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.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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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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Nelly And Ashanti Are Giving It Another Shot? Here's What You Should Know About 'Ex Reconciliation'
Okay, so if you’ve read any of my pop culture think pieces on this platform before (like here or here), you already know that I don’t tend to spend a lot of time talking like I know people who I actually…don’t. As someone who grew up in an entertainment industry home and then got my (official) start in journalism in the entertainment realm as well — let me just tell you from very up close and personal experience that nothing is a smoke-and-mirrors game quite like the celebrity world. That’s why it’s wise to not invest too deeply into it/them.
At the same time, since, for better or for worse, we do live in a culture that seems to be constantly consumed with what famous folks are doing. What I prefer to do is use certain news stories (even if they are basically nothing more than tabloid gossip, depending on the day) as personal teachable moments — and since the word on the street is saying that Nelly and Ashanti are giving it another go, I thought that topic would be a great one to tackle.
My personal recollection of them being together consists of my finding Ashanti’s visual for her single “Good Good” (damn, was that 2008?!) to be cute enough. Plus, I liked how they mostly kept everything off the grid — unlike the other relatively reunited (and does it feel so good? I can’t tell because Ben always looks so irritated) couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, chile). Anyway, beyond that, and then reading some timeline pieces on Nelly and Ashanti (a recent one is located here), there’s not much more that I can say as far as their coupledom goes.
Ashanti and Nelly during Sean Diddy Combs First Fragrance Launch for Unforgivable - After PartyJohnny Nunez/WireImage
However, when I did happen to catch a roughly hour-long Instagram post (here) on Ashanti’s page a few months ago talking about how (among other things) she used to want six kids, and now she’ll “settle for” two or three, I took that to be a subtext that she’s ready to get into something serious/substantial — and sometimes that can mean reconciling with someone from your past.
It’s kind of like a point that was made by Alec Baldwin’s character in the movieIt’s Complicated (paraphrased): “Some people should get back together 10 years after a divorce because the time apart can help each person to grow. And since you already know your ex so well, reuniting later could be the best decision ever.”
Nelly and Ashanti reportedly broke up ten years ago, so maybe they are life-imitating art. Either way, before you use them as inspiration (or ammo — LOL) to get back with someone from your own past, please ask yourself the following questions. Then be serious about the answers. Then run them by a trusted friend (or your therapist). And then, if it all checks out, proceed with extreme wisdom and logic. Because getting back with an ex is a bit like a crap shoot — it can be a real blessing or a HUGE mistake. That’s why factoring as much as possible beforehand is such a wise thing to do.
Why Did the Two of You Break-Up?Giphy
I recently got certified (and soon to be credentialed) to be a professional certified coach (a holistic one). It’s interesting because, when you’re actually learning from an ICF-accredited school, a question that actually isn’t asked in life coaching is “Why?” Why is that? Because while therapy/counseling tends to focus on the past quite a bit, life coaching specializes in asking questions that will empower you to decide what is best for your future.
In this case, though, you definitely need to take your past into account because if you don’t factor in why you broke up with your ex in the first place, it could result in you just repeating the same ish that you did before — and if that ish is centered around things like abuse (neglect is abuse, by the way), constant lying or being taken for granted, you really need to do some serious vetting to see if those things are still a present-day issue.
And yes, this is a critical point to consider because, while some people live by the motto “forward ever, backward never” or my personal favorite, “getting back with an ex is like getting out of the shower and putting the same underwear on,” not every break-up is horrific or even devastating. Sometimes it really is a matter of meeting the right person at the wrong time or the two of you really liking each other, but something just doesn’t quite “click.”
You know, it is Benjamin Franklin who once said, “All highly competent people continually search for ways to keep learning, growing, and improving. They do that by asking WHY.” And since, hopefully, you’ve been learning, growing, and improving as an individual, ever since you ended things with your ex, asking yourself why you broke up and being really honest about the answer, that can help you to see WHY you should consider trying again or WHY the past should totally be left there.
What Lessons Did You Learn? During and Since Ending the Relationship?Giphy
Everyone is a lesson. That is, if you’re humble enough to know how to be taught anything (some of y’all will catch that later). And just so we’re all on the same page when it comes to this particular point, a lesson is a practical piece of wisdom, and wisdom is something that offers insight and heightens your sense of discernment. In other words, if it’s truly a lesson — and you apply it — there will be no reason to repeat it; your insight and discernment won’t let you.
So, when it comes to your ex, what lessons did they teach you? One of mine taught me to not convince myself to be with someone just because they are a good person. Another taught me to not "be a wife" to someone who is not my literal husband (check out "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife"). Still, another taught me to stop mistaking nostalgia for actual love (more on that in just a bit). The first and second lessons I learned during the relationship. The last I learned after. And because the lessons were so profound, they totally altered my way of thinking — which makes getting back together with any of those guys basically an impossibility. Wisdom won't let me.
On the other hand, I have a friend who is kinda-sorta back with one of her exes because the lesson that she learned during the relationship was because she had never been in love before, she kept playing the exhausting game of come-close-go-away. Now that she's had some therapy (and matured a bit), she and her ex are in a far better place which makes it easier to interact with one another on another level. Is it just like it was before? No. In many ways, it's better because, since my friend has less anxiety, there is less stress on the relational dynamic, which makes them able to see where things could go a lot easier for both of them.
I am a firm believer that life is one big school. Thing is, when it comes to the lessons that you need to learn, you can stay in the same class for 20 years, if need be. So yeah, when it comes to pondering about getting back with your ex, did the lessons that you already learn reveal to you that it would be a smart move or a really dumb decision?
Who Reached Back Out First? (Yes, It Is Valid)Giphy
Typically, the "Who did it first?" question leans on the side of silly and/or petty and/or entitled to me. Oh, but not in this case. And although words cannot express how disgusted I am with how Brian McKnight is displaying extremely poor (fellow) Gemini energy, he is a great songwriter, and his song with the hook, "Do I ever cross your mind? Anytime?" — let me just say that an ex who says they never think about their exes from time to time they are a bold-faced liar.
HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that they care enough to reach out or that it's a good idea, even if they're tempted to do so. So, when someone actually does step out and send an email, get in the DMs, or leave a voicemail (your ex still has your phone number? Interesting), that's quite telling — although you do need to take into serious account what it all actually means.
For instance, back when my first book came out, a few of the characters (pun intended and not intended) hit me up. One was my first love. All he really did was send me an email to tell me that he read the book and that he was sorry for the role that he played in the pain of the relationship. And that he would always love me.
Now guess what part I focused on? You can check out "Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour" to get the gist of that. As a result, for several more years, off and on, that continued to be all that my heart (the Bible says the heart is deceitful; always remember that — Jeremiah 17:9-10) honed in on. That man didn't say that he wanted to rekindle anything. He said that he wanted to apologize. Lawd, how much we can spare ourselves if we'd just learn to listen to what is being said instead of editing conversations into what we want to hear.
So, did he reach out first? Yep. Did he want anything? Not really. And from personal experience, that’s why “who reached out first and why” is something else that needs to be given some serious thought. After all, the two of you broke up for a reason…so, if they do reach back out, now more than ever, it’s important to take their words literally. If he only wants to see if you’re well, let him know that you are and leave it there. If he wants to apologize, accept this apology and tell him to take care. If he asks to see you — now that’s when trying to figure out if reconnecting, on any level, is actually a good idea.
Bottom line here don’t make something be what it’s not. Oh, and if you are the one who reaches out first…let me just say that I know a woman who got ghosted by an ex back in college, she decided to reach back out to him some 20 years later, and all they’ve been doing is dating for over ten years now (even though she wants to be married). I mean…he didn’t come looking for her; she went out looking for him — which kind of translates to me that he was fine whether they spoke again or not.
See what I mean? *Elmo shrug*
Is It Love? Or Nostalgia?Giphy
Please, please, PLEASE — if you don't get anything else from this article, get this: just like fleeting passion can be mistaken for lasting love, so can nostalgia; the definition of the word explains a lot of the reason why, too: "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations."
You know, the mind is a funny thing. "Funny" in the sense that, if you lean into nostalgia, it typically will edit out all of the crappy stuff while encouraging you to focus solely on the good times. For instance, I know a woman right now who got back into something with an ex who was sending her all kinds of expensive shoes and random flowers for the first few months…just like before. Now? Now he's calling her when he's tipsy to vent about his ex-wife.
How did she get caught up in this pattern? Good ole' nostalgia, chile. Initially, reconnecting included discussing fun dates and good sex. Yet, nostalgia is kind of like a drug — it gets you really high, yet sooner or later, you're gonna crash…and that can have you feeling super low.
You know, there's not one ex who I don't have a myriad of good memories of. Yet when I bring logic, common sense, and facts into the dynamic, they all needed to be exes — and honestly should stay just that way. Just because I "love" certain things about them, that doesn't mean that I'm actually still in love with them…and why let the former cause me to overlook the latter?
Pleasant thoughts are fine. They aren't enough to go off of to rekindle a relationship, though. You are far too precious. So is your time. This brings me to the next point.
Time Is Precious: How Would Reconciling Make the Most of Yours?Giphy
It actually wasn't too long ago that I penned the piece, "Let's Finally 'Spring Clean' ALL Of Our Exes Out Of Our Lives, Shall We?" for the site. One of the things that I mentioned in it is there is something known as recycling (making something new without changing its original form), and then there's something known as upcycling (taking an original thing and changing it into something totally different; typically something better). That said, if you are thinking about getting back with an ex, I recommend that you determine if it's going to be an UPCYCLE for you. Otherwise, really…why do it?
Something that I oftentimes tell people in their 20s is it really is time out for acting like that decade is nothing more than being in the 2.0 version of your teens. In other words, if you don't make wise decisions, then, you can end up wasting a lot of time. And then you'll need even more time trying to heal and recover from it all.
Personally, that's one of the things that I mourn about a lot of the moves that I made back then; I had to spend a significant amount of my 30s healing so that, should I ever decide to marry a man, I will be the helpmate that he truly deserves. And that's another reason why I'm good on my exes — I don't have another decade to throw away.
And for those of you who may struggle with taking personal accountability and so you like to romanticize your poor choices by saying things like, "Nothing is a waste of time," — no offense, but that is a damn lie. Waste literally means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander," and yes — it is quite possible (and easier than most people think) to involve yourself in something (or with someone) without getting an adequate return…in return.
When one of my surrogate mothers passed away of cancer in her late 50s several years ago, one of the last things that she said to me on her hospice bed was, "It goes by sooner than you think," and I have always kept that in the forefront of my mind. As I get older, I find myself saying, "Where does the time go?" more and more.
An ex coming back into your life could potentially be an awesome thing. "Awesome" if the two of you aren't going to be a waste of each other's time. Again, use the definition of the word as a barometer. Be honest with yourself as you do.
This Time, Be Friends First (or Again)Giphy
I've been in the couples counseling game for a long time now. And if there's one thing that a lot of married and divorced people have told me, it's that they wish they had spent more time trying to cultivate a friendship with their spouse than a relationship — because when the foundation of something is unstable, the house will eventually crumble on some level.
And this brings us back to Nelly and Ashanti — they seemed to last for a good amount of time by keeping things private the first go around, so if they are indeed reconciling, I'm not sure why they would switch up the formula now. Either way, I hope that they and you will make friendship the top priority. Why? Because the best things come out of friendships. The healthiest relationships are included.
When it comes to you and your journey, please check out articles I've penned, like "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships," "7 Signs Your Friendship...Actually Isn't One," "10 Signs You've Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend," "Ever Wonder If A Friend Is Just...Not That Into You?" and definitely "Self BFF: 7 Signs You're Your Own Best Friend." Because if you are thinking about getting back with an ex, the least that the two of you need to be towards each other is hella loyal, honest with each other, and respectful of each other's feelings, needs, and even a few wants. No relationship can thrive without those things intact and every healthy friendship consists of those "ingredients."
And you won't (fully) know if any of this is the case if you're quick to jump into bed or rush into a relationship without seeing how you are as friends…first.
You know, reconcile is a really interesting word. On the one hand, it can mean "to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired." On the other hand, it can mean things like "to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable" and "to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent." And with those definitions in mind, that's what you should focus on most of all.
- Is your ex willing to "win you over" by how they (now) treat you? Are you willing to do the same?
- Would being with them bring more or less harmony into your life?
- How compatible were you before, and how compatible do you seem to be now (sans the nostalgia)?
I will never say that getting back with an ex is a good or bad idea, full stop. I'll just say that if you're going back to your past, make sure it benefits your future. Otherwise, leave it right where it's at: nothing that your present needs beyond a scroll and a click…if that much, sis.
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Featured image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images