It's no secret that Alicia Keys exudes inner peace and bares the succulent skin of our youth that we're spending $$ in adulthood trying to re-capture. So when sis listed her commandments to balanced beauty and wellness in Elle, you better believe we took notes. Adding to her credibility as a skincare guru, the star launched a wellness brand—Keys Soulcare—in the midst of the pandemic that included a line of facial products.
Now, the 40-year-young mom of two is launching an equally soothing body care line we're deeming essential. The newbies to Keys Soulcare include a Renewing Hand and Body Wash, Rich Nourishing Body Cream, and Sacred Body Oil.
First Things First, Rituals and Affirmations Are a Must
According to Alicia, affirmations have the "ability to remind ourselves how incredible we are." She believes this so much so that each product under Keys Soulcare comes branded with an affirmation. The idea is that even taking just a moment for yourself by reciting one of these affirmations while using your fave product creates a ritual that brings you one step closer to inner peace.
One of her most popular face products was the Golden Cleanser, which she reformulated for use all over as the Renewing Body + Handwash. "The mantra of this product is, 'I love myself as I am.'" She also shared her thoughts on her personal fave, the Sacred Body Oil. "When you get out of the shower, put some drops on your damp skin and say the mantra is 'Everything I do is an act of creation,' which is powerful. Think of that as you're creating this moment for yourself and your day."
Be Kind to the Skin and Body You’re In—It’s the Only Set You Have
Alicia says she suffered from "skin issues for a long time" and classified herself as having been a thicker girl. "I had a lot of curves early," she explained while adding the added attention was an insecurity of hers in her younger years. But she says it's important to note that the body and skin are ever-evolving. As she got older she had a new set of insecurities to embrace.
"When I had kids, I felt like, 'Oh, my gosh, I'll never look the same ever again.' And that creates insecurity. It fluctuates and flows, but I feel like today, right now, I feel really good about my body. Every day, what your body does is a miracle. We're like the walking embodiments of miracles, and I like to remember that."
Her point? Beauty is not only skin-deep, and finding things that bring a healthy beauty perspective is important. She shared, "I feel really beautiful after a hard hike. My strength and ability is sexy and sensual. Or laying on a beach chair with some sun beating down on me. And I feel beautiful when I'm just with my family and my sweatpants on a couch, and we're all just cuddled up and hugging, watching a movie—that feeling of pure bliss and love."
Always Be Gracious and Always Celebrate
Don't forget to thank yourself for how far you've come, which is a practice that Alicia enforces with herself regularly. "I'd have never thought 20 years ago [when I released my first album] that I'd be here flourishing and more creative than ever and creating the best music of my life, making the best connections of my life. When I look back [at my 20-year-old self], I'm just profoundly appreciating her because she helped to create me now," says the singer.
She adds, "The advice I would give my 20-year-old self is, you already have it right. You don't have to change anything. You don't have to fix anything, you don't have to try to fit in anything or be whatever people want you to be. All you have to do is keep doing you."
Featured image by Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp
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Jazmine A. Ortiz is a creative born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn and currently living in Staten Island, NY. She started in the entertainment industry in 2012 and now works as a Lifestyle Editor where she explores everything from mental health to vegan foodie trends. For more on what she's doing in the digital space follow her on Instagram at @liddle_bitt.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you've ever considered role-playing in the bedroom but are trying to figure out how to bring it up to your partner, you're in the right place. It's an exciting way to ignite passion, deepen intimacy, and explore hidden desires. But for couples who are new to the kink, the thought of role-play might be intimidating.
Role-playing is an intimate, consensual activity where couples assume fictional personas in the bedroom. These characters can range from the playful and innocent to the bold and naughty. They engage in different scenarios and act out various fantasies, which are discussed beforehand.
"Role play encourages couples to discuss their desires, boundaries, and fantasies. It fosters open and honest communication about their sexual preferences, leading to a deeper understanding of each other's needs," MoAndra Johnson, MFT, said. "It keeps the spark alive in the relationship by introducing new and exciting elements to the intimate moments."
Johnson is a Sex and Relationship Therapist and founder of Sex On The Table (SOTT), LLC. She passionately advocates for healthy sexuality, positive relationships, and social justice. She spoke with xoNecole to explore the realm of role-playing: how to bring it up to your partner, misconceptions, and how to incorporate role-playing into your sex life successfully.
How to Bring Up the Idea of Role-Play
When introducing role-play in the bedroom to your partner, it's essential to set the stage for an open and honest conversation. Find a relaxed, private setting where you both feel comfortable and free from distractions. Feel free to share your interest in role-playing, highlighting the excitement and sense of adventure it can bring to your relationship. Encourage your partner to express their thoughts and feelings, assuring them that their desires and boundaries are equally important.
"Many couples worry that their partner might judge them for their fantasies or desires. A non-judgmental and open environment is crucial for role-play. Couples need to create a safe space to share their fantasies and understand that vulnerability is a part of healthy intimacy," Johnson explained.
"Role-playing can serve as a form of escapism from the stresses of daily life. It provides an opportunity to temporarily step away from real-world responsibilities and enjoy a playful, stress-free experience," she continued.
Johnson mentioned that this initial conversation is "a foundation for trust and understanding."
The Misconceptions of Role-Play
Misconceptions about bedroom role-play often revolve around the idea that it must be overly complicated or extravagant, like something from a Hollywood movie. People might think they need elaborate costumes, props, and intricate dialogue, which can feel intimidating.
In reality, role-play can be as simple or intricate as you and your partner want it to be. You can start with basic scenarios that require little to no preparation, such as a playful encounter with a sexy twist. It can be tailored to your preferences and comfort levels, making it an accessible and enjoyable tool for spicing up your intimate life.
"Couples often have common concerns and misconceptions about role-play when considering it part of their intimate lives. Addressing these concerns and misconceptions in therapy involves open and honest discussions, education about healthy role-play, and creating a safe and supportive space for couples to explore their desires and fantasies," said Johson. "It's important to emphasize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the most crucial element is mutual consent, comfort, and enjoyment."
Johnson shared that some of the more common misconceptions she addresses with couples are performance pressure, negative impact on the relationship, and fear of crossing boundaries.
"For instance, couples may worry about performing well in their roles. I remind them that there is no need for perfection in role-play. It's about creating an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, not putting on a flawless performance," Johnson explained.
How to Successfully Pull Off Role-Playing in the Bedroom
The fun begins once both parties mutually agree on trying the act of role-play and boundaries are set.
"I strongly recommend setting specific boundaries and guidelines before engaging in role-play to ensure a positive and enjoyable experience for both partners. Open and honest communication is essential; candidly discuss your comfort levels, desires, and limits. Establishing safe words that can immediately halt the role-play if anyone feels uncomfortable is crucial. Consent should be enthusiastic and can be withdrawn at any point without judgment," Johnson stated.
Furthermore, maintaining emotional safety is paramount in any intimate exploration. Role-play often involves vulnerability, and you should both feel secure in expressing your desires and boundaries without judgment. It fosters trust and strengthens the bond between you and your partner.
"Emotional boundaries should be respected, especially if the role-play scenario involves sensitive topics. Be clear about the limits of the role-play, including what actions or behaviors are acceptable and what is off-limits." Johnson added.
Next, choose scenarios that excite both of you and align with your preferences and fantasies. The selection of costumes and props enhances the overall experience by adding an extra layer of excitement and authenticity to your role-play scenarios.
Johnson mentioned that if physical restraints or props are involved, prioritize physical safety to prevent accidents.
As you engage in role-play, fully immerse yourselves in the chosen roles. Let go of inhibitions and self-consciousness, allowing the experience to be playful and enjoyable. Once again, the goal is not to perform flawlessly but to create a shared adventure that brings you closer.
When the moment is over, remember to practice aftercare.
"After the role-play, debrief and discuss the experience to strengthen your connection and understanding. Regular check-ins during the role-play can confirm ongoing consent and comfort. Keep the contents of your role-play private and emphasize trust and support. Most importantly, practice aftercare to provide emotional support, reaffirm affection, and address emotional needs," said Johnson.
She revealed that aftercare includes cuddling, holding, pillow talk, sensual talk, and more.
"Overall, it just means you aren't taking each other for granted. You're showing your partner you care and are now at least slightly more deeply connected with them than before you had sex," Johnson added.
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