Whew, y'all. In this never-ending quest to gain some inches on this natural-haired head of mine, something that I've learned the hard way is that, while every part of our strands are important, you aren't going to get the results that you want if you're not giving the roots and the ends of your hair all of the TLC that it needs. And that is what we're going to tackle today. In order to have long and healthy hair (like YouTubers such as TheDaletiá, Janet Davies, Timaloveslemons, Maryam Hampton, All Things GhoCee and a host of others), you've got to nurture your hair follicles and preserve your ends. Here are 10 tips (five for your follicles and five for your ends) that will help to get you there.
1. Hair Follicles: Watch the Heat
Heat is an interesting topic when it comes to maintaining the health of your hair. I say that because, I'm actually someone who does a blowout every wash day and, ever since I've added that to my hair maintenance routine, I've seen more progress. For me, the key is to deep condition, apply thermal heat protectant, let my hair dry on its own about fifty percent or so and then use a dryer on a cooler setting. Doing this keeps my hair stretched (so that it's manageable with less fairy knots and tangles) which is a good thing.
Actually, what a lot of people don't realize is heat on your hair can actually benefit your hair follicles because it helps to encourage blood flow to the scalp. What you have to be careful of, though, is not applying heat that is too hot (like putting your blow dryer on high) or using heat too often. If you do, that can actually result in permanent damage to your hair follicles (which can ultimately result in hair loss). Even if you are able to dodge that consequence, a lot of heat will almost definitely result in you having dry and brittle hair (which oftentimes leads to breakage).
2. Hair Follicles: Massage Your Scalp with a Peppermint and Thyme Essential Oil Blend
Applying some peppermint essential oil to your scalp and hair is one of the best things that you could do. It's the kind of oil that contains antimicrobial, insecticidal, pesticidal, anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Because of this, peppermint oil is able to clarify your scalp, soothe it if it's itchy and stimulate hair growth. That's because the menthol that's in peppermint oil serves as a vasodilator; that's basically a fancy way of saying that it increases blood flow to your scalp and hair follicles so that your hair can get the nutrients that it needs. As far as thyme oil goes, not only is it another oil that stimulates your hair follicles, there are studies to support that when it's combined with an oil like peppermint, lavender or rosemary, it can even treat hair loss issues like alopecia areata.
I recommend combining two tablespoons of Jamaican black castor oil or olive oil, along with five drops of peppermint oil and three drops of thyme oil. Heat the mixture up in the microwave for 30 seconds. Apply it to freshly washed hair, massage it into our scalp, let the mixture sit there for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Do this once a month for optimal results.
3. Hair Follicles: Apply an Aloe Vera Mask
Aloe vera is great for your hair, for a few different reasons. For one thing, if you constantly struggle with having a dry scalp, the antipruritic properties that it contains can help to soothe your scalp and keep it well-moisturized. It's analgesic anti-inflammatory enzyme known as bradykinase, along with salicylic acid, work together to reduce any inflammation that your scalp or hair follicles may be experiencing (this includes if you're someone who happens to get scalp acne). Something else that's cool about Aloe vera is it helps to balance out the pH of your scalp (more on that in a little bit). And yet, one more reason why you should add it to your hair care regimen is Aloe vera is a wonderful treatment for your hair follicles. Because the make-up of Aloe vera is very similar to keratin, when you apply it to your scalp, it has the ability to naturally strengthen your hair follicles. Not only that but the 20 different amino acids that Aloe vera contains will help to condition and strengthen your hair so that the roots of your tresses are healthy from the very moment they grow out of your scalp. That's why it's a good idea to apply an Aloe vera mask to your scalp, at least once a month. For tips on how to make your own, click here and/or here.
4. Hair Follicles: Detox Your Scalp
Sometimes, we forget that our scalp has pores, just like the rest of our body does. And, because a lot of us use hair products (not to mention the fact that we sweat and our scalp sheds dead skin cells), those pores can become clogged which can also lead to a slower rate of hair growth. A surefire way to keep your scalp healthy and thriving is to detox it. If you'd like more info on how to do that properly, no problem. You can check out an article that I already wrote on it. It's entitled "Treat Your Scalp To A Little Bit Of Detoxing This Weekend".
5. Hair Follicles: Eat More Protein
Have you ever wondered if you actually need more protein in your system than you're currently getting? Some signs that you could indeed be protein-deficient is you constantly feel weak or tired, you're always hungry (no matter how much you consume), you're always getting sick, your moods are all over the place and/or your skin, nails and hair don't seem as healthy as they usually do. Speaking of hair, yours is made up of mostly protein (keratin), so you definitely need to "feed your follicles" with foods that are loaded with it. Some of those include red meat and poultry. But if you happen to be vegetarian or vegan, some non-meat alternatives include lentils, pumpkin seeds, oats, almonds, quinoa, spinach and spirulina.
1. Your Ends: Balance Your Hair’s pH Balance
When it comes to what pH balance actually is, it's kind of a long story. The short of it is, it's the measure of how acidic and/or base something else. When something has a pH balance of 7, it's considered acidic. When something has a pH balance of 4, it's considered base. When it comes to our hair, its average is somewhere around 5. Something that can throw our normal pH balance off is shampoo, conditioner and other hair products. The problem with that is an "off balance" can lead to rough hair cuticles and, eventually, hair damage.
Something you can do to keep your hair's pH balance right where it needs to be is to clarify your hair with an apple cider rinse. Not only will it bring the balance back to where it should be, but apple cider vinegar also contains anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can treat dandruff and other scalp irritants. Plus, it is able to make your hair softer and easier to manage. Just add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and pour it over your hair after shampooing in order to get the best results.
2. Your Ends: Seal ‘Em
Sealing ends is something that a lot of naturalistas know about. It's a process that helps your hair to maintain the moisture that is already in it, after you wash and condition your tresses. Because your ends are the oldest part of your hair, that makes them the most vulnerable. It also means they need moisture the most. That's why it's important to seal your ends in two ways. One, you should do the final rinse of your hair with cool water. The reason why is because a colder temperature can actually help to flatten and seal your hair's cuticles. Next, you should apply some sort of hair butter (like shea butter) or oil (like Jamaican black castor oil) to your hair while it is damp. By the way, a "sealant" that a lot of people rave about is good old-fashioned hair grease. If that sounds bananas to you, check out "Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back". The lead picture alone, just might make a believer outta you.
3. Your Ends: Use a Leave-In Conditioner
I'm one of those women who, no matter how much I deep condition my locks, my hair is gonna feel dry as the Sahara two days later, and dry tresses will definitely lead to breakage over time. What changed the game for me was putting a leave-in conditioner on my hair. There are a few benefits that come from doing this. It deeply moisturizes your hair. It helps to keep your cuticles nice and smooth. It can provide an extra layer of protection from heat styling tools as well as outdoor elements. And, my personal favorite, it can help to condition your hair for days on end. Hair that contains moisture is hair that is able to remain strong with a good amount of elasticity to it. So, definitely make it a point and practice to use a leave-in on a regular basis. What I use is Aunt Jackie's Quench – Moisture Intensive Leave-In Conditioner (I haven't encountered a better leave-in yet!). But there are plenty of others on the market. Or, you can make your own (check out some recipes here, here, here, here and here).
4. Your Ends: Dry Your Ends the Right Way
If you're someone who, after washing and conditioning your hair, you towel dry, maybe blow dry, and then simply go on about your business without giving any of that much thought, this could be why your ends are not as healthy as they should be. For starters, our hair is strong-yet-fragile (especially when it's wet), so it's best to use an old T-shirt to dry it rather than a towel. Otherwise, you could cause already opened cuticles to crack and your hair to become frizzy. Also, as much as possible, try and move your T-shirt in a downward motion on your hair so that the tee moves in the direction that your cuticles should be going (which is also downward). Same goes for blow-drying your hair. By pointing your dryer's nozzle (or using the comb attachment) in a downward position, that will help to flatten your hair's cuticles, making them less susceptible to damage until your next wash day.
Your Ends: Dust, Don’t Pull, Your Ends
In the quest for length retention, I get it if one of the last things you want to do is put a pair of shears to your hair. But if you don't trim your ends on a consistent basis, it can lead to tangles, split ends, a lack of shape or volume and, your hair actually not growing as fast as it could—or should. It's not because trimming your hair helps your hair to grow faster; it's that, by making sure that your ends aren't raggedy, that can prevent breakage. After all, if your hair is growing at the roots, but is constantly breaking at the ends, you're not gonna get the inches that you're looking for.
No one said that you had to get a professional trim, every 4-6 weeks. Matter of fact, stylists who aren't haters (you know what I mean, the ones who actually support you growing out your hair instead of always taking five inches off each visit) will tell you that every 4-6 weeks may not even be necessary. So long as your hair doesn't show any of the signs that I've just mentioned, you can probably go much longer without needing a trim appointment. Just make sure that you do consider dusting your ends from time to time. That's like doing a micro-trim where you use your own pair of shears to get rid of any split or damaged ends that you might see. If you do happen to notice some, always cut, don't pull. Pulling the ends of your hair, even if they are fairy knots, is a sure way to harm your hair's cuticles and create split ends in the process. If you'd like a few tips on how to properly dust your ends, click here.
Hopefully, this has given you a little more insight into how to reach your own hair goals. Just remember that, as long as your hair is actually growing, you can obtain length. It's all about taking the best of care of your hair—top and bottom. From the roots down to the very ends.
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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. ;)
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.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Whether you prefer to travel in groups, solo, or on baecations, picking the right destination is a major component of ensuring a great trip. Where you go for your next vacation can come down to price, location, activity options, and a host of other things. We’ve seen how often group trips can go awry because each person has different interests and wants to do different things. But how do you pick the right place for yourself when there’s so many options to choose from?
Choosing a destination that will provide you with the most memorable experience comes down to your own needs, and believe it or not, your love language can help with that. Our love languages are a guide to how we prefer to receive love and support, as well as how we like to give it.
Knowing about our love language can help build healthy relationships, better self-care routines, and improve our overall well-being. Imagine centering your travel around the way that you like to be loved and then experiencing that each moment of your trip. Every place around the world is unique and thus can provide a different vibe and feeling for us. Figuring out the places that align with our love language can be a game changer in how we experience the world.
Whether you’re a quality time girlie like me or prefer acts of service, here’s some of the best destinations to visit based on the five love languages.
If your love language is acts of service, you might want to visit...
The “Eternal City” is home to the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and all the pasta and gelato that your heart desires. People who value acts of service love when things are done for them, and life is made easier. If that’s your jam, consider going to Rome and experiencing an authentic Italian dinner cooked by locals for you. What better act of service than having someone cook a full meal for you in their home?
No need to learn how to roll pasta dough or knead pizza. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the free-flowing wine while learning about Italian culture and having a 4-course meal provided for you. After that, take a guided city tour where someone else can show you around all the popular spots, skipping the lines and avoiding crowds.
Having acts of service as your love language is not just about how others show you love but also about how you show it back. If you enjoy giving acts of service to others, consider heading to Thailand and visiting an ethical wildlife sanctuary where you can spend the day volunteering. Choose a place like Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, where people are not allowed to touch or ride the elephants but can help with harvesting bananas, cleaning enclosures, or even helping out in the animal clinic. You’ll leave feeling a sense of pride and knowing that your time was spent in a way that made an impact.
If your love language is physical touch, you might want to visit...
There are so many ways that we can experience the love language of physical touch, and Guatemala is a tropical sanctuary that can provide just that. This South American country is full of rainforests, volcanoes, and ancient ruins and can be the perfect escape to get some TLC. Consider staying at a luxury hotel like Villa Bokeh, where you can get your physical needs met through massages, yoga, or rowing on their lagoon. And if you want to explore off the resort, get those steps in with a hike of one of Guatemala’s volcanoes.
If your love language is gift giving, you might want to visit...
There’s no better place to go to for all your shopping needs than Dubai. Whether you are a gift giver or like to be spoiled, this is where you need to be. To start, the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world at over 12 million square feet. With around 1,200 shops to choose from, you are bound to find something for just about everyone. Dubai is not a budget destination, so leave a little extra space in your luggage and prepare to spend a pretty coin while you’re there. If luxury gifts aren’t your thing, head to the Covent Garden Market, where you can shop local vendors for more affordable items.
If your love language is quality time, you might want to visit...
Whether you’re planning a cute baecation or a solo trip, quality time is all about disconnecting and spending intentional time with your loved one or yourself. Costa Rica is an ideal location to be off the grid and be present. Spend some special time with bae at a nice resort, enjoying a couples massage, a trip to the rainforest, or a sunset dinner. There’s something about being off the grid that allows us to be more present with each other.
If you want to get in some DND solo quality time, book a stay at Nayara Springs Resort, located on the outskirts of Antigua, where you can enjoy uninterrupted and secluded relaxation while indulging in amenities like yoga classes and a hot springs pool.
Marco VDM/Getty Images
There are many ways to spend quality time with yourself or others, so why not do it in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? Explore Dar es Salaam with family, learn about the history of Tanzania, and then spend more quality time at the beach on Mbudya Island. If you are looking for a more romantic trip or quality time on your own, go out to Zanzibar, the archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and can stroll through the historical Stone Town.
If your love language is words of affirmation, you might want to visit...
If words of affirmation get you feeling all tingly inside, then why not take a trip to the "City of Love," Paris, France? Not only is Paris considered the mecca for love, but French is literally one of the world’s romance languages. So take a French lesson where you can learn how to speak beautiful words about yourself, or if you’re with bae, take a stroll by the Eiffel Tower at night while sharing some of the things you appreciate about each other.
Bonus points if you can say it in French.
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