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, September 29, 2014

The Hair Business: Cancellations, Tipping, and Salon Ownership

Cancellations due to Weather
So it never rains in Southern California . . . this makes for many more gorgeous hair days.  California's low humidity has been perfect for those with press and curls over the years. Only when people move from California to the East Coast and begin fighting rain and humidity that they realize how much the weather does make a difference with their hair upkeep.

I researched some years back that Santa Barbara, California was voted the best city for hair because its weather stayed consistent for most of the year.  So what about those of us who live in cities where rainfall can be quite a regular occurrence?

Without some hairspray or extra holding spray, you have to wonder if it is even worth going to the salon.  Some clients go because they need a clean head, but for those who are more focussed on style, cancellations may come more commonplace because getting it styled on a rainy day is somewhat risky.  No one wants to waste their money, and many complain when too much holding spray is used.

Rainy weather makes it tough on the salon business in 2014 when people are already trying to stretch their dollars.

The rule of thumb used to be "not to tip" the salon owner because the owner was already making money off their other hairstylists working for them.  Sometimes I have run into customers that stand firm on not tipping the salon owner even if the salon owner is the sole and only operator in the salon.

With many hairstylists moving into salon suites, they are salon owners, but many never considered the fact that they could lose their tip money because they branched out into their own individual styling studio/suite.

I have not figured out a way of tackling this topic with those who stand firm on not tipping the salon owners.  Often times, I find that "tipping" is such a delicate topic and a courtesy that it almost seems taboo to educate on the tipping process.  Maybe this article will open up dialogue about when to tip the operator even if they are the owner of the hair business.

Salon Owners
In some states, state laws do not require salon owners to have a license to do hair. North Carolina is one of those states.  The problem with this practice is that salon owners who do not practice the art of hair can NOT effectively make sure their clients are happy in case a service correction needs to be made.  Granted, salon franchises such as Sports Clips, Great Clips, Hair Cuttery, etc  have built brands where people know that finding someone great working there may be a gamble, but for the affordable price, they may be willing to take their chances. Many of these "fast haircutting places" work fine with business savvy people owning them. However, when non-franchise salons are being run by business people who just want to own a salon in theory, they are less likely to survive in 2014 because the retention of hairstylists as well as the retention of clientele for those hairstylists can be challenging..  A example of two salons bumping heads is described in this link.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Poem: Phenomenal Hair

Phenomenal Hair
By Benita Blocker

A Loc Print Exclusive to me
now provides the confidence you see
from the wind blowing to the tilting of my head
 the sway of my locs give me reasons to get out of bed.

They are the pep in my step,
The glide in my slide,
The wiggle as I jiggle,
The signal they are medicinal.

My loc Journey has been rocky indeed.
Patience and perseverance came in handy as I was in need.
Natural hair locked for control,
Always plays a crowning role.

My loc rhythm has harmony,
and it is phenomenally clear
that my locs are  part of an epiphany 
of the symphony
entitled Phenomenal hair.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two Years and Two Months Rainy Day Check-in

Hi Everyone: I have been walking in the "light to moderate" rainfall today.  The type that is not enough to use your umbrella, but it's enough to cause your curls to drop.

Well, it's official - I'm at two years and  two months Loc-versary.  Today almost slipped by without a mobile phone snapshot.  So here I am - I think that I have finally arrived at the phase of nothing but gaining length going down versus branching out. I have a lot more confidence with my locs at all times now.  So with that confidence, I have been able to focus on other cosmetic makeup options.

Well, I just turned age 44 and I have always felt that my lips were gigantic. So I always would try to minimize them using lip liner, and sticking with a neutral lip gloss.  Well, I had a makeup artist (man) who loved the size of my lips.  He said that big lips were in.  I had to laugh because I was obviously ahead of time when it came to my lips.  So he put a loud pink color on my lips, and I felt like I looked like I had lip injections.  I kept the color on to see how other strangers in the mall would see me.  If people were going to stare or do a double take, then I would know that I was out of my league.  Well, surprisingly, no one really paid any attention. Wow!

Okay, the pink color does not look that loud because of the shadow from the lighting and camera angle,  but I have some nice full lips right?  Well, although, I decided not to stick with the lip color the makeup artist picked for me, but I did decide that I am going to start wearing more color on my lips.  I am still going to minimize my lips with my lip liner, but I agree that brighter colors give me a more youthful appearance.

You may be wondering what does lip color have to do with my hair?  What does cosmetic makeup have to do with hair?  Well, I am happy that you asked.  For most of my life, my hair has consumed so much of my time that I did NOT any energy left to experiment with cosmetic application.  Also, if you don't have "slamming hair" then it throws off your whole fashion image.

So you can have "drag queen gorgeous" makeup application and your hair is a hot mess, then you still look overall like a "hot mess" despite the extra care that you put in your makeup and clothes.  So the shackles are loosed, and I finally feel like I am free.  I feel more comfortable in allowing other beauty professionals to offer makeup and fashion tips that actually work for me.  Before I felt that tips offered were not becoming to me.

People judge you by many things - car, shoes, watch, purse, clothes, skin, nails, and hair.  However, you can be a runaway slave with gorgeous hair - someone will finish shining you up.  It is weird to feel that locs equal gorgeous hair, but in my world, my locs have started to put an extra pep in my step.  That makes them gorgeous in their own right.  From the wind lightly blowing them to the shake they make as I slightly tilt my head.  I am loving them phenomenally.  Phenomenal hair.

Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid and When

Sodium Chloride
Avoid shampoos with sodium chloride for those who get keratin or smoothing treatments.

Avoid shampoos with sulfates for those who get demi-permanent or permanent haircolor.

These ingredients strip the hair causing both of these salon services to fade and to not last as long.  There are other studies that claim these ingredients are associated with hair loss, but the actual haircolor or keratin treatment are both chemicals that could also cause hair loss.  So if you are willing to get chemicals, then you should be willing to use shampoos with sulfates in order to strip the hair of the "bad stuff."

So learn when to use shampoos that strip the hair and learn when not to use certain shampoos.  Ideally, home maintenance products should not be stripping.  Just leave the harsher shampoos in the hands of the salon professionals to know when to use them.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weighing In: The Facts about Locs

I just paid $10.00 per ounce for these locs. I wanted some on-hand for future loc extension clients.  These locs were not freshly shampooed so I shampooed them about seven lathers and rinses and weighed them wet.  They were about 3 ounces wet.  So locs when wet can be 1.5 times heavier than when they are dry.

After I dried the locs in the platform dryer, they weighed a quarter of an ounce less.  Wow! Dirty locs are slightly heavier than clean locs.  You can see the difference in the radiance of the locs too!

Of course, these facts may be nothing new to some of you, but I wanted to make note of them.  Also, I have discovered that more and more people have engaged in their loc journey.  I can't help but to assume that I was their inspiration.  Yayyyy!

Okay, I have limited locs for loc extensions now in stock!  They are $2 per loc!

For those who want to sell their locs, if the locs come from a smoker, then I had a hard time getting the smoky smell out of them.  Therefore, I would NOT be interested in buying locs with a strong nicotine smell.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tackling the Hairspray and Spritz Phobia

Very early in my hair styling career, I had countless of new clients who would firmly tell me that they did NOT want any spritz in their hair.  So I quickly generated my own "holding spray" phobia.  For almost a decade, I would just roller set for curls or straighten hair without curls until this year.

With all of the heat, high humidity, sweat, and unexpected rainfall, most hairstyles need some sort of help to hold.

I know that people are trying to avoid stiff looking hair.  Also, if the hair is too fixed, it looks too urban or too ethnic for most higher ranking corporate executives.

So I hear you loud and clear!  You don't need the lacquer sprays which get sticky when wet, but you must also listen to me, it is a new age.  The aerosol and liquid finishing spritz now have a LOT of flexible hold.  They can be combed through.

 I use the aerosol holding sprays for thermal straightening to lock out the humidity.  I use the liquid finishing spritz for thermal curling.

 I marcel curled the mannequin's hair above using the Design Essentials Formation Finishing Spritz.  Can you see the hold?
Then I just finger combed the hair and the temporary hold from the spritz releases and allows for humidity resistant curls.  The final styling is still corporate professional and soft.

Here's another before and after set of pictures:
 Hair curled with finishing spritz before comb out.

Comb out using finishing spritz! Style with memory and hold.

If you have really fine hair, just wet set or roller set for curls.  

Finding the right holding spray may be trial and error.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Black Barbie with a Teeny Weeny Afro

All I could say was What? Who? and Why?

What the hell?

I was in the Goodwill store when I spotted this "Black Label" Barbie doll Model 04 with a short curly afro or TWA.

Who would make a baby doll without any hair to play with?

Don't little girls like playing with the Barbie dolls' hair?

Why was she in Goodwill all by herself with a $19.99 price tag?

 I would have purchased her, but many Black women have a teeny weeny afro because it is easier to deal with, but if given a choice, the TWA is not a preferred option.

Any thoughts? Would you have purchased her?

10/5/2014 Update:  A picture of the collection that she came with is below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wedding Cake Toppers Hairstyling

So I was in a Walmart store when I noticed that the wedding cake toppers had different hairstyling.  The Black bride had an updo and the White bride showcased her long hair.  I felt that they both should have had the same hairstyling. Either both updos or both hanging long.

This visual disturbed me.  Anyone else has an opinion about hairstyling for the wedding cake toppers?

Of course, just choose some wedding bells or something neutral . . .  but definitely not this one . . .

Too funny!!!!

Stylists Should Switch Presentation versus Product lines

Many hairstylists switch salon product lines because they want an exclusive line of products where customers can not go to the drugstore, grocery store, discount store, or a small supply store to buy. They want their customers to buy hair retail products from the salon only.

Well, between Sally's Beauty Supply, Target, and other Superstores like Beauty Brands and Ulta, salons will forever switch from one product line to the next because the larger chains can buy in bulk.  Money always talks!

The Colorproof  product line seems to be the latest exclusive line to get your hands on, and now, even that product line is much easier to find.

So stylists instead of chasing after new product lines, how about just switching up your presentation?

The Dollar Tree stores have 10 treat bags in a pack for $1.00 USD.  Yes, for one US dollar, you can get treat bags that can hold one or two small products.  Judging by the picture, even the taller bottles can fit.   The bags are inexpensive and not recyclable but they serve their purpose.

You can also pick up a bundle of gift tissue paper at the Dollar Tree store for one dollar as well.

Believe it or not, people love Sephora and Victoria Secret for the bag and tissue paper.  I was very disappointed when Sephora ran out of tissue paper for my bag last week for my birthday gift.  My joy just was not the same without the full tissue bag look.  LOL! Oh the simple things.  LOL!

Anyway, I have started wrapping all retail purchases in tissue paper and putting them in a bag.  My customers like the extra attention.  The discount stores, grocery stores, drugstores, etc are not adding in the tissue paper at the time of purchase.  Many people like presentation, and if given the choice, then these same people will buy from your salon because of the "extra presentation" versus just getting the same expensive product thrown in a regular recyclable plastic bag.

 I purchased this fancy gift tissue paper from Tuesday Morning stores.  I am loving my new increase in retail sales just by changing my presentation of my customers' purchases, and it cost less than 40 cents to make the change.  Just food for thought!

The Curly Look at Two Years Two Months

 So I decided to give myself a perm rod wet set using the new Lottabody Ready to use Setting Lotion and very small perm rods.

 I am about nine days short of my official Loc-versary, but I am not sure if I am going to change anything up between now and then.  I still like my little lightweight headbands that I mentioned in one of my more recent articles on this blog.  Although, I am not wearing any headbands nor hair accessories in these pictures.

All the volume is mine produced from my new growth and curlied locs.

I decided that the Lottabody setting lotion is not one that I will use again because the new formula delivers too soft of a hold.  When you want hold, you really want a firmer set.

By the way, the Dollar Tree stores have chenille stems a.k.a  pipe cleaners.  So there is NO excuse not  to find a way to curl your locs!

By the way, I am wearing my MAC PeachTwist blush powder color.  I am sooo excited to find a secondary cheek color!  Loving it!

Almost Two Years and Two Months Length Check-in

 I am ten days away from my two years and two months loc-versary.  As promised, this is my wet locs check-in.

 I am still self-maintaining my locs by hand locking which is an interlocking technique and term that is described in the Sisterlocks consultant training.

My new longer length is starting to inspire me to consider more curls again.  We shall see! 

I can even sport the straight loc look which is the lowest maintenance loc styling ever!

Review: Bijoux Mega Jumbo Braiding Hair

 The Bijoux Mega Jumbo braid says it is made of 100% Realistic fibers.

This fiber blend delivers a "wiggy" look which is NOT realistic. When the light hits this fiber, the extra shine that reflects off of it looks like gray hair. It did not match my client's hair texture after blow drying her hair for the "goddess wraparound" look.  Kanekalon fiber seems to look like the most realistic match for our blow dried textures.

So I have no plans to buy this 64" version of the jumbo braid again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alopecia and Doctor Visits Co-pays

Photo credit:

Pictured above is Alopecia Areata.  It is categorized by a bald patch or patches - big or small in any area of the head or body.  It can be seen in children at any age as well as adults.  Apparently, one's own body or genetics can trigger it, and it may disappear on its own later.

My reason for writing this article is because people globally are experiencing "balding" or "thinning" and they are running to the dermatologist paying expensive co-pays just to be told "you have alopecia."

Well, excuse me, alopecia means "hair loss."  Who needs to pay a specialist $50 for five minutes of precious time just to be told "you have hair loss." Patients can see that they have hair loss which is why they came in- remember?  The question is why do they have hair loss?

Unfortunately, in most cases, the specialist can only guess and prescribe some topical treatment.  For many patients, the doctor visit feels like a "waste of money and time."

First of all, I suggest people make sure that the bald patch is NOT a ringworm.  If it is not a parasite, then alopecia can be triggered by traction such as 
  1. wearing a baseball cap or hat too much,
  2. braids that look good, but are too heavy for the person's fine hair
  3. headbands with teeth that irritate the scalp as it moves or
  4. wigs or hairpieces with comb attachment that irritate the scalp as it moves.
Other alopecia can be caused by 
  1. stress, 
  2. allergic reactions to a chemical or a hairdressing, 
  3. post-pregnancy or 
  4. possibly an imbalanced diet such as the Atkins Diet for months past what is recommended.

People really should try to eliminate all possible causes of hair loss.  It can save you a co-pay.

Also, there used to be a shot that can administered to the bald patch and a hard thump to get the circulation going in the area . . .  I was told about this by a friend, but it was a solution over 20 years ago.  It may be a lost "solution" that did not get past down.  I don't know, but I had a friend that swore by it.

On a separate note, dermatologists are good for diagnosing scalp and skin conditions such as

  1. eczema
  2. psoriasis
  3. dermatitis
  4. dandruff and so on.
As for a custom hair maintenance regimen that is separate from scalp disorders, a cosmetologist who is well experienced with various different hair types and races can better recommend shampoos and conditioners to deliver the style that you are looking for.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lightweight Headbands

I have a whole inventory of hair accessories that I had been collecting over the years anticipating that as my locs gained length that I would have more styling options.  So I am having some headband fun!

The headbands are thin, fabric covered, and lightweight.  I have three colors:  brown, red, and black.  I do not remember where I purchased them from but they were a set of three.  They do not stress my locs nor my head.

By the way, I found a new MAC blush powder that I like called "Peachtwist."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Headbands and Center Puffs

This look has to be the top hairstyle of this year!
I am always tickled to see so many ladies with headbands and a center puff!   

Well, I decided to play with a stress-free headband myself as well. 
It is fun and allows me to eliminate my normal side part.
(Sorry no cosmetic makeup here!)

Headbands also keep my locs out of my way when working in the salon.

Does Hair Really Grow Evenly?

 As I was looking at some of the bushes that needed re-shaping, I realized that I could still see the bush's original shape, but some limbs were overachievers sticking out.

Different bush above, but it too seems to grow unevenly.  Don't you wonder if the same thing happens with our hair?

Many people are always trimming to keep a shape whether talking about hair or bushes. Many wonder if they are ever going to grow out evenly.

Curls hide a multitude of errors so having perfectly shaped hair is not necessary for those embracing wet sets and protective styling.

We should NOT expect our hair to grow evenly.  We should expect to get it shaped every six months to keep it on track if longer length is a goal.

Just a little food for thought from "Mother Nature."

Jumbo, Mega Jumbo and Expression Braids

I was in the Family Dollar store when I asked the cashier "Do you sell Jumbo Braiding hair?"  Their answer was as I had expected.  "No" . . . but she continued speaking . . . "I think the Dollar General store sells some."  So at the Dollar General store for the purchase price of $.99 USD (ninety nine cents plus tax), I was able to purchase a small pack of 26" Jumbo Braiding hair.  Synthetic Fiber.  The most popular color #2.

Apparently, crochet braids, box braids, and senegalese twists are very popular braiding requests. So the beauty supply stores have a high demand for jumbo braiding hair.  Considering the packs are only half as full as they used to be for the same price, people are buying twice the amount of packages.  So buying 14  (fourteen) packs of  jumbo braids is not as insane as my initial opinion on the matter.

Be careful about the fiber that the Jumbo braid is made of.  I was told 100% Kanekalon was the best way to go especially for Senegalese twists, tree braids, and crochet braids.  However, other braiding styles work fine with "Realistic Fiber," Toyokalon, and Synthetic Fibers.

Bijoux brand sells a Mega Jumbo braid at 64 inches versus their Xpression Braid at 84 inches. I strongly suggest making sure that you confirm with the braider which braid length and which fiber content to buy to complete your desired braided hairstyling.