In Meet the xoNecole Tribe, readers are introduced to the members of the xoNecole team that keep the site up and running with their textured and varied stories and voices. In the monthly series, you get a more in-depth look of the person behind the pen, social media, the lens, or whatever they might contribute to the brand.
Joce Blake first set my soul ablaze when she made her presence known in our inbox with her writeup for the Women's March last January. But I truly saw the fire when she wrote her first style post for us. The way she could break down style while still talking to us like a sister-girl quickly became one of my favorite reads to pop into my inbox. Since, she's expanded to covering all things style, but also dabbling in beauty and human interest stories as well.
If you haven't met her yet, meet Joce Blake, xoNecole's Style Writer.
Photos By: Noah Berg Photography @noahbergphotography
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. I consider myself a millennial southern belle; think Coretta Scott King meets Porsha Williams. I currently reside in Denver, CO.
How old are you?
I am 29 years old. I was born July 18, 1989 and I am the purest form of a Cancer. While some people call us emotional, I like to think I am emotionally intelligent.
What's your occupation?
So, I have a few jobs but most people don't know that I have a full-time job as a project coordinator at The University of Colorado. I also freelance for multiple platforms and even host a podcast from time to time. At xoNecole, I am a style and human interest writer. I enjoy writing trend reports and highlighting black fashion and beauty creatives.
Photos By: Noah Berg Photography @noahbergphotography
Where did you go to school? And what was your major?
I graduated with a BA in Journalism from The University of Tennessee. Those four years were truly amazing because they helped me hone in on my writing skills. It even allowed me to study abroad in London, UK where I had an internship working under a freelancer who wrote for Vogue UK. My internship supervisor helped me learn how to marry my two loves - writing and fashion.
How and when did you start working with xoNecole.com?
I started writing for xoNecole in January 2017. I have admired Necole's light and hustle for years. I can recall sitting in lectures in college reading NecoleBitchie.com and I always said that I wanted to work for Necole in some capacity. It's so crazy because I had a vision board party on January 13, 2017 and I wrote xoNecole on my board. Four days later the dream was manifested because they were looking for writers and you best believe that I pitched myself.
Photos By: Noah Berg Photography @noahbergphotography
When did your love affair with writing begin?
I remember like it was yesterday. I was in the 9th grade. I was sitting in my computer class and my teacher asked me if I was interested in writing for the school newspaper and yearbook. At that point, I wanted to go to Howard University to become an esteemed lawyer. I knew that I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless and in that moment I realized there were multiple ways to do that so I said yes. The love affair grew immensely when I spent a summer at Phillips Exeter Preparatory School and I found myself telling intriguing stories about people of color's experiences in a predominantly white space.
How do you practice self-care?
I practice self-care by writing, listening to music, going to church and pampering myself. Of all of those things, music and my spirituality are the most essential. Every morning I have a praise and worship session all by my lonesome. To me, there's something so powerful and beautiful about connecting with God through song.
Are you single?
Who's asking? *insert emoji eyes* Yes, I am single like single SINGLE. I am dating but it's so hard in 2019. Living in Denver, my chances of finding my Russell Wilson are exponentially low. (Please tell Ciara I need that prayer!)
Joce Blake at NYFW September 2018
Photo By: Ken Stancil Jr., (KenStancilJr.com), @KenStancilJr
What are your interests? Do you have any hobbies?
I love watching television! My friends constantly tease me because I keep up with all the latest shows and they don't understand how I do it with all of my side hustles. I also love all things fashion so I enjoy attending fashion shows, art exhibits and anything involving fashion.
What is your favorite book of all time? What's the last book you read?
My favorite book of all time has to be Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. I read it in high school to prepare for a play where I portrayed The Lady in Red. Even at a young age, I appreciated the beauty in all of the women's stories. The last book I read was Arian Simone's Fearless Faith + Hustle: 21 Day Devotional Journey. Necole gave it to me during the Pajamas and Lipstick Party and it was such a blessing. The book is full of inspiration, insight and scriptures made perfect for a girl boss.
Joce Blake at NYFW September 2018
Photo By: Vanessa Samuels @voyavanessa
What's your endgame? Why do you do what you do?
My endgame is to write for a fashion magazine like Vogue. Ever since I watched Carrie Bradshaw strut around the streets of New York City and then write an article for Vogue, I knew I wanted to be a black Carrie Bradshaw. I have always been obsessed with fashion and I have always wanted to be the thing that the world was missing. While representation has changed with amazing women like Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Elaine Welteroth and Kahlana Barfield, I still want to do it for the little black girls in Memphis who think that they aren't enough and can't leave Tennessee.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What is the most challenging part?
The most rewarding part of my job as a style and beauty writer is when people write me to tell me they are inspired by my articles. I value being a unique voice on the internet because when I search for stylish women on Google, the prototype doesn't look like me. The search can be depressing when every best dressed list on major platforms consist of one token black woman. So for me to be a part of a platform that promotes positive and inspiring images of melanin women, I am forever grateful.
The most challenging part is curating new, effervescent content. Sometimes I fear that I am saying the same thing, the same way. More than anything, I want our readers to always feel like they leave the site with a meaningful gem whether it's learning about ways to keep their skin glowing or the hottest new trend.
Joce Blake and Lenique Smith at NYFW February 2019
Photo By: Ammar Thomas @manmeetsstyle
What advice do you have for other freelance writers?
I would encourage freelance writers to put yourself out there and know that your ideas matter. Sometimes I pitch ideas with so much doubt and then my editor loves the concept. In the past year, I have learned to have confidence in myself and what I bring to the table because my perspective is wildly unique. If you don't tell your story, who will.
How can we keep up with you on social media?
Keep up with the other members of our Tribe here.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgical procedures, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and on average, it may run you close to $ 4,000. While many people are still turning to surgery to get the look they want, there are many alternatives that are noninvasive and overall safer that are starting to get some shine. Like a lot of people during the pandemic, I had put on a few extra pounds, and I was looking at all the different methods that can help me look and feel great.
I don’t remember how I ran across it, but I began researching laser lipo, and before I knew it, I had booked my first appointment of many. I entered the medispa and was taken to a room and told to lie down. Then, I had lasers placed on top of my stomach for about 30 minutes, and I was done. While it sounds simple, it can take multiple sessions to get the desired look you want. That was a couple of years ago. However, I decided to try it again. This time with a different practitioner and a few add-ons, including wood therapy, cavitation, skin tightening, and vacuum therapy. Let’s dig deeper.
What Is Laser Lipo?
Laser lipo is a non-invasive procedure that penetrates through the skin and shrinks the fat. Not only is it simpler than regular lipo, but it’s also less expensive. Tammy Bell of Sculpted By Bella Beauty Bar, where she offers these noninvasive services, tells us why more people are turning to laser lipo.
“It’s noninvasive. You don’t have no downtime at all, unlike lipo and the different surgeries you have downtime with that,” she says. “You get results. It’s a little slower than regular lipo, but you get results that you want.” Because everyone’s body is different, the results may vary. However, Tammy says it’s also based on lifestyle habits such as what you’re eating and how active you are.
Laser lipo is just one of the many noninvasive services to choose from. See more below.
Microgen Images/ Science Photo Library/ Getty Images
If you follow Tracee Ellis Ross on Instagram or TikTok, then you probably saw the video of her using wooden tools to sculpt her body. This method is called wood therapy, and let me tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. In my experience, it’s a weird sensation and a little painful. However, they say beauty is pain.
Tammy breaks down what wood therapy is. “It actually breaks up the fat, and it contours your body. It moves the fat through your lymphatic system,” she explains.
Another treatment is skin tightening. As we get older, our skin loses elasticity, and this service targets sagging skin for a tighter appearance. “The heat actually helps tighten the skin,” Tammy says about the skin-tightening tool that is used during the service. “It helps build collagen for your skin to tighten.”
Cavitation liquifies the fat, and it’s the only service out of this list that can’t be done on your face. “With the cavitation and all that stuff, if you notice, I always come in, and then I go down because you have your lymph nodes for your lymphatic system for it to drain,” she says, explaining the technique she does when using the tools on the body.
“That’s why it’s important for you to drink a lot of water ‘cause you (the fat) have to either come out in your sweat or your urine.”
Vacuum therapy involves suction cups that lift the skin. While I’ve only used it on my stomach, Healthline reports that many people are using it to get a butt lift. “Vacuum therapy moves the fat, and if you want to get a butt lift, you push the fat up,” Tammy says.
Costs vary per service and per practitioner. However, I spent around $400 and got all the aforementioned services done within five appointments.
Body sculpting results
Photo courtesy of London Alexaundria
My target areas were my back, stomach, and arms, and I am satisfied with the results I received in such a short amount of time. You can get these services done separately and get good results, but I decided to try them all together as a part of a package. Just like they will tell you after getting regular lipo, for lasting results, you must make sure to keep a healthy lifestyle.
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Feature image by Delmaine Donson/ Getty Images