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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood