Now that we're officially in the spring season, it's time to do just a little bit of switching up when it comes to our natural hair care routine. The awesome thing about all of the tips that I'm about to share with you is they're affordable, easy and things that you can do from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Not only that but, they work for all hair types and, if you apply them consistently, they can easily earn you, at least a couple of more inches by summer.
Are you ready to learn more about what that gorgeous mane of yours needs right about now? Here are 12 things that you should do.
1. Exfoliate Your Scalp
Your scalp is the foundation of your beautiful natural hair, so you definitely need to make sure that it's straight. Not too long ago, I penned a piece about the importance of detoxing your scalp. If it's been a while since you've done that (or you've never do it before), do that instead of simply exfoliating it. But, if you do detoxify your scalp on a fairly consistent basis, take wash day as the opportunity to remove any dead skin cells, debris or build-up that your scalp may have on it, as well as to unclog your hair follicles' pores.
One way to do this is to make your own hair scalp scrub. One-fourth cup of brown sugar (it's a wonderful humectant), one-fourth cup of olive oil (it moisturizes the scalp and increases blood circulation), two tablespoons of cornmeal (its gritty texture will help to dislodge any build-up), and 3-5 drops of tea tree oil (it's a mega antibacterial and antifungal oil) will all work together to keep your scalp nice and healthy. Mix everything together, apply it to damp hair, gently massage your scalp then let the mixture sit for about five minutes and shampoo and condition like usual.
2. Try a Clarifying Shampoo
As I'm figuring out more about what works for my hair and what doesn't, I'm actually becoming less of a product junkie. But even routine go-to items can lead to build-up after about a week or so. That's just one of the reasons why it's a good idea to consider using a clarifying shampoo. It's the kind of shampoo that has the ability to remove grease, oil and other stuff like no other. Some other benefits of this kind of shampoo include the fact that it can remove hard water deposits (like chlorine), eliminate bacterial growth from your scalp, restore the pH level of your tresses, help to lock in moisture in your hair and, it's a great "prepper" if you plan on coloring your hair a lighter hue for spring.
Yeah, clarifying shampoo is pretty awesome. Just make sure that you use it, probably like every other wash (if not once a month). If you wash your hair with it more than that, it could end up stripping your hair of its natural oils which could lead to brittleness and breakage. For a list of some of the best clarifying shampoos for natural hair, click here.
3. Wash “Up and Out”
Did you know that, the washing technique that you use while shampooing your hair can play a direct role in how well (and quickly) your hair dries? If you bend your head down and then wash "up and out", it can reduce the tangling and also make your hair more manageable until it's time to wash it again. Basically, what that means is not washing your hair in a way where it pats your strands down which leads to matting on your head. Instead, encourage the roots of your hair to move away from your scalp by using your fingers to massage your roots "up" (towards your forehead) and "out" (away from your scalp). Then rinse in warm water and you'll be ready for the next step.
4. Apply a Coconut Milk and Shea Butter Deep Conditioner
Something that you should always do, no matter what time of year it is, is deep condition your hair; especially if you just used a clarifying shampoo (or one that has sulfates in it). There are plenty of deep conditioners that you can buy, but if you want to save some of your coins, how about making your own? A really deep-penetrating recipe is a conditioner that consists of coconut milk and shea butter.
Coconut milk is high in lauric acid which will help to strengthen your hair's cuticles. It's also loaded with protein (which is what your hair mostly consists of) and vitamins B, C and E. Some other cool things about coconut milk is it can help to prevent hair loss, remove dandruff and soothe dry and irritated scalp. Shea butter? It contains fatty acids, it's got anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it's high in vitamins A and E and, it contains chemical compounds known as triterpenes; they help to produce collagen to strengthen your hair from root to tip. Another good thing about shea butter is it locks in moisture and helps to protect your hair from UV damage.
If you'd like to take a stab at making a deep conditioner at home, click here for a great recipe. Make it, immediately apply it to freshly washed hair, and leave it on for 45 minutes. Then rinse and style as usual. If you happen to have any left over and you refrigerate it, the deep conditioner should stay fresh for a couple of weeks or so.
5. Do More Air Drying
I'm actually not someone who thinks that hair dryers are the devil. Matter of fact, blowing out my hair (on low heat) every wash day has resulted in less fairy knots, tangling and the need to manipulate my hair while styling it. But, now that the temperature is starting to warm up a bit, I tend to allow my hair to air dry more and then "one pass" with my dryer when it's about 80 percent dry. Even though I rock with heat, I am well aware that I have to be extra careful so that it doesn't "fry" my hair by blowing drying it on a high heat setting while my hair is super wet. The less water that's in my locks, the less that is an issue. So yeah, air drying is one of the best things about the weather going from winter to spring.
6. Use a DIY Humectant Spray
Dry hair is one of the main reasons why a lot of us don't see the length that we would like. Something that can step in to help with that is using a humectant because it's designed to pull moisture that's in the air into our hair—and since April showers bring May flowers, this is an ideal time of the year to use one. A popular humectant ingredient is vegetable glycerin, but if you would prefer an alternative to that, check out "5 Natural Humectants That Promote Moisture & Length Retention/Not Glycerin!". If you want to take a stab at making your own humectant hair spray, popular hair vlogger Maryam Hampton can totally hook you up with her DIY Aloe vera recipe.
7. Up Your Vitamin A & C and Iron Intake
According to science, one of the main reasons why a lot of us struggle with hair retention is because we're lacking in certain nutrients, without us even knowing it. One of those is iron. In fact, reportedly, 10 million Americans are iron deficient and many of those individuals are Black women. Some other signs of iron deficiency include weakness, fatigue, headaches, brittle nails and cold hands and feet. If that is indeed the case when it comes to where you're at right now, you can always take an iron supplement; just keep in mind that, sometimes, those can lead to constipation. Another route to try is to get more iron via your diet. Pure red grape juice, lentils, dried figs and apricots, fortified cereals, chicken, red meat and molasses are all loaded with iron.
Two other deficiencies that can hinder hair growth are vitamins A and C. You can get them by taking a multi-vitamin. Or, to get more Vitamin A into your system, eat orange fruits and vegetables (like sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe), spinach, broccoli, black-eyed peas and tomato juice. Citrus fruit, kale, kiwi, cauliflower, green and yellow peppers, Brussel sprouts and thyme are packed with Vitamin C.
8. Apply an “Energizing” Essential Oil
Something that can help to encourage even more hair growth is lemongrass essential oil.
Thanks to its antiseptic and microbial properties, it's a killer clarifying oil if you're looking for something to cleanse your scalp, reduce dandruff and decrease build-up. It's also the type of oil that can increase blood circulation and strengthen your hair follicles.
Something else that's cool about this particular oil is it's loaded with Vitamin C that will help to trigger collagen development so that your hair grows longer and faster. And, since it has such a stronger citrusy scent to it, adding a couple of drops to your hair (along with about a half teaspoon of sweet almond, jojoba or grapeseed oil) every other day can give you just the kind of pick-me-up that you need to stay in a good mood all day long.
9. Pull Out the Brightly-Colored Scarves
I don't know about y'all, but I am good for having a headwrap, turban or even a bandana wrapped around my head; even more so when it gets hotter outside and I want to break out my brightly colored ones. Something that I've been doing more is either making sure that my "headgear" is lined or putting on a wig cap. The reason why is because I was noticing breakage around the front of my hairline due to the friction that the fabric of my wraps was causing. By rocking a wig cap underneath, not only can that help to keep your scarf (or hat) in place, it can also absorb sweat too.
10. Apply Some Monoi Oil Too
Flowers are on their way to blooming again; one that is in season is the gardenia. Well, monoi oil is an oil that comes from soaking the petals of Tahitian gardenias into coconut oil. Skin-wise, it's bomb because it is a hypoallergenic, antibacterial and noncomedogenic oil that heals acne and soothes the effects of eczema and dermatitis. The reason why it works so well on natural hair is because it helps your locks to retain nutrients and moisture, it strengthens your hair, and it reduces split ends and frizz as well.
One way to introduce it to your hair to the oil is to try it as a pre-poo treatment. Right before you shampoo your mane, pour a small amount of the oil into your hands and massage it into your hair, especially your ends (since they are the oldest parts of your tresses). Allow the oil to penetrate your hair's cuticles for 45 minutes and then wash and condition as usual. You should notice that your hair is especially soft, even after just one application.
11. Take Your Hair Up a Hue
Spring is the season when a lot of us want to lighten our hair color up a bit. If you're totally down for doing that, but you want to avoid as much damage as possible (girl, I know the feeling!), go with a temporary hair color brand. A Black female-owned one is Mysteek Naturals. It has shades like Assertive Auburn, Twerkin Turquoise and Royal Purple. The ingredients are all natural and the results are pretty stunning. Plus, the price is affordable ($9-$20) which is always an added motivator.
12. Eat In-Season Spring Foods
It doesn't matter what you put on your hair if your system is not getting all of the vitamins and minerals that you need. Foods that are in season this spring that are good for your tresses include arugula (it's rich in vitamins A and K and is a great detoxifier); mint (it's a powerful antioxidant); strawberries (its polyphenols aid in cell renewal); spring onions (it has antibacterial and antifungal properties); collards (they are loaded with Vitamin C as well as calcium); pineapples (they boost your immune system while reducing inflammation), and peas (which contains iron, folate and an off-the-charts amount of protein). If you eat lots of those and drink a ton of infused water, your hair will be just as happy about the spring season as you (hopefully) are. Enjoy!
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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