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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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dimensional Highlights by Benita Blocker

 My client switched to Paul Mitchell relaxers around nine months ago because the Fiberguard Affirm line was causing moderate breakage.  I highlight her hair about every six months.  She likes blonde highlights.  Sometimes I alter her color formula, and she does not get her desired blonde color.  From a dimensional effect, this variation in colors work over a two year period.

Hair by Benita Blocker

Hair by Benita Blocker, December 2014

I used Wella Blondor Cream Lightener, Naked by Essations Detox Clarifying Shampoo,  and Straight Request After Calcium conditioner.  The Sanek See-thru Foil that I featured in a separate article on this blog came in handy to check the blonde processing without opening up the foil.The foil is heavy weight as well.

When to Reupholster Salon Furniture?

 My salon chairs are aging after 10 years of use.  Based on the picture above, new chair? or old chair with reupholstery completed?

Well, you probably guessed right.  The picture above is the "before" reupholstery of the bottom seat.  Nice.  Right?

I made a decision to start the reupholstery process after speaking with an expert at AFH Custom Upholstery and Decor in North Augusta, SC.

My current styling chairs are welded, heavy duty chairs with extra wide foot pedals on the hydraulic assembly.  The newer chairs are not built to sustain people pushing 300 pounds or more.  My chairs support all size people.  So it became a "no brainer" to hold onto my high quality chairs.  I just need to have them reupholstered for a fraction of the cost of getting a new one that is not even built to last.

AFH Custom Upholstery and Decor completed the one chair for me and kept the pattern on file to gradually get the rest of my same exact chairs completed as my budget will allow.  By completing one chair, it allowed me to have a proof of concept, and it works! As a luxury decision, I may change up the chair color scheme, but for now, I just prefer to reupholster the bottoms.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Avlon Angel Christmas Ornament

 I was actually saving this ornament to one day put on my own family Christmas tree, but with North Korea supposedly threatening to authorize terrorist acts over distributuion of a Hollywood movie and race relations protests nationwide for justice for unarmed victims of police, I figured that she needed to be seen.  So I gave her to my mother this Christmas 2014.

 The back of her.

 The side of her.

 She was created by the "Sandy Dolls" company.

 Avlon, the makers of Affirm, KeraCare, MoisturRight distributed these ornaments to hairstylists over ten years ago. My box was discolored from sunlight exposure while in my storage, but the ornament "Naya" inside remained protected.

Thanks Dr. Ali N. Syed! 

Two Years 5 Months Sisterlocks Check-in

 Happy Holidays!  I am late checking in for this particular Loc-versary, but it is all good.  So it is now, 29 months since I got my Sisterlocks, and I am so amazed at how many people that I have inspired to loc their own hair.  These people did not come to me for me to start their locs because of distance or for whatever reason, but I am amazed at the fact that they are starting their loc journey.  I am ahead of them in length, but only by a year or two.

I am also still enjoying my wet set with the Design Essentials Curlforming Custard.  Rainy days and hydration sprays seem to reactivate the Curlforming Custard.  My hair seems to stay hydrated and curly.  I am do not anticipate seeing any build-up.  I am definitely willing to continue using curl defining products as a setting agent for locs.  I have received the most compliments, and I am not doing any more work than before.  So I contribute this extra volume and fullness to my new preferred wet set agent: Design Essentials Natural Honey product.

As far as online video tutorials, I will continue to use the quadrant of my head that has my smallest locs to perform loc styling techniques.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Half Shoelace knot on Sisterlocks

This video tutorial discusses
  • Night time regimen for tying up Sisterlocks
  • Morning regimen for taking Sisterlocks down
  • Curl products used for setting the locs while keeping them hydrated
  • Half shoelace knot for loose curls on medium length locs
  • Three strand twist with an underlay to maintain length but add some curl to the ends
  • Application of the curl setting agent
  • and more

 As discussed in my YouTube video, Design Essentials Honey CurlForming Custard with Honey and Chamomile.

 The Design Essentials Natural Honey Curlforming Custard is a clear gel.

 I also discussed this Dark and Lovely Curl Defining Creme Glaze Au Naturale.

 It looks peachy in color but seems sheer going on.  I have not tried to set my locs with it yet, but one of my Sisterlocks clients was successful with it.

My set is about five days old here.  The Curlforming custard did great for hold and hydration.  Please excuse my eyebrows.  I was trying a new brow sculpting gel.  It is looking too ghost-like so it is not the right color for me.  I hope that you enjoy the video.  By the way, let me also mention that my video camera angle was not figure flattering on this video tutorial because I was layered underneath my sweater.  However, the video content is excellent.  I will continue to work on my fashion so please be patient with me.  Smile.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Healthy Hair requires Healthy Habits

Balanced meals, balanced diets, multi-vitamin supplements, and exercise are all a part of wellness.  Similar to reading the tree rings embedded into a tree stump,  our hair strands can tell us which time periods that we had healthy lifestyles and less healthy lifestyles.

When we eat right and exercise, our hair grows in fuller and less vulnerable to breakage from hair chemical processes.  However, bad nutrition will lead to weaker hair growing in which is vulnerable to breakage.

So if you look down a long strand of hair, you will probably find that your hair strand is NOT a consistent thickness.  Some areas will look thicker, and some areas will look thinner.  Similar to the picture of my Sisterlock above, I can tell that the loc started off too large for my curl diameter in that back area of my head.  So my loc balanced itself out into the appropriate size for my curl pattern.

To take things a little further, I also understand that healthier eating habits will keep my new growth coming in strong making for strong, fuller locs.

So watch your diets!  Try meal replacement shakes that have good nutritional value.  Drink more water. Get proper rest. Take dietary supplements to balance any nutrition deficiencies.

Also, remember if you get breakage from a chemical process, then the strand or loc may have broken at a break point that was caused by poor eating habits months and months prior to the breakage.

A new year is coming.  Please commit to healthier living.  Your hair will thank you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Loc Wet Set using Clear Custard

I could not wait to try something new so I did!  I used the Honey CurlForming Custard with Honey and Chamomile by Design Essentials Natural line to wet set my hair. I used Colorproof Volume shampoo followed by the new Avlon MoisturRight Nourishing Shampoo prior to the wet set.

I did not use a conditioner at all because I am not using any permanent haircolor. Neither am I using any hot irons, so I should have minimal to no hair repair needs.  I had other cream gels and custards for natural hair styling in stock, but I wanted something clear in color to avoid some potential buildup.  So Design Essentials Natural Honey was the "go to" choice.

I used a half shoelace knot in the front and crown area for the curl pattern that you see.  My Sisterlocks are almost two years five months old.  I named the "half shoelace knot" myself because my locs are not long enough for a full shoelace. In the nape area, I three strand twisted and looped my ends into the braid to hold it.  I created this method myself as well.

The three stranded underlay technique was used to maintain my length in the nape area.  I named both of these techniques.  Now that my Sisterlocks are gaining length, I will try to do a tutorial on YouTube for both techniques.  Until then, I hope my description of the two different techniques makes sense.

By the way, I decided against any highlighting or permanent haircolor for my hair.  I want to watch and see how my gray hairs are going to form as far as patterns.  Also, my hair is so prone to dryness that it does not need any chemicals in it.

I will keep everyone posted on how long these curls hold.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sisterlocks Haircut by Benita Blocker

 Loc Haircut by Benita Blocker, 2014

As promised in a previous "loc clippings" article on this blog, my client and I finally got time to capture her Sisterlocks when they were tightened and curled to show off the haircut that I gave her a couple of months ago.

My client colors her own Sisterlocks and does self-tightening.  She has a lot of hair so she comes to me to tighten the locs that she runs out of time to get done at home.  Also, any locs that get crossed up or may give her some concern, she leaves alone and allow me to work on and undo any accidental two headed dragons before they settle in.

She uses the Dark and Lovely Au Natural Curl Defining Cream to set her curls.  They seem to hold nicely.  I had been a little a afraid of the creams on the locs, but I plan to try one of the curl defining gels that I have in stock in the salon for natural loose hairstyling.  If it holds other natural hair, it should actually hold the locs as well.

I had been using the setting lotion, but I prefer a little more hydration for the winter months.  I will keep you posted when I try another wet set with a defining gel on my own Sisterlocks.

Hairstyling: Flat Twist Wet Set

Hair by Benita Blocker, December 2014

My client of six and half years has been on the Paul Mitchell Relaxer system since day one with me.  She gets relaxed around every 8 weeks.  She has medium/fine hair and more of a  4b/4c curl pattern.  Her hair is moderately resistant.  The Paul Mitchell relaxer at regular strength gets her about 75% straight which is slightly on the texturized side.  She loves the Macadamia Nourishing Leave-in Cream cocktailed with a setting agent for her wet sets.

We completed about nine flat twist cornrows to achieve this wavy look!  Believe or not, this is day three of this look.  She has the option of doing an updo style as well as leaving it down.  We try to stick with wet sets such as roller sets and flat twist sets to maintain her length.  She gets regular trims, and she started out with a bob length when she first started with me.  We partner to keep her hair regimen working for her busy schedule!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Final Review: Avlon Texture Release New Formula

 The new formula of the Avlon Texture Release system is in a spray bottle. Pictured above is the new bottle versus the old squeeze bottle.

My client's hair is resistant based on the amount of shrinkage that she has, but her curl pattern is a 4a/4b in various areas.

 My client is natural, and she maintains her own hair at home.  Her hairstyling is the results of a twist-out.

 This is another "before" picture of my client's hair from the back.  Again, her hair elongation is from a twist-out.

 Pictured above is her hair after the Avlon Texture Release service.  Her results are silky but not bone straight.  Due to the fact that she has resistant hair, the Texture Release system serves more as a texturizer. This is the finished product as far as straightness is concerned.  A titanium plate ionic flat iron was used to achieve this look.

My client and I were pleased with the final results and pleased that her hair is going to be more manageable for her own home maintanence.

As far as my personal preference, I just purchased another smoothing system that I have yet to try.  The Brazilian Blowout system really spoiled me from a simplicity standpoint, but it scared me from a health standpoint.

The Avlon Texture Release system is designed to be healthy for the professional who works with it, but it took three and half hours to complete this service.

I am hoping that the new smoothing system that I just got shipped in by yet another company will be a happy medium between healthy application and a quicker process.

Special thanks to my model/client Sierra!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hair Styling: Loc Petals

I stumbled across a loc tutorial on "loc petals" and fell in love with them.  You really need some extra long locs to complete this loc styling.  The larger locs benefit the most from this technique but even smaller locs can be formed into loc petals.

The larger locs would need to be manipulated one at a time allowing 2 to 3 hours to complete.  Smaller locs wearers would grab multiple locs similar in length and manipulate the petals.

I believe that I am at least another two years away before I would try to sport these loc petals, but for those in their fourth year or more, go for it!

Schwarzkopf Post Color Shine Service

The Schwarzkopf Post Color Shine Service is a leave-in treatment, but I had been using it as a color sealer after the initial shampoo.  The clients are loving the perfumery smell, and it make the hair soft and manageable.  I do continue with a second moisturizing shampoo and conditioning,  

Schwarzkopf may be discontinuing the manufacture of this treatment so I will use it while I have it in stock, then I will be back to the French Perm Stabilizer for the color sealer.  The French Perm Stabilizer does not have a pleasant smell, but it does its job to lower the pH of the hair.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seven in One Hairstyling by Benita Blocker

Two strand twisted Mohawk updo Hairstyling by Benita Blocker

This extension-free natural hairstyling gives the client several hairstyling options:
  1. French roll to the right
  2. French roll to the left
  3. Pompadour front with a bun in the back
  4. Left side braid
  5. Right side braid
  6. Mohawk twist-out
  7. Full twist-out

This hairstyle has flat twists on both sides and individual flat twists throughout the Mohawk area.  I can also style locs the same way.

To achieve this hairstyling on this particular client's natural hair, I blow dried her tresses first and then dry set using the Mizani Moisture Stretch and Mizani Perfect Curls.  She plans to forward me a few more pictures as she changes up the hairstyling.

******12/18/2014 Update  *********
My client decided to keep the updo in the back with a partial twistout in the front for her event!
Hair by Benita Blocker (final touches completed by the client herself)
Natural hair partnership!

This is a Full Twist out from the same Dry set that I completed on her in the salon.  The client allowed the steam from her shower to expand her hair. Being natural does require some self-paced creativity.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Decision-making: 3 pattern versus 4 pattern

I had a new Sisterlocks client to come in for a long layered loc haircut.  I also was able to assist her with her future self-tightening plans.  She told me that she had a "long" curl pattern which means it is more wavy than it is coily.  She also revealed to me that she was using a four pattern, but recently switched to a three pattern because she was told that was the "new trend." However, she was noticing more and more frizz coming from her Sisterlocks.

I informed her that a three pattern on a "long" curl pattern allows for more slippage and movement within the loc creating more volume or fullness.  However, this volume may look like frizz for her hair type.  I advised her that if the four pattern was working for her then stick with the four pattern.

We should not follow trends for maintenance.  If a regimen is working for you, then do not change it.  Of course, you may never know if there is something better out there if you do not try new things.

Also, she admitted to using the Sisterlocks Green Tea Shampoo which is mildly alkaline, and it seemed to create even more frizz.  I was able to sell her the Sisterlocks Salon Shampoo Concentrate which is slightly acidic, and it is designed to help control frizz in medium to loose wave patterns.

I have taken the Sisterlocks training so many times that I have a lot of the knowledge strongly embedded in my brain.  Having a completely new instructor on my third training made all the difference in the world.  She was more versed in different hair types.  My original instructor was good, but in retrospect, some of the techniques that she taught us was not applicable to all hair types.  It worked on the loose texture of the mannequin head as well as for looser hair types similar to hers, but not necessarily for those with an Afro puff to start out with.

I am so happy that I invested in the Sisterlocks class over and over again.  The third time with the instructor that I got was by far the charm for me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Even Horses Benefit from Protective Styling!

"This breed of horse, Friesian, is known for having full thick manes.  Good nutrition and constant care are required.  Note the waves, this mane has most likely been braided to keep it up and safe from causes of breakage.  That includes the tail too." - a Facebook commenter

Sounds like protective styling to me!

Adding a Bang for a Hair Style Update

Hair by Benita Blocker

My client of four years decided she wanted a style change so we went with a bang.  She does not have any hair extensions in her hair.  Her hair looked like a wig leaving out of the salon.  We did a blow-dry/style to achieve this wavy look.  She let me know that everyone thought her hair was a wig until they reached into her scalp. 

This same client usually gets a roller set, and we just let the curls fall naturally.

My client receives Paul Mitchell relaxer touch-up about every 3 months.  (About 4 times a year)

My specialty is medium to long hair - the healthy approach. I usually cut about every six months for clients who want to grow length.

I welcome all hair types who want to grow length.  Sometimes loc'ing the hair is the best solution, but if the relaxers are working for you - I do not force people to go natural.  I am a hair partner.  Give me three to six visits to work my magic.  Feedback always helps in order to get a proper regimen specifically designed for you and your lifestyle.

For Red Carpet Ready Hair, call Benita Blocker at Applebaum Hair Salon!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Color Indicator turns hot Pink

 Only the NuExpressions Super 10 in 1 Conditioner instantly turns HOT PINK when it encounters relaxer residue.  Some neutralizing shampoos will turn a slight pink color if relaxer residue lingers, but I have not found anything else to spread along the neckline if I have any questions as to whether something is conditioner or lingering chemical residue.  Anyone else have another color indicator product that works instanteously?

I started with 3 scoops of relaxer on the sticks. I also picked up some Hawaiian Silky 14 in 1 Miracle Conditioner, but it does not act as a color indicator.  Neither does the Paul Mitchell shampoo.  So NuExpressions Super 10 in 1 is a must.  The pH is around a 5.7.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Benita's Favorite Hair Products of 2014

First of all, anything on my 2013 List from December of last year that I still love will NOT be repeated on this list.  So let's get started!

Favorite Shampoo made with Quinoa
Abba Moisture Shampoo

Favorite Hairspray for straighening hair
L'Oreal Paris Elnett Satin- Extra Strong Hold

Favorite Firm Hairspray for holding curls without stickiness
Joico JoiMist Firm Finishing Spray (Hold 9)

Favorite Clear Shine Semi-permanent Haircolor
Dudley Blank Clear

Favorite Blue/Black Semi-permanent Haircolor
Nairobi TruColors Indigo (#2)

Favorite Natural Dark Brown Semi-permanent Haircolor
Affirm MoisturColor 2N

Favorite Light Brown Demi-Permanent Haircolor for Same Day of Relaxer
Beth Minardi Liquid Demi-Permanent Haircolor (acidic/liquid only)

Favorite Color Sealer
French Perm Stabilizer Plus Conditioner (pH 2.5)

Favorite Final Neutralizing Shampoo
Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two  (always on hand in case regular neutralizing shampoo does not wash out all the grease/oil from the relaxer service)

Favorite Moisturizing Conditioner with heat
KeraCare Humecto

Favorite Moisturizing Conditioner withOUT heat
Uans Crema

Favorite smooth edging gel
Design Essentials Natural Honey and Shea Edge Tamer

Favorite Gray Cover-up Temporary Solution
Roux T'ween Time Stick

Favorite Volume Shampoo/Volume Conditioner
Pureology Volume

Favorite Color Indicator Conditioner
NuExpressions 10 in 1 Conditioner

Favorite Luxury Shampoo
Pureology Nanoworks

Favorite Foil for Highlights
Sanek See-Thru Premium Professional Foil

Favorite Violet Conditioner
AG Sterling Silver Conditioner

Favorite Dry Set Twistout Cocktail for Natural Hair
Mizani Moisture Stretch
layered with
Mizani Perfect Curls

NOTE:  Most of my clientele still receive relaxers and/or permanent Haircolor.  In addition, I use the same high quality hair care products on my small but growing loc clients.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Two Years Four Months Wet Loc Length Check-in

I tried out the new Avlon/Affirm MoisturRight clarifying shampoo plus the Hempz Vanilla Plum Shampoo and Conditioner for my loc shampoo service. I found the new clarifying shampoo a bit runny compared to my concentrated high end shampoos such as Pureology and Abba.Otherwise, everything did its job.

 So far, I have a simple bob style when my locs are wet.

As far as length goes, I would say that I am solidly past shoulder length.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving 2014!  I got dolled up for the Holiday!

Coming Soon:  Benita's Favorite Things of 2014. Please stay tuned!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Versatility at 28 months Loc-Versary Check-in

 Yes, It is my two years and four months Sisterlocks Anniversary today!  It had been raining the last few days so I did not get to shampoo and wet set it, but I did a head swing to capture this volumious look!

Then I completed a faux top knot.  I do not have it tied down.  My hair's nature is to stack some.  I had to take the picture quick before my top stack fell.

I figured that I would play around with a fo-hawk look too! Now, I can go for more volumious hairstyling without worrying about length.

On a side note, I noticed that Charlotte, NC was not on the 2015 Sisterlocks training schedule.  Traditionally, every January is when the Charlotte, NC class is held, but apparently, not this upcoming year.  I must admit that I already miss not having the Sisterlocks training team come into Charlotte.  I understand though.  Last year, Charlotte did not have a lot of local participants.