Although all of our hair journeys are different, I always find it interesting when folks say that the winter season is the most brutal when it comes to their hair. For me, it's probably right about now because, between the heat, the shrinkage and, when I do swim, the chemicals in the water — it's a challenge, making sure that my hair doesn't dry out, as I strive to handle it with care on the days when it wants to act like a matted mess.
Can you totally relate to where I'm coming from? If so, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the summertime haircare tips that have held me down over the past several years. 12 hacks that are easy, affordable and can definitely help you to keep your inches straight through Labor Day and beyond.
1. Get a Cute Swim Cap
Y'all see that straight up bullshishery that the Tokyo Olympics have been pulling on us? I don't just mean the runners; I mean them banning swim caps for Afro-textured hair. Yeah, I knew that when they put a ban on protesting beforehand that we were in for a ride. Anyway, if a part of what makes you hesitant to swim more often is you want to protect your hair from the salt and/or chlorine that's in the water, I definitely recommend getting yourself a swim cap. If the other thing you're worried about is how crazy you might look in one, these days, there really are cute designs available (so much better than what a lot of us grew up with). Etsy is one place that has some. Just go to the site and put "swim caps for Black women" in the search field.
2. Or Wet Your Hair Before You Swim
On the other hand, if you don't mind getting your hair wet but you still don't want the water to damage your hair (because saltwater and the chemicals in swimming pools can both be pretty drying), a cool hack is to wet your hair beforehand.
Since our hair is a lot like a sponge, if it's already absorbed water, that makes it harder for ocean or swimming pool water to penetrate it. The more you know. The more you freakin' know.
3. Give Yourself a Hot Oil Treatment
While it might seem odd to hear me talk about applying anything hot to your hair when it's already hot as hell outdoors, you really can't go wrong with treating your tresses to a hot oil treatment during this time of the year; especially if you battle with dandruff, dry scalp or a lot of frizz (which can happen when your hair lacks moisture or it's time for your ends to be trimmed). The combination of the heat from the oil along with the nutrients from the oil of your choice (coconut, grapeseed, argan, sweet almond, avocado, rosehip and apricot kernel oil are all great options) will help to stimulate blood flow to your scalp which will help to strengthen your hair's follicles over time.
Your best bet would be to put one-fourth of the oil into a microwave-safe bowl. Zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Put your hair into 4-8 sections and apply the oil to your scalp and hair. Massage your scalp for about 10 minutes. Then allow the oil to continue to penetrate for 30 minutes. If you then shampoo and rinse thoroughly, you will notice a real difference; especially after following this next tip.
4. Put Some Jamaican Black Castor Oil into Your Shampoo or Conditioner
With the summer heat being as brutal as it is, you definitely need to make sure that your hair keeps moisture in it on the regular. One way to do that is to add some Jamaican Black Castor Oil to either your shampoo or your conditioner. Since the properties in the oil help to strengthen the cuticles of your hair, strengthen your hair's follicles and reduce breakage, as well as add quite a bit of moisture to your locks, putting a tablespoon of it into your shampoo can replace any moisture that your hair might lose during the shampooing process and adding it to your conditioner can make your hair that much softer after rinsing the shampoo out. Tropical Isle Living has some XX dark oil (which basically just means that it's extra detoxifying) that I've been using for a while now. I can definitely see a difference when it comes to how my scalp and hair feel.
5. Use Honey and Sour Cream to Reduce Shrinkage
If experiencing a lot of shrinkage is the main thing that has you concerned, something that can help to reduce that is lactic acid. Guess what it's found in — honey and sour cream! Straight up, if you make a hair mask that has both of these ingredients in it, not only can it give your hair a moisture boost (because honey is a natural humectant and sour cream is made up of 20 percent fat), it can also help to elongate your hair's natural curl texture too.
Just mix a half cup of sour cream with two teaspoons of honey and a teaspoon of sweet almond or grapeseed oil. Apply the mask to clean damp hair. Let it sit for 25-45 minutes and rinse out thoroughly, first with warm water and then with cool water (to seal your hair's cuticles). If you decide to go with a wash 'n go, you should notice that your hair has a bit more length to it, just from the mask alone.
6. DIY a Moisturizing Spritz
If, outta nowhere, your hair feels dry or your scalp needs a little bit of relief, nothing is more refreshing than pulling a handy spritz bottle out of your purse. What's even better is one that you made yourself! A moisturizing hair spritz that consists of rosewater (it'll restore the pH balance to your hair); Aloe vera juice (it smooths your cuticles and reduces frizz); raw honey and/or vegetable glycerin (they're both humectants which means they pull moisture from the air); chamomile oil (it soothes your scalp), and 5-7 drops of lavender oil (it contains strong antimicrobial properties to fight bacteria and moisturizing properties to soften your hair) will pamper your hair from dusk until dawn — and vice versa.
7. Ease Up on the Edge Control
I know y'all like those super sleek edges yet I'm gonna be honest with you — even if you go with a brand that doesn't contain any alcohol (or you make some of your own), sometimes the oil from the control combined with the extra sweating that you typically do can cause the perfect storm when it comes to breakouts. Plus, wanting to lay your edges all of the time can put a lot of pressure on your already fragile temples which can result in breakage. So, as much as it might pain you, try and ease up on edge control for the summer. Wrap your hair up in a scarf or rock a straw hat instead. You'll still be cute and trust me, your edges will be oh so very grateful.
8. Chill Out on Permanent Dyes Too
I'm gonna be honest with y'all. The only permanent (boxed) dye that has not read my hair for filth by causing all kinds of breakage issues is Revlon's Colorsilk Luminista. I think it's mostly because it is ammonia-free. And shoot, even with it, I still have to be mad intentional about keeping my hair moisturized because it makes it a little drier than I would like. Bottom line, if you still want to maintain the strength and integrity of your tresses so that you'll have some extra inches to brag about come the fall and winter seasons, it really is best to leave permanent dyes alone. One, because a lot of them do contain ammonia which is super drying and damaging and two, the heat is going to try and zap whatever moisture you do have. Please try not to help it do that. This is a great time of the year to play with some hair color wax. The hues are vibrant. And because the wax is super temporary, you don't have to worry about experiencing any breakage. You can literally sport a different color each day without any of the dry brittle drama. Excellent.
9. Make Some SPF Spray for Your Hair
Something that a lot of us — and by "us", I mean Black folks — don't think about is protecting our hair from the damage that UV rays can oftentimes cause. While there are sprays that you can find at your local drugstore, another route that you can take is to make some of your own. It's really not that hard (or expensive) to do. And if you add an ingredient like zinc oxide to your spray, you can be sure that you're in good shape because that is a natural product that reflects the rays for the sun so that your hair isn't penetrated with constant heat.
All you need to do is fill up a spray bottle with some distilled water. Then add a tablespoon of the zinc oxide along with a teaspoon of your favorite carrier oil (sweet almond, grapeseed, jojoba, argan and avocado are all really good) and 5-7 drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake the bottle and then lightly spray your hair before heading out. It's a great way to protect your hair and enjoy a favorite scent at the same time.
10. Baby Those Ends
Your ends are the oldest parts of your hair. This means that they need the most TLC if you truly want to retain length. You need to deep condition your hair every wash day. You need to seal your ends on that day too. Heat needs to be used minimally and you definitely need to apply a thermal heat protectant (cream will give you the most penetrating coverage) before blow drying and using a flat iron. As much as you can "tuck your ends in" so that they don't get exposed to outdoor elements, the better. Sleeping with a humidifier at night can give them some extra moisture while you sleep. Naturally stretching your hair out at night by braided or twisting your hair and then applying a mixture of coconut milk (it's loaded with vitamins B, C and E as well as fatty acids) and jojoba oil (it's filled with antioxidants) to your ends can reduce the chances of them splitting.
Y'all, it really can't be said enough that a lot of us don't get the inches that we want — not because our hair isn't growing but because we aren't retaining length because we're not taking good care of our ends. This summer, please make sure that you do.
11. Leave the Shears Alone
While it's always a good idea to trim fairy knots and split ends away, try and leave your hair alone as much as possible during this time of the year. Between protective styles like braids and twists, turbans, scarves and straw hats, there's no need to have your hair all out all of the time. Tuck in those ends that I just talked about and try and let your hair grow through September. If you do, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you have to show for it by the time you need to pull your sweaters out.
12. Have Fun with It
Knotless braids. Twist outs. Top knots. Butterfly locs. Passion twists. These are just some of the natural looks that are big-time trends this summer season. And the moral to the story with this final point is — try one. Then try another. Then make something up! So long as you are doing the routine maintenance that your hair requires, there is nothing wrong with getting super creative and having an absolute ball with your hair. After all, our textures make that oh so easy to do!
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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 email@example.com. 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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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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