Damn y'all. Where did the year go? I mean, I get that on some levels, 2020 has seemed like the longest decade ever—but then, on the flip side, it also seems kind of crazy that it's time to pull out our sweaters and winterize our house so that our electricity bill doesn't skyrocket. And then there's our skin. Fall and winter seasons are the time of year when it can be a little more challenging than usual to keep it moisturized and feeling super soft to the touch.
That's where today's beauty article comes in. If you want to give your skin the kind of TLC that, deep down, you know that it truly deserves, I've got some all-natural approaches that will make you happy that fall is officially here—no matter how much cold weather it brings right along with it.
1. Don’t Use Soap. At All.
Off the rip, you would think that soap would actually be a good thing, right? Well, when it comes to washing your hands during a pandemic, it is. But when it comes to using it to clean your body overall, it's absolutely not. For starters, soap not only kills bad bacteria but also the good kind that protects your skin from microbes that are unhealthy. On top of that, soap also strips away the lipids that help to keep your skin soft while providing a protective layer on it. And third, soap is loaded with chemicals (like carcinogens), and since your pores absorb what you put into your skin, you can probably see why that is highly problematic too.
OK, but not washing is nasty, so what should you do? Cleansing oils are a great alternative. They're basically cleaning agents that have an oil base to them so that your skin doesn't end up dry and irritated (Allure has a list of some of the top commercial oil cleansers here). Something that I've been a personal fan of for years is Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap because it lacks unhealthy ingredients and it's got essential oils in it. Or, you can always step out and make your own body wash. When it comes to washing your body, you can get some tips on how to make a cleansing wash by checking out this video. As far as washing your vaginal area, check out "Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes".
2. Exfoliate with a Homemade Coffee Scrub
You end up shedding somewhere between 30,000-40,000 skin cells a day! Aside from that being a good enough reason to change your bedding on a weekly basis, it's also why you should incorporate dry brushing into your body maintenance route. It's also why you should exfoliate your body with a scrub as well. After all, the less dead skin you've got, the easier it will be for your newer layers to show—and to glow.
While a brown sugar scrub is a favorite of mine because brown sugar is a humectant that is able to pull moisture into your skin, today I wanna shout out coffee scrubs instead. They're dope because coffee helps to increase blood circulation throughout your system, reduces the appearance of cellulite, contains properties that are anti-aging, and is proven to even help to improve your skin's tone over time. This means that no matter how harsh the weather may be outside, your skin can still look amazing if you add a little bit of coffee to it.
If this is something that you'd like to try, all you've gotta do is combine one cup of coffee with a ½ cup of brown sugar, a cup of virgin olive oil (it's loaded with antioxidants) and two teaspoons of vanilla essential oil (it's loaded with anti-inflammatory properties). Mix well, apply to damp skin, massage gently, let it sit for five minutes, and rinse thoroughly. Your skin will immediately feel super smooth and smell out of this world too.
3. “Seal” Your Skin After Stepping Out of the ShowerA lot of times, in the area of beauty, whenever the topic of "sealing" comes up, it's usually in the context of sealing our hair's ends. But I'll tell you what—when I started "sealing my body", my skin started to feel next level! This process is extremely simple. All you've gotta do is make sure to have an oil like sweet almond, coconut, grapeseed, avocado or argan oil (all light oils that are packed with nutrients) nearby so that, once you step out of the bath or shower, the water that is on your skin will get "sealed in" by a layer of oil that you put on top of it. Just allow the oil to sit for a couple of minutes and then dry off like usual. Your skin will remain silky smooth until the next time you step into your bathtub.
4. Treat Your Face to Some Honey, Figs and Coconut Milk
From what I've read, figs are at their best in two seasons—June and then August thru October. Since they're such a good source of vitamins A and K, along with potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper, that already makes them something that is good for you to eat. But as far as your skin goes, fig oil's got omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 in it which are fatty acids that can have your face and neck feeling off-the-charts soft and smooth. If you add to the fig oil some honey, its antibacterial and antiseptic properties will remove deeply embedded bacteria as its antioxidants will encourage the production of collagen. Finally, bringing coconut milk into the mix is smart because its Vitamin C will improve your skin's elasticity while its copper will help to keep your skin from sagging as it fades age spots and discoloration too.
A half-cup of coconut milk, two tablespoons of honey and a teaspoon of fig oil will create a mixture that you can apply to your skin with a cotton ball after washing your face. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse with cool water (to close up your pores); your face will be ready for whatever the outdoor weather has awaiting it.
5. Do an Herbal Tea Steam Treatment
Speaking of giving your face an at-home spa treatment, when's the last time you steamed it? Steaming not only feels super soothing but it can also open up your pores so that anything that's clogged up in them will easily dislodge itself. Some other perks to face steaming is it increases blood circulation, hydrates your skin and also promotes the production of collagen and elastin. While you'll already be doing your face (and neck; don't forget your neck!) a big favor by using water alone, you'll be giving it an extra treat if you add 2-3 herbal tea bags to the water too. Some herbal teas that are excellent for your skin include rose (it contains lots of antioxidants); hibiscus (it fights off free radicals); dandelion (it's a great detoxifier); chamomile (it contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties); licorice root (it has amino acids that deeply moisturize your skin); Burdock root (it contains phenolic acid, luteolin, and quercetin that helps to prevent wrinkles), and green tea (its micronutrients will keep your skin looking young and fresh).
Matter of fact, if you want to give your entire body the herbal tea treatment, steep a combo of these bags and let them cool. Then pour them into your bathwater. Every inch of your skin will thank you for it.
6. Make a DIY a Scented Moisturizer
Aside from the fact that fall already dips in humidity which means that your skin is subjected to being drier than usual, you need to moisturize your skin on a daily basis because it helps to keep your new cells healthy and thriving. While some dermatologists actually frown upon moisturizers, I'd venture to say that they take issue with actual lotion because of how thick it is and all of the chemicals that the commercial brands contain. But honestly, if you simply blend one cup of whipped shea butter, four tablespoons of virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of coconut oil and 15 drops of an essential oil, you've got all that you need to give your skin the additional moisture that it longs for during this time of the year.
As far as the essential oils go, if you want to smell like the autumn season, add some apple, pomegranate, sandalwood, patchouli or pumpkin. Pumpkin is really the lick because, studies have revealed, that combining it with lavender essential oil can speed up a man's erection by as much as 40 percent. (Exactly.)
7. Create a Lavender, Avocado and Jojoba Oil Blend (for Your Hands)
Other than when you've got your gloves or mittens on, there's probably no other part of your skin that will take a beating from the fall and winter weather more than your hands. "Baby" them by applying a mixture of lavender, avocado and jojoba oil to them. Lavender essential oil is wonderful because it has antibacterial properties that will help to keep your hands clean, along with anti-inflammatory properties that will soothe your skin after you come in from the bitter cold. Something else that's cool about lavender oil is it's able to properly balance your skin's moisture so that your hands won't be too oily or too dry. Avocado oil is wonderful because it's high in Vitamin E, potassium, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and other monounsaturated fatty acids that are ideal for treating and healing chapped skin. And jojoba oil is a great source of vitamins B and E, as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that will pamper your skin. Plus, jojoba oil is really good for our nails and cuticles too.
Just combine a half cup of avocado oil with a half cup of jojoba oil and add 10 drops of lavender oil. Then apply it to your hands in the morning and evening. They'll feel baby soft and have a nice relaxing scent to them as well.
8. Massage Orange Oil onto Your Feet
One of the reasons why I make sure to get a professional pedicure, year-round, is because the heels of my feet get all dried and cracked if they don't receive some extra special lovin' on a consistent basis. If you can totally relate but your budget is currently a little tight, I wrote an article on how you can do some DIY pedicuring that you can check out right here. Or, if you simply want something that will provide your feet with a little extra moisture, how about applying some orange oil to them? It has antimicrobial properties in it that helps to detoxify your system and pores; it deeply nourishes dry and/or irritated skin; it contains anti-inflammatory properties (if your feet happen have be slightly swollen from being on them all day) and, it's got anti-fungal properties if your feet are susceptible to fungal infections. Not to mention the fact that orange oil has an invigorating scent to put you in a great mood if seasonal depression has you feeling a little on the lower side.
9. Restore Your Skin's pH Balance with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Did you know that the normal pH level balance of our skin is between 4.7 and 5.75? The reason why this is relevant is that, oftentimes, we apply things on our skin that are either way too high (above 7 is alkaline) or much too low (below 7 is acidic). So say, for instance, you purchase a product with a pH level of 9. If you continually use it, it can end up totally drying your skin out and stripping it of its natural moisture. While this is never good, it's especially not beneficial during the fall and winter seasons.
Something that you've probably already got in your kitchen cabinet that is great when it comes to keeping your skin's pH balance right where it should be is olive oil. It is brimming over with antioxidants that help to keep your skin healthy. Olive oil also has omega-3 and polyphenols that are able to deeply moisturize your skin without clogging up your pores in the process. It contains natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties if you happen to have skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. And yes, it helps to keep your skin levels well-balanced too. The reason why I mentioned extra virgin olive oil specifically is that it's made from pure olives and not a blend of cold-pressed and processed oils (like regular olive oil is). The purer your olive oil is, skin-wise, the better.
10. Sleep with Shea Butter on Your Lips
I don't know about y'all but, personally, I don't know if there are too many things more irritating during the colder part of the year than freakin' chapped lips. And although I am definitely a lip gloss junkie, I have honestly not found a better moisturizer, lip protectant or even lip primer for lipstick than shea butter. Between its high concentration of vitamins A, E and F, antioxidants and fatty acids, shea butter really does provide all that you need for your lips to be kissable, soft and smooth. Apply a layer of it to your lips before turning in every night and they'll remain moisturized whether you've got a humidifier (which is also a good idea during the fall and winter because it will keep dry heat from drying you out) or not.
Welcome to the colder part of the year, everybody!
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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 (email@example.com) 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.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
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