While I am someone who doesn’t think that we should fear getting older (with time, hopefully, comes wisdom and that’s always a good thing), at the same time, I also don’t think that we need to be out here looking older than we are, simply because we’ve been careless with some of our daily habits. Because y’all, as much as we all know that the extra melanin that we’ve got in our skin is a blessing beyond measure, that doesn’t mean that we should take it for granted.
And just how do some of us do that very thing? Check out these 12 random habits that can put a dent in the “Black don’t crack” narrative. It might just surprise you how much you do them and how stopping it can have you looking 5-15 years younger in absolutely no time.
1. Neglecting Your Neck
There is a particular Black celebrity woman who I’ve always found to be attractive. She also ages really well. Matter of fact, I still think she could pass for being about 15 years younger than she actually is — if it wasn’t for her neck. Her neck has a lot of rings around it which makes it look kinda old. She’s actually the reason why I make sure to pay closer-than-ever attention to my own, now that I’m in my 40s.
For me, that consists of applying some rosemary oil to my neck in the morning and at night. It hydrates it really well. That’s what works for me. As for you, just make sure, because the skin around your neck is thinner than the skin that is on your face, that you also moisturize it on a consistent basis and that you even apply sunscreen. Because if there are two spots that can age us, no matter what our face may look like, our neck and hands would definitely have to be it.
2. Constantly Wearing Acrylic Nails
Before the pandemic decided to totally show out, I would see my nail tech like clockwork. Although my nails were mine (no tips), I would get them powder dipped (which is lighter than acrylic and lasts longer) and because I like to switch my styles up, I would see her a couple of times a month (at least). But when the country shut down and I had to take a couple of hours to totally soak that dip off myself and then several weeks to get my nails back healthy and thriving? I’ve been really hesitant about returning to powder (especially now that new variants of COVID are upon us and things could possibly shut down again).
It might be a wise move too because I also read that something that can age our hands are acrylic nails. Why? Because the continuous process of applying, filling, and removing the product from our nails causes our cuticles to thicken over time which causes our hands to look older than they should. If you just read all of that and were like “whatever,” at least consider going on 3-6 month breaks sometimes; a lot of professionals say that’s the best way to keep your nails healthy overall.
3. Drinking Too Much Coffee
One of the most controversial foods (in the sense of the pros being about as much as the cons) is coffee. What I’ll say as it relates to this topic, in particular, is if you’re someone who can’t seem to get through a day without at least three cups, you should probably scale that back a bit. Aside from the fact that coffee can create somewhat of a diuretic effect which can lead to dehydration (which isn’t good for your skin), the caffeine that’s in it also tends to lower your dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA); that’s a hormone that helps to reduce inflammation and keep you looking younger. You know what that means, right? Even if you don’t do coffee but you drink anything that’s highly caffeinated, it’s probably working against you rather than for you on the anti-aging tip.
4. Eating Inflammatory Foods
Y’all probably aren’t going to like this very much but — sugar, refined carbs, dairy, trans fat, vegetable oil, processed meat, and (excessive) alcohol. Wanna know what these things have in common? They all have the ability to trigger inflammation in your system. The problem with that, when it comes to premature aging, is not only can that accelerate the aging process but sugary stuff can break down the collagen and elastin in your system too (which is never good). Life is too short to not enjoy some “fun stuff” every once in a while. Still, for the sake of your Black not cracking, always remember to consume inflammatory-prone foods in extreme moderation.
5. Always Sipping from a Straw
I like straws; especially since I adore some lip color and straws help to keep it from smudging or getting onto my teeth. Plus, straws can keep sugary drinks from getting too much on my teeth, not to mention the fact that I feel a lot better about drinking from cups and glasses in restaurants when I have a straw in hand. Yet as with most things in life, there are a couple of cons to them. For one thing, most are made out of plastic which definitely isn’t good for the environment. Also, the constant puckering that we have to do to suck through a straw can actually cause fine lines and wrinkles — not immediately but eventually. I guess the bottom line here would be to use them in moderation too. Oh, and to thoroughly moisturize that space in between your nose and lips. Sometimes it gets neglected more than it should too.
6. Constantly Wearing Eye Make-Up
I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up while growing up. Matter of fact, I don’t think it was until my junior year of high school that I got to put on something that was more than tinted lip gloss. In hindsight, I’m grateful because, although my gene pool is pretty dope when it comes to aging well, I know that when people tell me that I don’t look my age, going without make-up (most of the time) has been a huge part of my saving grace (check out “8 Solid Reasons To Go Make-Up Free At Least Once A Week”).
This point was further affirmed when I read that another thing that can age a person is constantly wearing eye make-up and/or not removing it properly. The main reason why is because the thinnest skin on our face and body, period, is our eyelids. So, constantly manipulating that space wears it down and ultimately ages us. That’s why it’s a good idea to sometimes rock a “wake-up face”. And when you do wear eye stuff that you apply an emulsifier (something that has water in it that allows water and oil to easily mix) like Aquaphor to remove your eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara, so that your delicate skin is handled with some much-needed TLC.
7. Not Wearing Sunglasses
I recently went to the eye doctor. While we were discussing the fact that my mild astigmatism was healing (I had no idea it could do that), I got mildly reprimanded for not wearing sunglasses more often. I had no idea that it reduces my chances of getting cancer and cataracts (I just saw them as a way to make squinting in the sun less of an occurrence, to be honest). As a bonus, sunglasses also reduce fine lines and, since crow’s feet can definitely age a person, you can best believe I’ll be picking up a pair sooner than later.
8. Tight Ass Protective Styles
I’ll be the first to say that when I get my hair braided if there’s something that I want my stylist to do, it is to make sure that they get as much of my edges into those braids as possible. Between my braider being really good and my not getting braids back-to-back all of the time, my edges have survived my pseudo vanity. I do know others who can’t say the same because whether it’s their braids, twists, wigs, weaves, or high ponytails, the constant stress and strain that their hairline has had to endure have resulted in very thin or flat-out bald edges that have added a few years onto them.
A flawless hairstyle is top-tier. I get it. At the same time, it’s a little counterproductive to get a protective style that doesn’t protect ALL of your hair…right? By the way, if you want to take extra special care of your edges and nape right through here, check out “7 Tips For Getting The Edges And Nape Of Your Neck To Grow Faster."
9. Doing THE MOST with Your Face
I’d be surprised if you didn’t have at least one relative who, if they saw you cross your eyes when you were a kid, told you to stop because they could end up getting stuck that way. Hmph. Somebody needed to alert more of us about this when it comes to those totally over-the-top facial expressions that a lot of us put on display.
Constantly doing things like turning up your lips or furrowing your brows can also cause fine lines to set in. Yeah, I know a lot of us think that we’re doing nothing more than being “expressive” but exaggerating our facial expressions can age us faster than we want to. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you, chile.
10. Sleeping on a Cheap Pillowcase
I’ll tell you what — the older I get, the more I am learning to respect my bedding more. Take pillowcases. While a lot of us know that a satin one can be good for our hair (because it helps to keep moisture in our locks), were you aware of the fact that a silk one can help to reduce wrinkles? Sometimes, it might seem like it’s a wise move, financially, to go with cheaper sheets but when you’re rolling around for 6-8 hours a night on a set of rough pillowcases, that can start to put tiny marks on your face that can result in premature wrinkles or even sagging. So, if you haven’t been investing some good money into your bedding, this is a solid reason why you should.
11. Not Having Enough GOOD Sex
I write about sex, basically all of the time. That’s why I know that I can easily provide you with literally dozens of reasons why having as much sex as possible is beneficial. Matter of fact, in the article “10 Irrefutable Reasons To Have An Orgasm A Day,” one of the things that I touch on is the fact that orgasms can make you look younger. The long-short of it is, orgasms help to decrease stress and elevate estrogen levels — both are great because stress triggers premature aging and estrogen helps to collagen and elastin production.
Long sessions can cause you to sweat which removes toxins and bonding with your partner increases oxytocin which is also stress’s enemy. Just make sure that it’s good sex because the more that it goes down, the more often you’ll want to “engage” and the better off your skin will be because of it.
12. Not Having a Pamper Day (At Least Twice a Month)
At the turn of every birthday, something that I commit to, more and more, is refusing to let any person, place, thing, or idea stress me out. For what? Stress is directly attributed to things like obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, and heart disease (which continues to be the #1 killer among Black women). If you add to that the fact that accelerated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone in our system) can also break down collagen and elastin at an accelerated rate…why wouldn’t you see doing things like having a pamper day as a necessity in your life?
Massages. Mani/pedis. Facials. Take a bubble bath. Unplug from social media. Doing things that make you feel good and help you to relax is good for your mind, body, and spirit and can help to keep you looking younger for a longer period of time. That’s why you should definitely pamper yourself, at least a couple of times a month. You will adore it and your skin will adore it even more!
Featured image by Getty Images
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.
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.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
Better Off Braless: The Benefits Of Not Wearing A Bra More Often
Somewhere between the start of the pandemic and entering the late stages of my 20s, bras become less and less of a priority.
Within that span of time, I, like most of the world, spent my days inhabiting my small bubble, staying in the house with loose-fitting loungewear, and being on Zoom calls that only required me to be presentable from the neck up. So as the demand to have my breasts at their perkiest form, so did my commitment to wearing bras.
The relationship that most women have with their bras is… well, complicated. While society has led us to believe that they’re required for us to be deemed as “ladylike” and “neat,” many of us find the garment to be a bothersome (and optional) accessory at best.
From underwires that poke and dig at our sides to push-ups that spill over, the argument in support of bras has begun to wane over the last few decades, with women of all cup sizes asking themselves if it’s better to just go braless.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
“Many years ago, I ditched wired bras and opted for going braless out of a desire for freedom and celebrating natural human form,” multi-hyphenate Alyson Stoner tells xoNecole. The movement activist best known for their fly dance moves with the likes of Missy Elliott and on Step Up 2: The Streets, shares that when it comes to their bra selection, comfort is key. “As someone who enjoys moving their body, I found that I do want an underlayer that provides some support without interfering with comfort and mobility.”
A source of concern when choosing to go braless is whether or not the lack of support from a bra will, in turn, affect the firmness of one’s breast, resulting in early sagging. However, Sabrina Sahni, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, shares that breast sagging is a result of age, not whether you’ve ditched your bras.
“Sagging breasts – also called ptosis – generally occurs due to chronic aging,” she tells xoNecole. “The breast is made up of a combination of glandular and fibrous tissue and fat tissue. Over time, the glandular tissue may become replaced with fattier tissue, and that can lead to more sagging. Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that.”
"Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that."
Women with heavier breasts may find that going braless may have its set of drawbacks, but Dr. Sahni says that you should always pay attention to your comfort levels since bras are a garment designed to support your back and correct your posture. “Those with heavier or larger breasts who choose to go braless may actually have worsening back/neck/shoulder pain,” she says. “Wearing a bra may allow them to correct their posture and help alleviate tension on those muscle groups.”
“Women with larger breasts may benefit from wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra as it may alleviate things like upper back pain or neck pain,” she shares.
Listening to your body is key when choosing whether you want to toss out your bras forever or just for a day. The beauty in a woman’s body is that it will tell us what we need to know before we even have to ask. There are common misconceptions about tighter bras being linked to causing health issues like breast cancer.
And while studies do show that Black women are “twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer early when compared with Caucasian women,” the manifestation of this disease is predetermined by other varying factors.
“There are a lot of myths out there about going braless being better for breast cancer risk. It is completely false,” Dr. Sahni explains. “Whether or not you wear a bra does not have any bearing on your overall breast cancer risk. Ultimately, your risk is dependent on a variety of factors, including family history, your breast density, your lifestyle, and your reproductive history.”
If you’re looking for classic, weightless comfort that’s close to going braless, Alyson Stoner recommends Harper Wilde, a body-inclusive intimates brand on a mission to create a more comfortable world for womankind. They currently have a capsule collection with the intimates brand in partnership with their company, Movement Genius.
“Harper Wilde has been my go-to for years now because the materials are truly soothing on my sensitive skin, the amount of support feels like you're being gently hugged (not squeezed), and the styles are flattering and beautiful enough to wear as shirts or visible layers,” they say.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
The brand offers super soft, breathable cotton fabric in their Triangle and Scoop Bralettes ($40 each) that will put the bliss and comfort back in your bosom.
Dr. Sahni says that choosing to opt out of bras or keep them close to your chest “truly depends on the individual” but it should be understood that “wearing or not wearing a bra won't significantly impact your overall health.”
“Ultimately, it comes down to comfort. There are some women with chronic breast pain where perhaps changing their bras to something more supportive and well-fitted may help,” she says. “Alternatively, some women find that going bra-less will alleviate their breast pain. I tell women that they should choose a bra that is comfortable for them, feels supportive, and one that they can wear regularly.”
So whether you choose to free the tatas or wear a bra that feels like it’s barely there, remember to listen to your body because ultimately, the choice is yours.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images