Somebody cue Jahiem's "Age Ain't a Factor" music video, please. Angela Bassett. Cicely Tyson. Gabrielle Union. Adrienne Banfield-Jones (Jada Pinkett Smith's mama). Toni Braxton. Bianca Lawson. Nia Long. Sanaa Lathan. Cynthia Bailey. Karyn Parsons. Sade. Regina Hall. Kimberly Elise. Rozonda "Chili" Thomas. Jill Marie Jones. Mya. Alfre Woodard. Jenifer Lewis. Brandy. Iman. Whew! That's 20 you-definitely-don't-look-your-age women and y'all know good and well that I could go on and on. Indeed, there are a billion-and-one things that make being a Black woman beyond dope, inspiring and relevant. Today, we're going to touch on how well we seem to age.
So, what's up with my title for this article? Yes, there is solid scientific evidence which supports the fact that the high amounts of collagen and melanin (especially if you've got what is known as eumelanin which is what causes someone to have skin of a darker hue) in our skin, coupled with the fact that our bones are denser than a lot of other ethnicities and a lot of us didn't grow up wearing a ton of cosmetics, has resulted in many of us constantly looking 10-20 years longer than we actually are. Still, there are two things to always keep in mind. One, chronological aging is something that none of us can avoid (which is why some people can look 40 for 15 years and then look significantly older all of a sudden). Two, if you don't take care of your skin (and hair and teeth), you can start to age, rapidly and significantly so, no matter how amazing your gene pool is or how much melanin you've got.
That's why I said that "Black can crack" and I stand by that. Many health professionals do as well. What this piece sets out to do is to provide a few tips on how to not take what God (and your parents) gave you for granted so that you can keep looking, as my mother—who also qualifies for the "Wow, you look at least 15 years younger" line up—would put it, not younger than your age so much as representing what your age should be out here lookin' like.
If there are two things that a lot of us struggle with when it comes to our skin, especially as we get older, it would have to be discoloration and dryness. Something that can make this less of an issue is to exfoliate (2-3 times a week unless you have sensitive skin; if that's the case, only do it once a week). Exfoliating is what helps to remove dead skin cells, clear clogged pores and reveal healthy skin. There are plenty of exfoliants on the market that you can buy, but something that I'm a fan of is old-fashioned DIY brown sugar and honey skin scrub. All you need to do is combine ½ cup of brown sugar (it's a humectant that gently exfoliates) with ¼ cup of coconut oil (it's got antibacterial properties), a teaspoon of grapeseed oil (it's loaded with antioxidants) and 2 tablespoons of honey (it's a humectant). Apply this mixture to clean damp skin and you'll notice immediate results after the first use.
If you've always made it a habit of going out without sunscreen because you believe you don't need it, it's time to invest in something like Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30.
While it's true that many of us grew up with the myth that darker skin doesn't require protection from the sun (not to mention the fact that many dermatologists were not trained on how to properly treat our skin), the reality is we can get sunburned and—this is a greater point—we are four times more likely than white people to be diagnosed with melanoma once it's in its fourth stage (which is very serious).
Also, since overexposure to UV rays can also result in fine lines and wrinkles over time, it's definitely in your best interest to apply sunscreen onto your face as well as your body. Not some of the time; daily.
Eat Food with Collagen in It
If your skin isn't looking as "tight" as you would like it to (or as it used to appear), it's probably because your system isn't producing as much collagen as it once did. Collagen is a natural protein that strengthens your skin and builds its natural elasticity. The good news is there are collagen supplements that can counteract this issue. You can also eat foods that are high in collagen. Some of those include berries, tomatoes, bone broth, dark leafy greens, fish, citrus fruits and carrots.
Eat Melanin-Producing Foods Too
Since melanin is what keeps us looking so good, it makes perfect sense that we should consume foods that help to maintain our melanin levels, right? Come to think of it, the reason why our hair turns grey is because our bodies stop producing the amount of melanin that it once did as we get older. That's why it's also a good idea to intentionally eat foods that can produce melanin in our bodies. I actually wrote an article entitled, "Some Foods Literally Enhance Our Melanin (Who Knew?)" that will help you out with that.
Ease Off of the Perfume and Statement Necklaces
Man. There were about a dozen people who immediately came to my mind when I read up on this particular point. I kinda hate to say it but…you know how they say that if you cut open a tree and count its rings that you'll be able to tell how old it is? A lot of us may look great in the face but our neck still "tells on us" because it's saggy and wrinkly. Two reasons why that could be the case is because of the perfume that we spray on it and/or the heavy jewelry that we wear around it. The reality is that perfume tends to have quite a bit of alcohol in it that can dry our skin out (so you might want to switch over to essential oils). As far as necklaces go, while you might want to wear chunky stuff on occasion, the key is not to do it all of the time; the weight can pull down on your skin which you definitely don't want if you desire to have a youthful-looking neck.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Here's something that might trip you out. The reason why a lot of Black people have a natural Vitamin D deficiency is because our melanin actually hinders the sun's ability to naturally create it in our system.
A lack of Vitamin D not only results in fatigue and bone, back and muscle pain, it can lead to premature hair loss and skin aging too. You can stay on top of this by taking a Vitamin D supplement and/or to eat foods that are high in it. Some of those include salmon, eggs, yogurt, cheese and fortified cereals.
Keep Your Teeth White
Something else that tends to happen over time is our natural enamel wears off and exposes the dentin that is underneath it. That can, in turn, cause our teeth to have a grey or yellowish tint to it which can also make us look older. Maintaining good oral health can help to keep this from happening. So can cutting back on acidic drinks (like soda and coffee), balancing how much fermented food you consume (it also has acid in it), and keeping your mouth thoroughly hydrated (that keeps bacteria at bay). Also, use a softer bristle toothbrush. Hard bristles can damage your teeth over time too.
Get Some Protein Treatments
When you end up with grey hair, it has a lot to do with your gene pool. At the same time, being low in protein plays a significant role as well. Our hair is made up of the protein keratin, which is produced less and less, the older we become. That can result in our hair looking thinner and less healthy. That's why it's a good idea to give your hair protein treatments about every six weeks. Also, because nails are made up of keratin and they can become drier and more brittle over the years, make sure that you eat foods that are high in protein (yogurt, spirulina, oats, quinoa and poultry), and that you regularly apply a nail strengthener to your nails too.
Drink More Water
It would take another article entirely to cover all of the benefits that come with drinking water. As far as your skin goes—it removes toxins, hydrates you (so that you have less fine lines and wrinkles), reduces puffiness, speeds up the healing process, balances the sebum in your skin (which makes your pores appear smaller) and, it also makes your skin look fuller and plumper; this, in turn, causes you to look younger in the process.
Sleep on Your Back More Often
I've got to admit that this is something I need to work on. While I prefer to sleep on my side, doing that (and sleeping on your stomach) can also age you. How? Well, if you ever wake up and see lines on your face, don't just chalk that up to simply being a minor result of being on your sheets and pillowcases all night; it's actually a foreshadowing of where wrinkles can occur. That's because putting that kind of pressure on your face for hours on end can create creases and crinkles over time. That's why it really is your best bet to sleep on your back as much as you can. You lower the "risk" of fine lines, you allow the fluid in your face to properly drain and, you can keep the bacteria that's on your bedding from infecting your pores—and all of this can help you to "keep your Black from cracking" for many years to come.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
10 All-Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Teeth & Whiten Your Smile
These Foods Will Give Your Skin & Hair The Moisture They Crave
Chilli And Mýa Share Their Secrets For Remaining Flawless And Fabulous
Featured image by Nappy
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
More Women Are Taking The 'Girlfriend' Title & Exclusivity Off The Table In Dating — Here's Why
Nearly a decade ago, Chris Rock famously coined the phrase, "Men are only as faithful as their options." And as if to be a vexing prophecy, the concept provokes an all too familiar frustration within the dating scene to this day: havingtoo many headaches and not enough options.
Ask any single woman in their mid-twenties or early thirties navigating the trenches of their love life, and you’ll be met with the disappointments of failed situationships and lack of commitment. While on the other end, men seem to freely date a roster of quality women without a single care about the emotional rubble they leave behind.
It begs the question of whether men have known all this time that finding “the one” all comes down to a numbers game.
Felicia Gloria, a social commentator and YouTuber from Toronto, Canada, thinks so.
After a breakup with her long-term boyfriend and a few years of dating in her late twenties, Felicia came to the realization that the system of modern dating was no longer serving her. “I was meeting guys who would be interested in me initially, we’d date for a while, and it wouldn't go anywhere,” she tells xoNecole. “I was just sick of becoming attached to these men and then going through the pain of breaking up.”
The cycle of micro-breakups caused her to alter her approach to dating, one that was rid of emotional attachment, fantasy, and aimless hookups — a method she calls “rotational dating.”
"Rotational dating is when you don't date one person at a time. You date multiple people until someone gives you what it is that you are looking for," she explains. While every woman's end goal in dating may differ from babies to boyfriends and bills being paid, Felicia's happy ending starts with a ring.
Meaning, the 'girlfriend' title is off the table, there's no exclusivity, and you date multiple men at a time until one promises to have your hand in marriage. "If you do want marriage and you don't want to have your time wasted, there is no reason for you to go through a trial period with a man as a girlfriend," she says.
Radical? Some may believe it to be, but with the state of the dating market being where it stands, a shift could be necessary.
"I feel like traditional dating benefits men more than it benefits women because men are not on the same crunch for time," she shares. "So by them being able to have a girlfriend, they get to have sex, companionship, and all the benefits that they would have in having a wife. Meanwhile, women their age are trying to settle down."
Thomas Barwick/Getty Images
But dating with the intention of marriage isn’t a new concept. Many women find it more beneficial to date with the goal of long-term commitment over short-term gratification. And with this shift in mindset, women could regain a sense of balance so that their romantic life becomes less about how they can find their soulmate in every man they meet and more about vetting suitable partners they’d like to spend the rest of their life with.
“Women have been conditioned and programmed to not do this because it disempowers them. If they had all this power and were engaging with multiple men, it would mean that men would have to step up to win a woman’s attention,” says one TikTok dating coach.
Since rotational dating leads with the intention of receiving a proposal in order to sign on for full exclusivity, it’s normal to find that some men won’t always be enthusiastic to get with the program. But as men naturally fall by the wayside, the ones whose intentions align with yours should then be prioritized.
“The most fundamental thing to vet for is if this person wants to marry you. And the only way to know if a person wants to marry you is if they propose to you, they could say anything. When men love women, they will propose,” Felicia says. “You have to be willing to accept that a lot of guys are going to say ‘no’ to you because of this. And a lot of guys are going to think you're absolutely wretched, and maybe some women will as well.”
While it may seem extreme to make such a drastic shift in your approach to dating, it could be an option that may serve you in your love life if your current approach just isn’t working. When you reach a certain age and stage of life, you begin to reanalyze what’s serving you and where there could be an adjustment. And if your long-term goal is to be married or you just don’t have any more talking stages left in you, could it really hurt to seek a ring over, say… endless coffee dates?
“I think the failure of an engagement is actually a success of rotational dating because it shows that you did what it took to get to that certain point,” Felicia says. “At least you can look at them and say, ‘You know what? It wasn't meant to be, but we gave it our best shot.”
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Featured image by Dean Mitchell/Getty Images