Honey, I don't know about you, but I love a good plant aesthetic. Yes, I'm that girl. Living in New York City, aka the concrete jungle, plants have been a great way of bringing nature into my home. My plants get me back to center; they listen to my problems and are always there to brighten up my day. Now, I must admit although my plants have been good to me, I haven't always been the best to them.
I believe the key to growth is being honest about your strengths and weaknesses, so here it is. My name is Celeste, and I am not a responsible plant mom. I have forgotten to water my plants, put them in the sun, and feed them plant food at times. Please don't cancel me. Finding the perfect plant for me felt more like dating. I swiped right on plenty of beautiful plants, read their profile, and brought them home after a few dates at my local plant store.
Everything was good in the beginning until a few of them showed their asses. Bringing flies into the house, smelling funky, and dying on the relationship altogether. I almost lost all hope until I met the aloe vera plant. Ever since I've been with aloe vera, life has been bliss. He only needs to be water about every 2-3 weeks and always cares for me. I'm in love! Here are 10 ways my aloe vera plant amplifies my self-care routine and my life.
Using Aloe Vera on the Skin
It's no secret the aloe vera plant can work miracles on your skin! I suffer from having acne-prone skin, and let me tell you, it is a struggle sometimes. When I have breakouts, I almost always have acne scarring. I have tried multiple acne products, but most of them are harsh on the skin. My skin is usually very irritated and dehydrated after using acne solution products. After numerous attempts, I decided to go the all-natural route, and that's when my aloe vera plant came in clutch.
Aloe vera is a natural treatment for multiple skin issues, including acne. The plant is anti-inflammatory and is excellent for safely clearing away any mild to moderate acne. Aloe vera has been a skin healer in many cultures. The aloe vera plant is perfect for combating both inflammatory acne and scarring. The remedy is simple, place the aloe vera gel on the problematic area before going to bed. Over time, the skin will become clearer and brighter.
Using Aloe Vera for Hair Growth
I was very against putting the aloe vera plant on my hair at first. In my opinion, the plant has a musky smell, and placing that on my hair frightened me. However, I couldn't help but run into everyone and their mama that swore on using aloe vera for hair growth. My mom always told me beauty is pain--if that pain meant me putting up with smelly aloe vera for a few inches, then I figured sacrificing my nose would be worth it. As a disclaimer: no research shows an aloe vera plant can contribute to hair growth.
I simply experimented from word of mouth, and I must say the rumors are true. Aloe vera naturally has intense hydration capabilities, and I believe this is what contributed to the rapid hair growth. The plant is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. I would highly suggest anyone suffering from dry scalp give the aloe vera plant a try! Simply use it as a pre-poo, leaving the gel (find a quick how-to here) in for about 30 minutes, and rinse when finished.
Using Aloe Vera for Oral Health
I am all about improving my oral health. My worst fear is catching the dragon, aka having bad breath. So any remedy to keep my teeth and breath in check, I am taking! At first, trying out aloe vera as a primary dental source was a bit of a nerve-racking experience. I didn't feel comfortable only using aloe vera to brush my teeth, rinse, and head out the door. Instead, I used my aloe vera plant as a pre-rinse and continued with my oral hygiene routine.
Aloe vera is highly effective in controlling bacteria that can eventually lead to oral issues. The most well-known prevention is cavities. Aloe vera has a natural way of removing toxic microorganisms. This factor can contribute to avoiding gum disease. In fact, according to Medical News Today, rinsing with 100 percent pure aloe vera gel can be more effective than using chlorhexidine, which is an ingredient found in mouth wash. I would suggest rinsing for about 30 seconds to one-minute a day.
Aloe Vera Juice for Gut Health
It's funny how quickly your gut can switch up on you...or not. I miss the good ol' days when I could eat whatever I wanted with no consequences. Unfortunately, dairy had different plans for me. It took me a while to adjust to new eating habits. I ate cleaner, drank more water, but ultimately my gut needed an overall cleanse. I began drinking aloe juice, and it took some time, but the results finally kicked in.
Aloe vera is an effective and gentle way to keep your gut health in check. The plant contains enzymes, which helps in breaking down sugars and fats. Aloe can also help ease irritation in the intestines and the stomach. The best way to consume aloe vera is by blending the gel and straining the foam. Feel free to add a hint of lemon or mint for a more refreshing flavor.
Using Aloe Vera for Burns and Sores
Fun fact: your girl is clumsy! I am constantly bumping and bruising myself around my home. I swear one day I will get it together, but I will be healing myself with aloe vera until then. As I mentioned in my acne journey, aloe is the perfect skin healer. Not only for pimples, but cuts, sores, and burns. Growing up, I was taught to put butter on my burns (I know, I know). Truthfully, the butter wasn't very effective. Today, I use aloe vera whenever I hurt myself, and I find it much more calming.
Aloe vera is an excellent cooling resource for burns. The soothing properties of the aloe vera gel make it a calming aid for most skin abrasions. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce swelling and reduce pain. It's essential, however, to know never to use aloe vera on open wounds. Only use it for burns and minor skin irritations. Using aloe vera to heal the skin is easy. Just apply the aloe gel directly to the injury. Please remember to wash the plant before using it.
Using Aloe Vera for Shaving
Now, I know what you're thinking? Aloe vera dries so fast on the skin, how could it be used for shaving? I know, I thought the same thing until I ran out of shaving cream. Aloe vera has a lot of lip to it and holds up well in the shower, but the real key is to mix it with other natural ingredients. You can mix it with almond or coconut oil, castile soap, Vitamin E oil, eucalyptus oil, and warm water. If you want a more detailed how-to for making your own DIY aloe vera shaving gel, find that here.
Place your homemade shaving gel in a small bottle with a pointed tip, and boom! Be prepared for the softest legs of your life.
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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