Braids. Twists. Wigs. Weaves. Buns. Bantu knots. Updos. Wanna know what all of these things have in common? They're protective styles—they are all things that you can do to your hair that will decrease how much time you spend touching your hair. Not only that but they protect your tresses from outdoor elements and, most importantly, keep your ends from experiencing damage. Yeah, protective styles are pretty amazin'. At the same time, you really can end up with too much of a good thing. When it comes to these particular looks, if you end up relying on protective styles so much that it ends up causing all sorts of drama when it comes to your hair getting stronger, longer and healthier…they actually are doing you absolutely no good.
So, how can you know for sure that your protective style is out here working against you rather than for you in the long run? I've got eight telling signs that you definitely shouldn't overlook.
1. You’re Noticing Protective Styles are Causing Breakage
A statement that a lot of people tend to make that is absolutely not true is, "My hair doesn't grow." If you're living—and you don't have some sort of diagnosed hair loss condition—your tresses are definitely growing, somewhere between one-fourth and one-half inch each and every month. However, the reason why a lot of us don't see any real length retention is because our hair breaks off, about as fast as it grows. Protective styles can do this when we've worn them too long (styles like braids and twists really shouldn't be in longer than six weeks at a time) or we're not properly conditioning our hair before styling it.
Another breakage issue? Sometimes, we're so comfortable with a protective style that we forget our ends at least need to be dusted, if not all-out trimmed. So, if you've been rocking a protective style with the intention of growing your hair out yet you haven't been seeing any real progress, ask yourself why that is the case—because you definitely should be.
2. Your Edges and/or Nape Are Getting Weak From Protective Styles
I wear my hair in box braids from time to time. Something that I can tell you is a huge red flag is if you leave your braider with your scalp feeling so tight that you've got a headache. A good braider isn't going to pull your hair so much that it ends up weakening your hair follicles and/or causes the edges and nape of your hair to start thinning out. While we're on this topic, I know some people who are so married to their lace fronts to the point where they don't even have edges anymore, either because they are installing their wigs incorrectly or they are leaving them on too long (you shouldn't keep one on for longer than six weeks).
If you've naturally got thin edges or the nape of your neck has always been shorter than the rest of your hair, that's one thing. Yet if your protective style is the direct cause, make sure that braids, twists, Bantu knots and sew-ins are looser and wigs are installed with extreme care. No look is worth losing some of your hair in the long run as a direct result of having it.
3. Your Scalp Is Irritated Because of Protective Styles
Something that can happen when it comes to braids (especially when you're using extensions) is your scalp can end up becoming really irritated. This happened to me once because my scalp didn't like the brand of hair that was used. This is oftentimes the case when synthetic fibers are used rather than human hair. New wigs can also make your scalp itch or cause it to become inflamed. Come to think of it, so can an older wig if you didn't wash out all of the shampoos and/or conditioner that you used before putting it back on.
Listen, your scalp is the foundation of your hair, so when it comes to protective styles, it's important that you wash your hair and scalp thoroughly before getting the style and that you are able to keep it moisturized. Also make sure that when it comes to braid/twist extensions, wigs, and weaves that the hair is quality so that your scalp isn't getting bumps, sores or you're not scratching it to death while you've got your protective style on.
4. Your Hair Is Loc'ing Up From Protective Styling
Here's something that is counterproductive AF. So, you get some killer braids or twists, yet you don't want to take them down, so you keep twisting your new growth to make the roots appear tighter so that your hairstyle looks fresher. OK. Here's the thing, though—if you do that long enough, you could cause your hair to loc up which makes it harder to detangle which means that you could end up damaging your hair once it's time to take it all down.
Another potential "loc up" cause? Having a sew-in remain for so long that your braids underneath end up becoming so matted that you weaken your hair trying to take everything down.
Locs are beautiful. They are also meant to be intentional. If you've got a protective style that's resulting in your hair loc'ing up, that is definitely not a good sign. A protective style should be relatively easy to "dismantle". It shouldn't stress you or your hair out when you're in the process of doing it.
5. Your Braids Are Too Tiny
Say that micro braids are totally your thing. While some stylists say that they can remain in your hair for three months (and lawd, since they can take 12 hours to put in, they should), sometimes it's not worth it when it comes to taking the braids out. For one thing, it can be a beast figuring out where your hair starts and the extensions begin. Secondly, there is a lot of manipulation that goes down while your fingers are trying to take out every little braid that you've got. While using a cream or spray can make the process easier, you could still end up with a lot of shedding, some breakage, and, at the very least, a couple of months when you'll really need to "baby" your hair. So, while micro braids may be convenient as all get out, again, if the ultimate goal is growth, they could end up working against you rather than for you.
6. You’ve Got Product Build-Up From Protective Styles
In a perfect world, a protective style would make it possible for you to not need to put a lot of product in your hair. But I know some of y'all are perfectionists and, at the very least, you want every baby hair to be in place. What I will say is if you notice residue, that your hair is dull, your scalp is flaky or your hair feels extra greasy—these are all indications of product build-up and it being time to wash your hair and quite possible removing your protective style. If you don't, your hair follicles could end up getting clogged (which is never good) or hair could become so stiff and hard that you could end up damaging the cuticles while trying to restyle it.
For the record, if you've got a sew-in, make sure to use a shampoo that is specifically designed for it (that way, your weave will get detangled while your natural hair can remain fresh and moisturized); every 2-3 weeks is cool. If you've got braids or twists, every two weeks is a good idea. Same goes for buns and updos; just make sure to deep condition after taking those down, every single time and, if you did apply a lot of product that you do an apple cider rinse to clarify your hair.
7. Your Protective Styles Are Too High-Maintenance
Here's what I mean by a high-maintenance protective style. Something that I really like to rock are cornrows. I am able to part and braid them myself, so they are super convenient. Yet when I read somewhere that Trey Songz once said that he cut his braids because he was tired of redoing them every four days, I felt that deep in my spirit. Remember that the purpose of a protective style is so that your hair experiences low manipulation which means that whatever look you settle on needs to absolutely not be high-maintenance. If you've got to constantly pull and tug at your hair in order to perfect the look, it's pretty counterproductive. Just something to keep in mind if you're trying to figure out which protective style to go with next.
8. You Never Switch Up Your Protective Styles
While you may have never considered them to be protective styles before, technically buns and updos do qualify because, if you take good care of them (including keeping your hands out of your hair), they can protect your ends and that can encourage length retention in the long run. Just make sure that you're not always putting the bun or updo in the exact same spot on your head. That can lead to breakage and balding if you're not careful. So can constantly parting your Bantu knots the same way. Never forget that hair follicles are very resilient and yet somewhat fragile at the same time, so you've got to constantly handle them with care—in part, by not constantly handling them.
Have fun with your protective styles; however, do give your hair a break, even from them, every once in a while. They are designed to be temporary solutions for achieving hair growth not permanent styles with no reprieve. Aight? Cool.
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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. ;)
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.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy