To me, a Black woman's hair is a lot like silk. In some ways, it's extremely fragile while in others, it's strong as nails. Just think about it. Our hair can endure heat, braids, weaves and wigs and all of the freaking chemicals that we put in it for weeks and sometimes even months on end. On the flip side, when we don't eat properly, stay hydrated, condition our hair and clip those split and/or dead ends, our strands can snap without barely even touching them. That is why a lot of us struggle with keeping the edges of our hair and the nape of our neck flourishing (well, that and beating our edges to death with alcohol-based edge control products).
If a goal that you've got this year is to see some more inches on your head, and you're hoping that your edges and nape will keep up, here are seven things that you can do to get both of the most fragile parts of your head to "walk in agreement" with you.
How To Grow Your Edges & The Nape Of Your Neck
1. Use Some DIY Shampoo
The sides of our hair and the nape of our neck can take on quite a bit of friction which can result in weak hair and damaged follicles. Then, when you add to that the sweat and product build-up that our hair also endures, sometimes it's best to avoid commercial brands of shampoos and go the au naturel route. If you'd like to treat your hair to a chemical-less cleaning experience, try this DIY shampoo recipe.
In a plastic bottle, mix:
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (the kind that still has "the mother" in it; it clarifies your hair and scalp)
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda (it also clarifies your hair and scalp)
- 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil (it strengthens hair while preventing hair loss)
- 4 drops of lavender oil (it reduces scalp inflammation and encourages hair growth)
- 3 drops of tea tree oil (its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties remove bacteria and dead skin)
- 2 drops of peppermint oil (it stimulates hair growth)
Fill the rest of the bottle up with warm distilled water. Shake the bottle and then apply the shampoo to your damp hair, making sure to massage your scalp; especially your edges and nape. Let the shampoo penetrate for 5-7 minutes. Then rinse and deep condition (making sure to pay extra attention to your edges and nape) as usual.
2. Massage and Moisturize
Since it's the nutrients in our blood that feed our hair follicles, it is important that we increase the blood flow to our scalp. A great way to do that is to massage your scalp, for 15 minutes, no less than a couple of times each week. In fact, if you want to significantly increase the thickness of your hair, you should perform a scalp massage on a daily basis.
If you'd prefer to use an actual massager on your head, Naptural85 posted a pretty thorough review on some of her favorite ones (you can check that out here). But honestly, your fingertips can be just as effective. Another YouTuber who goes by ANGIEBEE broke down how to effectively use your hands on your head here. Please just make sure that your hands are clean, that you use the tips of your fingers and not your nails—oh, and that you put some oil on your fingers before you begin. Jamaican black castor oil is a great one because, not only does it moisturize your scalp and hair, it is also able to thicken and strengthen it over time too.
3. Add Camphor Oil to Your Hair Regimen
If you're a fan of essential oils, you definitely need to add camphor to your collection. The properties in it can do everything from reduce pain and inflammation and treat nail fungus to treat eczema and promote a good night's rest. The reason why camphor oil is mentioned in this article is because it's also a wonderful stimulant and decongestant. If you apply it to your edges and nape, not only will it increase blood circulation to those areas so that your hair follicles will get more of the nutrients that they need, but it will help to heal any scalp infections that you might have too. Just make sure to use this oil with a carrier one like coconut, grapeseed, avocado, sweet almond oil or castor oil. 15 drops of camphor in a 4 oz. bottle of your carrier oil should have you pretty set. You should start to see real results within a month or so.
4. Lower Your “Chemical Dosage”
I rocked a texturizer for many, many years. Contrary to a lot of people's beliefs about 'em, texturizers are chemical relaxers; they just aren't as strong as the ones that we use in order to get our hair bone straight. Anyway, because I would cut and texturize my hair at home (often too), when I did finally decide to grow my hair out, it took a while for one side of my edges to catch on that I was serious. What I mean by that is, all of the chemical processing (including hair dye) had actually damaged some of my hair follicles. It has taken a couple of years of scalp massaging and babying that side of my head with Jamaican black castor oil (my personal favorite brand is Mango & Lime in lavender and rosemary) to get the thickness back. What that time has taught me is, it really is best to leave the chemicals totally alone.
But, if you must, make sure that you relax and color your edges and nape last. Also, make sure you leave that stuff on for a shorter amount of time. If you're not doing that, well, it makes total sense why your edges and nape may not be flourishing as much as you'd like for them to. Chemicals tend to do more harm than good.
5. Rebuild Your Hair Follicles with Supplements
You're not going to see much change on the outside if you don't shift some of what you're feeding your insides. That said, it's not a random coincidence that a lot of people who deal with hair breakage are typically low in certain nutrients. Vitamin C (via foods like citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and tomatoes) helps to neutralize free radicals. There are studies that connect a lack of hair retention in Black women to them being low in iron (you can get more iron by eating blackstrap molasses, lentils and chicken). Zinc (by way of foods including whole grains, seeds and eggs) works to give your hair follicles the protein that they need. B-complex (which you can get from eating salmon, dark leafy greens and beef) strengthens the structure of your hair strands. Vitamin D (via cheese, orange juice and fortified cereals) helps to regrow hair follicles. If you want to get some extra support outside of adding foods with these to your diet, you can always take a multivitamin or a supplement that has one or more of these in it.
6. Move Your Hair Accessories Around
I'm a hat kind of gal. Unapologetically so. But I did have to start lining some of mine with satin and lay off of rocking them the same way all of the time because the friction was weakening the sides of my hair. I don't care if it's a brim, a headband or a turban, no one's head was designed to keep something on it, all day and night, non-stop, for days and weeks on end. When you do wear hair accessories, make sure they are lined so that your hair is protected and doesn't dry out (learn how to line a turban here and a beanie here). Try and avoid always placing your accessories in the same spot, each and every time too. And, for heaven's sake, give your hair a break. Your scalp needs to breathe, just like any other part of your body. And because your edges and nape tend to be more on the fragile side, they could use time when they don't have to deal with so much "pressure".
7. Leave Your Hair Alone
Combs. Brushes. Hair dryers. Flat irons. Hands. Bless our hair's heart. While you probably already know that constantly messing with your hair can lead to breakage and potential balding, have you ever wondered why? Dry and brittle hair tends to be the kind that breaks off rather easily and, as Black women (especially if you happen to have type 4 hair), we oftentimes have fragile hair. It's because our curls are so tight that our natural oils aren't able to easily flow from the top of our head to the ends of our hair (which is the oldest part of our hair). As a direct result, we have to be extra careful with how we handle our hair. It needs to be deep conditioned. Protective styling is a good look. But more than anything, we need to just leave it be. The more we touch and style our hair, the more we rob it of the oils that it needs to stay moisturized and "elastic". So, if you want your edges and nape to have more than a couple of inches, leave them alone so that they can grow.
Sometimes the simplest things bring forth the biggest results. Perfect edges mean nothing if they ultimately lead to baldness. Leave them be, chile. Leave. Them. Be.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Y’all, I ain’t got no lies to tell you. Personally, I am counting down the days until the obsession with resembling Mr. Snuffleupagus (the real ones know) goes away. Not that I don’t think there is something uber-feminine and sometimes even super glamorous about a long, lusty pair of eyelashes — but as one of my favorite quotes goes, “The excess of a virtue can be a vice,” and lashes are no exception. Lawd.
How To Grow Eyelashes Naturally
Besides, I wonder how many people who go overly long and thick on the extensions tip get that over time, that can do significant damage to their natural eyelashes — sometimes irreparably so. That’s why I think it’s important that, if you’re going to add lashes, you take the “less is more” approach. Oh, and if it’s because you wish that your own lashes were longer or fuller, you learn how to make that happen by taking a more holistic approach (while also being patient; it takes between 4-11 months for lashes to reach their fullest potential).
Starting with the following 10 tips on how to grow eyelashes naturally, you will be batting your natural lashes in no time, chile.
1. Take a Biotin and Collagen Supplement
It probably comes as no surprise to you that a supplement that’s associated with hair growth and thickness is the water-soluble form of vitamin B known as biotin. Skin rashes, brittle nails, and hair loss are all signs of having a biotin deficiency. If your lashes seem to be sparse or thinner than you would like, taking a biotin supplement certainly couldn’t hurt.
Speaking of supplements, you might want to add some collagen to your health regimen, too. Since collagen contains amino acids that help to build hair and can help to strengthen weak hair follicles — those are already solid enough reasons to take them for your lashes.
For the record, foods that are high in biotin include mushrooms, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, and broccoli. As far as collagen goes, foods that are high in it include bone broth, chicken, liver, berries, and aloe vera (bookmark that aloe vera point).
2. Keep Your Lashes Clean
So, here’s the thing about this particular point: Although you probably wash your face at least once a day (hopefully twice — once in the morning and again at night), if you’re not being intentional about cleaning your lashes, there could be some leftover mascara and other gunk on them that could end up weighing them down and/or drying them out. So, definitely wash them all on their own. Your best bet would be to use a super mild cleanser like baby shampoo so that your eyes don’t end up getting irritated in the process.
3. Condition Them with Aloe Vera
Since aloe vera is high in vitamins A, B12, C, E, and folic acid, that’s already a good reason to want to use it on your hair — and your lashes qualify. Plus, pure aloe vera gel is made up of almost 100 percent water, which makes it the ultimate conditioner for your lashes if you’re looking for something all-natural that will both soften and strengthen your lashes at the same time. To get the best results, a lot of women like to apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to their lashes before turning in at night and then wash the solution off in the morning.
4. Brush Your Lashes (No, Seriously)
Have you ever thought about what brushing your hair does for it? It removes tangles. It gets out debris. It evenly distributes natural oils. It reduces stress. It increases blood circulation. And for all of these reasons, it’s important that you brush your eyelashes on a daily basis. All you need to do is designate a clean wand for nothing but brushing your lashes. Then, whether it’s right when you wake up in the morning or right after washing your face, use the wand to GENTLY brush your lashes. First, do the top of them and then use the wand to lift them up. After a few weeks, you should notice your lashes appearing fuller. (You can check out a brief tutorial video here.)
5. Pay Attention to Shedding
Just like hair sheds on your head (50-100 hairs a day is considered normal), losing 1-5 eyelashes is the average amount to not worry too much about. However, if it happens to be more than that, lash extensions, leaving makeup longer than you should, or even relying on eyelash curlers too much can play a direct role in lash shedding. So, if you notice that your eyelashes are appearing thinner or parse, do a process of elimination first. If nothing changes, make an appointment with your doctor in order to rule out the possibility of other underlying health issues.
6. Apply a Castor Oil and Vitamin E Oil Blend at Your Lash Lines
I’m gonna be real: even though I know that medical experts have a resume to back up their claims, sometimes I will read articles on certain topics and still think they’re being haters. For instance, after reading that a dermatologist (via a Byrdie article) said that applying castor oil to your lash lines can hydrate your lashes, yet it won’t help them to grow, I have to admit that I rolled my eyes. I mean, if castor oil contains protein, antioxidants, nutrients, and fatty acids along with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and hair can benefit from all of these things, how could your lashes not, too?
And while you’re at it, break open one or two vitamin E capsules and add it to the castor oil. Vitamin E helps to reduce hair loss, increases shine, and helps to lock in hydration — all good stuff to know if you happen to use mascaras that contain some type of alcohol in the ingredients (and many of them do).
7. Put Tea Bags on Your Eyes
The herbs and tannins that are in herbal tea can do wonders for your eyes when it comes to doing everything from lightening the appearance of dark circles and reducing puffiness to speeding up the healing process of styes and even pink eye. So, what about when it comes to your eyelashes? Well, I’ve actually read a few places (like here and here) that green tea especially can do wonders for lash growth, in part due the caffeine that’s in it. Listen, some warm bags on tired eyes are the ultimate kind of low-maintenance pampering hack. Try it a couple of times a week. You’ll feel more relaxed, and your lashes could end up growing longer, too.
8. Have “Off Days”
No matter what you put on your lashes, it’s going to add a bit of “weight” to them — and anything that has weight will start to get worn out over time. That’s why it’s also a good idea to give your lashes “off days” from any kind of mascara, serum, or keratin-infused products. Sometimes, simply brushing your lashes and adding a bit of coconut oil (which adds protein) or lemon peel oil (which could accelerate lash growth) is all you need in order to pamper your lashes without the added stress and pressure of makeup. 1-2 days a week of this should be all that you need.
9. Use a Bit of Shea Butter at Night
Something that I’ve been getting into the habit of doing more and more at night is applying a thin coat of shea butter on my lips as well as on my eyelids. The fatty acids alone that are in the butter do wonders for my skin (especially when I use it consistently). Since shea butter has properties in it like linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids, as well as anti-inflammatory properties, your lashes can only benefit from the moisture that shea butter offers as well as its ability to increase collagen production (which, again, is great for hair growth and elasticity) and promote stronger hair.
10. Keep Your Mascara Current
It’s kind of crazy that it was five years ago when I wrote, “When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?” for the platform. Anyway, as far as mascara goes, if you’ve got a tube that has been in one of your bathroom drawers for over six months, it really is time to toss it. Why? Because you really aren’t supposed to use mascara for longer than three months before getting a new tube. That’s how you keep bacteria and germs down to a minimum and the solution from getting so thick that it ends up being heavier on your eyelashes than it should be.
Oh, and if you’re looking for the kind of mascara that will help your eyelashes to grow longer, make sure that keratin is listed in the ingredients, along with peptides, vitamin B, and water (water should actually lead the pack). That way, you can be confident that while your lashes are appearing thick and full, they are receiving just what they need to gain some length over time too. Now wink one time if you feel me. LOL. #wink
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