I can honestly say that I haven't used Cantu since I went natural back in 2016. It's not that I don't like the brand — let's be honest, Cantu is the holy grail brand that a lot of us probably started our natural hair journey with. It was and still is affordable, accessible, and effective haircare. I somewhat strayed away though because it's very easy to get caught up in trying different brands that some products honestly just get lost in the sea of haircare. Nevertheless, Cantu has dropped a few collections that I couldn't help but try. One of their most recent drops is the Jamaican Black Castor Oil line which works for all hair types but is made with 4C hair in mind.
What really piqued my interest in this drop is that Cantu partnered with Emmy award-winning hairstylist and entrepreneur, Angela Stevens. Angela has worked in the hair industry for over 16 years with a focus on healthy versatile haircare, hair education, and celebrity styling. She has worked with a variety of talents like Rita Ora, Elaine Welteroth, and brands like Mielle Organics, Girl + Hair, and now Cantu.
I always appreciate when brands consult or partner with hairstylists because it provides an extra layer of trust to me. It shows that the line was put together with haircare in mind and is working to solve haircare problems that many of us face at home.
About The Jamaican Black Castor Oil
As I mentioned earlier, the JBCO collection is made with 4C Kings and Queens in mind. While I don't have 4C hair, I think this collection also works if you have very dense and dry hair. The line features five styling products: a detangling primer, a curl stretch paste, a taming gel, a styling gel, and finishing spray. Each product is made with Jamaican Black Castor Oil, so it has a heavier consistency than most to provide hydration and moisture retention.
Cantu Jamaican Black Castor Oil Detangling Primer
The primer is the first step of styling, it acts as a leave-in conditioner to help detangle, soften, and smooth your hair before you start your twist/braid-out or wash n' go style. I personally prefer lighter consistency leave-in conditioners because my hair absorbs it better. This was just as easy to detangle my hair because it has a heavy slip that helps your fingers easily glide down your strands.
You can feel a difference in your hair as soon as you apply it and I noticed that I didn't have to use as much as I usually do. I'm pretty generous with leave-in primers and conditioners but I didn't have to apply too much of this. It provides enough slip and moisture that a little goes a long way with this product.
If you try it, I recommend paying attention to your hair and how it feels. You'll know when you've used enough and it's important to keep in mind that the products are heavy and this is just the first layer so you don't want to use too much.
JBCO Curl Stretch Paste
This product is mainly for styling braid-outs, twist-outs, and rod sets. It's a pomade-like paste that elongates, stretches, and defines your hair. When I used this to style my twist-out, the paste felt really sticky. I wasn't a fan of how it felt on my hands but I loved how it felt on my hair. When I applied it, it moisturized, defined, and added hold to my curls.
In my opinion, the curl paste is moisturizing enough that depending on your hair needs and density, you can probably skip the primer or leave-in. This would be a great one product styler if you wanted to use less products. This is a one and done product for me, meaning, it does everything you need it to.
Cantu Jamaican Black Castor Oil Taming Gel
This is another product that felt sticky on my hands but amazing on my hair, but that's common with most gels. I think the JBCO is perfect for laying edges, slicked-back styles, flat twists, and especially wash n' go's. I used this mostly for styling my wash n' go styles because it adds moisture, a long-lasting hold, and tames frizz and flyaways. My wash n' go lasted five days before I had to refresh it which is surprising because traveling dries my hair out quicker than usual, plus wash n' go's are already a drying style so I was impressed by the longevity I had with this product.
One thing to keep in mind is, you don't need a lot. When I first tried it, I wasn't sure how much hold I was going to get so I packed it on and I noticed I had a lot of flakes and it stuck to my clothes and everything. I recommend applying it in small sections on detangled hair so you can see how much you really need and make sure that your strands are completely coated with the gel. If I would have started in smaller sections, I would have made sure that my hair was properly coated and I wouldn't have to go back and add more.
Cantu Jamaican Black Castor Oil Finishing Spray
This finishing spray does exactly what it claims, it basically just adds the finishing touches to your styles. I used it on both my twist-out and wash n' go once my hair was completely dry to help seal in moisture and add shine. I would recommend using this after your hair is dry regardless of the style because I really believed it helped make both my styles last as long as it did.
I actually really appreciate the oil being in a spray bottle because it helped me use the right amount of oil. Again...she's thick! I didn't use more than three sprays for my hair, but I think that varies depending on your hair needs.
My Overall Review of Cantu's JBCO Collection
Overall, I loved the collection and I would actually recommend getting all four products. I do think that this collection caters to curls and coils that struggle with getting moisture in and are more dense. I would not recommend it for those who have extremely thin or less dense hair because the line might be too heavy for your hair. The thing about castor oil is that it can be good and bad if not used correctly. What I mean is, it can clog your hair follicles if you use too much and because it's heavy and thick, it doesn't take much to do that. This line is also made with other heavy ingredients like shea and cocoa butter. So, if your hair is thicker it can take the heaviness, you just have to use the right amount.
Courtesy of Krissy Lewis
I think the line offers a variety for each styling need. I don't think you need to use every product in one styling session and I wouldn't recommend it if you have my hair type (4A/4B) because it would be way too much. I can't speak too much for what would be enough for 4C hair, but I recommend just trying it out until you find out what combo works best for you. However, based on my experience with the product and Angela Stevens' recommendations, here's a product combo for different natural hair styles:
- JBCO Detangling Primer and Taming Gel: wash n' go's, edges, slicked-back styles, flat twists, and up-dos. Add finishing oil to seal.
- JBCO Curl Stretch Paste and Finishing Oil: twist-out, braid-out, and rod sets.
You are not limited to this though, natural hair is not a one routine fits all so you have to find out what works best for you.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis/xoNecole
Freelance writer, content creator, and traveler. She enjoys the beauty of simplicity, a peaceful life, and a big curly fro. Connect with Krissy on social media @iamkrissylewis or check out her blog at www.krissylewis.com.
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
5 Best Yoga Poses For An Emotional Release
Since starting my workout journey, I have tried almost everything to reach my health goals – HIIT, cardio, etc. Fortunately, I quickly realized I am a weightlifting warrior who likes to throw in yoga occasionally. Now, in true “new to this, not true to this” fashion, I hopped on YouTube to learn some simple yoga moves and their alternatives I could practice during warm-ups and post-workout stretches.
After nearly two months of practicing different poses, I remember one day, I suddenly felt “different.” I did not cry, but I experienced what felt like a release, and when I was done, my back and shoulders felt lighter. Additionally, my spirit felt a little more at ease. Since I did not fully understand what happened, I decided to tap on an expert’s shoulder.
Divinity Gaines is a yoga instructor, dancer, personal trainer, and content creator. In our talk, she explained the release I experienced and shared the best poses for an emotional release. “When we talk about yoga, people associate it with just poses, but it is much more,” Divinity explained. “Yoga possesses eight limbs.”
The eight limbs of yoga, or Ashtanga, are:
- Yama (Self-restraint)
- Niyama (Observance)
- Asana (Movement and posture)
- Pranayama (Breath)
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal of senses)
- Dharana (Concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Samadhi (Union)
When explaining to me the "why" behind my emotional release while doing yoga, Divinity noted that the physical movement of my practices is the limb called asana. She continued, “The emotional release you feel is just that. We hold tension within our bodies throughout. We have energy channels on both sides of us. These channels run through our bodies, and people associate different energy points with their chakras. And yoga opens those channels.”
Not all emotional releases look the same; therefore, you do not necessarily have to worry about an “ugly cry” while doing poses. For example, sometimes, an individual will experience samadhi, which is “ultimate bliss.” However, regardless of your pose, you will not experience that release if you are not breathing throughout.
“If you are using your pranayama (breath), then you will experience that release,” Divinity stated.
Top 5 (Physical) Yoga Poses for An Emotional Release
Even though you can practice many yoga poses for an emotional release, Divinity has provided her top five poses to get us started.
1. Lizard Pose/Utthan Pristhasan – The lizard pose is a deep hip flexor opener perfect for someone experiencing high stress and can release unconscious trauma. It deals with your second chakra – Svadhisthana (sacral chakra), which is linked to confidence, survival instinct, creativity, and a feeling of generosity.
Begin on all fours in Downward Dog, ensuring your feet are hip-width apart and your chin stays tucked under your chest. Next, step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand, entering a lunge position. Next, lower your left knee to the ground and press into your hips, keeping your arms and back straight. Then, slowly lower onto your forearms, keeping your back flat and your head aligned with your spine. Finally, press up onto the ball of your left foot as you straighten your left leg. Hold the pose and then repeat on the other side.
2. Pigeon Pose/ Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – The Pigeon Pose is another hip flexor opener that deals with our second chakra. It can be an intense emotional release and tension release.
Start with your knees under your hips and your hands slightly before your shoulders. Bring your left knee forward and out to the left, position your left foot in front of your right knee, and rest the outside of your left foot on the floor. Slide your right leg back, straighten the knee, tuck your toes under, and push through the fingertips to lift your torso and lengthen the spine. Keep your hips squared, press your tailbone down and forward, open the chest, and gaze up.
3. Supta Baddha Konasana – For anyone experiencing anxiety, stress, or a scattered mind, then the Supta Baddha Konasana is an excellent move for you. It stimulates your sacral chakra, which is associated with your sex organs, and root chakras, which are responsible for your sense of security and stability.
Lie on your back. Bend your knees, keeping the soles of your feet on the floor. Next, open your knees out to either side, bringing the soles of your feet together. Your arms can be in any comfortable position—out in a T shape, overhead, relaxed by your sides, or resting on your thighs are some options. Stay here for several minutes as gravity works to deepen your stretch. Breathe naturally throughout the pose. To come out of the pose, reach down and help your knees come back together. Then roll over to one side and use your hands to support you as you sit up.
4. Camel Pose/Utrasana – The Camel Pose is for anyone with a hurting heart. It involves your heart chakra and heart opener. For example, if you recently experienced a breakup and want to release that pain, then try this move.
Place your knees hip-width apart in kneeling, and tuck your toes. Engage your inner thighs, draw your lower belly in and up, and roll your shoulders back. On an inhalation, lengthen through both side waists, and lift the chest. With the lower body stable, on an exhale, start to come into your backbend, lifting the chest without crunching the neck or lower back. As you lean back, find your blocks or heels with your hands – or you can do this one side at a time by circling one arm up and behind you. Keep your inner thighs engaged, firm the shoulder blades into the back, and stay for a couple of breaths. Use your inhalation to help you back up, then sit on your heels with a neutral spine for a moment.
5. Inversion Pose – The last pose releases trauma, promotes emotional growth, and re-toxifies your blood. These poses allow your blood to circulate. An Inversion Pose is any move where your heart is higher than your head, such as a headstand.
Although yoga is a great tool to help with emotional release, incorporating other activities, such as therapy or journaling, can also help.
Divinity Gaines is a former NBA dancer turned Yogi. Her website offers a mind and body release program and a 21-day fitness challenge (all levels welcomed). In addition, she teaches yoga at Core Power in Hollywood on Mondays and Wednesdays.
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Feature image courtesy of Divinity Gaines