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.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Keke Palmer Opens Up About Her Sexuality & Never Feeling "Straight Enough" Or "Gay Enough"
Over the years, Keke Palmer has solidified herself as a prominent voice of her generation who doesn’t shy away from speaking her truth. Now, the 29-year-old actress is peeling back the layers and opening up about her sexuality and gender identity.
According to Variety, the Nopestar was presented the Vanguard Award at the LGBT Center’s The Gala in Los Angeles, where she took time to reflect on her own identity journey.
“Sexuality and identity for me has always been confusing,” Keke shared during her acceptance speech. “I never felt straight enough. I never felt gay enough. And I never felt woman enough. I never felt man enough. You know, I always felt like I was a little bit of everything.”
KeKe recalls that she’d often “lead with masculinity” and how that complicated her perspective on the power within herself. “And as a woman, I’ve always been met with so much disdain, you know what I mean? I think so much of that came from who I thought I had to be to get respect, admiration, and love,” she says. “And I’ve always really wanted to be like my father…to want to be taken seriously and not diminish because I was a woman. You know, that’s always been a source of — I guess you would say — pain and resentment.”
Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center
The moment of reflection brought on an emotional response from the Nickelodeon alum. “Why did my gender have to define the power I have in the world? And why does my gender get to decide my sexuality?” she asked.
“You know, since I was younger, I always questioned the boxes I was forced to be in and it starts with who you’re supposed to be as a child. You’re supposed to be as a Black person or whatever the background you are from… Then those walls just try to cave you in from every damn angle, who you are as a creative, who you are as a friend.”
She concluded the thoughtful speech by noting her gratitude for being accepted by the LGBTQ+ community as an ally for which she was honored for. “I’m truly so grateful to be seen in this room because I know I’m surrounded by people who know without a doubt what it’s like to decide to be who you are in a world that tells you to be everything but yourself.”
Keke’s Vanguard Award is the perfect illustration of why allyship and activism go hand-in-hand. With voices like Keke’s sharing her truth about self-discovery in sexuality and gender identity, it, in turn, inspires others to do the same.
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Featured image by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center