Damn time flies. It was about this time last year when I wrote "10 Things You Should DEFINITELY Know About Condoms" for the site. Well, now I'm back and it's pretty much due to two convos I recently had with two male friends of mine. One just had a pregnancy scare with a sex partner. The other is a guy with herpes who, although he tells his partners that he has it beforehand, he goes without wearing a condom more times than not — and his partners are fine with it. What the hell, y'all?
Both discussions inspired me to check certain data to see if anything had changed when it comes to men and condom use, in general. Nope. That said, did you know that only around one-third of people actually put a rubber on during sex? Have mercy. Even with all of these STI/STDs (reportedly, 1 in 5 Americans have one) and the fact that a lot of people (including my friend who had the scare) profess they are not ready for kids (or they don't want any at all), folks are still raw-dogging it. And a top reason continues to be, "I don't like how condoms feel."
So, in the effort to get more folks (including my friends because I am going to forward this to them) to wrap it up more often, here are a few hacks that are proven to make condom use a much more pleasurable experience than simply buying one at Walgreens or CVS and just putting it on.
1. Get Out of Drugstores
Say that you only bought your clothes at Target. Not that there's anything wrong with that particular store but man — when you actually explore department stores, boutiques and fashion websites, it's like it's a whole new world out here, right? Same thing goes for condoms. A part of the reason why a lot of people don't like them very much is because they only really think about them the day they plan on gettin' some which means that they've got to rush to some drugstore (or gas station) up the street to pick something up real quick.
Listen, not all condoms are made the same and to say that there are levels in quality is a major understatement! One of the keys to enjoying condoms more is to purchase them from a place that has a wide variety. A cool online shop is Condoms Undercover. The options are vast. The prices are good. And it ships to you confidentially. Awesome.
2. The Thinner, The Better
As a marriage life coach and a doula, I find myself talking about birth control options quite a bit. Because some of the couples I work with would prefer to avoid the hormones that come with a lot of birth control options, some wear condoms. While the mere thought of that can suck when you're in an exclusive long-term relationship, what several husbands have been able to personally vouch for is the fact that the technology of condoms are continuing to evolve and there are some thinner ones that make protected sex a lot more bearable — pleasurable even.
So, be intentional about finding ones that are as thin (and yet still effective) as possible; the kind that seem almost like a second skin. One that gets a lot of praise in this department is Kimono MicroThin Condoms. As far as thin latex condoms go, they are some of the most popular ones on the market.
3. Make Sure He Wears One That Actually Fits
While going raw (not wearing a rubber) would usually be preferred by both the giver and receiver (because, I mean, come on), whether they realize it or not, a big part of the reason why a lot of men don't enjoy condoms is because they don't fit well. And that's because it seems like every man in the world thinks he needs a Magnum…when that absolutely is not the case. There's no telling how many times I've said that most penises are around 5-5.5" erect. This means that a lot of men can go without a rubber that comes in an extra-large. Anyway, as far as general sizes go, condoms tend to be classified as snug, standard, large or XL.
For your partner to know what will work for him, he should measure his penis when it is erect and go from there. For tips on how to do that, so that condoms can end up being a comfy fit, check out Medical News Today's article "How to Find the Right Condom Size".
4. Nix the Spermicide
Although some people are allergic to latex itself (if that's you or your partner, there are latex-free options), oftentimes, when it comes to discomfort, the bigger culprit is the spermicide that's inside of many of them. While spermicide is pretty effective when it comes to killing sperm, it can also irritate genitalia if you're not careful. That's why you should probably go with a condom that doesn't have any spermicide in/on it. Will that make it less effective? So long as your partner puts the condom on correctly and it remains on during intercourse, most health professionals agree that you should be just fine. Besides, a lot of brands don't even use spermicide anymore. #themoreyouknow
5. Put Some Lube Inside of It
Hey, the wetter, the better…right? I'm pretty sure that's a point that isn't up for debate. It's also a reason why some people give the thumbs down when it comes to condom use because, even if you give off a sensation of wetness, since there is a condom on your partner, it's not like he can feel it feel it.
One way to work around this lil' bit of frustration is to put some lubrication inside of the condom itself, even if you're planning on using a pre-lubricated one. If your partner puts some on the tip of his penis before putting the condom on or within the tip of the condom before unrolling it, that can help to provide a more intense sensation. Water or silicone-based is fine.
6. Get One with “Bumps” on It
You don't even have to tell me. The thought of anything sexually related having "bumps" on it doesn't seem very appealing. However, it did make you look and the reality is a lot of textured condoms have exactly that — raised dots on them. And why should you consider going with those if you haven't before? It's because they have a way of creating extra friction (in the best way possible) which ultimately creates more intense orgasms for you. No one is saying that you have to use these. Still, if you've never given them a shot before, there's no time like the present to knock something else off of your "never have I ever" list. Right?
7. Put It on Orally
If your partner hates wearing a condom with everything in him, even if he knows that it really is a very responsible thing to do, warm him up to the idea by opting to put the condom on for him — with your mouth. It's sexy. It's seductive. And, if you apply the following tip that I'm about to make, it could actually cause you to become a really big fan of condoms. At least when it comes to oral activity.
8. Have You Tried the Flavored Kind?
It really does trip me out how, some people will be quick to say that they use condoms for intercourse but then will turn around and say that they never use 'em when it comes to oral sex. What in the world? Pretty much any STI/STD that can be transmitted during intercourse can also be passed on during fellatio and/or cunnilingus too. That's why you should definitely make sure that you and your partner are tested before ANY kind of sexual activity goes down. Oh, and if you want to be extra safe, you should use condoms during oral sex as well.
Listen, I'll be the first one to say that back in my "oral fulfillment days", I wasn't the biggest condom-user; especially when it came to head. Part of the reason was because I loathe the way that regular condoms taste (kinda like a rubber tire from the way it smells alone). Yet I wasn't really on to flavored condoms either.
I've tasted a few, so that I can give my honest opinion for pieces like this (and to prepare for when I return to them). And while they aren't exactly a hot fudge sundae, what I will say is they can make oral safe sex way more enjoyable for you and your partner. For you because they taste pretty good and him because, the more you enjoy giving fellatio, the more he will enjoy receiving it. Sex Toy Helper is a site that can point you in the direction of some of the best flavored rubbers on the market right now. Read about it right here.
9. Close Your Legs (Kinda)
Remember how I said that textured condoms can provide a good kind of friction feeling? So can keeping your legs somewhat closed when you're having sex. I mean, of course they can't be kept all the way closed. But if you're on top and you put your legs inside of his (rather than traditionally kneeling outside of them) or you put both of your legs over his shoulder while he's penetrating you, these are the kinds of sexual positions that can also take the sensation up a few notches when he's got a condom on (especially if the lube trick that I talked about earlier is added).
10. Think Positive
If you go in saying something along the lines of "I hate condoms", there's not too much wiggle room to change your mind, hacks or not. Listen, again, having sex without a rubber feels better (especially for the guys). Still, when you think about the fact that it can prevent you from getting sick or having a baby when you don't want one, how can you not have a little bit of love for it? The right one. The right hacks. The right position. The right partner. This combo can make condom-wearing (and feeling) better than you think. Just try the hacks and see.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images
- A Beginner's Guide To Lubricant - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love ... ›
- My Complicated Relationship With Safe Sex - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- How Men Compare Sex with a Condom vs No Condom - xoNecole ... ›
- Men Using Pull Out Method During Sex - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Allergic To Condoms? Latex Condom Allergy, Try This - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Pleasurable Sex With Different Penis Sizes Small Average Big - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
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. ;)
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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.
Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
It seems reasonable to assume that new music will slow down in tempo to coincide with the fall season that quickly approaches. However, musicians, ever the unreasonable, are constantly showing us that they have different ideas. They have chosen to keep releasing club hits rather than slow tunes to get us ready for cuffing season, letting people know that while summer may be coming to an end, it may last as long as they want it to.
We are waving goodbye to summer with the new music from last week, but we might also be welcoming another week of tunes designed only for dancing. And honestly, who can complain about that? Here's this week's new music to make you move at every tempo.
"Another One of Me" - Diddy ft. The Weeknd, 21 Savage, & French Montana
Since its original recording in 2016, this song has undergone a great deal of alterations. The Weeknd previewed the new version of the song on his recent European tour, though it was originally scheduled to be released in 2020 and again in 2022. Nevertheless, with the release of this song, The Weeknd also declared that this would be his final "guest" appearance for some time, if ever. Therefore, the Weeknd sings about how there will "never be another one of [him]" again in this unique, enticing, and bold farewell. Thus, we must value him and the rest of his crew--French Montana and 21 Savage--while we still have the chance.
The musicians deliver vocal bars and complimentary rhymes on the song, which is accompanied by a drum sample from what seems like Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," as they consider their timeliness and what Diddy has done for the hip-hop/R&B community over the past few decades and on newly released The Love Album.
"Slime You Out" - Drake ft. SZA
On my first listen, it took everything I had in me not to abruptly end this song. However, by the time Drake begins to sing—heavily using auto-tune—and the beat begins to drop, there is enough of an allure to keep me listening. "Slime You Out" which features SZA is the lead single to Drake's highly anticipated eighth studio album, For All The Dogs. In the song, both musicians talk about being exploited by their ex-lovers and share their own emotional experiences.
They also disclose their malice towards their exes, as "sliming" someone out refers to using them for sex. The single and its meaning works perfectly for the duo, especially after it was revealed on Twitter (RIP) that Drake and SZA used to date back in '08--or was it '09? Regardless, this song allows the exes to focus on past relationships, even their own, as they take turns talking about ex-lovers and finally putting their years of subtle back and forth to rest.
"Lexicon" - Vagabon
Vagabon, also known as Laetitia Tamko, debuted her new album Sorry I Haven't Called on Friday, September 15, as well as her most recent single "Lexicon." Sorry I Haven't Called is a loving and tenacious album about enjoying the exhilarating moments wherever you can by understanding how you love and grieve. The album was formed out of sadness when her closest friend passed away in 2021.
It's an LP that draws inspiration from both group dance floor revelations and the enlightening calm of isolation; it represents both a creative and emotional resurrection. She claims that the record was made to include every feeling she had at the time, even when there was none. In "Lexicon," Vagabon invites the listener to let go of words and the meaning of things, as she repeatedly sings atop a bed of rhythmic noises in "Lexicon" to communicate her longing for oblivion.
"You Wish" - Flyana Boss
Last week, I had the pleasure of watching Flyana Boss open for Janelle Monáe. During their introduction, they discussed being best friends and explained that this foundation allowed them to become the artists that they desired to be. Within moments, the chemistry between the duo was fathomable as they easily played off one another and allowed room for each other to easily shine.
Though it's not a new single, the official video for the song dropped last week. In it, Flyana Boss mocks those who refer to them as "industry plants," while the song brings attention to their infamous "Hello Christ, I am about to sin again," challenge that TikTok sparked to life these last couple of months. They are strange, but in the coolest of ways, mainly because they don't wish to be like anyone else. However, it is clear that with their success others might.
"SKED" - Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry starts his song, which is almost an interlude, by outlining the reasons why he does not feel the need to trust others. He then goes on to tell people that because of their treatment and actions, he is unwilling to find a reason to comprehend those in positions of power and how they utilize their influence. He comes to the conclusion that these actions are the result of fear, and he merely declares that his adversaries are afraid before leaving it at just that. This brand-new song and its accompanying video leave the audience wanting more in less than two minutes. However, as he has stated, he's said all that he has needed to say.
"FAN" - Offset
This song is not long, and if you aren't paying attention, you won't be sure that the first minute is the same as the first 0:00 to 0:50 seconds. Regardless, when it kicks off, boy does it run and it takes off with Offset's insistence on shouting "f**k everybody" kicks in. Offset creates an entertaining video that draws inspiration from his admiration for Michael Jackson and his showmanship to demonstrate the necessity to destroy every bridge he has built since everyone is deserving of a sharp and clear "FU."
This video definitely shows how he has grown as an artist over the last couple of years, and after the grief he has faced from his cousin Takeoff's death, it only makes sense why he doesn't give a damn or two about turning his back on everyone.
"Balut" - Doja Cat
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I hate how much I love Doja Cat's music. I don't want to, I've actively been resisting it. However, I must say that since her "MOO[ing]" days, she has developed into a dynamic artist, and this has only led to the creation of vibes, bops, and songs that are worth listening to. Consider her most recent song, "Balut." It is a total vibe. She boasts about her ability to create hits and her distinctive artistic range in her most recent song.
In fact, she thinks that her artistic ability is as simple as "taking candy from a baby." She is correct that it is that simple; or at least for her it is. It is difficult to believe otherwise while listening to her mid-tempo, brag-tinged tune with its smooth flow. Her newest LP Scarlet drops this Friday, and like a moth to a flame, Doja knows we will all be anxiously awaiting its arrival.
"Snooze (Acoustic)" - SZA ft. Justin Bieber
I would not have wagered a single penny that this collaboration would truly take place. But now that it has, many question whether it ought to have. Lyrically, there is nothing fresh to concentrate on. SZA continues to explain why she would be prepared to break the law and compromise her values for the person she loves, but they are still hesitant to meet her halfway. The only thing that has changed is that we now have Justin Beiber's face to place her pleas upon. When Justin Beiber and SZA join in on the acoustic version of "Snooze," they produce a silky, smooth duet that is harmonized flawlessly with daunting echoes and heavenly vocals that coo over one another smoothly.
"Peaches & Eggplants" - Young Nudy ft. Latto & Sexyy Red (Remix)
I'll give you a second to consider what the song "Peaches and Eggplants" by Young Nudy feat. Latto & Sexxy Red could be about. Yes, now that you've experienced that moment. You are correct, that is what it is about. It is all about sex—and more sex—and, well, you get the idea. Even though the song's basic structure is straightforward, it nonetheless provides a fun finish to the summer. The song's production features synthesizers, "pounding" percussion, and Young Nudy's gunshot emulation in the background.
However, the remix now has a more feminine, more confident (if that could have been possible) edge to it thanks to Latto and Sexyy Redd. No one holds back on this song, but then again, the title never implied that they would.
"Swing" - EARTHGANG ft. Benji
And when we ask them when they been at, EARTHGANG will simply say they've been over here. On the right side of things, where they have always belonged. Fresh on the release track of their newest single "Swing" for Marvel's Spider-Man 2 video game soundtrack, EARTHGANG has returned to make us move like they always have. Joined by Benji, the song is loud, with a guitar rift that sounds like Imagine Dragons' "I'm So Sorry," and simultaneously lowers the tempo to make the perfect illustration of a song fusing several genres.
The song shouldn't make sense, much as when Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar collaborated at the VMAs, yet the seamless genre-hopping makes the song engaging and ideal for the video game platform it advertises.
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 via SZA "Snooze"/YouTube