I promise you that I love Black men; especially the kind of Black men like the one I recently held an impromptu conversation with. Here's the set up—while I was out supporting some local musicians at an event (if you're ever rolling through Nashville on a Sunday, check out Jason Eskridge's IG page to see if Sunday Night Soul is going on), I ended up catching up with a pretty well-known local celebrity musician in the city. Brandon Newsome is his name.
Anyway, as he was telling me about his deep love—and lust, in the most complimentary way possible—for Black women, this man who's in his mid-30s said something that made me high-five him as well as pat him on the back—"You know what I really love? Stretch marks and cute little dimples on the thighs. That's some grown woman ish right there!" Beautiful.
So, before I even get into how to remove cellulite and stretch marks (among other things), it really should go on record that if you have either, to many grown folks, it's not as unsightly as you might think. Even in a world of photoshopping and IG filters, an—as an ex of mine used to put it—wake-up-face-woman is still revered and in high demand.
But if you want to nix those skin "imperfections" simply because you want to feel more comfortable, I get it. Personally, nothing gets on my nerves more than the pimples that like to creep up on my shoulder blades just in time for June. Anyway, just so you can feel like your best self in your sexy swimsuit and beautiful sundresses, here are some natural ways to remove (or at least soften the appearance of) cellulite, body acne, stretch marks and skin discoloration—oh, and I threw in a couple of natural ways to remove body hair too!
1.Get a Dry Brush
Here's something that will make you want to change your sheets once a week. Did you know that every 60 seconds, we shed around 30,000 dead skin cells? Not every day, every single second! Some of them fall off while "thanks" to the sebum and dirt that's on our body, others stick. What helps to remove them is dry brushing before taking a shower. Another benefit that comes from dry brushing is it gets your blood and lymphatic system flowing, which ultimately removes toxins, tightens your skin and softens the appearance of cellulite (the totally annoying subcutaneous fat that causes dimpling of the skin).
In order to get the best results, just make sure you use a natural bristle brush; one that is semi-firm. Also, be sure to brush in small circular motions, up towards your heart. It's most effective if you do this 20 minutes at a time, on a weekly basis.
Don't get too excited. When I say "gelatin", I'm not talking about Jell-O. I'm referring to something along the lines of beef gelatin; it's a dietary supplement that contains amino acids glycine and proline that is good for your hair, skin and nails. Plus, it contains 20 grams of collagen per serving and is an awesome source of protein.
According to research on cellulite and what causes it, a lot of us end up with more than we should have on our bodies because we fail to get enough gelatin into our systems. After all, it's a part of what helps to build connective tissue, so without it…there's a little more wiggle and jiggle.
By the way, if you'd prefer not to eat it, there are supplements that you can take too.
3.Take Some Zinc
Again, as someone who battles with shoulder and back acne right before my period and during the summertime, I can personally vouch for what zinc can do for breakouts. In fact, the reason why a lot of us end up with pimples (especially as adults) is because we don't have enough zinc in our system.
So, what exactly does zinc do? What doesn't it do? Zinc increases metabolism, renews cells, balances hormones, supports liver health and aids in nutrition absorption—all of which work to prevent zits from popping up.
As far as how much zinc you should take, nine milligrams a day is good. However, because zinc doesn't absorb well into the skin (neither does collagen; Google that sometime), it's best to avoid the creams and take a zinc supplement and/or eat foods that are high in zinc like eggs, nuts, whole grains, pumpkin and squash seeds and green beans and kale.
4.Apply a DIY Green Tea Toner
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants; that's part of the reason why it's so good for your immune system. The reason why it tops the list for fighting body acne is because it also contains flavonoids, tannins and EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) that work together to slow down sebum production, reduce inflammation and fight bacteria too. Research also reveals that green tea has the ability to hinder the growth of P. acnes, something that is a major factor in acne-prone skin.
A great way to get green tea into the body is to drink it (hot or cold). One way to get it onto your skin is to apply it as a toner. Just boil a couple of tea bags, let it steep and cool and then either put the cooled tea into a spray bottle or apply it onto your freshly-washed skin with cotton balls. Try and do it daily for optimal results.
5.Exfoliate with Baking Soda
Unfortunately, what oftentimes follows a pimple is a scar. If you pick at it, it can take just that much longer for the scar to go away. If you're trying to get a few to fade so that you can avoid wearing quite as much concealer and foundation this summer season, try exfoliating your acne scar tissue with some baking soda. The tiny sodium bicarbonate crystals that's in baking soda will slough off dead skin cells and soften damaged tissue so that new skin will appear quicker.
All you need to do is make a paste out of baking soda and water. Wash the areas where the scars are, tone them and then apply the paste. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes and then rinse with cool water. Not only will the baking soda cleanse your pores and help to prevent future breakouts, but if you do this 1-3 times a week, you should see your acne scars start to fade away within a few weeks as well.
6.Do a Rose Hip Oil Rub
The vitamins and fatty acids in rosehip oil make it a great beauty regimen addition for hair, skin and nails. Not only does it help to treat extremely dry skin, but it also helps to significantly reduce aging signs, grow nails, soothe your scalp, protect your skin from environmental damage. Plus, thanks to its powerful astringent properties and trans-retinoic acid (an acid that regenerates skin cells), rosehip oil can also soothe acne wounds and heal acne scars over time too.
Wanna know what else rosehip oil does? Due to all of the essential fatty acids that are in it, rosehip oil can soften and prevent stretch marks by increasing the strength and elasticity of your skin.
7.Take Some Vitamin K
Speaking of stretch marks, pretty much all of us have a set lurking around somewhere, but do you know what causes them? We all have three layers of skin—epidermis, dermis and base. Stretch marks occur when the middle layer tears; usually because our skin is stretching faster or wider than its elasticity's capacity due to things like pregnancy or extreme weight loss or weight gain.
Although you can't always totally get rid of stretch marks, you can reduce their appearance. One way to do that is by getting more Vitamin K into your system. It works because it helps to add more elasticity to your blood vessels. Foods high in Vitamin K include dark green veggies, chicken, prunes, kiwi, egg yolks, cheddar and butter.
8.Give Yourself an Alfalfa and/or Olive Oil Massage
Speaking of Vitamin K, something else that contains a concentrated amount of it is alfalfa. Alfalfa also has a ton of Vitamin E and essential amino acids in it too. As a bonus, alfalfa contains protein and antifungal properties that will detoxify your skin too. This is why it's something else that's a wonderful remedy for stretch marks.
A great recipe to try is to mix a tablespoon of alfalfa powder with a tablespoon of olive oil (it has vitamins A, D and E in it). Wash your skin, apply the paste onto it and gently massage the areas where the paste is. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse. If you do this three times a week, you should see a noticeable difference in 4-6 weeks.
9.Make a Turmeric Mask
If you're nervous about putting on a new swimsuit due to some skin discoloration that you might have, my first recommendation is to get to the source of what caused it. If it's due to a birthmark or vitiligo, never forget that so-called flaws can be some of the most distinctive and beautiful things about us. On the other hand, if you've got discoloration because of contact dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, tinea versicolor (I've actually had it before; it takes forever to clear up) or even candida, see a doctor. Treating these skin ailments may be all that you need to even out your skin tone.
But if your skin is discolored due to mild hyperpigmentation or aging, there are a couple of natural things that you can try. For starters, how about a turmeric mask? The properties in this particular mask is able to reduce inflammation, lighten dark circles, protect your skin from sun damage (because contrary to popular assumption, we need to use sunscreen too), lighten the appearance of stretch marks and, yes even out (mild) skin discoloration overall.
All you need to do is apply a turmeric mask to the areas where you want to even your skin out. Mix a tablespoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of honey, a half teaspoon of sweet almond oil and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice (lemon contains antioxidants that lighten and brighten skin). Apply the mask to freshly-washed skin, let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. It's best to do this twice a month for optimal results.
10. Apply Some Kiwi Extract
Something else that's awesome is kiwi extract. The high amount of Vitamin E that's in it helps to heal acne scars, reduce age spots and protect your skin from free radicals. Kiwi extract also contains the enzyme actinidin, which is great at exfoliating dead skin cells (something that can make your skin appear dry and dull).
One way to get to most out of what kiwi has to offer is to make your own kiwi sugar scrub. Combine two cups of white granulated sugar with three kiwis and one-half up of grapeseed oil. Mix everything together and gently massage your damp skin with it. Then wash as usual. Another approach is to take kiwi extract in supplement form. Just a heads up—supplements ain't cheap, so you might just wanna go the produce route instead.
11.Use a Pumice Stone
Once your skin is fresh, radiant and summer-ready, the only thing left to do is to remove any unwanted hairs. If you're known to nick yourself shaving and/or you hate waxing, why not try a pumice stone? I know, you probably thought they were only for your feet; however, there are lots of women who say the stone is also really good at getting rid of fine hairs too.
All you need to do is rub the stone on your clean dry skin in small circular motions. The pores in the stone will cling to your hairs and pull them out. Just make sure to thoroughly moisturize afterwards and to avoid using the stone on your face, underarms or bikini line. It's a bit too harsh for sensitive areas.
12. Try a Papaya
One more tip—a papaya. Although this fruit won't remove hair, what it does do is weaken hair follicles over time so that you won't have to worry about hair coming back. Mash a teaspoon of fresh papaya with a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Lay out a towel that you don't mind getting dirty (turmeric has a tendency to stain) and apply the paste liberally to the areas where you want to get rid of unwanted hair for good. Let the paste sit for 15 minutes and thoroughly rinse off with warm water. If you do this once a week, you should see a reduction in hair growth in about a month. Pretty cool, huh?
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you are looking to bring a little spice into your life, dating a fire sign is the way to do it. These bold lovers are confident enough to take the lead but may surprise you with how generous they are as well. Fire signs are the heat, the passion, the charisma, and the heart of the zodiac. They are often the initiators in love, and don’t mind making the first move. The three fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, love uniquely in their own way, but all have a lasting impact on those they meet.
You can feel a fire sign’s energy from a mile away, and getting close to them on a romantic level is a whole other type of heat.
Fire Signs in Love: What Is It Like To Date a Fire Sign?
Dating a fire sign is exciting, heartfelt, intense, and sexy. Fire signs are some of the most independent of the zodiac signs, yet they are also some of the most loyal. Their inner fire will warm your heart, but treat them badly, and it can just as easily burn. Due to fire signs' nature of feeling everything a little more heightened, they make empathic lovers, but they can also let their feelings overwhelm them and become easily irrational or agitated.
Fire signs can get heated quickly, and dating an unevolved one can get messy as they love to put on a show. They need a partner who is a good balance to their fierce nature, but someone who isn’t going to put out their inner fire in the process.
When it comes to who fire signs are looking to date, they look for partners who can love just as passionately as they can, and expect an unwavering type of loyalty. They are also looking for confident lovers, as they aren’t one to play games or beat around the bush. They are the type of partner to be your biggest cheerleader and will support you in all your endeavors, building up your self-esteem in the process.
These lovers are ready to risk it all when it comes to their relationships and love, and dating them is a fun adventure, to say the least. These are creative, confident, romantic, and heart-warming souls, and dating a fire sign is inspiring.
Dating an Aries
Aries are independent lovers. They are free spirits that are a little hard to settle down with, as most fire signs are, yet you will know how much they are willing to give and put into the relationship through their efforts. You have to be going at the same pace as them in life, and they need to see you as someone who can keep up with them to gain their respect and commitment. Aries have a vision when it comes to their life and love, and are looking for a partner that aligns with their plans or goals that they have for themselves.
Aries, at their best, are loyal and exciting; at their worst, they are competitive and brash.
When it comes to dating an Aries, they want to do things that keep their energy moving and stimulate them. They are fun lovers and are constantly doing things as a young soul does, fueling their spirit. Aries doesn’t want to feel restricted or limited in any way and seek relationships where there is a certain amount of freedom, which in turn sometimes leads them into emotionally unavailable relationships. An evolved Aries seeks their balance and finds themselves in long-lasting partnerships where they can still feel authentically themselves.
Dating an Aries is a compelling adventure.
Learn how an Aries pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Leo
Dating a Leo is like entering a rom-com movie. Leos are bold, outspoken, and dramatic lovers. They tend to prefer a spotlight on them, but when it comes to love, they are usually willing to share the stage. Leos want a grand love. They are all about outrageous romantic gestures, complete and utter loyalty, and a little spice. Leos want to be adored, and when you are dating one, they want all of your attention to be on them. Evolved Leos understand they cannot be the center of everyone's world, but Leo’s still going through their love journey may find themselves entertaining drama and controlling the scenario.
Leo’s, at their best, are playful and loving; at their worst, they are irrational and disruptive.
All in all, however, Leos can make some of the best partners to date as they rule the 5th house, the house of romance, dating, love, and flirtation. They are fun partners and are often the ones planning the dates or outings, and creating an atmosphere that is happy and inviting. They are the type to create an uplifting energy in their relationships, and you can expect a lot of laughs in this pairing. Leos don’t hold back when it comes to most things in life, including love. They will express their love and admiration for you often and will expect the same respect in turn.
Dating a Leo is a statement.
Learn how a Leo pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Sagittarius
Sagittariuses are hard to grasp, but if they decide to let you into their world, you’ll find a space of wonder, adventure, and magic. There are many different stages a Sagittarius moves through in love, and as much as they like to do things quickly in all other aspects of their lives, when it comes to dating, they tend to take it more slowly. They are not the type to be in a rush to define the relationship and take their time when opening their heart. You will feel their love, their personality, and their attention, but getting to know their deepest selves, their goals, and their dreams is going to take time for Sagittarius, and they prefer to have some fun with you while they get there.
Sagittarius, at their best, are warm and hopeful; at their worst, they are harsh and disingenuous.
Being ruled by abundant Jupiter, Sagittarius lives larger than life. They want a love that feels like it was destined by the stars, and it needs to make sense and fall into place for them with ease. They are looking for all types of synchronicities and signs when dating you, and once you make it past this stage, they truly have their eyes open to you. Sagittarius wants to go on adventures, learn, travel, and explore the world and you while dating. This is a spontaneous sign, and if you can match their energy of passion and wanderlust, then this is a good match for you when it comes to love.
Dating a Sagittarius is a journey.
Learn how a Sagittarius pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
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