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, March 28, 2011

Reflecting on Ultra Sheen products from the 1970's

Protein shampoo is nothing new. Ultra Sheen's protein Shampoo concentrate was marketed for curly, color-treated or damaged hair.
Conditioner and hairdress were one in the same. There was not a separate rinse out conditioner. It was interesting to look at these old commercials which were highlighted in the "Soul Train" dvd collection.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Redken CAT: Like a relaxer in a bottle

This "spray on protein treatment" is one of the best products on the market! It does has to be rinsed out! You should also follow it with a moisturizing treatment. But hands down, if you are past due for your relaxer and need your hair to look like it has been relaxed or "straighter looking," then this is your product!

Redken CAT should be treated like a pure protein; so do NOT use it every week and DO balance it with a moisturizing conditioner. It works like the old "Dudley DRC-28" and the "Aphogee treatment" except it does not stink because it does not have the animal protein in it; no dryer heat nor dryer time is needed; and the application is an instant spray on, comb through, rinse out. You can use dryer time for your moisturizing treatment that you would use behind it if you would like or use an instant moisturizing treatment like the Uans crema.

Redken CAT strengthens, reinforces, and polishes the hair strands. It is great as a pre-relaxer treatment about a week before the relaxer is due. This is a professional use product. If you are using this at home, then you should let your stylist know as to not duplicate the protein treatments.

Please use this product wisely and around once a month if using a lot of heat styling. Please do not use this product nor any other "pure protein" on the same day as a relaxer. The "freshly relaxed" hair would absorb too much protein too quickly and may feel great temporarily while wet, but too much protein and dry hair is a recipe for breakage.

Most stylist charge extra for this treatment, but consumers are getting their hands on a lot of professional only products without a license to practice hair. Just don't overuse and communicate with your stylist. Also, please search for my article on "Moisture and Protein Balance."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seasoning the Iron: Tempering the Marcel

This iron has just been "freshly" tempered! (i.e. Seasoned) Notice the shine on it!
This is the "before" picture of the same iron mentioned in the first picture before it was seasoned. Notice that it is dull in its finish.
I tempered or seasoned the iron by using Dudley wax. In a separate article, I detail how to temper an iron. However, in a nutshell, Heat iron up; dip iron into full wax jar making sure it is melting the wax and not the jar. Also, the wax jar should be tall enough to dip the iron in. Let the excess wax drip off and cool down. Then reheat the iron. Once the iron is cooled down again, then you are done.

Heat Trained Hair: Heat damaged hair?

Are you thinking cut or not to cut? Loving the extra length when sporting the "straight look?" But challenged by the straightness of the ends when desiring to wear the "naturally curly look?" It is definitely time to review the topics of "heat trained" and "heat damaged." Please start by reviewing this youtube link:
Heat Trained may mean "heat damaged" hair.
Click on this link above to watch a youtube video story that was very profound. According to her story, in as few as three flat iron visits . . . her hair became almost relaxed. She says a lot of "ums" throughout the video, but her story is interesting. Why? If flat ironing naturally curly hair will "heat damage" it then what if you have already relaxed hair and you flat iron it?

Any extreme heat source can cause damage including hard presses. This is a "food for thought" article.

If clicking on the embedded link does not work, then please copy/paste this url address:

The photo attached is owned by me and is a separate visual from the youtube link. I do not own the video in the youtube link. As long as it remains on youtube, then the link to it should work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Curling irons: Hollow Barrel versus Solid Barrel

Pictured are a solid barrel iron called a "marcel iron" as well as a hollow barrel iron called a "Bumper" iron. I believe the solid barrel iron holds heat longer than the hollow barrel iron. Although, the hollow barrel iron heats up faster in the stove.
I have seen some online video showing Kizure irons being hollow barrel. Golden Supreme irons are usually solid barrel. Pictured is Kentucky Maid product offerings. Their irons do not come pre-tempered. Notice the emphasis on hollow barrel and solid barrel. They define solid barrel as "marcel" and hollow barrel as "bumper." There always seems to be more to learn.

Do you remember Jason Griggers from the "Good Hair" movie? He was using marcel irons when the cameras came to his salon to interview him behind the scenes for the hair battle. Recently, he started styling for FHI Heat as a platform artist at Bronner Brothers hair show 2010. Please see my separate article highlighting FHI Heat instructions. I am going to watch his career as he transitions into more flat iron usage. I really do not think that this is a healthy direction, but we all have gotten that "flat iron" fever at one time or another!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ionic Flat Iron Literature Review: FHI Heat, Croc, Chi

FHI Heat's most recent literature now reads "fine and chemically treated hair" should only use the lowest settings. So why pay $200 to $375 for a flat iron that only should be used at low temperature settings? Chemically treated means "permanently colored" or "relaxed" hair or possibly "permanently straightened" hair i.e. Japanese straighteners. Also, sometimes fine hair with texture in it needs some higher temperatures to smooth out, but using this particular technology based on the warnings may not a good option. Please see my article(s) on "direct heat" technology that has been around for generations.
This Croc iron had a lot of fine print. I tried to focus on two of the most interesting warning statements.
Look at second paragraph after PRECAUTION and the five lines down. It says "not to be used within five to six weeks after perming or tinting." That sounds like "chemically treated hair" should beware. This is the brand "Croc" literature. Please see my article(s) on "direct heat" as a hair solution option.
Now, look at second paragraph PRECAUTION and four lines down. It says "not to use with anyone who has had allergic reactions to straightening solutions or cosmetic products." Is it possible that the emissions from the iron could trigger an allergic reaction? Again, this is the brand "Croc" literature.
This Chi Turbo literature line item #8 mentions not to operate the iron where oxygen is administered. This may be a common warning for all hot tools . . . curling irons included. It is good to revisit the topic.

So after my attendance to countless trade shows, hair shows, and hair classes, the platform artists showcase "a show" . . . with new style and energy without mentioning any "fine print." Read your hair tools' literature. If the literature is old, then go to the store and look at the newest literature on the same brand. It should have the most accurate warnings. Remember ionic flat irons are only 10 years old or less. Just like most technological advances, it takes years to get it ready for offering to the general public, and it takes even a few more years to fully perfect. A great example is the laser eye correction. That procedure has come a long way within 15 years.

Line of Demarcation: Variation in Texture

A line of demarcation means a boundary line between territories in short and simple terms. As this terminology relates to hair texture, when hair is well-conditioned, then the lines of demarcations show up. In this picture, how many lines or variations in texture do you see? Two lines of demarcation and three variations of texture? Then you are correct! There seems to be a curly base (Type 3), a wavy mid-point (Type 2), and straight ends (Type 1). The lines of demarcation are cutting points if the client desires to have less variation in texture. How would you get three variations of curl patterns down one strand of hair? If you start with a Type 4 overly curly head of hair, then texturize and straighten it with the ionic flat iron on multiple occasions, then you can end up with variations in texture.
In this picture, there is only one clear line of demarcation. This line separates the thinner, straighter area and the denser, curlier area.

Hot tools: Switching Technologies and the Danger

Of course, a roller set service is the best option for curl and body in the hair. However, if you have to use heat at home, then the older model hot tools with ceramic plates and adjustable temperature dial are the best choice! I have been really leading the push toward discontinuing the use of "ionic" (infrared heated) tools. Repeatedly, the ionic tools such as the FHI Heat Runway iron deliver great shine and long lasting curls with the flip of your wrist, but after two or three usages, the hair seems to become more resistant to holding curls no matter what your hair texture. By the second day, the hair is flat and limp. I believe that the infrared heat which heats from the inside out actually is permanently "cooking" the internal structure of the hair. The damage can not be seen immediately, but with continued use, within a year to three years depending on your hair texture, it may break all of a sudden. Also, without extra protein support, hair will break sooner than later. However, the extra protein support plus dry, hot weather can cause breakage without the use of a hot tool. Using the ionic flat irons leads toward a "no-win" situation. So you have bought the most expensive ionic flat irons plus your flat iron serums, and you have been flat-ironing for months because the flat iron manufacturers told us that the "ionic flat irons smooth the hair better and help retain moisture." So have you seen all the frizz and flyways that people are experiencing? Then they are sold on the $250 "Keratin Treatments" to calm down the frizz? However, a 450 degree ionic flat iron is used to infuse or "cook" the solution on to the hair. Then hair breakage caused by "whatever causes" forces all races to look at hair extensions as a way to look glamourous. Then removal of the hair extensions could potentially cause even more damage. Okay. It is time to stop the madness. The tools that have been around for generations before all of the "new technology" did not cause so much damage. Did it? It is time to go back to what was working. Historically, we all have to cycle back when it comes to trends, shoes, clothes, style, and now hair.
Okay. Now that I may have your attention, I have to also warn you. The old school tools heat the hair from the outside in. This is called direct heat. The ionic tools heat from the inside out. This is called infrared heat. So their technologies are completely opposite. You probably are thinking exactly where I am going with this statement. Switching the technology may cause the hair to become more vulnerable to breakage because the hair strands would have experienced heat application from both directions. So if you can avoid heat for about six months to a year by just roller setting or just trying more textured looks without the heat until the hair that has been possibly damaged by the infrared heat is trimmed off. Pictured are some more old school hot tools with adjustable temperatures. These are more home friendly than a "stove and marcel iron." Almost forgot what these tools looked like? Applying heat on soiled hair is never a good thing. Limiting hot tool usage is a must toward maintaining length. This article is "food for thought." I have seen enough consistent results in all hair types and in all age ranges to without a doubt say that I personally refuse to use another "ionic" flat iron on my own hair, and I was a "flat iron queen." I had all sizes, varieties, and brands from Paul Mitchell to Chi to FHI Heat to Croc. Over$1500 in tools only to go in storage . . . better late than never. Please encourage your hair stylist to read this article; clients do not need to be salon hopping between hair stylists using the ionic flat irons and the stove/marcel irons without understanding the potential challenges associated with the switching. If the hair is destined to break from the prolonged ionic flat iron usage; then that destiny may not be avoided even with switching back to the old technology. You may go backwards before you go forward. Prepare for long-term results and some short-term challenges. Hair grows a half inch a month on average. A biotin supplement can give hair growth an added boost. Please see separate article on biotin. Hopefully, the beauty industry as a whole can get back on track with long-term healthy hair versus short-term style.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Telogen effluvium: Hair Loss due to stress

Watching the price of gasoline rise almost double or triple what they used to be is stressful. The added expense is unexpected in a already tight budget.

Also, in light of the unfolding disasters in Japan (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear radiation exposure), many people will be under tremendous stress. This stress can cause temporary hair loss. It may not show immediately, but in a few months down the road after the events of the initial stressful situation is over, it may seem like it is overnight or instanteously.

According to

Telogen effluvium is a form of nonscarring alopecia characterized by diffuse hair shedding, often with an acute onset. A chronic form with a more insidious onset and a longer duration also exists.1,2 Telogen effluvium is a reactive process caused by a metabolic or hormonal stress or by medications. Generally, recovery is spontaneous and occurs within 6 months.

The condition often looks like a "pattern baldness." Notice the circular pattern of thinness in the picture.

Pictured is the same head two months prior to "stress alopecia."

However, within six months after onset of "stress alopecia," recovery is possible by eliminating as much stress as possible. All three pictures are of the same head. Before and after alopecia due to stress.

Please feel free to research more on Telogen effluvium. With unemployment rates rising, gasoline prices rising, and the economy still uncertain, we have to also focus on "wellness" in order to balance the stressors.

NOTE: Picture of gasoline prices are updated periodically in this article to reflect the rising costs on a monthly basis.
September 2012 gasoline prices

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Flat Brushes: Blow-drying and Final Finishes

So you have extremely overcurly hair? Using a flat brush is probably safer to blow-dry with than a round brush. Actually, flat brushes seem to detangle "weave hair" better than a wide-tooth comb! Pictured are the four most popular forms of flat brushes: (from left to right) Boar bristle, Ventilated, Paddle, and Denman. I have found that using UV Sanitizers are the best way to disinfect most brushes. Of course, manually cleaning shedded hair out of the brush is the first step.
The Denman brush is actually the "brand" of the brush as well. This type of brush is their trademark. There are some "knock-off" versions of the Denman brushes, but if you can spend the extra money for the original then I recommend it. They can be multi-colored. Pictured is an all black Denman brush by the Kim Kimble collection. Some denman brushes can be disassembled for thorough disinfecting or if one desires to remove a row of teeth. The teeth are vinyl and work well on extremely overcurly hair if as long as your hair has already been well conditioned and detangled properly with the wide tooth comb. Original Denman brushes have either their name and/or logo raised in the handle and bed of the teeth area.
Pictured are small and large paddle brushes. The paddle brushes work similar to the Denman brush for blow drying purposes. Make sure that your teeth are rounded or have quality bulb caps on the teeth as to not rip the hair. These brushes are also used to wrap a finished hairstyle into a circle to remove parts from a roller set service. Sometimes they are great to use if wrapping for the hair for sleeping at night.
Boar Bristle brushes are great for smoothing hairlines. Just make sure you get first cut boar bristles that feel soft enough to brush across your arm.
Ventilated brushes work similar to the paddle brushes. The blow-dryer heat can go through the brush for better tension and drying at the roots. Also, ventilated brushes detangle commercial extension hair very well. Similar to the paddle brush, the tips of the brush should be rounded or have the bulb caps on them. If you start losing the bulb caps, then the brush can rip the hair. Higher quality brushes last longer.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hair Breakage Help: Balancing Protein and Moisture

Believe or not, the month of March seems to be the month when most articles are written about hair breakage as well as protein and moisture balance. I noticed that last March (2010), I was revisiting this same topic in this blog as well. So here is the 2011 version!

Let's talk weather first! So everything has been going well with your hair until about March? More than likely, the weather is changing from dry and cold to dry and warm? There are some low humidity days then some rainy days(high humidity days)? Extra care and attention to your hair is required when the weather is changing. If you live in a city with constant weather changes all year round . . . then you have to make sure that you stay on top of your hair needs! Observing the dryness of your overall body skin is another true sign of what your hair is going through. If you are layering lotions and creams on your overall body trying to tame dryness, then that is a sign that your hair needs just as much attention. The climate may require changes in your regimen. That leads to the question of what to use?

Finding your regimen for your own hair is sometimes "trial and error." Through my research and experience, here are some guidelines:

1)Does your hair feel dry? hard? straw-like? Go for a moisturizing conditioner such as Mizani Moisturfuse (add medium dryer heat), Uans crema (room temperature, no heat), AlterEgo Garlic Treatment (add medium dryer heat) or any other brand that is more focus on moisture versus strength. If you do not have time to shampoo and condition, then go for a moisture leave-in conditioner as an overnight treatment. Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner is perfect. It will dampen the hair a little; but it will dry soft.

Pictured Mizani Moisturfuse and Uans conditioner in the old and new packaging. The sample size reflects the new logo and packaging.
2)When the hair is wet, does it feel mushy and limp? Go for a reconstructor or a protein treatment. If you going into a salon, please do not ask for a "deep conditioner" -- that is such a vague term. Specifically suggest "reconstructor" or protein treatment service. The stylist should know to follow the reconstructor up with a moisturizing conditioner. You should receive two treatments within the same visit and each component has to be rinsed out thoroughly. Adding heat to the treatment depends on the treatment used. Some product lines are designed to work without heat. Actually, heat can break down the treatment and make it less beneficial if the brand does not require heat. Read the directions on the product, if it does not suggest "heat cap" or add heat -- then assume that you do NOT need to add heat.

3)Are you worried about too much protein in the hair (i.e. overproteinized)? Try the protein conditioner. If the hair does not receive it meaning it just sits on the hair and will not absorb, then the hair has all the protein that it needs. Rinse it out thoroughly! Then go for a moisturizing treatment to balance the protein out. Too much protein will cause breakage in dry, low humidity weather. Some great moisture treatments were listed in question one above. If it appears that you have gotten too much protein in the hair, then go for the moisturizing conditioner that you can add heat. The heat should raise the cuticles slightly for more intense softening.

4)Do you have transitional hair (i.e. growing out a chemical, two different textures)? Your natural, unprocessed hair has different protein/moisture balance needs versus your straighter, relaxed hair. Prepare for breakage. Use moisture leave-in conditioners such as Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner for an overnight moisture boost. Caution: Moisture leave-in conditioners go on a little wet for those worried about reversion from a press service.

5)What if you are flat ironing? Typically, you should be using thermal/heat protectant leave-in sprays for additional protein and moisture support to protect the hair from the infrared heat damage. On the flipside, the extra protein support that is added to protect the hair can still result in breakage in low humidity/dry weather. Why? Extra protein plus hot tools plus dry weather . . . a recipe for breakage for chemically treated hair (i.e. highlighted or relaxed hair). In my experience, trying to balance protein support and moisture in the hair for flat-ironing purposes is a thin line. Add weather changes to the mix and hair breakage is likely to follow. I strongly suggest returning to the curling irons and older model flat irons that we had before all of the keratin treatments, thermal protection sprays, and flat iron serums. I have a separate article on "Infrared heat and flat irons" on this blog site.

6)What is overconditioning? This term is used loosely. If the hair is too soft from moisturizing treatments or steamers/hydration therapy, then it will not hold a curl. A protein boost may be needed to hold a curl. Please note that soft hair can be healthy hair; however, healthy hair may not always hold a curl or a style. Healthy hair will be dependent on a haircut for style and some products for styling control.

7) Which proteins to look for? Wheat protein seems to be neutral in smell, absorbs easily and works great! Animal protein usually has an musky odor, but works great too! Silk protein is used mostly in leave-in products and usually are accompanied by silicones which are sealants. I strongly suggest that your hair is in great condition before sealing it. Everything has its place and time to use.

8) What is the deal with oils? Coconut oil used an hour before shampooing is a great moisturizing treatment. Using it as an overnight treatment is even better if shampooing the following morning. Carefully about the Moccocan oils, argan oils, etc. Some of the ingredients may show dimethicone which is a silicone which is a sealant. Sealants make the hair look great but may block needed moisture and may be harder to shampoo back out. This could possibly result in breakage down the road.

9) What is the deal with weighless styling for movement? This look is glam and fabulous, but save it for the red carpet and special events! Treat your hair everyday like you treat your skin. Products like Keracare Overnight Moisture Treatment are lightweight and seem to protect the hair on a daily basis just by using a pea-size emulsified into hands prior to applying to the hair (not scalp). You may not look like "Hollywood" all the time from the daily moisturizing; but your hair will be ready when events arise when you need to impress!

In conclusion, hair breakage has everything to do with how naturally curly (or overcurly) your hair is, if it has been chemically altered, and how much heat is applied starting at the wet phase. I hope this article gets you thinking!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Best relaxer for color treated hair?

Spring is around the corner, and everyone is thinking "color or highlights!" If you receive relaxer services, then color will be a double chemical process on the same strands of hair. Fiberguard Affirm is under the Avlon umbrella. Typically, the Fiberguard "mild strength" works great for those who do not have sensitive scalps but receive regular color touch-ups to keep their grey hair covered. Those color clients that do not receive color services every month, can move into using Fiberguard "normal strength." If you are sensitive scalp, Paul Mitchell relaxers are still the best relaxer to ask for to avoid scalp discomfort.