I'll tell you what, if there was such a thing has high porosity skin (you know, like high porosity hair), I would have it. Whenever this time of year rolls around, it seems that, no matter what I do, my skin can't seem to get enough moisture. I can literally get out of the shower, put on some coconut oil or (my personal favorite) sweet almond oil and, two hours later, I can basically write "dry" on my arm. I did a little research into why cold weather seems to create so much dry skin drama. Apparently, it's due to a combination of humidity levels dropping outside (which causes a lack of moisture in the air) and us turning up our central air indoors (which zaps water from the environment).
Now that I know what some of the main culprits are, I decided that this is gonna be the last year that my skin has me out here lookin' like I don't know what lotion—or my preferred alternative—is. If you can relate and you too want to get your skin feeling super soft right on through Valentine's Day and beyond, here are some all-natural ways to make your skin feel like holiday season velvet (relatively speaking).
1. Get Some Omega-3 into Your System
As women, something that all of us need in our system, on a regular basis, is omega-3 fatty acids. It helps to relieve anxiety; improves eye health; reduces the risk of heart disease; fights inflammation and the risk autoimmune diseases; improves bone and joint health; soothes menstrual pain and yes, it definitely does wonders for our skin. A part of the reason why is because omega-3 fatty acids contain two different acids— docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA is what keeps our brains working well while EPA provides our skin with the nutrients that it needs in order to regulate oil production while slowing down the aging process.
In order to get omega-3 into your system, you can take a daily supplement. Or, you can eat some salmon, chia seeds, spinach, anchovies or walnuts to get some of it into your body too.
2. Drink Lots of Herbal Tea
Aight. I'm gonna assume that you already know that herbal teas are good for you. Not only do they keep you hydrated but, based on the kind of herbal tea that you consume, it can do wonders for your health as well.
Since we're exploring how to keep your skin super soft this season (and the next), there are some specific teas that you should get. Rooibos tea contains antioxidants, zinc and alpha-hydroxy acids that not only keep your skin looking young, they also trigger collagen production; that can help your skin to appear soft and supple. White tea contains rejuvenating properties to slow down the breakdown of collagen and elastin. Spearmint tea has an anti-androgenic effect that reduces the production of sebum in your system so that your skin is soft without being oily or greasy. If the "softness" that you're looking for is to have an even skin texture due to less pimples or acne scars, chamomile tea has flavonoids and coumarin to reduce flare-ups and lesions. Finally, a multivitamin kind of tea is hibiscus; it's got vitamins A, B1, B2, C, zinc, natural alpha hydroxy acids, omega-3 fatty acids and iron—all of which your skin needs to look and feel its best.
3. Bathe in Warm Water (with Colloidal Oatmeal)
One skin mistake that a lot of us make during the fall and winter seasons is spending way too much time in the shower. Adding to that, we tend to opt for water temperatures that are way too hot. As far as the time limit goes, anything over a 10-15 minute shower (or bath) can start to strip the natural oils out of your skin. On the temperature tip, no matter how good "the hotter the better" may feel, lukewarm is best.
Oh, and if you're going to take a bath, make a point to put some fresh colloidal oatmeal in the water every once in a while. Oatmeal has the ability to seal in moisture while protecting your skin in the process. The properties in this type of oatmeal is also great for relieving itchiness that may stem from dry skin, eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. You can get some colloidal oatmeal here.
4. DIY an Exfoliant Scrub
OK, so let it sink in for just a moment that every 60 seconds, your body sheds somewhere between 30,000-40,000 skin cells. Y'all, if that ain't enough of a reason to change your bedding at least once a week, what is? This also should inspire you to want to exfoliate your skin on a regular basis too.
Not only does exfoliating help to keep dead skin cells from clogging up your pores, it softens your skin, evens your skin tone, reduces pimples and acne-related scarring, brings upon the appearance of new skin cells and makes it easier for your make-up to be applied.
One way to exfoliate is to dry brush. Another way is to make your own exfoliant scrub. One of my favorite uses brown sugar as its main ingredient. You can learn how to make it by going here.
5. Create a Homemade Hyaluronic Acid Skin Serum
I'm pretty sure you've seen skincare commercials that try and get you to buy a product that contains hyaluronic acid. There is some merit to that because not only is it a type of acid that our bodies naturally produce, it also contains properties that support collagen and elastic production while also leaving your skin feeling really moisturized.
You don't have to run to any store to cop a cream, though. You can actually buy hyaluronic acid on sites like Amazon and then make your own serum at home. You can get some of the acid in powder form here. And, as far as a DIY serum goes, a really easy recipe is located right here.
6. DIY a “Lip Blend”
I don't care how much your skin glows, if your lips are all chapped, it's gonna totally kill your vibe. Since the skin that is on your lips is way more fragile, take the pampering up a notch this time of year. If chapping or feathering is what you're trying to avoid, a little honey mixed with a dab or brown sugar and olive oil will get rid of both. For extra stubborn spots, massage the solution with a damp toothbrush. Something that naturally softens lips is shea butter. You can put some shea butter on before turning in at night or use it as a base underneath your lipstick. If you want to even out the color of your lips, do this. Put two teaspoons of organic coconut oil and four fresh raspberries into a pot on low heat. Mash the berries as the oil liquefies. Take it off of the burner, let the solution cool a bit and then apply it to your lips. After about a week of doing this daily, you should see a more even and brighter-looking lips.
7. Use More Essential Oils than Perfumes
Personally, I can't tell you the last time that I bought a bottle of perfume. For the past 6-7 years or so, I've totally been hooked on essential oils; not just due to their aromatherapy benefits but because their scents tend to last longer too.
Even if you are more of a perfume or cologne kind of gal, this is still the time of year when it's a good idea to add some essential oils to your arsenal. Because they don't have alcohol in them, you won't have to worry about them drying your skin out (like perfume and cologne can); especially if you mix them with a carrier oil like jojoba, grapeseed, sweet almond, avocado or rosehip oil.
8. Turn on a Humidifier
I live in two-level home. Anyone who does knows that can automatically become irritating, heat-wise, during colder months. Why? Because heat rises which means that while it's cooler downstairs, it can almost burn up upstairs, if you're not careful. Then, if you add to that the fact that dry heat is coming out of your vents, it could totally take the moisture out of your skin. One way to remedy that is to keep your thermostat between 68-72 degrees; it's good for your skin and your electricity bills. Another is to invest in a humidifier; that will help to keep moisture in the air as you sleep. If money is tight, you can also fill up a pot of water and place it in front of one of your vents in the bedroom. For the most part, that provides the same effect as a humidifier does.
9. Invest in Some Wool Socks and Cotton Gloves
If you want to keep your feet warm this fall and winter, cotton socks ain't gonna cut it. Go with wool instead; they have a better way of insulating your feet. Also, since our feet and hands (and elbows and knees) are the parts of our body that typically lose moisture the quickest, pamper your feet at night by applying a mixture of carrot seed oil (it's got moisturizing antioxidants) and jasmine oil (it has antibacterial and anti-viral properties) and then putting a pair of wool socks on. It will "trap in the oil" so that your feet will be baby soft by morning. If you want your hands to be silky smooth too, do the same for them while you're watching your favorite television show. You'll be thrilled by how deeply the oils penetrate after about an hour or so.
10. Apply Some Frankincense and Myrrh
I know, right? Could it be more fitting that another all-natural way to keep your skin feeling great is to pick up some frankincense and myrrh oil? Not only does this sweet 'n spicy combo relieve stress and anxiety, contain analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties to bring about pain relief, act as a respiratory aid and promote sound sleep—frankincense and myrrh is also really good to your skin too. It nourishes your skin, evens out your skin tone, and has even been known to heal eczema flare-ups. No wonder the three wise men brought it as a gift to Christ. And could there be a better endorsement for a product than that…weeks out from Christmas? Exactly.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Release Stress & Restore Harmony In Your Body With Shaking Meditation
When we reflect on our own path as women in light of the women who came before us, it’s easy to see that the loads we’ve carried haven’t always been the lightest. From everyday stresses to generational trauma with roots that are difficult to trace, one must ask where all that weight goes if we never release it.
The body holds the score for all the anxieties, worries, and unease that we’ve endured over time. Family and society often tell us to quiet our emotions, maintain a brave face, and keep our emotions bottled up within. But as we know, anything with too much pressure will eventually burst.
And while we are steadily discovering self-care methods like meditation to shed this emotional baggage, it may take a little more than sitting still in the quiet of our mind to let go of our deep-rooted tension. Fortunately, mindful movement could be an unexpected way for you to let go of worry and anxiety while building emotional resiliency, and such is the case with shaking meditation.
What Is Shaking Meditation?
Shaking meditation is a form of tension and trauma-releasing exercises or TRE that “assists the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension, and trauma.” This series of exercises of muscular shaking and vibrating activates a natural reflex mechanism that releases muscular tension, thus calming down the nervous system and encouraging your body to return back to a state of balance.
“Shaking meditation can be powerful because it moves your body — and in Eastern medicine, we say that moves your chi,” says Jenelle Kim, DACM, L.Ac, a ninth-generation doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine and author of Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Meditation.
According to Dr. Kim, understanding chi helps us understand our bodies and how we're feeling mentally, physically, and spiritually. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chi is known to represent your life force; it is the energy that flows through you and everything, and in many cultures, plays an essential role in our health.
“We have chi that moves in our blood and throughout our entire body; connecting our organ systems, muscles, and joints,” she tells xoNecole. “It allows everything to function and to be nourished. We know blood travels throughout our body through our circulatory system, but chi also travels through our body — much in the same way — through the meridian system. If you picture chi as vital energy, it moves the blood.”
It’s important for our body’s chi to stay in flow. When we go about our daily life with stress, trauma, or even mental injuries, our energy becomes stagnant. But various movement practices like Qigong or shaking meditation encourage your chi to circulate through your body which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which “is in charge of telling our brain and body to calm down, relax, ultimately, let go,” Dr. Kim says.
As Black women, there are times in life when it feels like we bear the weight of the world on our shoulders, with few spaces to go when we need to lighten the load. But as Dr. Kim explains, because women are “naturally yin beings,” we take on more because we can handle more. “According to the energies of nature that have been passed down for thousands of years, women are more complex. And what that almost always means is that we can think a lot more.” And while that speaks to the resiliency of our being, it can have a negative effect on our bodies when we store more than we release.
“If we don't have ways of releasing this, it will ultimately affect our lives physically, mentally, and spiritually. Then it passes on to our children, and that's where we get generational trauma,” she says.
Although shaking meditation may be a new and unfamiliar practice, it’s one that could prove to be beneficial to those who have experienced trauma on an individual and communal level. The movements are simple to follow and accessible, and in a matter of minutes, you’ll feel more calm and relaxed, while relieving any anxiety, frustration, and tension inside of you.
So if you’re ready to restore harmony within your body, here are the steps to perform shaking meditation on your own.
How To Incorporate Shaking Meditation Into Your Daily Routine:
Step 1: “Stand with your feet hip-width apart. You can do this while sitting or standing — depending on your comfort level. Make sure all of your joints are soft, so nothing's locked.
Step 2: “Begin raising onto your tiptoes and falling back onto your heels. Not so hard to where you're shocking your spine, but enough to just kind of wake up your body. Repeat three to five times, dropping down onto your heels.”
Step 3: “Next, start with your hands first and shake them. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Shake them and go up to your arms, to your elbows, and then up to your shoulders. Now your whole arms should be moving.”
Step 4: “Then you can start your legs, repeating the same shaking movement. You then move your feet moving, go up through your core, and then shake everything out through your head.”
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