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, February 27, 2014

Hairstyle Comparison: Relaxed versus Locked

The badge picture is my hairstyle with relaxer and straightening.  My lock styling on the right was done to duplicate the relaxed look on the badge.  How did I do?  

The two pictures were taken almost nine years apart.  
I am trying to age gracefully . . .  (over 40 club)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blog Celebration: over 415,000 pageviews!

Oh yeah! has reached over 415,000 pageviews.  I am so thankful to my followers and to my frequent visitors.

My blog traffic is around 12,000 visits a month.  I am so happy that people stumble across the blog in search of different perspectives on the topic of hair.

I am hoping to add a "Donate" button for paypal donations as well as possibly making an e-book available.

I look forward to reaching 500,000 pageviews by the end of the year.  So far, I believe that I am on track to achieve this goal in 2014.  If you are new to this blog, please Follow and spread the word!

Haircutting: Keeping Sharp Shears

 So which pair of shears would you rather for me to cut your hair with?  One shear is worth $20, and the other shear is worth $200.  Which one cuts better? Honestly, a new $20 shear may cut the same as a $200 shear.  The biggest difference is when the $20 shear starts getting dull, then you trash the $20 shears and buy another pair.  Now, when the $200 shear get dull, then you call a "Shear Smith" to get the shear sharp again.  You can probably guess that the shears with the black handles are the cheaper $20 shears.

Jack Burkhart has been my shear smith for several years.  He does a great job with the shears, and he lets  you know upfront if the shears are in need of sharpening.  If they do not need sharpening, then he does not sharpen them just to make money off of you.

He has a great personality and a warm spirit.  I trust him to take great care of my shears.  He also sells shears at different price points. 

Those who cut hair extensions often need two different pairs of shears.  One for extension hair and one for regular haircutting.  I often need both type sharpened.  If it is not in my budget to get two shears sharpened, then Jack visits the area enough that I will hold out until his next visit.  Typically, sharpening cost $25 for one shear.  Sometimes he offers a multi-pair discount.  Just remember he brings the shears back to life within his mobile workshop.  There is no shipping.  Also, it is same day service.

He does not sharpen cheap $25 shears.  If your shears are not a good quality, then he will deny service.  He wants to be fair and honest.  He services the Carolinas.  If you give him a try, then let him know that Applebaum Salon referred you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dreadlock Spotlight: Delvin Choice

 Mr. Delvin Choice just auditioned on "The Voice" television show for Spring 2014.  He calls his Lock Roll hair styling "The Lobster."  This "Lobster look" seems to be his signature look.  I look forward to following Delvin Choice's music career!

Straight Dreadlocks: The Medusa Effect

A Black woman confessed to me that she felt that all (dread) locks hanging loose reminded her of worms or a Medusa.  She didn't like seeing scalp and a mini-afro at people's root and "worms" hanging down from it.

However, she liked locks when they are curled professionally like mine below.  They look like a regular hairstyle.  It looks full and not a lot of scalp showing.  The Black woman making the confession had a Type 3 curl pattern.  It  is always interesting to hear how people of all races view hair locks.

Depending on one's natural hair texture, wearing locks "un-curled" may never be viewed as corporate professional enough.  So again, some textures of hair will always be high maintenance whether natural, relaxed, or locked.  Just get used it!  LOL!  There will always be a corporate standard.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hair Growing versus Gaining Length

So you reach another milestone on the "Hair Length chart" then everyone is saying . . ."Your hair is growing." (in a surprising tone) . . .

It is awkward to me to hear this terminology because our hair has always been growing . . .

Unless there is a medical reason, everyone's hair is always growing.  However, many people are not gaining length because their hair is breaking due to dryness, chemical damage, excessive heat, nutrition deficiency, or the natural behavior of their curl pattern and texture. Continuous hair breakage prevents many people from seeing their hair length increase, but we have to stop wishing for hair growth!

God has already granted you continuous hair growth.

Please focus on "gaining length."

Gaining Length
Gaining Length
Gaining Length

This is the new hair goal and the new hair terminology for 2014. So remember:

"Gaining Length."

by wet setting . . .  practicing less hair manipulation . . . limiting permanent haircolor.

My One year and Seven months Lock-versary!

Today is another Lock anniversary.  It is one year and seven months so I added a red brown rinse and performed a perm rod set. My locks that still have relaxer processing in it seemed to have lightened up from the sunlight or because I condition a lot less so I wanted to take advantage of this color change by depositing more color.  I used a Nairobi Mahogney Semi-permanent TruColor. I may use a colored shampoo to maintain the color change.  I will also need to make sure that I do not have lint or product starting to cling.  So I will have to keep everyone posted on this color rinse change.

 I did not use any clippies for my styling.  I did use a LOT of Lottabody setting lotion and a little hairspray.

 Drying time was still at least two hours because I did not retighten the roots.  Surprisingly, the 3.5 hours that it takes to re-tighten my roots allows the locks to dry.  So by skipping the re-tightening did not save me any significant service time.

I was feeling a little "abstract" here.  I twisted one side up and left one side down.  This picture was the week before this most recent lock-versary.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Paul Mitchell Relaxers 2014 update

Hair stylists using the Paul Mitchell relaxers should start checking their batch codes on their Paul Mitchell relaxers.  The mild and the super strengths are the ones that need to be checked to see if it is expired as soon as possible.

If you see "s9" at the beginning of the batch code then the relaxer was manufactured in 2009 and is approaching five years old.  The Paul Mitchell company says that their relaxers have a three year shelf life. So as far as North Carolina is concerned, the main distributor for the Paul Mitchell relaxers has an overabundance of expired Paul Mitchell relaxer on their shelves in the mild strength as well as the super strength.

The mild strength and the super strength formulas are being discontinued by the Paul Mitchell company due to low demand.  Only the regular strength relaxer will continue to be supported.  The regular strength relaxer seems to remain fresh on the store shelves.

This update from the Paul Mitchell company truly is a tell-tale sign that the natural hair movement is not slowing up anytime soon.

Sylists, if you have an expired Paul Mitchell relaxer return it to your distributor only if you have purchased it within the last sixty days.  They should exchange out for other product.   Any relaxer purchased outside of the sixty days may need to be trashed and counted as a loss.

I will be switching my clients that were on the mild Paul Mitchell relaxer to the Fiberguard Affirm Mild relaxer.

Length Needed to start Sisterlocks

This article discusses Sisterlocks sizing, Sisterlocks establishment, and the concept of having two Sisterlocks technicians work on one head.

For all those who are not sure if they have enough new growth to start Sisterlocks, here's a guide based on curl pattern:

If you are a Type 3 curl pattern, then your natural hair may be harder to interlock and stay put.  So a good two or two and a half inches would be best to start Sisterlocks.  A solid two inches mininum of relaxer free, frizz free hair without thin ends is definitely needed to keep the lock from unravelling.

If you are a Type 4 curl pattern, then your hair should be easier to interlock and stay put.  So an inch and a half is all that is needed.

The picture above gives you a better idea of the length including shrinkage for both hair types 3 and 4.  Disregard the actual curl patterns in the picture.  The sample hair I used were from the same sample pack.  I  mainly wanted to emphasize the length.

For a Type 3 curl pattern, five to six months post-relaxer is a good timeframe to start Sisterlocks.

For a Type 4 curl pattern, four months post-relaxer is a good timeframe to start Sisterlocks.

Prior to going to a lock establishment or locking session, I recommend establishing your own "center part" in the front by establishing two or more ponytails.  This will save you and the Sisterlocks consultant time deciding on the placement of your center part.

The model pictured above are the intended size of Sisterlocks.  Sisterlocks should be so small that finger twisting should not be an option unless the Sisterlocks are combined into larger locks. This model's density may be a little low, but these size locks make retightening easier and quicker.  Also, the locks are lighter and fluffier and able to be styled more easily.

Many people who paid for Sisterlocks did not receive proper Sisterlocks sizing.

If Sisterlocks are being done correctly, the Sisterlocks consultant may spend two hours parting the whole head before ever establishing the first Sisterlock. Depending on your hairtype, your hair may be braided down within your pre-established partings.  The sizing and the grid is what makes the Sisterlocks officially Sisterlocks.

Many people identify my own personal locks as Sisterlocks because they are small, but I have met people who did not pay for Sisterlocks, and their loctician made their starter locks very small. Their "non-Sisterlocks" look similar to some of my own locks in which I purposely paid for Sisterlocks.

I can now feel some of my locks and know that the lock could have been divided into at least two separate Sisterlocks. A few of my locks could have even been split into three Sisterlocks.

Sisterlocks, if done correctly, may be best completed by two Sisterlocks consultants.  The front of the head by the primary consultant, and the back of the head by a secondary consultant.  The primary consultant should be responsible for all partings on the head.  Thus pre-parting the entire head allows for a secondary consultant to assist with the Sisterlocks and work within the grid established for consistency.

There are only select cities and locations where Sisterlocks consultants are working together to deliver excellence in accordance with the Sisterlocks name.

Hopefully, this article will help those potentially beginning their Sisterlocks journey.

Friday, February 21, 2014

As Seen on TV Soft Rollers Work on Micro-locks!

I first introduced these As seen on TV "Wrap Snap and Go" Comfort Hair Rollers in 2011.  My client actually found these in the Goodwill stores within recent months. For straight hair, the curls that result from these rollers are a little too tight and irregular for most people. However, fast forward to 2014 when natural hair styling is at an all time high!

I started rolling my locks with these and they are comfortable.  I can put as many locks or as little locks on one roller and twist them up.

These rollers work for medium to long locks.
November 2015 picture - still using them!

Those interested in a Bantu Knot Set and Styling tutorial for straight hair should click on the link in this sentence.

These rollers are soft and flexible with a snap closure.  I have been re-hydrating my locks at night assuming that the existing hairspray already in the hair will work as a setting agent.  I roll my locks with these comfort rollers.  Then I have to hairspray my final styling again the next morning.  So far this regimen delivers hydration at night and volume/curl in the morning.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lock Retightening Tool for a Dollar?

 Slim, short and it has a hook.  Not bad right?  And it costs one US Dollar.

 Dollar Tree stores does it again.  "Color Loops" are associated with those rubber band looming kits.  I got the empty storage case that I wrote about in a separate blog article to store my Sisterlock tools.  It got me thinking check out that hook!

This one dollar tool from Dollar tree is very compatible to my Sisterlocks tool! At a fraction of the cost, can you say "backup plan?"

I do not know what type of tool is in the more expensive looming kits, but it may be worth checking out as well.

Hairspray that Holds Lock Styling!

 BAM!  Oops there it is!  LOL!  My new lock styling "love machine:"  John Frieda Frizz-Ease Moisture Barrier Firm Hold Hairspray!

 Now, you may need a hydration spray to undo the lock hold for restyling the next day, but other than that, you can hold that special occasion styling through a humid day or a hot night.

I had the spray pressed down on full blast while I was manipulating my locks, and it allowed me to pat and mold the locks in place.

So below is what I started with . . . straight locks!

Pictured below,  I then pincurled my locks with setting lotion and anchored them with scrunchies the night before.
The pin curls gave me crinkles, but no volume!  So I went to hairspraying and scrunching my locks and patting them and molding them to achieve the look below!

The best part of this hairspray is that Walmart stores sell the can for about $4.00 or $5.00 USD.  I am sold yet again!

More hairspray styling:

Almost one year and seven months lock-versary!  I can achieve a swoop with the hairspray holding it!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Partial Updo Using the Pony Connect

My hair is long enough now to connect two short ponytails together into a partial bun using the Pony Connect Accessory.  I have written about this hair accessory before, but my locks were too short to loosely gather ponytails.

On a separate note, I jumped for joy when I saw my lock length in the back.  It's getting there.  Wow!  I had to take a double take to make sure this was my head.  Slowly, but surely, I'm getting there, month by month.

I did not braid nor set my hair so it all looks straight.  I will have to try this partial updo with a textured set.  Since I barely achieved this look with my straight length, I may wait another six months to try it again with more curls.  Hopefully, cascading curls in another six months.

Please see my other blog article on the Pony Connect hair accessory.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Interlock Retightening Guidelines for SisterLocks or MicroLocks

 New to Sisterlocks or any other interlocking technique?
A video link is embedded later in this blog article for a hair interlocking introduction.

 Wondering how often you should have your Sisterlocks or microlocks re-tightened? Well, here's a guideline that may assist you:

Eight weeks Range
If your density is low or you seem to remain "scalpy looking" past the first three months, then consider getting your retightening done about every 8 weeks.  This will allow for your new growth to volumize a little for a thicker look.  If your schedule gets hectic, then the six weeks period is the soonest  and the ten weeks period is the longest that I would push it.  If your hair is truly thin or less dense, the tightening time should not take any longer than any person with medium hair density.  Yes, the locitician will have to spend more time and check the tension on each lock, but you will probably have less locks to be serviced than a denser head of hair.

Four weeks range
If you have thick density, coarse hair, and can NOT stand too much volume or lift at the roots, then your retightenings should be every four weeks.  Your goal is to keep your roots as flat as possible to subdue any volume from your root area. You can consider three weeks as the soonest and five weeks as the longest timeframe in case your schedule gets hectic.  The technician should only need to do one rotation or looping cycle so the loctician should not have to worry about adding tension.

Six weeks range
If you have medium density and you do not mind  having a little volume or lift at the roots, then six weeks is a good timeframe for you to have your locks retightened.  If the loctician gives you really tight roots, then you can kindly ask the technician for future purposes to maintain moderate looping tension, and that you do not want the interlocking too tight to the scalp.  If they are doing two full looping cycles, then ask for one and half looping cycles.  Communication and partnering is key.

Scalp Tension?
Some people like their retightenings to the point that their scalp feels the tension.  For others and certain hair types, the extra tension may cause additional thinning or breakage.  If the loctician is not willing to help find a routine that works for your hair type and styling needs, then you may need to keep moving.

My personal Sisterlocks retightening Experience:
When I was getting Sisterlock retightenings, I had Sisterlocks certified consultants spend from 1.5 hrs to 4 hrs on my locks, and I was going every 4 to 6 weeks religiously.  It was amazing how different each Sisterlocks certified consultant can be. Self tightenings and/or finger twisting may be a good fall back option to learn your own locks.

A Sisterlocks Retightening Video Sample to show retightening speed when the Sisterlocks fall within the Sisterlocks sizing range-can be found at this link:

In this video, the loctician is using her own locking pattern that works for her.  Ignore the Discoloration of the video, she probably added that special effect so that the average consumer would not understand her technique. Her locking rhythm is unique to her. Do not expect all locticians to follow the same pattern.  Yes, Sisterlocks training teaches their own locking patterns, but seasoned locticians may start from different positions that work for their practice.  I found this video extremely helpful.  Her youtube channel name can pull up interesting footage unrelated to her.  I am not sure how she came up with that name. LOL!  Anyway . . .

Were you wondering about my new Sisterlocks tool storage case above?

Well, I got it from the Dollar Tree store.  It is a "Color Loops" Storage case.  Only $1.00 USD. It is an empty case for those who are into the rubber band looming.  No tools or supplies included.  Just the case.  I love it!  It probably can double for jewelry storage too!  Perfect for my Sisterlocks tools.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jennifer Hudson's New Short Haircut 2014

 I love Jennifer Hudson's new short hairstyling.  I am also 99% sure that she is still rockin' a wig with the baby hairs in front.  I only mentioned this because one of my clients loved her new haircut, and when I finally saw it, my first thought was "cute!"  My second thought was that doesn't look like her natural hair texture which alerted me to the wig possibility.

 Jennifer is not new to wearing wigs.  So it is not a surprise to me.  I like the new look!

Photo credits:,,

Snowed In? Re-Twisting Time!

Well, a snow blizzard just hit the Carolinas.  It shut the Carolinas down.  The news broadcasted to drive only in case of emergency. So instead of board games and television, I decided to refresh my microlocks.  Of course, if you have a significant other, getting snowed in might mean more couple time!  Regardless, making the best use of time is always the plan.  

So I am not quite at another anniversary month, but my locks and scalp felt a little itchy from all the extra setting lotion that I had been using.  So I was excited about my shampoo service skipping the conditioner.   In addition, I am using about 3 to 4 ounces of locking gel to re-twist.  The Jamaican Mango and Lime Locking Gel six ounce jar is barely lasting me  two re-twisting sessions.

 My cold weather hat keeps my head a little warmer!

I retightened my hairline nicely.  My microlocks have quite a bit of length on them, but my big head takes a lot of hair to frame it.  LOL!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sisterlocks Four Day Training Milestones

I have completed 12 days of training with two different Sisterlocks Master trainers, and I now can analyze and troubleshoot locks.  Yes, the majority of the information that is now embedded in my head was probably introduced within the first four days, but there's a difference between "memorizing information" and "knowing information."  Memorizing information may allow you to pass a "written standardized test," but only when you know enough to apply your knowledge in your practice as needs arises does your training really pay for itself.

Let's look at my milestones for each four day Sisterlocks training sessions:

August 2012 Sisterlocks Four Day training in Boston, MA

1) I had no concept of what interlocking hair meant prior to the class.
2) I had just finished having my own hair Sisterlocked resulting in a less than perfect experience.
3) I had just been laid off from a corporate position shortly after wearing this new Sisterlocks styling into the workplace.
4) The travel and tight time schedules had me absolutely exhausted the whole time.

1) I learned how to interlock hair.
2) I learned to follow the parting size guidelines suggested by Sisterlocks.
3) The Sisterlocks literature was high in quality, and the company provided us with plenty of promotional materials including Sisterlocks postcards.

With the trauma of my Sisterlocks establishment session, the corporate backlash of natural hairstyling, the travel, the learning of a totally new hair concept, at the end of four days,  I was retaining next to nothing new about Sisterlocks, but I networked with some wonderful classmates.

January 2013 Four Day Training in Charlotte, NC

Cons:  My classmates never warmed up to each other.

1) Because the interlocking hair concept was no longer new to me, much of the four day training felt like a refresher, and everything that was "information overload" from the Boston training was just right for me to retain in this Charlotte class.
2) My own Sisterlocks journey was continuing to raise more questions, and this second four day training was a great time to gather all the answers to my questions.

January 2014 Four Day Training in Charlotte, NC

1) No live model to practice on.
2) Sisterlocks literature for classmates were in lower quality resolution.
3) Limited Sisterlocks merchandise was available for immediate purchase.

1) Having seen so many more heads of natural hair, my understanding of the variety of curl patterns out there helped me to really understand troubleshooting and repair of locks.
2) Having a different Sisterlocks instructor also provided me with an opportunity to hear the standard Sisterlocks material presented using different terminology and everything that was unclear from the last two training sessions became clear.
3) The classmates really bonded.
4) I even discovered something new about my own head of hair.  I had two significantly different curl patterns in my head.
5) I had more length and lock styling ability surrounding my own hair.
6) I learned that the Sisterlocks founder, Dr. Cornwell has a short and shallow curl pattern which is different from my curl pattern of short and deep.  I assume Dr. Cornwell's hair is also pliable, and my own hair is more stiff and resistant.

 Dr. Cornwell probably 20 years ago.

Dr. Cornwell, more recent.

Anyone with short, shallow, pliable curl patterns like Dr. Cornwell should expect to have a pretty smooth Sisterlocks journey because she herself is proof of the Sisterlocks technique and philosophy.

For all other short, tightly coiled, deep, stiff curl patterns that are not like Dr. Cornwell's hair, the traditional lock twisting methods may serve your better.

When it comes to hair, it is best to compare apples to apples.  People can not all expect the same results when they are starting with different hair types.

Now, as far as the four day Sisterlocks training goes, people who have some hair interlocking experience prior to the Sisterlocks training, will really have a headstart.  Two four day trainings may be more than enough to get you the proficiency in doing things the Sisterlocks way.  Although, it took me three training sessions/12 days, I can easily see two training sessions/8 days as plenty.  One four day training is only enough to get you started.  A refresher should be taken within a year after the first four day training in order to become more proficient at offering the Sisterlocks package.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Vitale Pro Afterglow Post Chemical Normalizer

 The Vitale Pro Afterglow Post Chemical Normalizer is a part of the Vitale Pro High Comfort Relaxer System that I love.  I also use this Normalizer to seal in my permanent color services.  I was actually surprised when one day it globbed up on me.

 It was so thick that I could not get it to dispense from the bottle.  So I called JF Labs expecting to be blown off or a two week delay before speaking with anyone, but to my surprise, they welcomed my call, and they were concerned with my findings.  Compared to other haircare companies focused on black hair, I felt their customer service was superior and outright exceptional.   I felt proud to be using their products, and I felt confident that they wanted to offer the best products for Black hair.  They had me to return the bottle to them, and they promptly sent me a replacement.

 After testing the bottle, I am told that nothing was wrong with the product and that I needed to "shake well"  before using.  I had to search hard on the bottle to find the "Shake Well before Using" recommendation.  So my question is "why isn't the shake well comment in the actual directions?"

In the directions,  it just tells you apply this Normalizer after towel blotting and rinsing out the relaxer.  There is no "Shake well" in the directions.  Without calling them, I had no idea that it needed to be Shaken well. Who would purposely look for a "Shake Well" comment that was not in the "Directions" area?

Also, I had been using a dispenser to distribute the Normalizer.  This dispenser cap may have further caused a separation of product which was not shaken well.  Anyway, I was a little disappointed with JF Labs in their final follow-up and their packaging directions.  However, my clients and I are happy with the performance of their High Comfort Relaxer system.