Self-care Sunday is amazing, in theory. But in reality, being a professional working woman can leave hardly anytime for self-care. So many of us desperately crave a quiet night at home, a hot bath while deep conditioning our hair and have to balance that with making time for Sunday brunch with friends. By working long hours, after-hours and trying to hold on to some sliver of a social life, we put a hefty tax on the time that could be used taking care of ourselves.
Because of this, I'm always investigating new ways to up my skincare routine in any way that is low-maintenance and helps me along my journey to optimal health. I recently attended a facial cupping workshop hosted by New York-based naturopathic practitioner, acupuncturist, and herbalist, Dr. Naika Apeakorang. In the very quaint and cozy Natural Feeling Spa, we were introduced to this ancient beauty secret that improves circulation, heals and regenerates tissue, restores energy, and has been around for more than 5,000 years.
If taking a silicone suction cup to the face sounds intimidating, believe me it's not. Instead, it's an almost instant skin and natural beauty booster you didn't know you needed.
Here's are a few reasons to give it a try:
Facial cupping is a stress reliever.
Facial cupping is like a deep tissue massage for your face. Dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles are just a few ways stress shows up on our face. The practice of facial cupping requires using suction cups directly on skin to promote circulation and relieve muscle tension. Our face is full of nerves and pleasure points and yet we spend very little time, or none at all, addressing all the stress we carry in our most outward appearance and interactions with the rest of the world. Facial cupping can decrease anxiety and be a mood enhancer. Meaning how we look has a lot to do with how we feel. Less stress and anxiety means healthy, glowing skin.
Facial cupping promotes glowing skin.
Another way that facial cupping promotes healthy, glowing skin is by increasing blood circulation, stimulating collagen and encouraging elasticity in the skin. The main function of the blood is to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, which includes the face. The suction of cupping brings blood to the top of your skin, revitalizing the skin, giving the face a natural contour and enhancing your natural beauty.
"What you put in your body is just as important, if not more important, than what you put on your body," Dr. Apeakorang said. She suggests eating more fruits with antioxidants, like beets and blueberries, that have nutrients that contribute to clear and luminous skin. She also encourages dandelion and burdock root to support blood health, which in combination would further result in flawless skin.
Facial cupping helps with congestion.
Spring season is drawing near! Facial cupping can help relieve allergy symptoms such as sinus congestion. Congestion of the face and body can be areas of thickened lymph, which blocks drainage and creates more congestion. Facial cupping improves drainage and relieves congestion by way of lymphatic liquefaction and drainage.
Facial cupping is detoxifying.
The lymphatic system plays a key role in health. Muscle movement is needed to push lymph fluid through the body. A lack of movement can result in a lazy lymphatic system and an unwanted buildup of toxins. Facial cupping stimulates the lymphatic vessels and facilitates toxin elimination.
Facial cupping deepens your skincare routine.
Facial cupping improves product absorption and nutrient delivery to the skin. The suction of the rubber cup opens up your pores and makes product seep in deeply. By increasing the depth and efficacy of skincare products, it directly helps reduce the appearance of acne scarring and blemishes.
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Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on April 9, 2019
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DeJanae Evins is a certified cannabis educator, consultant and the creator of GreenGoddessGlow, a digital resource at the intersection of cannabis and wellness encouraging mindful cannabis self-care practices. Evins is also a freelance health and wellness writer often discussing topics around sexual health and women's empowerment. Since learning about the Plant Queendom and the many ways we can use plant medicine to heal ourselves both individually and on a global scale, Evins has been vocal in both the cannabis and wellness communities about integrating cannabis in her approach to holistic health. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @dejanaetanye.
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
These 30-minute to 1-hour-long strolling adventures have given us a way to clear our minds and listen to our favorite songs, all while staying active and getting our bodies moving. And while we may have grown accustomed to having a fire playlist or podcast as the soundtrack to our walks, there's a new, more mindful alternative that’s taking a spin on your sidewalk struts.
“Silent walks” are the new walking trend that’s offering a deeper mind and body connection while taking a solo walk. Sure, the thought of having to take a walk for any duration of time while alone with your thoughts may seem unnatural, but you may be surprised to learn that tapping into that silence around you could give you an extra boost of clarity that you’re looking for.
As explained by the creator of “silent walks,” TikTok user Mady Maio, the idea was sparked by her boyfriend challenging her to take a distraction-free walk without the audio support of music or podcasts. While she was resistant to the challenge because her “anxiety could never,” Maio soon found that after two minutes of her mind going “haywire,” she was able to tap into a flow state that allowed her to hear herself and her thoughts more clearly.
#stitch with @KENZIEELIZABETH WE’RE SILENT WALKING ALL SUMMER, BABE 🚶 #walkinggirls #girlswhowalk #meditativewalk #intentionalwalk
Many times when we go on walks, the goal is to either get fresh air or clear our minds from all the mental junk that’s been floating around throughout the day. But when we don’t allow ourselves the space to sit in silence, our inner voice can be drowned out by external distractions and stimuli.
As the creator of the trend notes, God, the Universe, or whichever higher power you connect to has a tendency to speak in whispers. But if we’re unable to tap into quiet and still moments within our days, we could miss an opportunity to receive the answers that could come to us in the silence.
Silence allows us to tap into a meditative state. When we practice quieting our minds and focusing our attention inward, without the use of external guidance or verbal cues, we’re able to decrease brain fog, find solutions to our tangled thoughts, and let new ideas flow.
Silent walks also connect back to the original goals of its predecessor, hot girl walks, which encouraged walkers to focus on three main things: their goals, how they’re going to achieve those goals, and all the things they’re grateful for. Only this time, you're getting your dopamine hit from the thoughts you’re able to produce as opposed to the music, podcast, and phone calls you’re typically tuned into.
When channeled properly, silence is the gift that keeps on giving. With many people finding silent walks to be a valuable tool for reducing stress, enhancing mental clarity, and increasing overall well-being, this is your invitation to leave the headphones at home and plug into the world around you on your next outdoor journey.
Featured image by Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images