Well y'all, I don't know what you're thinkin' but personally, I'm totally trippin' that we're just a few weeks away from it officially being the summer season. As I was looking at my hair the other day, I said to myself, "How about we give you some extra special attention this year, so that I don't have to do any damage control come fall?". Because, even though I actually write on hair care quite a bit, sometimes a sistah doesn't feel like being proactive. I'm getting better at it, though.
Anyway, if you are like me and you don't want to be pissed off on Labor Day because, all you did, all summer long, was wrap your hair up in a scarf or rock a turban, only to discover a dry matted mess weeks later, I've got some things that you can do to prep your hair (and maintain it) for the summer season. Don't worry. Everything here is cheap and easy yet super effective.
Are you ready to get your hair into great summer shape?
Make Some Coconut Milk Shampoo
Something that I recommend you try this season is making your own shampoo. Not only is it (typically) cheaper than commercial brands, but you're able to know exactly what is going into your tresses. A recipe that's very easy to make, consists of only three ingredients. All you need is coconut milk, castile soap and your favorite essential oil(s).
Coconut milk is great because the antibacterial properties in it will help to cleanse your scalp while removing any bacteria that may be on it. Coconut milk is also packed with nutrients like protein (our hair is made up of mostly protein), iron (something that many of us, as Black women, tend to be deficient in) and magnesium (it promotes follicle hair growth) that help to strengthen our hair. As a bonus, coconut milk is mad moisturizing too.
Castile soap removes product build-up without stripping your hair of the natural oils that it needs. Essential oils smell great and come with all sorts of benefits, depending on which one you decide to go with. For a fresh and summery scent, I recommend orange oil. It moisturizes your hair, plus it also can smooth your strands so that they look less frizzy too.
For a simple coconut milk shampoo recipe, check out Wellness Mama's here.
Dust Your Ends
If one of the things that you're committed to this year is length retention, I am totally with you. Because of this, you probably want to keep shears as far away from your head as possible. But if you don't at least dust your ends, not only could you end up with split ends that will only result in long-term hair damage, but you could prevent your natural hair from holding any real shape as well. If you don't trust a professional to trim your hair—again, I feel you because some stylists don't know the difference between cutting and trimming—you can always take matters into your own hands. Literally. Dusting your ends is about taking no more than around ½" (on average) off of the ends of your hair. All you need is a good pair of shears, a video tutorial and a lot of patience.
Check out some naturalistas and how they dust their ends here, here and here.
Apply a Leave-in Conditioner
Hopefully, deep conditioning your locks is already a part of your hair routine. But because the sun can be particularly harsh during the summer season, it's important to apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair too. Not only will it add some extra moisture to your hair, it can also make detangling and styling so much easier in between washes (especially if you'd prefer not to wet your hair every day). If you decide to go the commercial brand route, make sure that the first ingredient on the label is water. Or, if you want, you can make some of your own.
Kinky Curly Yaki totally has your back in this department with the article "14 Homemade Leave-In Conditioner Recipes".
Use a DIY Anti-Frizz Serum
When it comes to my natural hair texture, probably the two top things that get on my nerves about summer is 1) the massive amount of shrinkage that it causes and 2) how frizzy my hair can sometimes become. As far as shrinkage goes, we'll tackle that in the next point. On the frizz tip, something that can help to tame your mane is to create your own anti-frizz hair serum. One of the best recipes I've seen in a hot minute consists of avocado oil (it's extremely moisturizing), argan oil (it nourishes your scalp, fights dandruff and helps to prevent brittle ends) and geranium oil (it's antibacterial, balances the production of serum and helps to keep hair strands smooth). If you apply a little to your hair on a daily basis, you'll notice more curls and less frizz.
For the complete anti-frizz serum recipe, click here.
Define Your Curls with Bentonite Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar
Yeah, I already know. There are definitely a billion hair hacks out here. But if there's one that I promise you is pretty close to mind-blowing, it's the bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar hair mask. The benefits of bentonite clay, frankly, deserves a write-up of its own but some of the main point is it's the kind of clay that draws out toxins, helps to heal psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, removes product build-up on the hair and scalp, conditions and moisturizes and definitely brings the best out of your natural curl definition. Know what else it does? It helps to elongate your hair so that shrinkage isn't as much of an issue. As far as apple cider vinegar goes, it's a one of a kind type of hair clarifier. The combo will have your hair feeling mad soft and with bouncy curls that you didn't know you had; whether you've got 3 or 4 type hair.
An easy recipe: Pull out a non-metal bowl (metal can affect the potency of the clay, not in a good way either) and pour 1/3 cup of bentonite clay into it. Then add about four tablespoons of distilled water (maybe a bit more; the objective is for the mixture to have a thick yogurt-like consistency). To that, add four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and maybe some sweet almond oil (to lock extra moisture into your hair). Mix everything with a non-metal spoon and immediately apply the mask to clean and damp hair (make sure your locs are wet enough to show your curl pattern). Apply the mask, cover your head up with a plastic bag and let it sit on your hair for 30 minutes. Then get into the shower to rinse it all out (it's kind of a mess if you go the sink route) and follow it up with your favorite hair conditioner. Allow your hair to air dry and sis, you're totally good to go. (If you want to see some final results, check out this video, this one or this one.)
Invest in Some Anti-Humidity Hair Products
You would think that, since humidity is all about moisture, that it being in the air that it would work for, not against, our hair…right? Yeah, naw.
While it's kind of a science class, the bottom line is our hair is made up of tiny tubes of keratin (protein). What humidity does is manipulate those tubes which causes our hair cuticles to swell, resulting in frizz.
One way you can reduce how much this happens to your own hair is to coat your hair with anti-humidity hair products on a daily basis.
If you'd like to do this, Naturally Curly totally has your back. Check out "20 Humidity-Proof Products to Fight Frizz".
Create Some Sunscreen for Your Locs
Don't get it twisted. We might be full of melanin, but Black women need sunscreen too; this includes when it comes to our hair. UV rays have a tendency to do a real number on tresses. For one thing, they produce free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress that can weaken our hair's natural structure. Extreme sun exposure can also strip our natural hair color and give us dry and brittle strands too. That's why some hair sunscreen is another effective way to get and keep your hair summertime ready.
Naturally Curly has your back on this one too. Check out "6 DIY Sunscreen Recipes to Protect Your Hair".
Drink More Water
One of the big mistakes that a lot of us make when it comes to caring for our hair is we're far more preoccupied with what we put on our hair that we forget to pay attention to what we put into it from the inside out. Your hair is definitely not going to survive the summer season if you don't make sure to stay hydrated all throughout the day. Not only do you need water to replenish the fluids you lost from sweating, but since each strand is made up of roughly 25 percent of water, you can see why your hair especially needs it too. If you're averaging eight glasses of water before summer, up that to around 10 as summertime eases its way on in.
Not a water fan? Get what you need by drinking some infused water instead. You can get some awesome recipes here.
Get a Hair Oil for the Swimming Pool
Chlorine and salt water can wreak real havoc on hair, especially ours since our tresses tend to lean more towards being on the drier side of the hair spectrum anyway. If you'd prefer to not rock a swimming cap, something that you can do to give your hair some of the extra moisture that it needs is to apply a thin coat of oil before taking a swim.
Jojoba oil moisturizes. Grapeseed combats frizz. Lemongrass has antifungal and antiviral properties. My recommendation is to put two tablespoons of each into a plastic bottle, heat them up in the microwave for 15 seconds and add the oil to your hair. The combo will feel great and your tresses will be all set.
Keep a Hair Spritz Handy
On the super hot days when you want to give your natural hair a bit of a moisture-rich pick-me-up, why not go with an all-natural hair spritz? All you need is a small plastic spray bottle, some rosewater and a couple of other ingredients. You can keep the bottle in your bag and lightly mist your hair whenever you get the urge. Your scalp will instantly feel refreshed and your curls will instantly feel hydrated. It's a wonderful summertime treat for your hair from its roots right down to its ends.
A cool recipe: Fill your bottle halfway with rosewater (it'll stabilize your hair's pH balance). Then add a tablespoon of sweet almond oil, a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (when combined with oil and water, it can reduce hair breakage) and 5-7 drops of lavender essential (it cleanses the scalp while stimulating hair growth in the process). Make sure to shake well before every use. Then spritz your hair and that's it. Your hair will totally be summer set!
Do you have a beauty, wellness or self-care find that you've tried recently and want to share your experience? Join the xoTribe members community to connect with other beauty lovers and share your wins with the tribe.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
This Content Creator Gets Candid About Touch Starvation In Emotional Video
Recently, a young content creator named Mayte Lisbeth posted an emotional video about experiencing touch starvation. She expressed that she feels she is dying from touch starvation and does not receive hugs. Additionally, if she were to receive a hug, she would crumble. The nearly three-minute video continued as Lisbeth breaks down her need for touch. Healthline says touch starvation or deprivation “occurs when a person experiences little to no touch from other living things.”
According to research posted in the National Library of Medicine, “touch is a powerful tool for communicating positive emotions.” Furthermore, other studies emphasize the importance of social touch. When an individual lacks touch, they can experience the following: depression, anxiety, stress, relationship dissatisfaction, difficulty sleeping, and detachment. Moreover, people who do not enjoy being touched can also experience deprivation due to occasionally longing for a hug or handshake.
Lisbeth’s video was triggering because touch starvation is something I experienced in the past. The first time I experienced this was when I was 17 years old after moving across the country to a state where I had no family. It happened again during the pandemic. I remember going into the pandemic optimistic as I really could be.
It worked for the first several months but quickly spiraled into some of my most challenging times, emotionally and mentally. That feeling was amplified when there was no one I truly loved to hug me. Something about a long embrace from a loved one assured me that no matter how dark my world was at the time, there was a light at the end of my darkness. Being away from my support system was rough during that time of uncertainty.
I was not fully aware of what touch starvation was at the time, but I knew I longed for touch. It was not until I was visiting my best friend and randomly asking for a hug that I remember having an immense sense of anxiety and sadness.
The content creator stated in her video that the solution is more complex than scheduling a hair appointment and receiving services. The form of touch was not suitable because she had no ties to these people. It is more about receiving affection, which can come in touch from someone who cares about her, not specifically a romantic touch.
Its been five years of touch starvation. I’ll probably have some more years of it. I’m not handling this well.
First, I commend Lisbeth for her vulnerability and courage to speak on a subject many sometimes do not know about or even acknowledge. She even commented that her family was not big huggers, which did not help her touch starvation. She could count how many times she hugged her parents when she saw them last. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, this is the norm for many families. “I do not know how to heal in a community; I only heal alone,” Lisbeth tearfully explained in a follow-up video. People instantly flooded her social media pages with support and suggested solutions, including breathwork, touch work, and even hiring a professional cuddler.
Sadly, many suffer from touch starvation and do not have family or a tribe to contact. If that is your current situation, here are some exercises that copy touch sensation when experiencing touch starvation.
- Blankets – Wrapping yourself up in a blanket can provide comfort. Another option is a weighted blanket. A weighted blanket mimics receiving a hug, which can provide a sense of calm for an individual.
- Self-Touch Breathwork – The counselors at Twinpowerment, LLC taught us a five-step self-holding technique that could help remedy touch starvation.
- Body Pillows (or pillows) – Cuddling up to a body pillow can mimic cuddling and allow comfort during sleep.
- Cuddle Therapy – Like the name states, you can pay a professional to cuddle with. The Institute of Counseling in Nigeria explains that “Cuddle therapy fills a niche that is complementary to traditional talk therapy.” With traditional therapy, a mental health professional cannot touch their clients.
- Companion Animal – Dogs and cats make excellent companion animals. The endless number of cuddles and “kisses” they provide can offer comfort during hard times.
Even though traditional therapists cannot provide touch to their clients, they are a great option if your symptoms from touch starvation increase.
Since then, Lisbeth has posted videos explaining remedies she has tried or is willing to try. Some days are better than others, but she keeps moving forward. I pray she finds peace during these times.
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Feature image by People Images/ Getty Images