I love my male friends . I really do. There are a billion reasons why, but one of them is because I find myself having the most random conversations with them about stuff that I probably wouldn't give too much credence to otherwise. Take bathing, for example. On the rest and relaxation tip, there aren't too many things that I enjoy more than soaking in the bathtub. Not only does it feel good, but it comes with all sorts of health benefits including the fact that it destresses us , reduces bodily inflammation , lowers our blood pressure , burns calories (some experts say even as much as a long walk does) and even strengthens our immune system .
As I was sharing some of this with a male buddy of mine, he wasn't moved in the least. He actually loathes baths and it's for one main reason. "Shellie, baths are gross. How are you getting clean when you are washing up in your own dirt?" I mean, he kinda has a point. Not a strong enough one for me to quit taking baths altogether, but definitely enough of one to make me do some digging around to see if I'm doing this whole bathing thing right. Come to find out, there were a few areas I could stand to improve on. Hmph. Bathing etiquette. Who knew?
And how can you know if you're bathing "right" or "wrong? Go down this checklist. How many things are you able to nod your head up and down about?
1. Thoroughly Clean Your Bathtub
Brace yourselves because, out of all of the things that I'm about to share, this point will probably evoke the most "ewws".
Did you know that the average bathtub contains 100 times more germs than—wait for it—a trash can? A TRASH CAN.
This is why, before I even get into the rights and wrongs of bath time, it really is important to mention that bathtubs should be thoroughly cleaned after each and every use. If you'd like a few refresher tips on how to get yours to shine and sparkle, there are a couple of good tips here , here and here .
2. Decide What Type of Bath You Want to Take
Not all baths are created equal. Yep, in their own special way, each one has a theme. Although there are dozens of combinations, the ones that come off the top of my head is the stress-relieving bath, the pain-decreasing bath, the "Calgon, take me away" bath, the insomniac bath and the romantic bath. Based on whatever it is that you're trying to achieve up in that tub of yours, that will let you know what to bring.
For instance, if you're taking a bath after working out (if this is the case, try and wait an hour; your body is "too hot" for hot water following exercising and cool water could "shock" your system), bring in some Epsom salt. If it's a bath to help you to sleep, some lavender oil could do you a world of good. Or, if you plan on bringing someone in there with you, a few rose petals and a bottle of wine—which you were probably going to use regardless—will set the scene perfectly.
3. Have Herbal Tea, DIY Body Wash and Essential Oils on Tap
One of the best ways to get herbs into your pores is to put a couple of herbal tea bags into your bathwater (if you want to learn how to make some lavender tea bags, click here ). If you're wondering what some of the best herbs for bathing are—chamomile will relax you; ginger root will detox you; comfrey leaf will heal wounds and reduce scars; calendula will relieve muscle spasms (if you drink it, it can help to regulate your period too) and peppermint will boost your immune system.
Two other things that you should have close by is body wash and some essential oils that you can drop into your bathwater. On the body wash tip, I'm a huge fan of making your own (some cool YouTube videos include " DIY African Black Soap Acne Wash, Body Wash, and Shampoo ", " How to Make Homemade Natural Bodywash " and " How to Make Natural Body Wash | Honey Coconut Body Wash "). As far as oils go, eucalyptus will help to clear your sinuses; bergamot will relax you; a combo of sage and mint will help to balance you out; citrus will reenergize you and cloves and cedarwood will relieve stress.
4. Use the Right Kind of Soap (and Not Too Much of It)
Is there such a thing as using too much soap? Indeed, there is. If you "over-wash", it can dry out your skin. Not only that, but sometimes too much soap can desensitize your skin to the ingredients in it to the point where the soap no longer fights off the germs that it's created to remove.
If you're wondering what kind of soaps will do your body good while you're taking a bath, Byrdie did a pretty cool write up on the best ones, based on your skin types and needs, for 2019. You can check it out here .
Speaking of feeling clean and smelling fresh, if you're still using a popular commercial brand of deodorant, another read that's worth your time is " How to Detox Your Armpits and Switch to a Nontoxic Deodorant ". More and more reasons are coming out for why using "typical" deodorant is not good, but if you want to add another to your list, if you apply it right after getting out of the tub, it can dry out your armpits, making them all itchy and irritated. So yeah…don't do that (anymore).
5. Do Not Shave Immediately Before Bathing
A mistake that I sometimes make on my pedicure appointment days is shaving my legs. The reason why this is such a no-no is because when you shave, it opens up your pores and sometimes creates nicks in your skin too. The bacteria and germs that are in your pedi or bathwater can get into those places; you definitely don't want that. Another problem that can arise from shaving before bathing is it could cause your pores to look dry and dull. So yeah, wait until you are out of the tub before pulling out your razor.
By the way, if you're in the market for a new all-natural shaving product, check out " 7 Best Organic & Natural Shaving Creams For Men + Women ".
6. Warm Up the Bathroom
Here's something that I found to be interesting. Did you know that it's always best to have your bathroom temperature and the temp of your bath water to be as close to being the same as possible? The reason why is because our body is best able to perceive temperatures, in general, by comparing our internal temperature to that of the temps that are around us. I'm pretty sure you don't want it to be a sauna up in there, so around 70 degrees is pretty good.
7. Make Sure the Bathwater Is Lukewarm
As far as bathwater temperatures go, anything above 39 degrees Celsius or 102.2 Fahrenheit can result in a psychological effect that could be counterproductive for your health. The reason why super hot water isn't the best is because the blood vessels on our skin's surface dilate when they touch hot water; that can sometimes result in a heavier blood flow than we need which could put a slight amount of strain on our heart . On the flip side, if the water is too cool, it narrows our blood vessels which isn't good either.
If you want to use cold water, reserve it for showers that are under seven minutes instead. It's a good final rinse on hair wash days because it will seal your cuticles, and a good final rinse for your skin because it can relieve sore muscles while closing up your pores.
8. Add Some Honey and/or Olive Oil to It
If it seems like, no matter what you do, you can't seem to get your skin soft enough, try adding a ½ cup of honey and/or ¼ cup of olive oil. Honey is a natural humectant (it draws moisture into the skin from the water that it's around) and olive oil is loaded with all sorts of antioxidants and antibacterial properties that will protect your skin, seal in moisture and keep your skin baby soft smooth.
Just make sure to pour these things under a faucet of warm running water. That way, they will dissolve fully.
9. Cleanse, Then Remove Your Loofah/Sponge/Scrubber Immediately Following
The thing that you're using to exfoliate your body is removing tons of bacteria and dead skin cells. That's why, once you're done using it, it's not good enough to simply run it underneath your faucet and hang it up. You need to wash your loofah, sponge or body scrubber and then place it somewhere where it can thoroughly dry out. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up to have a moldy situation on your hands.
As far as how to clean these items, some experts recommend soaking them in bleach for five minutes and then thoroughly rinsing them out. They also say that it's a good idea to replace your loofah or sponge every 3-4 weeks (how long have you had yours?), that you should never use it on your face or va-jay-jay and, to keep bacteria from creeping into your skin, you should definitely avoid using it for 1-2 days after you shave.
10. Time Your Towel Drying
Your towel is going to dry you off and keep your warm, no doubt about that. But it's also going to remove any remnants of bacteria off of your skin; that's why it's not a good idea to keep it wrapped around you for longer than 15 minutes or so.
Between the dampness of your skin and the towel itself, that could trap in moisture and bacteria which is a breeding ground for more germs.
Also, make sure not to use the same towels for the rest of your life. If you're curious about why I say that, I wrote more about it in the piece " When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels? ".
BONUS: Considering Taking a Shower---First
And then, a bonus, for my male friend and anyone who thinks like him. If, no matter what, you just can't seem to shake the thought of dirt and soap scum floating in your bathwater, you can always take a shower, clean the tub and then soak in the bath. That way you can feel clean and still reap the rewards of bathing. Hey, it's just a thought.
Now let me get off of this thing and take a bath. The right way.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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 xoNecole exclusive, 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
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood