I don't know about y'all, but as I'm forever on this mission to grow out this hair of mine, I'm always discovering something new. Lately, something that I've been paying attention to is which season of the year typically gives me the most stress as it relates to maintaining length retention. The conclusion that I've come to is wintertime is a mutha. A part of the reason is because since the temperatures are cooler, I like to wear my hair out more; that can wreak havoc on my ends. Another challenge is I like to wear hats more often; since I'm a vintage gal at heart, some of my headwear isn't lined. And yeah, that's not good. Then there's finding the balance between how much moisture is too much and if I'm using enough protein at all. Ugh.
Unfortunately, in times past, not being aggressive in finding solutions to dilemmas like these resulted in my losing an inch or two due to dryness and breakage. But this year, I think I've got a handle on how to get—and keep—my hair wintertime ready. If you'd like to know what tips actually work for me, I've enclosed 10 of 'em below.
1. Get a Good Trim
Trimming your hair does not make your hair grow longer. But what it does do is get rid of split ends, single strand knots and any of the breakage that can make your hair frizzy and uneven-looking. Listen, I hate trimming my hair as much as the next person, but I must admit that every time I do it, my hair is a lot more manageable and easier to take care of. Plus, when my ends are "right", that makes it less difficult for them to "catch" onto my sweaters, hoodies and blazers. So yeah, if it's been more than 12 weeks since you've trimmed your ends, set up an appointment with your stylist or at least invest in a good pair of shears so that you can do a little bit of trimming or dusting at home. Your ends and overall hairstyle will be forever grateful.
2. Deep Condition on a Weekly Basis
You would think, with all of the wetness that comes with winter weather (rain, snow, sleet), that dry brittle hair due to the atmosphere would be the last thing that we'd need to worry about. But actually, cold weather brings brisk winds, freezing temperatures and oftentimes a dip in humidity; less humidity equals less moisture. Not to mention the fact that most of us tend to crank up our central heating which can zap the moisture indoors as well.
One way to combat all of this is to deep condition your hair. If you're currently in the habit of doing it a couple of times a month, consider doing it once a week, just until it gets a little warmer outside.
If you're worried about "over-washing" your hair, using a sulfate-free shampoo and following up your deep conditioning treatment with a leave-in conditioner should compensate for any moisture that shampooing may take away.
As far as the kind of conditioners that are best, check out "Top 18 Deep Conditioners of 2018 for Naturally Curly Hair". Or, if you'd prefer to make some yourself, there are some cool DIY videos here, here and here.
3. Give Yourself a Protein Treatment
While I've been trying to figure out the keys to obtaining hair growth and retention, I've learned that one of the biggest mistakes a naturalista can make is not finding the balance between knowing when your hair needs more moisture vs. when it needs more protein. When your hair feels dry or looks frizzy, that is an indication that it needs moisture. But as far as protein goes, when your hair lacks elasticity, it feels "gummy", it's super brittle or you've recently color-treated your tresses, these are all indicators that you could probably stand to give yourself a protein treatment.
4. Apply a Hydrating Mask
If you're committed to keeping as much moisture in your hair as possible this winter season, something else that you should do once a month is apply a hydrating mask to your hair. If you use them on a consistent basis, they will help your locks to retain moisture, while eliminating brittleness and frizzing, reducing the amount of product build-up on your hair, and making your hair feel softer and appear shinier too.
There are some hair masks that you can find at your local drug store or beauty supply store, but I recommend making some at your crib. If having less frizz is what you're after, mix two tablespoons of honey with two tablespoons of virgin olive oil. Heat the mixture on low in a saucepan for 30 seconds. Let it slightly cool and apply to freshly washed hair. Let it sit for 40 minutes and then rinse, first with warm and then with cool water (to seal your cuticles). If your hair is drier than you would like, mix a ripe avocado, a ripe banana, two tablespoons of pure Aloe Vera gel and a teaspoon of sweet almond oil. Apply it to your hair right after you shampoo and condition it. Let the mixture sit for 25-30 minutes and rinse with warm water. Both of these masks will have your hair feeling super soft and well-hydrated. Your scalp will feel nourished in the process too.
5. Seal Your Ends with Grapeseed Oil
Your ends are the oldest parts of your hair; that's why they need to be pampered the most. Whenever we forget this, that's why we aren't able to maintain length retention because, just think about it—your hair is always growing.
If you're not seeing any length, it's probably because your ends are constantly breaking off. One way to protect your ends during the winter season is to seal them on wash days and to also apply a little grapeseed oil to them every night (or every other night) before turning in.
The reason why grapeseed oil is such a good look is because it literally works as a natural sealant around your hair follicles. Also, since it penetrates your hair shaft so well, moisture is able to stay in your hair so that your strands won't become dry and brittle. Some other benefits of this particular oil is it's light, it fights dandruff and scalp irritation, and the antioxidants, Vitamin E, flavonoids and linoleic acid that's in grapeseed oil can help your hair to grow faster as well.
6. Be Careful with the Flannel
Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my bed and spending as much time as possible in it. And whenever wintertime rolls around, something that I can't wait to pull out are my flannel sheets. Not only are they cozy as all get out but using them means that I don't have to rely as much on my central heat to keep me warm; that ultimately results in lower electricity bills which is always a winner. If there is a downside to flannel, it's the fact that rolling around all night on them can definitely dry out my hair. Same thing goes for flannel sheets and, as far as winter wardrobes go, flannel shirts. So, if there is ever a time to wrap your hair up either with a satin or silk scarf, this is the time of year to do it. You also might want to only wear flannel bottoms because, our body temperatures change throughout the night and you don't want to sweat because you went to bed cold but woke up burning up. Oh, and if you've got some cute oversized flannel shirts that you want to wear and your hair is long enough to touch your collar, try and wear those when your locks are in a protective style or are up in a ponytail, just so that your ends won't end up constantly rubbing against them.
7. Pull Out Your Cover Ups
Something else that's really cool about the winter season as it directly relates to your hair is, if you don't feel like rocking a protective style, you can always wrap your hair up in a scarf, beret, beanie, fedora or even an ushanka if you want to. Not only are these stylish ways to protect your hair from inclement weather, they can also help to keep you from putting extra stress on your tresses via various heating and styling tools. Just make sure that if you're going to be wearing these a lot that you apply a light oil (like argan, avocado or sweet almond oil) to your hair in order to give it a little extra moisture. Also, if you do opt to wear a hat, make sure to follow this next step too.
8. Line Your Hats
Something I must admit that I have a pretty impressive collection of is hats. During this time of year, if I'm not rockin' a golf cap, I like to wear a wool brim. Brims are cute but man, between the drying out that wool does and the way hair tends to "catch" onto the fabric, they can give your hair all sorts of problems if you don't make sure that the inside of them are lined. If the hats that you currently own aren't already lined with satin, no worries. The internet is your friend and it offers up all sorts of instructional videos to show you how to line your hats on your own. Check out a couple of 'em here and here.
9. Avoid Certain Ingredients in Hair Products
I'm someone who likes to make a lot of my own hair products; that or I purchase some from Etsy. But if you're looking at your computer screen like, "Girl, ain't nobody got time for all of that", just make sure that before you run up into your local beauty supply store, you're aware of what ingredients will work against your hair rather than for it.
Some of those include isopropyl alcohol (it will dry your hair out); mineral oil and petroleum (they will wear your hair down and could potentially block your hair follicles); sulfates (they will strip the natural oils right out of your hair); sodium chloride (it can irritate your scalp) and synthetic colors and fragrances; they can also irritate your scalp and eventually lead to hair loss.
While we're on this particular point, also try and steer clear of any hair product that doesn't lead off with water as its first ingredient. Whatever a label shows first, that's what it has the most of, and nothing can moisturize your hair quite like water does.
10. Get a Humidifier
Central heat may be convenient, but here are some signs that it's getting on your body's nerves—you wake up with chapped lips; your skin is dry and itchy throughout the night; you can't seem to get over a cold; your throat is irritated; your allergies keep acting up; you end up with nose bleeds or your hair is dry as all get out. The remedy? Add more humidity (which is simply water vapors) into your house and, more specifically, your bedroom. Since our bodies need somewhere between 40-60 percent relative humidity in order for us to be healthy and feel comfortable, it can only work in your favor to put a humidifier in your room during the winter season.
If funds are tight, a work-around is to place a pot on top of or in front of one of your vents so that moisture can hit the air that way. Your health will thank you for it. Come Valentine's Day, your hair will thank you for it too. Happy Hair Winterizing, y'all!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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