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, January 30, 2014

Limited Shelf Life of Soft Curl Chemicals

This jar of rearranger was less than a year old before it went bad.  Honestly, once the container is opened the first time for any reason, the product shelf life starts to diminish.  Whether it is the Wave by Design or the Wave Nouveau or any other body wave system . . .

Learn more about hair product shelf life here:

Salons and stylists that do not have a steady stream of soft curl clients will be wasting money to keep this product on hand.  The rearrangers and the boosters will expire too quickly.  If you do not have at least five body wave or soft curl clients rotating out, then it will be hard to keep fresh product, and it is going to cut into your profits.

So body wave clients ask why is it that stylists do not offer this service . . . the demand is lower than relaxer demand, and even the relaxer demand is going down.  Luckily, the relaxers have a little longer shelf life.

Pictured above is a tightly sealed Wave Nouveau Rearranger chemical.  As long as the container has not been open, the shelf life lasts longer, but if anyone breaks the seal the least little bit, then your product will start to expire with the oxygen exposure.  Please be cautious when the distributors are selling cold wave products, no seals or broken seals means the product may be almost expired before you even begin to use it.

Wet Set Experiment: Perm Rod versus Rollers

Pictured from left to right:  red Magnetic roller, red Hard Mesh roller,  pink Perm Rod.  I used pics to secure the mesh roller in place as well as to prevent the perm rod from flipping over.  All three rollers/rods are the same size barrel diameter.

Looking closer at the perm rod, doesn't it look solid and heavy? 

Well, to my surprise, it is not!  It is light in weight and hollow.  Wow!  I did not see that coming!

Well, it gave me another idea.  Why not drop some hair down the barrel and see what type of curl forms?  I used a multi-purpose clip to suspend the large perm rod vertically.  That proves that the rod is lightweight.

 The results were interesting and cute.  I used the Vitale Pro 3 in 1 Design Lotion for the vertical perm rod set.

 I poured this Design Lotion into a spray bottle to dispense it on the hair for the vertical curl.  It delivers a firm hold.

 As for the perm rod versus rollers, I found that the harder and the thicker the plastic, the firmer the set regardless of the setting lotion.  I actually used the NEW! Lotta body Olive oil "ready to use" setting lotion for the three top rod and rollers.

It delivers a softer set than the original Lottabody "Ready to Use" formula. The drying time is all about the same.  I had to dry the mannequin head in an awkward position, so I can not confirm that all three rods and rollers got the same consistent dryer heat.  I will update the drying time information in the future as I experiment with the large perm rods more.

But  without a doubt, the cheaper and the thinner the plastic of the roller, the less firm the set will be.  So I do trust the Diane brand for rods and rollers.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 2014 Honorable Mentions for Twisting Hair

NuDred Sponge
My first honorable mention is the "Nudred" sponge.  It apparently was introduced a few years ago before natural hair styling really became a trend.  Now, that so many people are cutting away relaxers and sporting an afro, this "NuDred" twisting tool is perfect for hair that is 2 inches or LESS!  I repeat, it is for shorter afro lengths.  (i.e. TWA)

I have seen people on youtube who make their own sponge tool, but essentially, the original "NuDred" hair twisting sponge has holes in it like "Swiss cheese."  According to "NuDred demonstration videos," it looks like you just "shoe shine" your hair in circular motions and your hair starts to coil into its natural curl pattern.

For most hair types, I think it reproduces a full head of coils within five minutes.  However, if your curl pattern is extremely small in diameter and has 75% shrinkage potential - you are probably going to create more of a dreadlock than a curl.  This tool looks great for starting locks from a short afro phase.

You can find NuDred hair on Facebook as well as

African hair Threading
My second honorable mention natural hair technique is called African hair threading.  It entails twisting the natural hair around and around with thread to gain control.  This technique is not the same as "Middle Eastern threading" for hair removal.  So if you want to watch youtube videos about it, then you would google "African hair threading" versus "threading" which is for removing unwanted hair.

The African hair threading method is more of a protective styling for medium to loose curl patterns.  Instead of plaiting or braiding hair in sections, you can use the hair threading method.  I would caution to keep your hair moisturized when using a thread to wrap around hair even if it is a sew-in weave.  The friction from the thread could cause breakage in extremely dry or brittle hair.

Have fun checking out these two"fresh" techniques!  They are not necessarily new techniques, but when they initially emerged, they were before their time.  Now, I think these techniques are becoming the new talk of the town for the new natural wave that people are embracing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are Expired Relaxers safe to purchase and use?

 So I stumbled across these expired Chi Deep Brilliance Relaxers in a local beauty supply store.  The store was courteous to place a clearly readable sign that the relaxers were expired and to use at your own risk.

My first thought was "NO, expired relaxers should not be sold nor used," but then I looked at the expiration date on the packaging.  I saw September 2013.  So many of these relaxers are about four months past the expiration date.  That's not too bad.  If these relaxers get a year or two past the expiration date, then I would really be concerned.  Are you wondering why the expiration date does not give me extreme concern?  The real question is whether or not, the relaxer is still fresh enough to straighten hair?

Well, the packaging of all the expired relaxers were very new looking.  As a reminder, many times,  relaxers that have a fresh relaxer date on them can still spoil prematurely because someone may accidently leave the lid slightly opened and the oxygen causes the product to expire before time.

If a relaxer expires, then it may or may not have an odor, but without a doubt, expired relaxer will NOT straighten the hair, and in addition, it may cause damage to the hair without straightening it.

So these expired relaxers may actually still work just fine.  So are you wondering if there is a way to test the safety of the relaxer product without applying to your head or anyone else's head?

Yes, here's a way to test it . . .  1) Buy some Afro kinky bulk 100% human hair

and 2) run the "relaxer in question" through a sample piece of this "afro hair."

If the hair sample relaxes quickly within 3 minutes after massaging the relaxer product through, then the relaxer is still fresh enough to use on a head.  This test should be repeated as needed if days or weeks go by before needing to use the same relaxer product again.

In the picture above, the afro kinky hair on the left is what the braiding hair looked like before applyting relaxer to it.  I used a fresh Affirm Normal relaxer for this demonstration.  I did not purchase any of the Chi relaxers.

Are you surprised at my response?  Any thoughts?  I do have two more thoughts.  I think relaxers with expired dates should be donated to homeless shelters along with sample braiding hair for women to test the clearly marked expired relaxer prior to using the product on anyone's head.

We also need to be cautious about disposal of a large quantity of relaxers at one time.  It could harm our environment or get into our water supply.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Natural Hair Highlight: Lupita Nyong'o

 Photo credit:

Lupita Nyong'o is a Yale School of Drama graduate and now a SAG Award winner 2014 for her role as "Patsy" in the movie "Twelve Years a Slave."

 Photo credit:

Photo credit:

I wanted to highlight her because men are loving her natural hair and her natural beauty.  No wigs, No extensions, No straight hair.  I sincerely hope that she does not start experimenting with the artificial hair enhancements, because we need more Sistahs in Hollywood like her to represent the beauty of tightly coiled hair.

Don't get me wrong, if she is stunning with "a short tapered afro,"  then she undoubtedly has unlimited beauty.

I speak for all the "afro puff" ladies with a headband who occasionally get a full weave only get one compliment after the next.  Even some of my clients that come in for a blow-out from wearing their twist-outs are amazed at how their co-workers go crazy over their elongated, straight hair.

All of these ladies, ask the same question, what does society really think about them when they wear their God given hair texture?

I think society tolerates this natural hair movement that Black women are going through.

I wore my stocking cap wig last week for a change.  I wanted to have long, straight European hair.  Oh my God,  the compliments . . . "Your hair looks amazing."  "I love your hair."  "I love the new look."
One compliment after the next.

We love compliments right?  But somehow it just seems so unnerving to think that "borrowed hair" is more accepted than "one's own hair."

So Lupita, please do not "borrow" anyone else's hair any time soon!  We need to get society's eyes to see a new normal, a new beauty.  We need them to see past the hair.

Congratulations on your nominations and wins!

1.5 Year Lock-versary: The Dry Set

 So 18 months down, and it feels like I still need another 18 months to double this length.  This lock-versary was bittersweet.  I was really reflecting on what a bumpy ride this lock journey has been, and I still have a long way to go.  I literally held back tears.  I felt like I was at crossroads.  I was told many are getting "loc extensions."  Veteran lock wearers feel that "getting lock extensions" is cheating, but the corporate Sistahs are saying they want to feel good about themselves and the lock extensions are the only way to go to avoid that "ugly phase."  I am using strong words here because I want everyone to really see both sides.  For a split second, I even thought about going back to a relaxer.  Oh my goodness, I really was having a crisis.  The pressure to be polished.  The pressure to fit in.  My head felt like it was about to explode.  Then I took a deep breath. Calmed down. Cleared my head.  Then Voila!

Serenity. Clarity.  The Sisterlock ladies in Boston told me to give my locks five years and everyone will be jealous of my locks.  Oh my,  I am still not halfway there, but I am a leader.  I can do this.  So I re-committed to working with what I got without adding any "lock extensions."  So to achieve this style, I used the Lottabody "Ready to Use" Setting Lotion on my micro-locks dry.  No shampooing.  I wanted an overnight set without a soaking wet head.  I wrote about the Lottabody setting lotion on this blog recently.

Well, I used it to dry set my micro-locks in bantu knots. I then slept in that style overnight with a extra wide headband to avoid them working their way loose.  I untwisted the bantu knots the next morning, and this is the cute little texture it put into my locks.  I had a lot of fun!  I will have to take the time to do this more often!

Now, do not get me wrong, I am still longing for more length, but I feel like I am almost completely past the starter loc phase.  Why spend the time and money adding lock extensions?  No.  I am NOT going to do it.

Let me also let those who skip the starter loc phase and go straight into the lock extension know that you are missing out on something very key to maturing in life . . .  can you guess what that is?  It took me awhile to really figure out what you get cheated out of by skipping the "starter lock" phase.

Tired of guessing?  Well, you miss out on discovering who your friends are and who is your support system.  Your true friends may not be your family, but when you begin the journey of stripping all of the extensions and glamour, you find your true essence.  When people can love the "real you" then they don't see starter locks as a forever thing.  They support you in that phase.

I realized that from my layoff from Corporate America that my corporate work environment did not support my starter lock phase.  New corporate management did not value me.

I realized that newer salon clientele did not trust my judgement with hair because they could not see the bigger picture.  So my revenues curtailed, and how do you attract new relaxer clients when you are wearing starter locks?  Oh my goodness, I have to laugh.  Thank God for bringing me through, and Thank God for that long, gorgeous stocking cap wig that I made.  It was the only thing that seemed to humanize me again in the eyes of society.

Can you imagine feeling like you are the "talk of the town" for being a "Hot mess" full of "little things" in your hair?   Oh my God, those "little things" were actually my hair in the Sisterlocks framework, but in the grand scheme of things, no one cared about what "Sisterlocks" were.  They just cared about if it was cute or not?  And apparently, the answer was "no."

So now, 1.5 years later . . .  I have come a long, long way.  It has made me a strong person, and I have identified who my friends and support system are.  They see the essence behind the hair.  They are not the "fairweather friends."  They are the ones that believe in you and support your decisions.

I understand if your job will not support the starter loc phase without "lock extensions."  You have to pay your bills so in order to keep your job, then get the lock extensions added.

Someone is probably saying "Hey!  That is discrimination if they do not accept your natural hair."   Well, the truth is unless you are in some liberal states like California and New York, fighting with an employer is going to get you no where but the "unemployment line with your natural hair."  Trust me it is not a cute situation.  If your workplace does not like your hair styling or your hair statement, then keep applying to other jobs until you find a work environment that will.  I learned from experience.  I figure if I can save others some time and pain, why not?

Anyway, for my fellow loc wearers, try dry setting your locks with the Lottabody setting lotion.  Do NOT fully saturate the locks.  Just mist them with setting lotion and twist or set.  Have fun!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Corrective Haircutting with a Modern Flair

Believe it or not, this mannequin's haircut is lopsided and is very hard to style.  Can you tell?

Corrective Haircutting is a specialty service and costs more.  

So to prove that I was a Master haircutter, I tackled this corrective haircut in front of a live audience at one of the Empire Beauty Schools.  

And Voila!

Much more symmetry, yes?  Well, I achieved four different hairstyles just by playing with it- so "mission accomplished."

So how did I do it?

1) I used the nose as a guideline to level both sides.
2) I used a pie parting in the front to achieve a nice bang area spread.
3) I razored slices through the top center.
4) I pixie twirled the top center for further blending.
5) I freehand razored in wing motions on both sides.

So that will be $100.00 please . . . Smile.  Master Haircutter: Benita Blocker, 2014.

Update:  Thermal styling without any additional cutting since corrective cut . . . much more symmetry.
 Sleeker look with curls! Hair by Benita Blocker, 2014.

Volume and symmetry styling by Benita Blocker, 2014.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dreadlocks Highlight: NFL Player Richard Sherman

Photo credit:

NFL Player Richard Sherman has been in the news recently for a candid last minute "shout-out" that some of the public has blown to exaggerated proportions.

The bigger message is that he is a Stanford University graduate. He has a non-profit organization, and he is actively engaged in giving back to his community.

His background sings of a "from rags to riches" story.  I just wonder if the fact that he has dreadlocks caused the public to dump him into a "thug" category based on a 15 second rant.

Well, there is no such thing as bad publicity so Richard Sherman - I did not know your name until tonight when Facebook friends and clients showed their support of all the good that you do!  Keep on Keeping on!

I am proud of an educated Black man who has locks!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dreadlocks: Finger Twisting versus Interlocking

 I decided to experiment on some bulk kinky hair extensions in order to figure out the difference between the finger twisting/palm rolling method and the interlocking method for dreadlocks.

So both methods elongate the curl patterns; however, finger twisting seems to allow for the maximum amount of volume.  The interlocking method allows for versatility.  In the picture, I did not use even tension as I interlocked so it is a loose and tight interlocking pattern up and down the right sample lock.  This picture does show that depending on the locking pattern, the curl pattern can be subdued or allowed to volumize.

So when a client mentioned to me that her hair was too thick for locks, I now have learned from taking this last Sisterlocks training class, that I can use the Reverse 4 pattern to subdue volume or use the Double 3 pattern to prevent Sisterlocks from looking too stringy.

I am also thinking about having some of my locks interlocked again.  Why?  If you remember in a previous article this past month, I realized that I do have two different textures of hair on my head.  The tighter coiled texture does really well with finger twisting.  It holds great.  However, I have some locks that will not stay twisted.  A few of those locks, I started hand interlocking because of the new growth that unwinded.  I am about ready to partner with a loctician that can help me with the interlocking.  There are locticians that will twist and interlock within the same head based on whether or not the lock needs interlocking or not.  I think that I am ready for this level of advanced loctician skill.  I will keep everyone posted.

Lifting the Color of Mid-Grade Hair Extensions

The wet and wavy sample weft in the picture above is a mid-grade hair. Definitely not remy hair, but it is human hair.  Typically, you would not lift this type of hair extension.  Only the high-end virgin, unprocessed, remy hair that comes in one color is supposed to be safe to lift.  However, with the mid-grade hair being marked down to really great pricing, it may be worth purchasing and altering the color as needed.

 So I chosed the Goldwell Silk Lift High Performance Lightener - regular with ammonia.

I pre-treated the hair with the White Sands "The Fix" Porosity spray first before applying the lightener.

 I used clear cellophane foil, and it took at least 45 minutes to really start to see a lift.  I even heated the cellophane sample with the blowdryer for a few minutes to get the lightener going a little faster.

Clarifying shampoo was a definite to make sure the dark color molecules got washed away.  I like the new subtle brown color.  Higher quality hair should take less time, but you will probably accidently skip pass this brown color phase of the lift process and end up with red or orange or blonde.  I was pleased with the final color.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Using the Awl for Dreadlock Removal

An awl was suggested in my recent Sisterlocks training for assistance for the removal of sample locks prior to beginning a locking session.  This awl was purchased for about $8.00 USD from Joann's Fabrics.

As most people know, there have been many people who have or who will make a decision to remove their dreadlocks, micro-locks, Sisterlocks.

Some may not like their lock sizing.  Some may have noticed some thinning that is challenging their lock styling ability. Some may have relocated to an area that does not have a loctician or a Sisterlocks consultant that they like.

So for whatever the reason that someone needs to begin the lock removal process, the awl will be a tool to use for a professional start.

Hair DNA, Witchcraft, Neo Meditation Cubes

Photo credit:

I googled the term "hair demons" just because I was curious what would come up and just enough topics of discussion came up that it sent a chill through my body.

Some cultures connect hair with people's spirit.  So when we are handling other's hair, those spirits can be still connected to their hair.

One comment that I read mentioned that a lock of hair is required for voodoo and witchcraft.  So those who are donating their hair are just as vulnerable to a spiritual connection as those who may be wearing someone else's hair (extensions).

I even ran across a neo-meditation cube that is designed to be powered by the DNA of one's hair.

In light of this Hair DNA refresher, I am going to suggest that people wearing hair extensions should pray over their hair extensions for safe disinfection as well as good spirits.

I've dived into just enough of this topic without scaring me completely away from hair extensions.  If you want to learn more about any topic that I have mentioned within this article, then please feel free to research it further at your leisure.

Three Hair Accessories for updos

 This jeweled bun holder with chopstick is best suited for longer hair or longer locks. It was suggested as safe in the Sisterlocks training class because there are no teeth present to injure the Sisterlocks.

 I look forward to being able to sport this hair accessory in another two years or less.  I feel like I need twice the lock length that I have now to really have a nice full bun.

 I found these colored clippies in Walmart stores for about $3.00 USD.  I like the color variety of bronze, gold, silver, burgundy, and black.  I have to be careful of the teeth of the clippies.  Please see my other blog articles regarding the petite clippies from H and M stores.

 I believe that I have mentioned this little bun maker before on this blog.  I have enjoyed it at my current lock length for a side bun.  The teeth help hold it in place.

It is a Scunci Expandable Ponytailer.  Please see my November 2011 blog articles on this one.  All types of hair can benefit from it.

Product updates: Design Essentials and SisterLocks

 The Design Essentials Organic Cleanse Deep Cleansing Shampoo with Oatmeal Protein has been discontinued.  It has been replaced with Design Essentials Oat Protein and Henna Deep Cleansing Shampoo.  Based on the ingredients, there is more propylene glycol in the newer version of the shampoo and less of what I thought was the good stuff.  Our hair industry is really going backwards.  Manufacturers are going to continue to cut cost which may mean cheaper ingredients being used in their products.

On the flip side, Sisterlocks(tm) has been tweaking their "Starter Shampoo" for awhile trying to get the best product consistency.  The bottle on the right is the newest packaging of the Sisterlocks Starter Shampoo.  There is nothing in the ingredients list that screams that they are sacraficing quality.  So I really think Sisterlocks has improved the shampoo.  This starter shampoo is designed to clarify and rough up the cuticle to aid with hair locking.  I do sell Sisterlocks products within my salon.

Michelle Obama Learns Never say Never

 Photo Credit:  People Magazine, January 27, 2014 edition, Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States turns 50 years old this month.  In the past, I have written articles on my blog about Mrs. Obama's hair based on magazine photos.  I've seen it in its healthy stages as well as its recovery stages.  In the past, FLOTUS' voice echoed that she would never wear hair extensions, wigs, nor commercial hair enhancement pieces.   So in her interview with Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, I had to laugh at FLOTUS' response to her philosophy on plastic surgery, Botox, fillers.

She states "Women should have the freedom to do whatever they need to do to feel good about themselves.  Right now, I don't imagine that I would go that route, but I've also learned to never say never."

Enough said.  Extensions, wigs, commercial hair enhancements can be a "life saver" when you want to look good for public events.  We can not control the weather so we can not control our hair.  So why not have a little "hair insurance" to make sure that we are constantly looking our best regardless of the environmental conditions around us.

So if there is anyone out there still thinking that Michelle Obama would not wear any form of commercial hair enhancement,  then we all now know that she is open to wigs, hair extensions, etc.  The pressure to look "polished" continues on.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Three Do-It-Yourself Interlocking Tools

1) The Sisterlocks (tm) Clip Tool is designed with a spring hook to latch onto a lock and then you  feed it through the base of the lock.

Disadvantage of Clip Tool:  If the dreadlock is dry and brittle, the spring action of the clip can break the lock completely off.  One of the Sisterlocks Certified consultants clipped the tool to my lock without any regards of the spring action of the hook, and I swear that my lock broke completely off where the clip tool was attached.  The consultant apologized to me about the lock snapping off and then moved on to the next one.  So no, I am not fond of this tool.  People should be cautious to gently attach the hook to the lock.

2) A Safety pin has been suggested by Stylist Jovan on youtube.  You actually just pin the safety pin on the end of the dreadlock and feed the smooth end through the lock as if it was the Sisterlocks "clip" tool.

Disadvantage of the Safety pin: Piercing through the lock over the course of a year may weaken the lock, and the closure end of the safety pin may accidently catch some hair if one is not careful when feeding it through the roots of the locks.

3) The hair pin:  The coolest method yet! It is a partial feed through the base of the lock. Youtube channel Chocolatemilk0104 has a video to teach you at

Disadvantage of the hair pin:  If your lock partings are smaller than the width of  hairpin, then this method may not work because the hair pin would be too wide.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wrestling with the Hair Demons

 Well, to my surprise during this 2014 Sisterlocks training, the Sisterlocks(tm) instructor helped me to realize that I was still wrestling with hair demons.  What are hair demons?

The hair demons are the ones whispering in your ear telling you

  • That you need to straighten out those "beadi-bees" around your hairline.  
  • A smooth hairline is a more polished look.  
  • Your hair looks soooo nappy.  
  • You need to gel down your edges.  
  • Everyone is staring at your "nigga" naps. (Sorry for any wording offense here.)

Well, you get the picture . . .  my curl pattern is no where near the beautiful Spanish wet and wavy or the Brazilian or the Malaysian or the Indonesia curl patterns.  Many "weave" wearers do not naturally grow this type of hair, but they love to wear the exotic look of other cultures.

With most of my hair clientele being chemically straightened or mechanically straightened, I am constantly teaming up with the hair demons to keep my clientele corporate American polished with a Spanish, Brazilian, or a European flair.  This is how I make my living.

I do not come from a support group of natural hair women.  I also know that as my locks grow longer and longer, they should draw attention away from my hairline. I am waiting to really feel like "I own" my hair in its infinite beauty and uniqueness.

As stated in a previous article about resistant hair, my hair around my hairline does not want to hold straight without some heavy duty protein gel, and I refuse to get that gel all built up in my locks.

The compromise is to wear my locks styled where the edges are covered with the length of my locks.

I did not realize that I have been breed with a self-hatred because my curl pattern is not considered "pretty" by European and corporate American standards.

I can only hope that as I gain more length the beauty of the uniqueness of my tightly coiled hair will intrigue people into accepting it as beautiful because it is mine.

Updo using Vidal Sassoon Comb N Clip

 Do you love my updo?  I am loving that I am gaining some length.  Yes!

One of my newest lock styling accesories is the Vidal Sassoon Comb 'N' Clip.  I love it!  I even slept in it without any pain.  It stayed in place as well.  I actually banded my locks at the top first in a "pineapple" stack.

I then clipped the Comb N Clip in place to give the illusion that it was actually holding up long locks.

This hair accessory is lightweight, sturdy, and I purchased for about $2.00 USD at one of the Tuesday Morning Stores.  People without locks of course, will also benefit from this particular hair accessory.