If you've ever wondered what your pores actually are, they are tiny holes all over your body that house hair follicles. Within each pore, there is a sebaceous gland that holds the oil that our body naturally produces. If you've also wondered why it seems like you barely see your pores on places like your arms and legs but sometimes they can seem big as all get out on your forehead, cheeks and nose, that's because our sebaceous glands are larger there (which also explains why we tend to experience more breakouts on those parts of our body).
I don't know about you but, ever since I can remember, I've had some relatively large pores, especially on my face. It used to really annoy me until I discovered that 1) they oftentimes happen when you've got naturally oily skin (which isn't a bad thing if you keep the oil in check because oil can help to slow down the aging process), and 2) one way to prevent them from looking even larger is to not pick at pimples (because that can further damage your pores). Once that information was downloaded into my brain and I started taking better care of my skin, my pores appeared smaller over time.
So, what are some of the things that I do to keep my pores from showin' out? Below are 10 that are easy, all-natural and sure to keep your pores smaller-looking too.
Any time skincare tips come up, you're gonna be hard-pressed to not see exfoliation on the list. That's because exfoliating removes dead skin cells which leads to an even skin tone, a smoother skin texture, skin detoxification, less breakouts and definitely, unclogged pores. When your pores are filled with sebum, dirt and other gunk, not only can it stretch your pores out, it can block your pores and create inflammation which can make your pores look a lot larger too. That's why you should make it a point and practice to exfoliate your skin, no less than a couple of times each week. Click here for tips on how to make your own body scrub and here for tips on how to make your own chemical peel.
2. DIY a Toner
Although some skincare experts consider toner to be an optional tip, I find the benefits to be valid enough that I decided to add them to this list. Toner is simply a liquid-based way to rebalance your skin. When you use it regularly, toner is able to remove impurities, hydrate your skin, soothe any skin irritation you might have, speed up the healing process of pimples and even prevent premature aging. Because it's able to do all of this, your pores can remain healthy which can also keep them looking smaller.
When I tone my skin, I typically use witch hazel; it contains properties that heal the skin as it relieves irritation, reduces inflammation and deep cleanses pores. If you want to give your skin an extra treat, add a half-teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (it's an exfoliant in liquid form) and a few drops of lavender essential oil (it's a skin soother that has antifungal properties in it). Either apply the toner with a couple of cotton balls or put it into a spray bottle to give your skin a light mist.
3. Apply a Clay Mask
If your skin is naturally oily, that can stretch your pores out over time. Something that you can do to keep the sebum that you produce in check is to apply a clay mask once a week. Not only will it reduce the amount of oil that you have, it can also draw out impurities which will prevent your pores from clogging up (which also stretches them). A mask that I personally like is bentonite clay. It's cheap, it's effective and it's something that you can easily apply to your face or your entire body (by sprinkling some of it into your bath water). You can get tips—and benefits—for applying this mask, click here.
4. Moisturize Daily
There are a lot of reasons why it's important to moisturize your skin on a daily basis. It protects your skin from dirt, dust and debris. It seals in the moisture that your skin already has. It makes up for some of the hydration that your skin might've lost too. Another thing that moisturizing does is keep your skin from drying out, which can also lead to larger pores. How? Well, when your skin gets too dry, what your body typically does is automatically produce more sebum. If your pores end up with too much of it, that can cause them to become bigger. This is why you should definitely make sure to apply some moisturizer to your face and neck, every day and evening. Personally, I'm all about using a light layer of sweet almond oil, but if you need a little help picking a moisturizer out (check out the article, "Best Face Moisturizer For Black Skin In 2020". It's got some pretty cool referrals.)
5. Give Yourself a Vitamin C and Aloe Vera Treatment
Aloe vera contains vitamins A and C, antioxidants, enzymes, glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it's made up of between 98-99 percent water which makes it an awesome way to hydrate your skin while soothing your pores at the same time. Vitamin C builds your immune system, detoxifies your body, helps you to produce more collagen and also helps to break down the bacteria that could clog up your pores and ultimately stretch them out. If you grate and then blend a medium-sized orange with two tablespoons of 100 percent pure Aloe Vera gel, it can serve as a pore-protecting remedy. Just apply it to your freshly washed face, let it penetrate for 15 minutes and thoroughly rinse off with cool water.
6. Make Your Own Primer
If you're trying to make your pores appear smaller while you've got a full face of make-up on, something that you might want to do is apply a primer, right after washing, toning and moisturizing your skin but right before applying your foundation. Basically what a primer does is make your skin appear extra smooth so that your make-up glides on like butter.
As far as commercial brands go, a lot of primers contain silicone (which is a good base ingredient). But if you'd prefer to make some of your own, mixing one-part Aloe vera with one-part moisturizer will do the trick. Oh, and you might want to go easy on bronzers too; they tend to draw attention to pores rather than minimize them.
7. Use Sunscreen
It really can't be said enough that, just because we as Black women are blessed to have more melanin in our skin, that doesn't mean that UV rays still can't do a real number to it over time. One of the main ways it does is it causes free radicals to not only break down our skin's natural elastin, but make our pores appear larger than they actually are. That's why it's so important to make it a priority to apply sunscreen; not just during the summer season but all year long.
8. Try a Little Fresh Papaya
If you apply some papaya on your skin, it'll love it! Thanks to the Vitamin A and papain enzyme that's this particular fruit, papaya is able to remove dead skin cells, revive tired skin and keep it hydrated, all at the same time. All you need to do is mash up one-half of a papaya and add three spoons of honey to it (honey is a deep cleanser and a humectant at the same time). After washing your face, apply the mask and let it sit on your face for 10 minutes. Then rinse, tone and moisturize. It will help to shrink your pores while giving you a natural glow at the same time.
9. Eat More Collagen
Something that happens to us as we age is our body produces less and less collagen. Collagen is a protein that produces structure to our bones, ligaments and yes, our skin. When collagen is lacking, it can cause our skin to sag, wrinkles to form and yep, you guessed it, pores to widen. There are collagen supplements that you can take to give your system an extra dose. Or, if you'd prefer, you can add more collagen to your diet via collagen-rich foods. Some that top the list include citrus fruits, berries, bone broth, leafy greens, cashews, chicken and seafood.
10. Keep Your Hands Off of Your Face
If there's any tip that has me out here preaching to the choir, it would be this one. If you're someone who constantly has your hands on your face to pick pimples, not only is that delaying the healing process but it could cause the bacteria that's in one pimple to literally spill over into some of your skin's other pores. In fact, having your hands all over your face, in general, can spread bacteria, fill up your pores and cause them to stretch out and become larger. So, unless you are washing and/or moisturizing your face, be intentional about leaving it totally alone. It's a surefire way to make your pores, not only appear smaller, but so much healthier too.
Do you have a beauty, wellness or self-care find that you've tried recently and want to share your experience? Join the xoTribe members community to connect with other beauty lovers and share your wins with the tribe.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
It (almost) never fails. Whenever I do an interview, someone will ask me: 1) is it hard to be a marriage life coach and not be married (chile, these clients are a part of the reason why I’m more cautious than ever about mate selection) and 2) am I lonely when it comes to being single? From the angle of loving Black men and understanding, daily, what a marital covenant can do for a person, I am totally open to jumping somebody’s broom one day. Lonely though? No. Not really. And a part of the reason is because I have such an awesome group of male friends.
No, I’m not one of those women who don’t see the value in female friends too. It’s just that one demographic “scratches one itch” while the other scratches another. And when it comes to men, specifically, there are certain things that they bring to my life that are simply incomparable.
That’s why, whenever single women will tell me that they are getting restless as they wait on their husband to make his presence known, I am quick to ask, “Girl, where are your male friends at?” Because while they can’t meet every need that a husband can (and should), believe me when I say that they do offer some bona fide benefits that will definitely make them a great alternative on a few different levels.
I’ve got a solid six for you today.
1. Men Are Not Women. Let’s Start There.Giphy
Listen, I’m sure that there is a lot of good stuff out in TikTok world; however, as a life coach myself, on the coaching front, truly sensible advice can really be like a needle in a haystack on that platform — especially when it comes to trustworthy (and sound) insight on men. So much stuff is rooted in bitterness, stereotypes, and gross generalizations (generalizations are typically rooted in bitterness, by the way) that there’s no way that it can be seen as being even close to being reliable.
And as much as some of y’all might not want to hear what I’m about to say, I think a part of the reason is because a lot of women don’t want to accept that men are just…different. Not in a “Yeah, I know. They should be more like us” kind of way. I mean, a “God made it that way by design, and science is there to back it up.”
For instance, some professionals believe that women having more blood flood to the brain is why they are more emotional in their communication style, while men are typically more direct (more on that in a bit). Other studies reveal that women are more comfortable with their emotions while men tend to be more centered (and sometimes quicker) at problem-solving. And while a woman’s right hemisphere of her brain is more developed to the point where she is more sensitive and empathetic, a man’s is more developed to where he is more “mathematic” (2+2=4, that’s it) and explorative.
This kind of stuff always fascinates me, so while I could go on and on, the bottom line here is men's and women’s wiring are not identical.
And while society keeps trying to make them be the same via all of these damn gender wars, the beauty in the differences is men and women can actually provide each other with balance. Because, after all, as a man by the name of Larry Dixon once said, “If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.” And both men and women are…necessary.
2. Guys Tend to Have a “Straight No Chaser” ApproachGiphy
Whenever I read an article about how social media is creating more narcissists than ever, I can’t help but nod my head up and down in total agreement. I don’t even hesitate because one example of this that I see on a regular basis is how people are becoming more and more wired for praise, and yet they can’t handle any kind of criticism or call out to hold themselves accountable to save their lives.
You know who will bring you back down to earth, though? A good friend. And guy friends? I guess due to some of the science that I just mentioned, I don’t have one in my life who pulls any punches. Although some are more, let’s go with tactful in their approach (LOL), there’s not one who sugarcoats issues or tells me what I want to hear. And you know what? I need that. I don’t need flatterers (even the Bible frowns on that…did you know that? — Job 17:5); I need folks who will be as direct, candid, and “Well Shellie, you asked” as I tend to be with other people. It keeps me responsible. It grows me up. And it helps me to better discern when my ego is getting all up in the way.
Yeah, if you want to hear the REAL real, a guy will deliver it to you. Which brings me to the next way that they are a true “win.”
3. They’re Good At Catching Blind SpotsGiphy
Back when I was on my “Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour” (you can read more about it here), there was a guy from my past who I was talking heavy with for a few weeks. He’s always been fine. The sex was always incredible. And, back in the day, he was there for me during a time that was very dark in my life, which is why I will always hold a special affection for him. That’s why, I ain’t got no lies to tell y’all — after our first eight-hour-straight conversation, I was ready to get on a plane and (eh hem) relive some memories. So, what stopped me? One was a particular conviction that I have (perhaps we’ll discuss that at another time). Another was a conversation that I had with two of my male friends.
One asked me, “So, who contacted who?” Oh, the loaded question that will make you reflect on talking to these exes, chile. The other said, “He said he did what when he found out his ex cheated?” Listen, I don’t know who reads my content or not as far as people who know or who knew me, so I won’t get all into the details. I’ll just say that it wasn’t anything violent, but it was intense. And those two questions, put together, caused me to ponder some things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Because while my girlfriends thought that it was some rom-com come to life, my guy friends were like, “Uh-uh. Think it ALL the way through.” They simply had eyes where I didn’t because…they are guys who know guys. Simple as that.
4. They’re Like the Big Brothers (or More Big Brothers) You Never HadGiphy
I didn’t really notice how much I needed my blood brother until he moved to South Africa. Even though he’s younger than I, there’s a presence that he provided that made me feel protected; like if some ish really hit the fan, I had someone to call who could help me to feel safe. Thankfully, over the course of the first couple of years that he was gone, some “love brothers” came into the world. And when I tell you that they don’t play about me — I mean, at all.
A good example of this is when my house burned down back in December of 2021. Two immediately sent me a laptop (because for a writer, that’s like not having a car). One sent me the deposit for a new place to stay. Another came to check on me for a week straight. I can’t tell you how many mini-sermons I got on how to legally proceed with my landlords. Bottom line, they held me down and didn’t even give it a second thought. And although my girlfriends had my back as well, they were coming more from a nurturing stance, while my male friends were more protective.
Another example. Earlier this year, I had to drive to another state to sue the person I bought my car from (heads up: a meditator told me that Kentucky has some of the strictest as-is laws in the country). Long story short, the dealer assured me of a feature that wasn’t there. Anyway, I asked one of my male friends to drive me, and even though we took my car, he was like, “Let me drive” — and I had no problem with that. He does it for a living; we had to leave while it was still dark outside, and he knew that I was kind of tired. There was a natural “let me cover you” energy about him that we didn’t need to be dating for it to show up — he’s a good man who knows how to take care of ALL of the women in his life. I love that for me.
One more example. One time my car didn’t start, and I didn’t know what to do. I had to leave it in a random parking lot and, so I called a male friend for some advice. All he said was, “I got it. I’ll call you later.” By that evening, he drove it to me. He had a mechanic friend of his put a new alternator in, and he didn’t even charge me for it. He was like, “Girl, you need to get a man, but until you do, I got you.”
When all you have in your life are guys who you date, sometimes it’s hard to discern what their motives may be. Plus, if things don’t work out, you’re back to figuring everything out on your own. When you have male friends, though? There’s no slick ish. Plus, they’re not going anywhere. You’ve got brothers from another mother who acts just like that. And it’s awesome.
5. They Are Awesome Friend (or Stand-In) DatesGiphy
One of my male friends, folks have been thinking that we’re screwing on the low for years now. He’s a cutie. He can sing his butt off. I tell him often that if I could turn his speaking voice into a person, that part of him (and that part alone) would be my sneaky link, for sure (that voice!). Yet nah — nothing even remotely sexual/physical has happened to us beyond a hug “hello” and a hug “good-bye.” And while I wouldn’t say that we’re exactly “platonic” because he sometimes jokes that “Shellie, you are like a sister, but you still ain’t my sister” and that holds a bit of subtext (check out “Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'”), we’ve got almost two decades under our belts — at this point, ain’t nothin’ finna go down. It just doesn’t “click” that way. And we are both so good with that.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not each other’s kick-it buddies, though. Aside from the fact that we try to have a lunch or dinner date once a month, if there’s something we want to do or a place we want to go to, we don’t hesitate to take each other as an unofficial date. That’s because we know that it will make the event more fun and less stress-filled because there is no extra stress, pressure, or expectations. We also know how to dress up or down, be casual or corporate — y’all get it.
Yeah, if you’ve got something coming up, you don’t want to go alone, and the idea of a traditional date seems like it would be “too much,” a guy friend is the perfect solution. It has worked out for me (with the guy whom I’m referring to and others) for years now.
6. Platonic Love Is Really SpecialGiphy
Clearly, I believe that men and women can be “just friends” (check out “Unpopular Opinion: Men And Women CAN Really Be 'Just Friends'”). And although the genuine definition of platonic means that there is NO sexual interest on ANY level (which is why I think that word is used too loosely), those types of relationships can exist — and they are truly one of a kind.
Final example. I’ve got four male friends who I absolutely adore. We hang out. We can talk on the phone for hours. We send each other stupid clips throughout the day. And HELL NAW, we ain’t gonna date each other. Like…ever. We talk enough about relationships that we get how and why other people are attracted to us — and still, that doesn’t mean we want to fit into those categories. We like each other. We love each other. We trust and respect each other. We enjoy each other. As friends, and that’s all it’s ever gonna be.
However, because I am a woman and they are men, we bring something into each other’s worlds as far as opinions, perspectives, and insights that no one of the same sex can. As their friend (for instance), I tell them when a woman has some ulterior motives that they haven’t even thought about, and as men, they tell me when a guy is just wanting to hit, no matter how cryptic their approach may be.
OH, HOW I LOVE MY MALE FRIENDS. They make my world so much richer. Plus, they’re great reminders that you don’t have to be sexual with a man in order for you to be intimate with him. Men are far more layered than that (contrary to whatever you may hear in the media).
So, if you don’t have any strictly male friends, I’m hoping that this will encourage you to at least consider getting some (or hell, at least one). And if you do, do what I do and treat your male friends to a meal sometimes, just to say “thank you”. Men who’ve got your back, just because, without wanting you to get on your back? Sis, they deserve a seasonal meat-‘n-three or somethin’. Wouldn’t you say? I WOULD.
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