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
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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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