Before the pandemic hit, something that I did pretty religiously was get my nails done. While I proudly rocked long almond-shaped ones that were all mine, I enjoyed getting them powder-dipped or having a gel manicure that would last for weeks on end. However, once I read that long nails aren't exactly "pandemic-friendly" because they tend to store up a lot of germs and I also had to get used to taking care of my own nails (since salons were closed), I started to pay closer attention to how to care of them more than ever. This included when it came to my diet.
Something that you may already know is our nails are made up of a fibrous structural protein called keratin. This automatically means that our nails need protein in order to stay healthy. Not only that but since nails, on average, grow around 2 1/3 millimeters each month, it's important that we consume foods that will increase blood circulation, encourage cell growth and strengthen our nails in the process.
In walks eight foods that will do just that. Whether you stay in the nail salon or you care for your nails at your crib, if you want to see less brittleness, breakage and splitting, these are some of the foods that will help you to accomplish your goal.
One of the best things about eggs is how much protein they've got in them (about six grams per serving). Again, since your nails are made up of protein, I'm pretty sure you can see why I decided to list eggs as one of the best foods for your nails first. Eggs also have a good amount of Vitamin B12, selenium and choline in them. Choline is dope because it helps to build cell membranes (which is something else that your nails need). Also, since eggs have the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in them which can protect your nails (and hair and skin) from damaging UV rays while also promoting elasticity, it certainly can't hurt to add more eggs to your diet.
Another Egg Angle for Your Nails: DIY Eggs and Honey Nail Strengthening Mask Recipe
Cauliflower is the kind of vegetable that's packed with Vitamin C while also being a good source of fiber, folate, choline, the antioxidant sulforaphane and Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K. Vitamin C is really good for your nails because it helps to increase the levels of collagen in your body. That's good to know because collagen works to make your nails less brittle. Sulforaphane is beneficial because it's able to reduce bodily inflammation. Vitamin K is cool because, as we age, our body needs more of this nutrient added to our system; in part, to strengthen our nails and to keep them from breaking as easily.
Another Cauliflower Angle for Your Nails: Cauliflower (Colored) Nail Polish by Palate Polish. It's vegan and cruelty-free.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are considered to be a "perfect" food; a superfood, if you will. It's a starchy veggie that also has plenty of protein and fiber. The amount of Vitamin A that sweet potatoes contain is totally off of the charts (almost 770 percent of the daily value that you need). It's also high in Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamin B6 and potassium, and it contains an impressive amount of pantothenic acid, copper and niacin too.
Your nails need copper because it helps to slow down their aging process. Your nails need manganese because it plays a significant role in the synthesis and production of connective tissue that your nails require.
So, definitely try and eat a baked sweet potato or treat yourself to some sweet potato fries a few times a month (at least).
Another Sweet Potato Angle for Your Nails:Sweet Potato Face Mask (that you can also apply to your hands)
You're gonna be hard-pressed to read an article about foods that are good for you and not see salmon somewhere on the list. As far as your nails go, salmon's omega-3 fatty acids help to deeply moisturize your nails from the inside out, the vitamin B-complex in it contains amino acids that will help to build protein and keep your nails from splitting and peeling, and zinc helps to alleviate white spots on nails (which is typically a sign of having a zinc deficiency).
Another Salmon Angle for Your Nails: Rub some fish oil on your nails a couple of times a week to keep your cuticles moisturized and your nails nice and shiny.
Blueberries are a low-calorie fruit snack that definitely will give your system plenty of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, fiber and manganese. Since they are made up of 85 percent water, blueberries can help to keep your nails hydrated as well. Not only that but did you know that if you don't have enough manganese in your system, that can lead to splitting and/or breaking nails? This means that every time you sprinkle some blueberries onto your cereal or you drink a homemade blueberry smoothie, you will be helping your nails to get stronger by the day!
Another Blueberries Angle for Your Nails: Blueberry Lemon Scrub. Exfoliating your hands (including your nails) can help to remove dead skin cells, even their skin tone and increase blood circulation which will ultimately encourage your nails to grow faster.
6. Yellow Peppers
Although red peppers actually have the most nutritional value, don't sleep on what yellow bell peppers can do for you too. They've also got a good amount of protein in them as well as Vitamin C (569 percent of the daily value), potassium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, Vitamin B6 and folate. All of this works together to reduce free radicals, detoxify your system and slow down the signs of aging.
Also, since phosphorus helps to repair, maintain and even grow tissues and cells while calcium helps to heal damaged tissue, your nails will thank you, every time you dig into a yellow pepper, for sure.
Another Yellow Pepper Angle for Your Nails:Morning Tang Juice Recipe
Fiber helps to detoxify. Folate assists with cell growth and division. Vitamin E works to keep free radicals at bay. Vitamin C reduces oxidative stress and strengthens one's immunity. These are all nutrients that kiwi has in them. As a bonus, when you eat them along with iron-rich foods (such as red meat, dark leafy greens, beans and dried fruit), kiwi can help your system to absorb iron more quickly. And all of this is essential if you want to have long nails that won't break.
Another Kiwi Angle for Your Nails: Kiwi Nail Art Tutorial
Oats are another food that is really good for you. It's a gluten-free whole grain that has a lot of manganese (191 percent of your daily value) as well as phosphorus, protein, fiber, magnesium, copper, zinc, folate and vitamins B1 and B5. Something else that oats contain is the plant compound polyphenols. When it comes to your nails, this is a good thing because that is a compound that is able to protect your nail beds' cells while also keeping your nails hydrated and preventing them from splitting. Just one more food that will help your nails to thrive, from the inside out, in every way!
Another Oats Angle for Your Nails: Check out Allure's feature "Oat Milk Nails Are the Nail-Art Equivalent to No-Makeup Makeup".
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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. ;)
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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'Act II': Beyoncé's Country Era Is Paying Homage To Black Artists & Daring Us To Exist In Any Space We Choose
Super Bowl Sunday Queen Bey struck again, snatching all our edges and keeping us in the same chokehold we’ve been in for the past couple of decades. After her Verizon commercial, where she alluded to her power to break the internet, Beyoncé essentially broke the internet with her announcement that Renaissance Act II would be released on March 29, 2024. The final drop in this marketing masterpiece was the release of two new singles, “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” which have both soared to number one and two in the iTunes country music category.
However, despite the pure excitement by the BeyHive to follow Beyoncé wherever she leads them, there has already been pushback in the country music arena to deny the Queen access. Oklahoma station KYKC 100.1 FM denied a listener's request to hear Beyoncé’s new songs on its station because “We do not play Beyoncé' [sic] as we are a country music station," it responded via email.
This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has been dismissed in the genre. In 2016, when she released "Daddy’s Lessons" on Lemonade, she not only was met with backlash from country music fans but was also denied by the Recording Academy’s Country Committee after she submitted the record for a Grammy.
Beyoncé (2nd R) performs onstage with Emily Robison, Natalie Maines, and Martie Maguire of Dixie Chicks at the 50th annual CMA Awards in 2016.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
We saw a similar response to Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road" in 2019 when the original single was removed from the Billboard Country charts because it didn’t “embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” Lil Nas X went on to win a Grammy with Billy Ray Cyrus for the song’s music video but was only accepted into the category after Cyrus joined for the remix.
Though the origins of the country music genre are an extension of Black culture and African ancestry, Black artists have been essentially erased from the genre's existence. Examples of this are the modern-day banjo – featured in many country songs – which is a descendant of the West African instrument, the Akonting. As with most things in American history, once white audiences were introduced to the banjo in a more “acceptable” manner through racist minstrel shows of the 1850s-1870s, it was quickly appropriated.
This unintentionally led to the creation of the 1920s Hillbilly music, which at the time was mainly popular in the South and later evolved into the country genre we know today. Hillbilly music drew its inspiration from slave spirituals, field songs, hymns, and the blues, which all originated within the Black community, and up until the end of World War I when major record labels rebranded it as country, the genre was successfully integrated.
In fact, in Patrick Huber’s 2013 essay, "Black Hillbillies: African American Musicians On Old-Time Records, 1924–1932," he details the vast diversity in the genre. In the time period chronicled, approximately 50 Black artists were featured on commercialized records within Hillbilly music. Huber’s essay was part of a larger work edited by Diane Pecknold, "Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music," which focused on the large contributions Black musicians had to the industry.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Despite the huge success Hillbilly music had, record labels couldn’t fully capitalize on it while remaining diverse because of segregation throughout America. In order to market the music and artists to “mainstream” America, music executives not only segregated the genre but promoted it as “white music” and as white southerners migrated throughout the country, they took with them the ideology that country music was solely theirs. This eventually led to the erasure of Black artists and their contributions to their artistry and history.
These artists include DeFord Bailey, who was the first Black musician to play the Grand Ole Opry, and Charley Pride, the first Black person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many of us know musical legend Ray Charles for his contribution to soul music, but it isn’t common knowledge that his ability to blend country, R&B, and pop music greatly influences country music to this day. Additionally, Gus Cannon made jug bands (an ancestor to country music) popular in the 1920s and taught Johnny Cash, who is a country music icon.
As we make efforts to honor and acknowledge the Black musicians who helped mold country music into what it is today, we must also acknowledge how the intersectionality of Black womanhood has practically left this demographic out of the country music fabric completely.
As Black women face both racism and sexism (a.k.a. misogynoir), their denial of entry has been easier to maintain in this genre. Linda Martell, the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry, released her debut album, Color Me Country, in 1970. Though still considered a pioneer to many, her career was short, and she faced relentless discrimination and violence within the industry that eventually led her to leave country music altogether. The documentary, Bad Case of The Country Blues: The Linda Martell Story, chronicles her experiences from 1969-1975.
Though there are many up-and-coming Black country music artists, Beyoncé's entrance into this arena creates a clear and imminent threat to the genre’s marketing strategy that it is “white music.” She might be one of the most unapologetically Black artist of our times, penning lyrics such as, “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros” and “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”
Argue with me if you like, but for the past decade, Beyoncé has been uplifting and celebrating Black culture and history.
She has made it clear that she has no desire to assimilate herself or her music into mainstream white culture. She is proud of who she is and where she comes from, which is why her making a country music album is a natural progression. Beyoncé's roots are in Texas, she often talks about her love for her state and her upbringing, and just as we heard in Act I of Renaissancewith the inspirations pulled from Chicago house, funk, soul, gospel, and New Orleans Bounce music; we will be serenaded by another layer of her upbringing and soul in Act II.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance is her unabashed way of not only using her stardom to prove that Black people are not a monolith but also paying homage to the Black artists who paved the way for her but are seemingly erased from history.
She highlights the multifaceted nature of Black culture and ignites conversations that force the full history of these genres to be represented and told. As a Black woman who grew up in Alabama and isn’t ashamed to share her love for country music, I was thrilled to hear "Daddy Lessons" in 2016 and I can’t wait for Act II of Renaissance to come out on March 29.
Whether you’re a member of the BeyHive or not, I hope you can see how Beyoncé’s musical evolution is allowing space for Black people, and moreover, Black women, to exist in whatever space they choose to pursue without feeling the need to diminish, readjust, or mold themselves into what someone else says you should be.
Through her art, she is creating a space for us all to live and exist in our fullness, or in short to live in true liberation.
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