OK, I don't know about y'all, but as someone who personally likes to rock an Afro, more than just a lil' bit, I've had a hard time finding articles that are specifically dedicated to styling that powerful natural hairstyle. It's like there are plenty of pieces of how to handle Afro-textured hair yet not ones on how to just let your Afro glow in all of its Blackness and glory.
A wise person once said that if you don't see a solution to a problem, maybe you should be the one to create it. Indeed. INDEED. That's what I'm about to be on today. For the record, in order for your hair to qualify as a bona fide Afro, you need a good 3-5 inches of natural hair on your head to start (shorter than that is a TWA which stands for a "Teeny Weeny Afro"). But if you've got that and you're ready to wear your hair out more often than you currently do, I've got some tips on how to care for and style your Afro, so that you will be the focal point of everyone you come into contact with (because we all know that Afros tend to have that effect on folks!).
1. Definitely Do Some Pre-Pooing
There are a few reasons why I'm such a fan of the pre-pooing process. For one thing, it helps to bring some additional moisture to my hair so that the shampooing process doesn't result in my tresses becoming drier than I want/need them to be. Another thing I like about pre-pooing is it helps to add some "slip" to my locks so that there's less detangling that I need to do, both before and after washing and conditioning my hair. One more thing that's cool about pre-pooing is it can actually make my conditioner even more effective which is really important since I want my hair to be as shiny, soft and manageable as possible.
If you've never pre-pooed before, all you're basically doing is applying an oil, butter or both to your hair before you actually wash it. Simply separate your hair into 4-8 sections (depending on how long and thick your hair is). Then apply a generous amount of an oil like olive oil (which is loaded with antioxidants), jojoba (it deeply moisturizes and soothes dandruff) or sweet almond oil (it helps to seal your hair's cuticles) or a butter like shea butter (it contains vitamins A and E) or mango butter (it helps to reduce breakage) and allow it to sit on your hair for 30-45 minutes. Then shampoo and condition your hair as usual, making sure to thoroughly rinse your hair with lukewarm water before beginning the shampooing process. I can assure you that you'll notice a difference if you do this.
2. Shampoo Your Hair with Some Black Soap
An Afro just ain't right if it's not super soft. That's why it's so important to avoid using any shampoos that have sulfates in them. The reason why is because sulfates have a tendency to really dry your hair out. So, unless you're looking to remove a lot of "gunk" from your hair, steer clear of that kind of shampoo and go with something that is sulfate-free. As far as brands go, one that I've recently come to like is a Black-owned hair and skin care brand called Alaffia. They've got an all-in-one African black soap line that's pretty dope. One, because you can use it all over your hair and body. Two, because it comes with different additions to it like tea tree and mint, honey and lavender (to start).
Anyway, black soap is great for your hair because it's high in vitamins A and E, antioxidants, potassium and magnesium. As a result, it's the kind of soap that is able to feed your hair's follicles, help to define your hair's natural curl pattern, soften your hair and also deeply cleanse your scalp without drying your hair out in the process.
A lot of us are always looking for some high-end shampoo brand to treat our hair when something as simple as black soap can be all that our hair really and truly needs.
3. Deep Condition It
Back when I was only semi-serious about growing my hair out, I would slap some conditioner on my hair, let it sit for five minutes tops, rinse it out and go on about my styling way. Yeah, that was definitely working against me because, since most of us have a much tighter curl pattern than women of other ethnicities, it's difficult for the natural sebum from our scalp to get all the way down our hair shaft. Deep conditioning helps to compensate for this fact. Not only that but it helps to restore our hair's natural pH balance, can make our hair way more manageable, it strengthens our hair and it makes our hair more elastic too (which makes it so much easier to style).
As far as the deep conditioning process goes, it's a good idea to apply the product of your choice to your hair right after shampooing it. Make sure to leave it on for no less than 30 minutes (honestly, a couple of hours is pretty ideal). Then rinse with cool water to seal your cuticles back. And what deep conditioners should you use? I personally go with about any brand and then add some Chebe powder to it (you can read more about what makes Chebe so awesome by checking out "Uncommon (But Totally Natural) Things That Are Great For Hair Growth"). Sometimes I leave the conditioner on for two hours; sometimes I wrap my hair up and leave it on overnight. As far as specific conditioners that can do wonders for your locks, our site has the articles "8 Hair Masks & Deep Conditioners That Revitalize Dry, Damaged Hair" and "5 Deep Conditioners Your Curls Deserve" that can help to point you into the right direction.
4. Also, Use a Leave-in Conditioner
It might seem a little redundant to follow-up deep conditioning with a recommendation to also apply a leave-in conditioner but chile, ever since I've added this extra step, my hair has not been the same—in the best way possible! Because moisture is something that our hair can always benefit from, a leave-in conditioner can help to give your hair that extra bit of "umph" that it needs to avoid becoming dry and brittle in between wash days. Something else that I really like about it is, it makes styling my hair so much easier to do, plus it reduces frizz and also helps to define my natural curls.
Although there are plenty of leave-in brands on the market, my personal go-to leave in is Aunt Jackie's Quench – Moisture Intensive Leave-In Conditioner because the slip is amazing and the moisture lasts for literally days on end. When it comes to leave-ins, another route that you can take is making your own. It's really not as hard as you might think. If you'd like to give it a shot, Kinky Curly Yaki has an article that features 14 DIY recipes. You can check it out here.
5. Try to Not Permanently Dye Your Hair
As someone who used to permanently dye my hair, almost about as often as I changed my clothes, I get how much fun it can be to switch up your hair color on a dime. You can still do that—just opt for going with a semi-permanent dye, some hair color wax or a natural hair highlight option (like a coffee rinse or cranberry juice rinse). The reason why permanent dye is bad for your hair is 1) it contains ammonia that definitely dries your hair out and 2) stripping the melanin from your hair and then adding the ammonia to it causes your hair cuticles to swell which can damage your hair over time.
The woman who currently holds the title in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest Afro is a woman by the name of Aevin Dugas. Her hair currently sits at a whopping 9.45 inches tall, 9.84 inches wide and 5.15 feet in circumference. I'm pretty sure she would cosign that color is cool—permanent dye is absolutely not.
I'm very much aware of the fact that some of us get frustrated with our lack of length retention and immediately chalk it up to our hair isn't growing. Listen, as long as you're alive (and you don't have some sort of hair condition like alopecia), your hair is always growing. Problem is, you might not be seeing inches because the damage is happening at the same rate as the growth, though. Color can be a culprit when it comes to that. That's why you should chill out from using it.
6. Braid Up and Air Dry
When it comes to this particular tip, I'll just put it right on out there and say that I am definitely a fan of blowing my hair dry on my wash days. Although a lot of people in the natural hair community say that heat is an absolute no-no, I personally don't agree. Stretching my hair out this way has actually helped me to gain more inches because there is less pulling, tugging and fairy knots. Now what I will say is, based on what your hair type is, sometimes blow drying can make your hair look straighter than you would like for it to be when you want to wear an Afro. This could be a good reason to leave your blow dryer alone.
If you want your Afro to have some of the texture and bounce that typically comes with having one, it's actually best to dry your hair with a T-shirt (to safely sop up excess moisture), coat your hair with a butter like shea butter (you might want to seal your ends too with the help of some Jamaican Black castor oil) and then section it all out and braid it. You can cornrow it or braid your hair down into plaits. Let it completely hair dry (this can take a day or two depending on length and volume) and then take your braids out and use your fingers or an Afro pick to style your locks (more on that in a sec). Doing it this way can help your hair to have "spring" to it which is ideal when wearing an Afro.
7. Follow the Right Afro Pick Rules
When it comes to actually styling your Afro, something that isn't brought up nearly enough is you can wear it picked out so that it's stretched and tall in all of its natural glory or you can use your fingers to give it more of a texturized look.
The benefits of the latter option is you significantly lower the risk of damaging your hair because so long as you move slowly and gently—and you add a bit of oil on your fingers to give your hair some slip—you don't have to worry about the pulling and snagging that styling tools can sometimes do. As far as Afro picks go, they're pretty awesome when it comes to making your Afro as big as possible, so long as you use them correctly.And just what does that mean? Definitely use picks on dry hair (if you need help to manage through your hair when it's wet or damp, go with a very wide-toothed comb). While holding your hair, in sections I might add, start from the ends and work your way up to the roots if you want maximum volume. If you'd prefer to keep your textured look but you still want some height, use your comb to gently lift the roots of your hair up only. For some additional tips on how to pick your Afro correctly, I really dug a how-to video by a woman by the name of Alexus Crown (who has a really dope Afro in it!). You can check it out here.
8. Trim Semi-Regularly
By far, one of my all-time favorite Afros is featured in a story that I did last year that I had no idea so many of y'all would be interested in. Any of you remember "Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back"? Whew-whee! Anyway, when you take a look at EfikZara's hair, you kind of get the impression that she's not following the standard "trim every 4-6 weeks" rule. Honestly, when you're trying to grow out an Afro, it's not really a necessary thing to do. So long as you follow all of the other tips mentioned in this piece, you should be able to go every 8-12 weeks; especially if you're gonna rock a textured 'fro, more times than not. The main thing you need to aim for is an Afro that isn't top-heavy, is pretty symmetrical and isn't frizz city (which can be a sign of split ends or excessive damage) all over your head.
As far as the trimming process goes, some folks prefer to plait their hair and dust their ends while others prefer to pick their Afro all the way out and run some clippers over the ends of it. By the way, you can also always go to a professional stylist too. Bottom line, there's no need to go scissor happy; especially if you wanna see real progress. Just make sure that your Afro looks tight 'n right.
9. Use Satin or Silk Hair Ties Only
If you're going to wear your hair in a protective style during the week and your Afro on the weekends, this point doesn't really apply all that much. But if you're someone who wants to wear your natural tresses out most of the time, in order to protect your hair from the weather, invest in some satin or silk hair ties. They are perfect for pulling your hair into a big 'ole Afro puff or even just keeping in your purse if you want to pull your hair back off of your face, every once in a while. The reason why the ties need to be made out of satin or silk material is because they are less prone to creating friction on your tresses or drying your hair out.
10. Braid It Up at Night
In order for your soul to glow in all of its glory, it's important that your hair remains as stretched as possible. That said, you don't want to rely on applying heat on the daily because that could lead to breakage. You also shouldn't just tie it up at night because your body temperature tends to shift as you sleep and the sweating could lead to shrinkage. The solution? Braid your hair into plaits (or cornrows if it's still kind of short) before turning in. It will keep your tresses stretched, protect your ends and give your hair a little more texture if the finger-styling route is how you prefer to go.
11. Oil the Parted Spaces Before Tying It All Up
Your hair grows from the roots. At the same time, if you want to maintain length, you've got to focus on your ends. While braiding your hair up at night can help to protect your ends from the friction that comes with tossing and turning all night long, oiling your scalp can help to feed your hair follicles. When it comes to the kind of essential oils that can increase blood circulation and stimulate your hair follicles, some of those include cedarwood, clary sage and peppermint. My two cents would be to mix these up with a carrier oil of some type.
Tropic Isle Living features oils that I like because the bottle has a nozzle that makes the oil easy to apply. You can choose from all kinds including black seed, sweet almond, sunflower, olive, argan, Cerasee and black walnut. If you heat up the oil for a couple of seconds in your microwave beforehand, it can be a super soothing and relaxing treat for your scalp.
12. Make Your Own Bonnet
Here's a true confession. I don't always like to tie my hair up at night. I just don't. What has convinced me to do it more often is that fact that just braiding my hair alone doesn't necessarily or automatically protect it from breakage because moving around at night can still cause friction, dryness and breakage to any of the strands that come loose. So yeah, while a satin pillowcase is cool, if you know that you're someone whose head isn't going to stay on it all night long, you really do need a satin scarf or bonnet to keep your tresses protected. There are dozens of bonnets on the market. Or, if you want, you can always make yourself one. I checked out some pretty easy DIY YouTube videos. Take a stab at it by going here, here, here, here or here.
Welp. There you have it. A few things that can help you to put forth your very best Afro. If you've got one, please don't hesitate to show off in the comments. There is nothing like a Black woman in all of her crowning glory. For me, an Afro hairstyle tops the list.
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 Shutterstock
- Black Women With Buzz Cuts - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love ... ›
- Adding Head Wraps To Your Hair Routine Is The Ultimate Protective ... ›
- Pass The CROWN: Why This Exec Is On A Mission To End Black ... ›
- What Is The Crown Act? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Pattern Beauty Blow Dryer Review Tracee Ellis Ross - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
15 Women Share Their Personal Hacks For Better Orgasms (And Sex Overall)
I’m pretty sure that I’m basically being redundant when I say that I write about sex quite a bit which means that I spend quite a bit of time doing research when it comes to sex-related intel, tips, and hacks. Yet I have to say that when it comes to getting some much-needed information in the realm of coitus, it’s been my clients (along with random interviews that I do with people because I don’t mind talking to complete strangers about intimate ish) who have garnered me some of the best takeaways.
Take orgasms, for example. Since I’m well aware of the fact that vaginal orgasms (especially) can be a real challenge for a lot of women, I’m constantly on the hunt for what can help to “bridge the gap” in that arena.
And that’s why I decided, this time, to forego science articles, vlogs, and online data and instead ask some women for myself about some of the things that they do to make having an orgasm, improving their orgasms, and their sexual experience overall something that is so much better for themselves.
So, grab yourself a light aphrodisiac snack (check out “Eat Your Way To Better Sex With Aphrodisiacs”) and dig into what 15 Black women told me gets them off, in a mighty big way, just about every time.
*As always, middle names have been used so that everyone can feel comfortable giving up the goods…umm, so to speak*
1. Rochelle. 37. Married for 11 Years.Giphy
“While y’all be out here talking about some kegels, what I’m into is my man giving me a hip massage. The key is to make sure you use some sort of massage oil that has menthol in it. Between the tingling of the menthol and him rubbing on your hips, not only is it really relaxing, but the ‘minty feel’ opens your body up so that once intercourse begins, you’re less tense, and that makes having an orgasm so much easier to do.”
2. Karmyn. 27. Single.
“Kiss him the way you want him to penetrate you. Literally, use your tongue as if it were a penis and move it in his mouth like you want him to move inside of you. The kissing will turn you both on, and if he follows your instructions, you should be able to orgasm with no problem."
"I learned this trick when I asked an ex of mine to explain what p — sy feels like, and he said the best way to explain it is what a tongue feels like inside of [the] mouth. He should’ve never told me that, boy! It’s been hell in these streets ever since!”
3. LaChelle. 43. In a Serious Relationship for Two Years.
“If you’re self-conscious about your body, get some lingerie that has cutouts in them. There is a lot of sexy stuff out here that can have you covering up the parts you’re not comfortable with while still giving him access to the ‘main events.’ My man loves one of my lace one-piece teddies that has no crotch, and it’s easier for me to orgasm because I’m not overthinking the entire time.”
4. Trinitee. 27. Married for One Year.Giphy
“We’ve only been married a year, but we weren’t exactly abstinent when we were just dating. So, we like to find ways to keep it fresh. One thing that we do is go ‘hotel hopping’ once a month. We find a new hotel and meet each other there. We try and do different hours of the day and come with a surprise in hand. Like he might bring a new sex toy, and I might have on some lingerie that he’s never seen before. Then we text each other beforehand to talk about the best part of the sex we had from the last hotel we visited. The anticipation is foreplay.”
5. Wren. 33. In a Serious Relationship for Six Years.
“What works for me is doing afterplay as foreplay. What I mean by that is, taking a nap naked with my boo before any sexual activity is one of my favorite things. Being up under him, especially if he’s spooning me, feels really good, sleeping together is very intimate, and — there’s something about being awakened outta my sleep with kisses on my neck and back that almost makes me want to cum right then and there.”
6. Bevalyn. 40. Living with Her Partner for Four Years.
“Get on your back and have him kneel in front of you."
"Put your legs over his, and when he penetrates you, ask him to use one of his hands to apply pressure on your pubic bone — the area right above your clitoris."
"As he’s gently pushing down while he’s inside of you…if you don’t cum from that, I don’t know what else to tell you, sis.”
7. Sophia. 38. In a Serious Relationship for Two Years.Giphy
“Shower sex can be a bit much, and I don’t trust a used jacuzzi. What we do is fill up our own inflatable pool and get it on inside of it. It’s perfect during the summer, late at night, because we have a tall fence. Just make sure that you bring some silicone lube to keep things slippery down there. An inflatable pool has been one of the best sex investments that we have ever made!”
8. Averie. 35. Single.
“Wanna know if your man is as into giving you head as he claims? Right after he goes down on you, ask him to immediately penetrate you. If he’s hard, he’s totally into it, and if he catches you soon enough, you’ll be in the perfect position to have a multiple orgasm. Don’t say I didn’t give you the ultimate cheat code.”
9. Victoria. 40. Married for 11 Years.
“Shellie, you actually got me on the cinnamon kick when I read one of your articles that talked about applying cinnamon oil to my clit before oral sex. Since [then], I’ve been doing some research, and it says that cinnamon is also an aphrodisiac because it stimulates blood flow. So, I’ll also drink cinnamon tea throughout the day or share a cinnamon cocktail with my husband. Works like a charm.”
Shellie here: She’s right. I did say that. LOL. You can read for yourself: “Here's How To Have Some Really Great Fall-Themed Sex.”
10. Daniela. 28. Engaged for Six Months.Giphy
“Ever been fingered backward? What I mean is, get on all fours and have him insert a finger or two from behind with his palm being flat. That way, the space in between your anus and your vagina will get a massage while your vagina gets penetrated. There’s nothing quite like it.”
11. Saven. 32. Single.
“Ice. Have him rub a little bit of ice on your clitoris and then immediately warm it up with his tongue. There is something about the drastic changes in temperature that gets me every time. And I mean, EVERY time.”
12. Ferynn. 30. Living with Her Partner for Five Years.
“I don’t know about you, but my man loves to put my legs up in the air. It was never really my favorite move until I read that behind the knees are an unsung erogenous zone. Whoever found that out was onto something because if he rubs back there while talking real crazy to me in a deep voice? Here I come…HERE I COME!”
13. Vivienne. 30. Engaged for One Year.Giphy
“Never underestimate the power of a foot massage. Just make sure that he applies pressure in the middle of your foot where your arch is. It instantly makes me wet. I asked my doctor why and he said that it’s probably because foot massages tend to increase blood flow, including where the vagina is. Either way, it’s always a good night if I get a foot massage first.”
14. Michelle. 24. Single.
“I’m a doula who owns my own exercise ball…for sex. When I first started showing couples the positions that women can get into to make labor easier, it got me to thinking that some of those positions could work for sex too — and they do."
"Something about the movement of the ball takes the pressure off of the back for both men and women. It also makes getting into certain positions a lot easier so that you can enjoy sex for a lot longer.”
15. Carol. 31. Married for Five Years.
“My husband and I have bets. If he wants me to make some of his favorite meals five days in a row, he’s gotta make me cum five times in a row. If I want him to get me something that’s not in our budget, I’ve gotta attempt one of his sex fantasies. We’re both competitive as hell, so it works for us because honestly, even when we ‘lose’…we win!”
Listen, I don’t know about y’all, but this was definitely worth my while. After all, ain’t nothin’ like some Black women who can speak from very-personal-and-up-close experience about what makes them happy — especially if it can increase the odds of bringing some sexual satisfaction your way too.
Speaking of, if you want to share the wealth, drop some of your own orgasm-related tips in the comment section. The more of us who can woosah on the regular, the better, chile. Straight up. #havefun #lotsofit
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 by Giphy