While I personally can't think of one thing that I don't like about the season that is right upon us, I must admit that a mistake I used to make, beauty-wise, was not properly caring for my skin (and hair) as the temperatures began to shift. Especially when it came to feeling extra dry, I could certainly tell that I wasn't handling my business.
Something tells me that I'm not the only one who's been guilty of this lil' faux pas, so as we're just days away from what I think is the absolute best season of the year, here are 12 beauty hacks that are affordable, all-natural and a truly wonderful way to welcome autumn in.
1. Exfoliate from Head to Toe
While I'm pretty sure you know what the general concept of exfoliating is all about, if you needed a basic definition, it's removing dead skin cells from the surface layer of your skin. And since we all shed somewhere around 30-40,000 of them every minute, I'm sure you get why that's such a good idea to do. Exfoliating not only gets rid of dead skin cells, it unclogs your pores, helps to prevent ingrown hairs, reduces breakouts, evens skin tone and even makes it easier for your skin to absorb your favorite moisturizer. So, I'm pretty sure you can see why exfoliating, not just your face and neck but your entire body, is a great "fall prep" practice. Since the cold weather can do rough on your skin, exfoliating can help it to absorb whatever you plan on putting on it to keep it soft, supple and smooth. That's why it's a good idea to do it around twice a month.
By the way, coffee scrubs help to reduce inflammation (a recipe is here), brown sugar scrubs are a humectant that can draw moisture in from the air (a recipe for that is here) and charcoal scrubs are great at detoxifying your skin (a recipe for that is right here). So, if you want to customize your body exfoliation process, there's a good starting point to go with.
2. Bathe in Rosewater and Lavender Oil
If you like nothing more than coming in from the chilly air and soaking in a hot bath, two things. First, it's best if you wait for your skin to get down to your normal body temperature (going from one extreme to another can put your body into shock or even cause a heart attack; wow, right?) and secondly, try and avoid the "hot as possible" approach. One thing that you want to make sure that you do is not zap your skin of the natural moisture that it already has; hot water will do that which is why warm water is best.
Speaking of caring for your skin, treat it by pouring some rosewater and a few drops of lavender essential oil into your bathwater. Rosewater contains anti-inflammatory properties that will help to reduce redness. It also contains antiseptic properties that can help to soothe any skin infections or surface wounds that you may have. Rosewater is full of antioxidants that can repair any cell damage that you may have experienced. Plus, it's known to improve moods and even bring relief to headaches. Lavender oil is great for your skin because it also contains anti-inflammatory properties that can speed up the healing of breakouts, soothe skin conditions that cold weather may irritate such as eczema, help to remove toxins from your skin and, thanks to its scent, it's really effective when it comes to helping you to relax before bedtime.
3. “Seal” Your Skin
Something that I definitely make sure that I do when I get out of the shower is "seal my skin". Basically, that consists of not immediately drying off, putting some homemade whipped shea butter or sweet almond oil on my skin, letting it sit for a few minutes and then blot-drying my skin. All of this helps to "lock" the moisture in to where I don't need to apply any lotion or anything else once I'm done. Plus, my skin feels silky smooth, pretty much until the next time I take a bath.
4. Steam Your Hair
If it seems kinda weird that cold wet weather could actually cause your hair to dry out, here's why it's so problematic. When temps are cold and/or the air is dry, that can result in the cuticles of your hair lifting which can keep moisture from staying in your hair. And when there's no moisture, the dryness can ultimately lead to breakage. A remedy? Well, aside from deep conditioning your locks, it can never hurt to steam your tresses too.
Steam adds moisture. Steam makes it easier for the products that you put into your hair to be absorbed into it. Steam encourages elasticity so that your hair doesn't break as easily when it's being styled. Steam also helps to keep the pores of your scalp unclogged so that your hair follicles can grow freely.
As far as how often you should steam your hair, some folks do it as much as a couple of times a week while others reserve the practice for wash day. Either way, if this is something you'd like to try, Natural Hair Products has a list of some of the best steamers for natural hair here. Also, Melissa Denise is a YouTuber who has some tips on how to steam your hair without a steamer that you can check out here.
5. Line Your Hats
At this point, I can't even tell you how many hats I have. Back when I was wearing really short hair, this particular tip didn't matter all that much to me; however, now that I have some length, I am intentional about lining my hats with satin. Since my golf caps and brims are mostly made of wool, between the way that fabric has a tendency to dry my hair, cause friction and even has the potential for snagging on my ends, making sure my hats are lined is how I keep my hair protected while I'm out here looking fly. If you want to learn how to line your own hats, check out this video and this video.
6. Make a Castor/Argan/Vitamin E Oil Solution for Your Eyelashes
If you want to have longer and thicker eyelashes without having to buy any (so that you can have a few extra coins saved up for the holiday season), make your own serum that consists of Jamaican black castor oil, coconut oil and vitamin E oil. The Jamaican black castor oil contains properties that will help to thicken your lashes and make them appear fuller. Argan oil is packed with fatty acids and antioxidants that will help your lashes to grow longer. Vitamin E is awesome because it stimulates hair growth. If you apply this combo with a mascara wand every night before turning in, you should see some progress with your lashes within 3-4 weeks.
7. Apply Some Shea Butter and Cinnamon to Your Lips
I can't tell you the last time I went to bed without putting some raw shea butter on my lips. Since it's an emollient (which means it creates a barrier between your lips and the atmosphere around you), it's an excellent "base" for lip gloss or lipstick before heading out into the chilly air. Since shea butter is also loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A and E, it can help to soothe and heal your lips if they experience any chapping during the fall and winter seasons. As far as cinnamon goes, if you apply cinnamon oil, it's a natural lip plumper. On the other hand, if you go with its powder (or ground cinnamon) form, it can gently exfoliate while also providing a soft natural sun-kissed glow. Yep, even in the fall. Just add a sprinkle or two of it to a lip container of shea butter and you're all set.
8. DIY a Hand and Foot Cream
I'm thinking it's a given that you should amp up how much you moisturize your hands and feet as you head into the cooler seasons of the year. All I want to say here is try and avoid commercial brands that are heavy on the perfumes and ingredients you can't pronounce. One, because our skin definitely absorbs some of what we put onto it and two, some of those harsh items can strip our skin of the moisture that it so desperately needs; especially when it's cold.
That's why I'm all about you making your own hand and foot cream. That way, you know exactly what goes into it. The YouTube channel Yaya DIY Creations has a hand cream recipe worth checking out here. paskiiLuv has an easy-to-make foot cream recipe here.
9. Cop Some Bamboo Socks
Speaking of feet, just because you're about to swap out sandals for boots, please don't use that as an excuse to slack off when it comes to getting pedicures. That said, since we're all going to be wearing socks a lot more often, did you know that cotton ones can sometimes cause blisters? The "science" behind it is, since cotton is a fabric that absorbs moisture, the longer your feet are damp, the easier it is for a blister to form. That's why wool, synthetic or even bamboo socks are a better route when you're planning to spend a lot of time in inclement weather.
Bamboo socks are cool because they contain antibacterial properties, they're pretty soft, they hold less odor, they are thermo-regulating (which means they help to keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter) and they're sustainable.
Bamboo Comfort is a website that features some of the best bamboo sock brands this year. You can see the list here.
10. Take a Fish Oil Supplement
If it seems like you can't stop scratching words with your nails onto your skin (due to how dry it is) no matter how hard you try, you might want to take a fish oil supplement. Fish oil contains anti-inflammatory and healing properties that help to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. Some other benefits include the fact that it's able to help to heal symptoms associated with psoriasis, decrease the appearance of pimples and also protect your skin from sun damage (and yes, you can experience sun damage any time of the year because, well, the sun is out all 12 months).
11. Invest in Some Local Honey
First up, if your allergies are known to kick up during the fall, local honey is what you should look into because it contains similar allergens to what are in the air around you. Taking a teaspoon or so a day can serve as a natural antibiotic, so that your system can develop a resistance to allergens and allergy-related symptoms. Not only that but honey is a powerful humectant as well. This means that if you put a couple of teaspoons into your hair conditioner, it can help to moisturize your hair or if you make a face mask out of it, it can deeply condition your skin. Honey is bomb on a ton of levels. In fact, when it comes to honey in general, check out "Manuka Honey Is The Ultimate Beauty Find".
12. Get Yourself a Pumpkin (or Two)
The signature fruit for fall is undoubtedly the pumpkin.
As far as all-natural beauty benefits go, it's great for you because pumpkins are high in vitamins A and C, zinc, antioxidants, fruit enzymes and even alpha hydroxy acids. All of this works together to trigger collagen production in your body, brighten your skin tone, improve your skin's texture, help to reverse UV damage and hinder free radicals from damaging and aging your skin.
So, the next time you're at your local grocery store, pick up a pumpkin or two. Then, when you get home, treat yourself to a pumpkin face mask (recipe is here); a body scrub (recipe is here); a foot scrub (recipe is here); a body butter (which is made with pumpkin spice and recipe is here), or a lip exfoliant (which is also made with pumpkin spice and the recipe is here). You'll feel good. It smells great. And it's one of the best all-natural beauty treatments to officially welcome your skin into this, what I'm sure will be, beautiful upcoming fall season.
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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.
Three Influencers Show Off Their 2022 Holiday Hair Looks Using Their SheaMoisture Faves
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
For Black women, there’s one compliment that will boost our confidence like none other: “Come through hair!” You know the vibe! Walking into a room with folks acknowledging that your hair is laid for the gawds, and the effort that it took to get it there, is a top five feeling. And with the holiday season just weeks away, you’ll be hearing that quite often. Between Thanksgiving gatherings with the family, Friendsgiving, company parties, and Christmas get-togethers, the opportunities to let your hair show up and show out aren’t too far away.
Apart from the holiday stuntin’, the end-of-year slow down is also the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the year your hair has had. Whether you kept it cute with protective braids, went big with blowouts, or let loose with textured twist-outs, this is the perfect time to give your hair the gift of TLC - tender lovin’ curls. Like the weather, our hair goes through seasons and has different needs depending on what we’ve put it through. Perhaps the transition into fall/winter has left your curls a bit parched and in need of some serious hydration. Or maybe your strands could use some restorative conditioning after taking it down from a convenient protective style. No matter what category you fall into, SheaMoisture has hundreds of ways that you can clean, treat and refresh your hair for a healthy shine that will bring you into the new year right. Bring your curls back to life with the nourishing and fragrant Coconut & Hibiscus line. Boosted with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, neem oil, carrot oil, and shea butter, this line is the antidote to reviving thirsty, dehydrated hair. Even better - with SheaMoisture’s custom quiz, you can get a hair analysis that will lead you to the right products for your hair needs. Say hello to sleek edges, and moisturized, stronger strands.
In need of a little hair-spiration? We got you covered! xoNecole and SheaMoisture have teamed up with three natural hair influencers to debut their holiday hair looks. Meet Ambrosia Malbrough, Jasmin Moses, and Daye Covington - beauty bawses who’ve created some incredible holiday looks that are stylish and easy to achieve. They also gave us the scoop on the SheaMoisture products they’re loving right now, as well as their 2023 hair goals.
Read on for more:
Daye Covington Kicks Her Twist Out Up A Notch With A Voluminous Updo
“I wanted to create a style that was super cute but also easy to pull together, so I went with a puff and tendril combo! It's a style that can be done on freshly washed curls or one that can be done on old hair. [It’s perfect for] when we're short for time but want to add a little razzle-dazzle to our hair before a special occasion. It's very versatile!”
“My favorite Shea Moisture product hand's down is the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie! That is definitely a #TeamNaturalHair staple. Coconut is one of the ingredients that my hair favors. I also find that medium/light creams absorb best in my hair, so it's no surprise that I get amazing definition and moisture when I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I love it for twist-outs, braid-outs, and rod set styles. Any product that can give me versatility when it comes to styling plus added moisture, that's what a staple is for me!”
“I would love to dye my hair back to blue! It was my favorite hair color, but unfortunately, my 9-5 now prohibits unnatural hair colors. I'm pushing it with this dark plum color, but I look forward to the day where I can transition into a new stage of life and go back to blue. In the meantime, I'm focusing on length retention. I've been doing well for 2022 and have had no major cuts so I'm hoping to stay consistent with my routine in 2023.”
Follow Daye on Instagram @dayelasoul
Ambrosia Malbrough Made Magic With Poppin’ And Defined Finger Coils
“[Finger coils] is a style that I don’t do often, it takes much more time than my usual wash and go. But that extra time put in makes it extra special and so worth it. The results are beautiful. It’s a style that offers many days of wear, too!”
“[Earlier this year] I did my 4th big chop. This time around hit different as a mom of two. I don’t always have the extra time on my hands to put into my hair, so the short ‘do has been convenient. I’ve realized that not all wash days are created equal even if I use the same products. However, my 4c coils are loving the products I'm using now”
“Since I’ve been having my hair dyed, I’m looking forward to trying Shea Moisture’s new Mongongo and Jojoba Oils High Porosity Moisture Replenish Hair Masque. I am currently growing my hair out and plan on having fun with more highlights and a new shape - possibly a shag cut in 2023!”
Follow Ambrosia on Instagram at @brosiaaa
Jasmin Moses Shows The Secrets To Her Jaw-Dropping Curly Ponytail
“I love doing a sleek ponytail with my baby hairs laid to a T! It helps so my hair isn't in the way when I am cooking and running errands, but it's still snatched to provoke anyone in the room to stop me to say 'girllll your hair is laid!'. I like to add a little razzle dazzle by adding my cute, naturally curly ponytail extensions. It elevates the look perfectly for the holidays.”
“It took me from my freshman year of college to now, almost seven whole years, to know what works for my hair. I love protective styles like wigs and braids because my hair thrives when I don't mess with it. When I leave my hair alone, it grows the best, so I love taking off my wig when I get home, oiling my scalp and putting my bonnet on for bed! When I do wear my natural hair out, what helps me maintain the health of my hair is to get in a rhythm with my hair. [I do] my wash days on Sunday, wear it in a wash n’ go all week, and repeat the next Sunday.”
“My 2023 hair goal is to get back to my 2021 hair length! Recently, a hairstyle damaged my hair causing me to lose 4 inches in length, which was not fun. So I’m working on getting [my hair] back to its original health and keep growing from there! I am also looking forward to trying the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a one-product wash n’ go! I hear such great things about it and I think it will give me hold while also keeping my hair lightweight and voluminous. I’m also excited about the Coconut & Hibiscus Defining Styling Gel and Edge Gel.”
Follow Jasmin on Instagram @slimreshae
Exclusive: Teyana Taylor And Director A.V Rockwell Explore Black Motherhood In New Film, 'A Thousand And One'
“This was a match made in denim and door-knocker heaven!” Actress Teyana Taylor jokingly said after letting out a laugh. She was referring to her relationship with the main character Inez De La Paz, in the film A Thousand and One, approaching theaters nationwide this Friday.
Set against the backdrop of 90s - early 2000s Harlem at the inception of gentrification, A Thousand and One chronicles the life of a 20-something-year-old mother of color raising her son. The film captures the realness and relatability of motherhood, family, and marriage. The movie stars multi-talented actress/entertainer Teyana Taylor, William Cartlett, Aaron Kingsley, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, and Terri Abney. It was executive produced by Lena Waithe and was written and directed by A.V. Rockwell.
This film was written through the lens of the often complicated relationship between mothers and sons. However, it isn't your typical movie about urban Black motherhood. No one gets shot, has a drug addiction, and if you ask me, Inez De La Paz (Teyana Taylor’s character) is a ‘shero’; she saves the day, or at least Terry’s life (her son).
This multilayered film touches on the challenges faced while establishing a life following a prison sentence, the flawed NYC foster care system, motherhood, marriage, love, the relationship between a father and son, and Black NYC neighborhoods at the onset of gentrification.
"There's a lot of pain in it, and in order to express pain, there has to be a love that comes with it. So I felt like the movie was a love letter to Black women but a heartbreak letter to New York City…. We contributed so much to the city and made it the special place that it is," said Rockwell. I asked myself, 'How do I reconcile the fact that this place that I love and that is home to me never loved me?'
Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley Adetola.
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
Both Rockwell and Taylor are New York natives, Rockwell is from Queens, and Taylor is from Harlem. The pair agreed they directly related to the lead character, Inez. During our conversation, Taylor explained how we could all connect with Inez. "Inez is within us from being judged or considered difficult for your strength, for your voice, for your tone, no matter how right you are, you're wrong because you're too loud… When you minimize yourself, it's an issue. You're not enough, and when you maximize yourself, it's too much," she said.
According to Rockwell, Taylor auditioned for the role and earned it fair and square, "Nobody can take away from the fact that she earned this role in all the right ways. I think it's great to have that cherry on top. The fact that she's a Harlem girl and that this is a movie about protecting her neighborhood not only what it means to us New Yorkers but what it means to black identity and history in general," she said. "Not only are we honoring Harlem, [but] she is [also] a part of that history that we are trying to protect. I'm really proud of that as well. This person who is a part of this historic neighborhood gets to be the one leading the torch of this role."
We all know Taylor as the uber-talented singer, dancer, actress, fashionista, entrepreneur, artist, wife, and mother. She seems to do it all so effortlessly, but Taylor described the role as therapeutic. It allowed her to put down that superwoman persona while filming on set. "The easy part about this role was that I'm already a mom, so I'm naturally nurturing… In some ways, Inez became very therapeutic for me because it was the only time that I could actually be weak and turn off my strength, and cry and let out all of the things I was battling," the "Rose in Harlem" singer revealed.
Director A.V. Rockwell
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
After watching Taylor master the leading role of this complicated story, it's not absurd to think she may be awarded extensively for her portrayal of Inez. Taylor told me she's ready for everything to come but isn't looking to get too comfortable while soaking up the likely inflow of accolades, "I'm ready. I think it's everything that I prayed for. I think this is God saying ok, here you go… I'm blessed, and I'm grateful, and I just want to continue to just keep working hard and not get too comfortable. Stay hungry, stay the hustler that I am…this is really only just the beginning."
It's not every day we get to see a film with a Black woman starring in a leading role. Furthermore, it's not common to see a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning movie directed by a Black woman. It's no secret that diversity in Hollywood is uncommon, and the aforementioned are all the more reasons we should visit theaters this Friday to see A Thousand and One.
Not only is this film amazing storytelling, but the production of this film helps to move the needle of diversifying Hollywood and creating spaces for Black women in the film industry forward.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Focus Features