I don't know one woman who doesn't want to have flawless skin and gorgeous hair. Both goals are a huge part of the reason why the beauty industry is a billion-plus dollar business. Unfortunately, what a lot of companies won't tell you (again, because they're a business) is it really doesn't matter how much stuff you put on your body or in your hair, if your internal system is all out of wack. That said, there are certain foods that can almost assure you that they can help to make that happen.
Before getting into what 10 of them are, it's important to say that I'm not stating that you should never have any of these ever again. I'm just saying that if you're getting more pimples on your face than you can handle or your hair isn't flourishing as much as you thought your latest shampoo and conditioner would get it to, it could be because you need to switch up your diet a bit. Because there are certain things in some of our favorite and/or commonly consumed foods that science has proven can literally jack our skin and hair all the way up.
At some point, I really should write an article that's entirely devoted to why dairy isn't the best thing for our health, along with the alternatives that make switching well worth your while. For now, I'll just suggest that you read about why it's not good for your vagina here and then also file it as something that your skin and hair aren't super fond of either. For one thing, the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that are in a lot of dairy products can throw your own hormones off balance and trigger unwanted breakouts. Know what else is a trip? The acidic levels in dairy can damage your hair follicles over time. If your follicles ain't right, your hair can't grow.
2. Fast Food
Fast food might taste good and seem convenient (because you don't have to prepare it and it's relatively cheap). Still, it's not the best thing for your overall health and well-being (check out "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone"). It also sucks at providing good results for your skin and hair. Honestly, I'm thinking that this might be a no-brainer due to all of the sugar and high fats that most fast food contains. Both of those things can lead to acne issues. Also, since fast food oftentimes contains chemicals that can put your hormones on quite a roller coaster ride, that along with how much it lacks in the daily nutrition that your body needs, means that it can affect your hair's growth cycle too. Not in a good way either.
3. Non-Organic Fruits and Veggies
Fresh fruits and veggies are your skin and hair's best friends. No doubt about it. The reason why you should go with the organic ones is because a lot of what you see in the produce section of your favorite grocery store contain pesticides. Pesticides aren't good on a lot of levels yet as it relates to your skin, it can irritate it and also increase signs of aging. The way that pesticides can affect your hair is, because they can weaken your immune system over time, that can ultimately result in hair loss. If you're curious about what fruits and vegetables happen to contain the most pesticides, the Environmental Working Group can help you out if you click here.
Swordfish is high in mercury. I'll get why that is problematic in a minute. However, did you know that high fructose corn syrup contains a fair amount of mercury too? Geeze. There are a ton of things that contain it (soda, fruit juice, candy, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, granola bars and energy drinks, for starters), so definitely don't just Kanye shrug this point off.
As if the fact that too much mercury can lead to neurological and behavioral issues (such as anxiety, mood swings, muscle weakness, vision impairment and depression) isn't disturbing enough, it can also stunt your hair's growing phases and it can lighten your skin.
In fact, Allure did an entire article on it entitled, "Dangerous Levels of Mercury Found in Some Skin-Care Products Bought on Amazon and eBay". Check it out when you get a chance.
Alcohol has its benefits (check out "Liquors That Are Gluten-Free (& Beneficial In Other Ways)"). Still, everything needs to be done in moderation, right? The reasons why alcohol made this list, though, are multi-faceted. For one thing, it can also trigger inflammation within your system. Also, when it comes to your skin, it can dilate your pores which can not only lead to blackheads and whiteheads but inflamed papules and cystic acne too (whew). And your hair? Well, since it's really no secret that alcohol dehydrates us (and most of us are dehydrated anyway), too much alcohol can leave your hair looking dry and feeling brittle. Who wants that?
6. High-Glycemic Foods
You're probably not gonna be the most thrilled about this one. Sorry for that. Basically, a high-glycemic food is one that quickly raises your blood sugar levels which I'm sure you can guess isn't a good thing. When you eat foods that fall into the low-glycemic category (like fruits, veggies and low-processed foods), it lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease. It also decreases the risk of your skin getting its collagen levels messed up (due to high-glycemic foods' sugar levels). By "messed up", I mean that high-glycemic foods can lead to a lack of elasticity and youthfulness. As far as your hair goes, it doesn't need high-glycemic foods either because it can increase inflammation, damage your hair follicles and possibly lead to hair loss. And just what foods are considered to be high-glycemic? Basically, the fun stuff—white bread, white pasta, white rice, cake and cookies. By the way, here's what else makes the high-glycemic list that you may not have seen coming. Ready? Watermelon, pineapple and dried fruit. Chile. CHILE.
7. Too Much Vitamin A
When it comes to this particular point, let me first say that Vitamin A is good for your skin and hair on a few levels. Skin-wise, it moisturizes it, boosts your skin's immunity, helps to prevent breakouts and can even speed up the healing process if you've got acne or a cut or wound on your skin. As far as your hair goes, because Vitamin A helps cells to grow. Since, next to bone marrow, hair is the fastest growing tissue in your entire body, I'm pretty sure you can connect the dots there.
Here's the challenge, though. While you've got to basically try and overdo it when it comes to Vitamin A consumption, it is indeed possible. Health-wise, too much of it can lead to headaches, nausea and even comas and death. And when it comes to your skin and hair specifically, too much of Vitamin A can do the opposite of what I just said.
So, how much Vitamin A do you need? Many medical professionals say somewhere around 700 micrograms for us and 900 for men. For us, that breaks down to about 2.5 ounces. This means that if eggs, oranges and dark leafy greens are your thing, enjoy. Just remember that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
8. Processed Meat
If you've ever wondered what processed meat actually is, it's meat that has been preserved by the process of curing, salting, smoking, drying or canning. Off top, you know this means that it's got quite a bit of preservatives in it, right? Anyway, meats that would fall into this category include hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami and smoked meats. Since processed meats contain a lot of sodium, that can lead to puffiness, swelling of the skin and premature aging. Too much sodium can dry your hair out too.
9. Vegetable Oil
I'm someone who likes to cook a lot. Sometimes what I'm preparing requires oil. What I've stayed away from, for years at this point, is vegetable oil. Long story short, the unsaturated fats in vegetable oil, when they are warmed up, they oxidize (lose freshness). As a direct result, the fats not only make your body tissues more vulnerable to harm, the fats can also trigger inflammation which can definitely lead to things like premature aging, wrinkles, sagging and breakouts. By the way, the same thing applies to soybean oil.
Something else to keep in mind about vegetable (and soybean) oil is, because it's an omega-6 kind of oil, that's one more reason why it's not the best thing for you. While on one hand, omega-6 fatty acids can help to relieve symptoms that are related to eczema, psoriasis and even dandruff, too much of it triggers inflammation to your skin and hair follicles too.
So, what kind of oils are better for you? How about trying avocado (it contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids); walnut (it has a good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids); extra virgin olive oil (it's an unrefined oil that's high in antioxidants); peanut (if it's refined, it's high in Vitamin E), and/or flaxseed (it's packed with omega-3s which can actually fight bodily inflammation) oil.
10. Fruit Juice. Kinda.
This says "kinda" because when fruit juice is 100 percent pure and consumed in moderation, it's not a bad thing. The reality, though, is a lot of us don't drink pure juice; we consume that kind that has a ton of sugar in it. How much? A cup, on average, contains a whopping 23 grams. And how much sugar does your body need a day? 24 grams. Exactly.
We've already touched on the fact that too much sugar in your system can wreak total havoc on your skin and hair. It's really easy to drink triple and quadruple the amount of sugar that you need on a daily basis under the guise of "it's just apple or orange juice". Yeah, be careful with that. Too much sugar is never good. Sometimes, the current state of our skin and hair is living proof of this very fact. That's why you should have no more than a glass or two and drink water the rest of the day. Every part of your body, inside and out, will be glad that you did. Your hair and skin included.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Squeeze Your Way To Ecstasy: How This Masturbation Technique Can Make You Orgasm
What if I told you that you can achieve an orgasm by simply squeezing your thighs together? Believe it or not, this technique has been known to lead to some seriously orgasmic experiences and is gaining popularity among people who want to explore new ways of reaching orgasm. There's a word for this, it’s called syntribation. The act of squeezing or rubbing the thighs together to create friction and pressure until climax.
First, let's talk about the anatomy behind this technique. The pelvic nerves responsible for arousal and orgasm pass through the thighs, so squeezing them can stimulate these nerves and send a rush of pleasure to your genitals. Additionally, the muscles in your thighs tense up during orgasm, so squeezing them can replicate that sensation and potentially lead to the real deal.
How To Do Syntribation
Start by crossing your legs and squeezing your thighs. Keep going until you feel a pleasurable pressure on your clit/glans area. Another method is by putting your hands in the middle of your inner thighs. Then cross your legs and squeeze your thighs as tight as you can. Note that your hands are not doing anything - they are just sandwiched between your thighs. Using this method will provide more pressure and squeezing sensation.
You can also practice syntribation with sex toys as long as they’re not chunky vibes and dildos. Simply place the sex toy in the middle of your thighs, and let it vibrate as you syntribate.
Is Syntribation Safe?
While syntribation masturbation is a relatively new masturbation technique, it does not pose any major risks to your physical health. The one potential risk is possibly skin irritation from friction, but that can be avoided by wearing long pants or using a cushion between your legs.
The Benefits of Syntribation
As with any masturbation technique, this one will have some health benefits, including a boosted immune system, reduced stress, glowing skin, stronger vaginal walls, and so on. Syntribation masturbation can offer a new way to explore your sexuality and achieve sexual pleasure. It can be a great alternative for people who prefer not to use their hands or fingers during masturbation.
In addition to enhancing feelings of pleasure and relaxation, syntribation may even appeal to voyeurs and exhibitionists who are intrigued by the idea of public play.
Is Syntribation Effective?
The effectiveness of syntribation masturbation varies from person to person. Some people may find it more pleasurable than traditional methods of masturbation, while others may not enjoy it at all. It ultimately comes down to individual preferences and experiences. However, if you are looking to try something new and explore different ways to achieve orgasm, syntribation masturbation can be worth giving a try.
Although syntribation masturbation may sound unusual, it is gaining popularity as a way to explore new methods of achieving sexual pleasure. It’s hands-free and has no major risks. Even though the effectiveness of syntribation masturbation varies from person to person, depending on individual preferences and experiences, ultimately, I think it’s worth giving it a try.
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