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What Your Skin Needs When You're Stressed AF

Don't let stress sabotage your skin, sis.

Beauty & Fashion

Lawd. If 2020 has been nothing else, it's been a 2.0 accelerated course in how to properly manage our stress levels. Let the Church say, "Amen!" But when you think about how worry, anxiety and maybe even a little bit of fear have affected you, have you ever stopped to factor in how these types of emotions can cause all kinds of wear and tear on your skin? The reality is, when we're stressed the TF out, the cortisol levels in our system tend to elevate. This can result in breakouts (including cystic acne), excessive dryness, a trigger of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and a drop of collagen and elastin which can prevent our skin from looking young and maintaining that healthy glow that so many of us love.

All of this sucks and definitely doesn't make us, well, less stressed. That's why, I thought it'd be cool to offer up some all-natural tips that can help to keep your skin looking great on the outside, even if you are a little triggered on the inside. Let's hit it.

1. Make Your Own Exfoliant

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Here's something that's a trip. Did you know that when the cortisol levels in our system rise, it can hinder our body from shedding as many dead skin cells as it normally does? That's because, when stress hormones are wreaking havoc in our body, it can cause everything to become more sluggish than it should. When it comes to our skin, specifically, that can result in our skin looking duller than we'd ever like.

The remedy? Making sure to exfoliate—not just your face and neck either; you need to take care of your entire body. One way to do this is to make your own exfoliant.

As far as your face and neck go, a little baking soda and manuka honey can revive them in some remarkable ways. The tiny granules in baking soda are great at removing dead skin cells while helping to balance your skin's pH levels (which I'll get more into in a sec). Manuka honey is a powerful type of honey that contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that will treat and heal your skin simultaneously. All you need to do is combine three tablespoons of baking soda with a teaspoon of manuka honey, a teaspoon of Vitamin E (it helps to repair damaged skin cells), one-half teaspoon of cinnamon powder (to increase blood flow to your skin) and 2-3 tablespoons of almond milk (to soothe your skin). Let the mixture sit on your skin for 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

As far as your body goes, a nice brown sugar scrub (one-part brown sugar and one-part olive oil; the sugar is a humectant and the olive oil is loaded with antioxidants) is always bomb. (Dry brushing is effective too!)

2. Use Some Avocado Oil

After sweet almond oil, probably my next favorite "skin oil" is avocado oil. It's got vitamins A, D and E in it. Avocado oil also contains antioxidants, fatty acids, beta-carotene and protein. If you apply this to your skin, either as a primer in the morning or as a way to pamper your skin before turning in at night, it will help to deeply moisturize you from head to toe, soothe symptoms that are related to eczema and psoriasis, speed up the healing process of pimples and protect your skin from damaging UV rays which will ultimately slow down your skin's aging process, if you're not careful.

3. Apply a “Chilled Out” DIY Eye Cream

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What are some pretty telling signs that your eyes need a pampering break? If you're straining to read, they are itching or burning, you notice dark circles underneath them, you're increasingly more sensitive to light, they are extra dry or they are watering up—all of these point to eyes that first need a break from phone screens and monitors (and could probably use a couple of extra hours of sleep), but eyes that could stand to get a little bit of eye cream put on them too.

Not only can eye cream help to soothe the skin that's protecting your eyes, but it can lighten the circles, soften fine lines and ultimately cause your eyes to look brighter too. One of my favorite sites for at-home hacks is Wellness Mama. She's got a cool DIY eye cream recipe here. Take it up a notch by chilling your DIY cream in your refrigerator for an hour before applying it. The cool temperature will feel great and help to soften the appearance of the circles around your eyes too.

4. Rinse Your Skin with Lukewarm Water

If you've never stopped to think about what temperature is best for your skin (especially your face and neck), now is as good a time as any, right? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, lukewarm is best. For one thing, it makes whatever face wash you're using more effective at removing dirt and debris from your skin. Another perk is lukewarm is the temp that helps to keep the natural oils that your skin produces in balance.

5. Eat What Will Balance Your Skin’s pH

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Did you know that your skin has a pH balance, just like the rest of your body does? While your body, overall, has a pH level of around 7, your skin tends to be slightly more acidic with a balance about 5.5. Making sure that your skin is at the right balance is what helps to decrease your chances of breakouts, dry skin and eczema and psoriasis flare-ups because when your pH balance is off, your skin is more vulnerable to germs and bacteria—and yes, elevated cortisol levels can affect this as well.

That's why it's important to eat foods that aren't going to trigger an allergic reaction or cause your hormones to go on a roller coaster ride. Reducing junk foods, dairy and sugar from your diet helps. So does consuming more foods that are featured in the article (from our site), "9 Foods That'll Actually Decrease Your Cortisol (Stress) Hormones".

6. Consume More Collagen Too

You might recall when I said in the intro that a peak in cortisol can slow down how collagen and elastin is produced in your skin. One way to combat that is to eat foods that are high in collagen. Some of those include fish, chicken, beef, bone broth, citrus fruits, berries, garlic, red bell peppers, dark leafy greens, eggs, chickpeas and spirulina.

7. Take Some Zinc

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Personally, I'm a huge fan of the magnesium, calcium and zinc supplement combo because it's a wonderful nerve relaxant (especially if you take it about 1-2 hours before going to bed at night). But if you're noticing more zits than usual, upping your zinc, specifically, can help to make your pimples a thing of the past at a faster rate and with less scarring too. The reason why zinc is so effective is because, not only does it help to keep free radicals, viruses and bacteria from damaging your skin cells, it contains some pretty powerful anti-inflammatory properties too.

For the quickest results, an oral zinc supplement will hit your bloodstream the fastest. If you want to ensure that you won't experience any side effects, a topical treatment is cool too. Of course, there are also foods that are high in zinc that won't heal the pimples you've already got extremely fast but they are good for your overall health and well-being and can help to prevent future zits from creeping up. Some foods with lots of zinc in them include nuts, seeds, whole grains, potatoes, green beans, kale, red meat, yogurt, oats and dark chocolate.

8. Keep Some Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil on Tap

Two times when you can almost be sure that your skin will look less than its best is the week before your period and when you're stressed all the way out. And so, if you know that you know you've got a zit forming when and where you don't want it (or an acne scar that's creeping up because you've been taking your anxiety out on a pimple), dabbing some tea tree oil and/or lavender oil can be the perfect all-natural remedy for it.

I can personally vouch for the fact that tea tree oil contains some mad potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can take a pimple out, oftentimes overnight, if you apply it before turning in at night. Also, if your eczema seems like it's a bit worse due to how stressed you're feeling, tea tree oil has the reputation for being better at treating it than zinc oxide.

Mixing 2-3 drops of it into three tablespoons of grapeseed oil (which also has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce itchiness) is a quick fix. Lavender oil? It kills bacteria-causing acne and has antifungal properties that can reduce the inflammation that's associated with eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. Just make sure to mix this with a carrier oil too. Grapeseed or coconut oil (thanks to the Vitamin E and anti-inflammatory properties that it's got) are pretty ideal.

9. HYDRATE

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Something that the top layer of your skin does is protect the deeper layers from getting attacked by bacteria, dirt and debris. But when you're super stressed, the cortisol increase can work against your top layer from functioning at its peak. One way to make sure that it is getting all of the nutrients and oxygen that it needs from the inside out is to up your water intake. Plus, there are studies to support that the more hydrated you are, the better your system will be at keeping your cortisol levels in check.

You probably already know that you could stand to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and that if you're thirsty, that's a telling sign that you're dehydrated. But if you know that you're stressed, add a couple of glasses of water to what you already naturally consume. You might be surprised by how feeling more refreshed can decrease your worry and anxiety levels—and how much your skin will thank you for it too.

10. REST

Did you know that sleep deprivation can totally wreck your skin? It's proven that when you consistently get less than 6-8 hours of zzz's, that can slow down collagen growth, increase skin inflammation, reduce how quickly your skin's wounds heal and it can make your skin extremely dry. So yeah, no matter how stressed you might feel, try and not let it keep you from getting some much-needed rest. When you're sleeping, that's when your body is able to repair itself and your skin is certainly not exempt. Besides, the more sleep you get, the less stressed out you'll feel and the better off your skin will be in the long run. Hmph. Funny how that all works together—isn't it?

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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Mj Rodriguez has been giving us all of our lives since she emerged on our screens as the ever-so-fabbbulous Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in Pose, in 2018. Since, she has captured the hearts of many all over the world, from LGBTQ advocates, to everyone in between. The beloved series officially came to a heart-wrenching end, after three seasons of tackling homelessness, sex work, the rejection that the trans community deals with on a daily basis and combined it with heart and dance to captivate millions around the world weekly.

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Sometimes, when things are a little "off" when it comes to our health, there are simple steps that we can take to get ourselves back on track. For instance, did you know that around 92 percent of Americans are considered to be vitamin or mineral deficient in some way? And since there are core nutrients that all of us need in order to function properly, it's important that we're aware of what certain deficiencies are directly linked to.

Today, that is the focus. Here are eight health-related issues that, oftentimes, if we'd just add more of a vitamin or mineral into our system, we will start to feel better in no time (technically a couple of weeks but you get my drift).

1. Muscle Cramping

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Something that happens randomly to me sometimes is I'll have a muscle that cramps up, seemingly out of nowhere. Then I'll snack on a banana and start to feel better. You know why? It's because bananas are high in potassium and potassium is a nutrient that our system needs in order for our muscles to easily contract. If you sweat a lot or don't have enough fluids in your system, you can become a high candidate for being potassium deficient. As far as how much your body requires on a daily basis, it's somewhere between 3,000-4,000 mg a day. Foods that are a good source of this mineral (that is also an electrolyte) include mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and lentils.

2. Lip Cracking

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If your PMS is off the chain or you've been catching a lot of colds lately, it could be because you need some more Vitamin B6 in your life. However, a telling sign that this is almost definitely the case is if the corners of your lips are cracking or even if your tongue feels a bit swollen.

The main thing to keep in mind with this point is if you're noticing indications that you could stand to have more Vitamin B6, there's a pretty good chance that your system has gotten close to totally running out. And just how much does your body need of this vitamin on the daily? About 1.3 mg. Up it up to 1.5 mg if you're over the age of 50.

Foods that are loaded with Vitamin B6 are peanuts, poultry, oats, avocados and pistachios.

3. Brittle Nails

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If it seems like no matter how much pampering you do to your nails, they are brittle and breaking, that could be an indication that you are low in iron and/or Vitamin C. The reality is that just our periods alone can make us vulnerable to having lower iron levels. And just how much should you be getting into your system? A lot of healthcare professionals recommend somewhere around 14.8 mg each day. As far as the Vitamin C goes, not only can you have brittle nails when you're not getting enough of it, this is a nutrient that makes it easier for your body to absorb iron too. 75 mg per day of it is recommended (120 mg each day if you're pregnant or are breastfeeding). Foods that are high in iron include beef, dark leafy greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and broccoli. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, potatoes, berries and Brussel sprouts.

4. Allergy Symptoms

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If you've got allergy symptoms that are driving you totally up the wall or you're someone who deals with asthma or eczema, these things can be so much worse for you if you are low in omega-3. Long story short, they're fatty acids that pretty much every part of our body needs from our skin and hair to our reproductive system and our heart. Matter of fact, I actually read once that if you tend to have an excessive amount of earwax, that can also be a heads up that omega-3 is lacking. As far as how much is good for you, 1.1 grams daily is enough. And as far as foods that have omega-3 in them, those would be walnuts, spinach, salmon, chia seeds and eggs.

5. Weakness

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Magnesium is both a mineral as well as an electrolyte that helps to regulate muscle and nerve functions and keep your blood sugar in balance. Well, when you don't have enough magnesium in you, it can cause you to experience extreme amounts of fatigue and weakness. A part of the reason why is because magnesium is what helps to keep your potassium levels where they should be. So, when your potassium levels are low, your muscles will not perform with as much strength as they should. Somewhere around 315 mg each day is what your system requires. Foods that are loaded with magnesium include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, halibut, bananas and dark chocolate.

6. Hair Loss

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One of the main things that all of us need in order for our hair to flourish is zinc. It's a mineral that assists with hair tissue growth and repair, fights dandruff and, it also helps your scalp to produce the sebum that it needs for your hair follicles to remain healthy. That's why it makes a lot of sense that if you're low in zinc, you could possibly suffer from some hair loss or, the very least, hair breakage. What can keep your tresses in good condition is if you consume around 8 mg of zinc daily. Foods that are high in it include Greek yogurt, cashews, black beans, sesame seeds and kale.

7. Sleepiness

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OK, if you're out here getting less than six hours a night on a consistent basis, that's probably not an indication that you are lacking a nutrient; what that probably means is you are sleep deprived.

However, if it seems like no matter how much sleep you get at night and/or naps you take during the day, you are still sleepy as all get out, what that could be telling you is that you are low in Vitamin B12. I can personally attest to this because I was sleepy a lot (and I get no less than six hours a night and sometimes a nap) until I started taking a B12 supplement. When you're low in this vitamin, it can trigger sleepiness or even sleeplessness because it plays a significant role in maintaining your energy levels.

It's kinda crazy that a lot of us are Vitamin B12 deficient when most of us only need .002 mg a day of it. Anyway, foods that are a good source of this nutrient include liver, fortified cereals, shellfish, nutritional yeast and milk alternatives (like almond or oat milk).

8. Food Cravings

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Last fall, I wrote an article about signs that you've got a sugar addiction going on (you can check it out here). One indication is if you're constantly wanting to eat sweets all of the time. Well, along these same lines, if you're experiencing food cravings, that too could mean that you've not some nutrient deficiencies happening. Sweets typically mean that you can stand to have more magnesium or tryptophan. Fatty foods mean you need more calcium. Red meat, caffeine or the desire to chew ice means you're low in iron. Salt is oftentimes connected to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

Wanting to eat bread all of the time could also mean that you could use a tryptophan boost (because you are looking for something to make you feel better and bread is a comfort food. Tryptophan helps to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin so that you don't want bread as much). Foods that are high in tryptophan include tuna, cheese, turkey, milk and apples.

While I certainly wasn't able to tackle all of the nutrient deficient-related issues that exist, take this as a bit of an intro cheat sheet. Again, if you are currently experiencing any of these issues, try getting more vitamins and minerals into your system. You might be surprised just how big of an impact...a little bit of tweaking can make.

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

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As the sun shines and the weather heats up, we're inching closer to a breakout summer like no other. With most of us excited to be outdoors with our loved ones, it's time to get into the looks we've been mentally preparing for the past year and a half sitting at home. While I've gotten accustomed to the basic black and heather grey combinations from the loungewear overload we experienced, those dark days are finally over and I'm ready to brighten up my summer wardrobe.

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