When it comes to aging, you better trust and believe that Black does crack.
I know when you read that sentence you probably laughed. Hard. Because Taraji Henson, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long, and Sanaa Lathan don’t look a day over 30. It’s true, each of the women I have just named, and more, are very gorgeous women of color who have aged beautifully. But when they are out of the spotlight, they’ve at the least thought about what their aging skin would look like.
Most all women struggle with trying to maintain a youthful look no matter what their race is. It’s not even shocking anymore when women in Hollywood talk about the cosmetic procedures they’ve undergone. And now, many women who aren’t in the limelight are looking to get a little nip and tuck as well as a few fillers to maintain their youthful appearance.
I've heard of my fair share of procedures, but when I discovered Vampire Facials and Vampire Facelifts --two different cosmetic procedures that entails taking blood from one’s own body and injecting or brushing it on their faces --I just knew that cosmetic surgery had gone to Hell wearing gasoline panties.
But I was curious, and wanted to know if this was some kind of farce, or if it was a legitimate means of maintaining younger, healthier looking skin.
I started my research by Googling “WTF is a Vampire Facial or Vampire Facelift,” and saw a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo that makes the procedure sound scarier than what it actually is. Fortunately, I was able to speak with Dr. Robert Bowen, a West Virginia-based doctor who specializes in cosmetic medicine and body contouring. He confirmed that the procedure isn’t as bad as it sounds.
The differences between a Vampire Facial and the Vampire Facelift are many, but they share one main similarity--they’re both anti-aging cosmetic procedures.
When you get a Vampire Facial, the doctor will take about four tablespoons of your blood - sort of like what happens when you get lab test - and will then put it in a machine for about 10 minutes. That machine’s job is to isolate the Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) from your blood for about 10 minutes.
PRP is as important as nectar is in a mango. Among other uses, medical doctors have been using PRP for years as a clinical tool to treat nerve injury, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, bone repair, alopecia, and sports injuries.
Dr. Bowen says that after the PRP is separated, a micro-needle device is used to create thousands of tiny micro-punctures in the skin, driving the isolated PRP growth factors into the skin, and creating stimulus for tightening and rejuvenating collagen in the face. After that, the doctor paints something on your face. But that’s the kicker--it’s the part of your blood that regenerates new cellular growth.
Dr. Bowen says that what the doctor is doing is painting growth factors onto the micro-punctures, so the growth factors soak into the tissue for further stimulation of tightening and skin rejuvenation.
It doesn't seem that bad, and it’s actually the same procedure that Kim Kardashian had done in one episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Yes, she ugly cried when she got her procedure done, which is weird to me because one of the first steps in the process involves numbing your face.
What I can tell you is that the results are astounding, and the reviews for it are very positive. From what I can tell, women with grayish looking skin have improved color, natural rosy cheeks, and the best part is that they don't have to wear foundation if they don't want to, because their skin looks almost flawless.
ReallyRee, a Beauty Vlogger from the UK, said that she was impressed with the results, but it should be noted that this is not a permanent solution. She also said that doctors suggest two to three treatments per year, and then annually to maintain your look.
"I really loved the results of the PRP - it really improved the texture of my skin, I think my pores were less visible and my skin seemed firmer. It was also really clear and radiant – especially after about 4-6 weeks post treatment."
With the Vampire Facelift, your blood is drawn like you’re about to get a lab test, and then the doctor spins it in a machine called a centrifuge that separates the PRP. Afterward, the doctor injects it into parts of your face. It’s like kind of a natural version of Botox.
It may sound a little gimmicky, especially because of the name, but Dr. Bowen says there’s no gimmicks about the procedure, and the results speaks for itself.
“This is a technique that we use for wound healing,” Dr. Bowen said. “Those tissues are no different than the ones on our skin. The only thing gimmicky thing about it is the name, but not the procedure itself.”
Knowing this made me think that this is a procedure that Black women would never do, because we age so gracefully, however, Dr. Bowen said that a lot of Black women got the procedure done.
“The Vampire Facelift is something that could benefit everybody, from fair skin to dark skin.”
The bomb had been dropped when he said that.
I immediately wanted to know why a Black woman would put her blood back into their face. When I searched for some proof, I found a video of a Black woman who swears by them. Her name is Khanyi Mbau, and she is a South African television personality, actress and socialite, who took South African entertainment show Star Gist behind the scenes during her procedure.
Dr. Charles Runels, who has been credited as the father of Vampire Facelifts, says he's studied this procedure for years, and that he's committed to creating better ways to improve the procedure. He said in a blog post,
I’ve conducted many research trials and worked as a research chemist before medical school—my job is to find the best materials and the best methods and keep working to make the service better.
If you're sold on the procedures, the Vampire Facial will set you back about $500 to $600 dollars, and the Vampire Facelift will run you between $1600 and $1800 dollars (depending on where you live). In comparison, Botox is a little cheaper, and averages about $250-$500 per treatment, depending on the physician, location, units purchased, promotions, etc.
In the end, people will always be searching for a fountain of youth. Until then, Vampire Facelifts or Facials are definitely natural alternatives for a more youthful look, and the procedures are sure to evolve in the years ahead.
Have you ever had a Vampire Facelift or Facial, and what did you think about it? If not, would you get one?
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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs