks to hide my new growth until I had time to retighten.

Well, more and more clients are seeing how my locks will continue to lay as they get longer.  More people are excited about the idea of locks.  Thank God that I am a year ahead now.  By next year, this timeframe, I should really be on cloud 9.  Until next month's check-in . . .

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Figure Eight Hair Lacer Set on Relaxed Hair

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  This is  a figure eight (8) Lacer Set on Relaxed Hair.  We just completed the VitalePro High Comfort Relaxer.

I used Nairobi Setting Lotion and Foam for the setting agent.  I used mini-bobby pins and end papers to hold the hair around the hair lacer loops.

I placed the lacers in a brick lay pattern in order to finger through them and hide all the partings.  I finger teased the front hair at the roots to give the client a bob look.

Those with locs can also achieve this pattern.  It looks like a zig zag when unwrapped from the lacers.

Hair can also be elongated into a wave pattern by blow drying and finger stretching the zig zag set.

Hair by Benita Blocker.