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If Your Hair Keeps Breaking Off, You're Probably Doing This.

If you want some inches, make sure you're not doing these 10 things.

Hair

When it comes to us and our hair, if there are two things that I wish could be retired and thrown in the back of the dumpster, never to return, is the term "good hair" (what in the world?!) and the misconception that we can't grow our hair, just as long as other ethnicities do. It's not that our natural crowns aren't glorious or that we can't gain inches, right along with the best of 'em; it's that, because our hair is a different texture, when it comes to hair care and maintenance, we simply have to take a different approach. Otherwise, we could end up with breakage and never reach our ultimate hair goals.

On the hair tip, that's what we're gonna tackle today. 10 reasons why a lot of us experience more breakage than we ever should, along with some food for thought on how to avoid it in the future, so that we can come to love every inch of the GOOD HAIR that God has richly blessed us with.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #1: You’re Not Aware of Your Hair Type

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When it came to me figuring out this hair of mine, probably what kept me from gaining inches the most was not knowing exactly what my hair type is. It's kind of a long story but basically, our hair ranges from straight (type 1) to super curly (type 4). Aside from whatever number your hair is, it also consists of the letters A, B or C (because there are different levels of curly within each curl pattern). Knowing what your hair type is helps you to determine what kind of products and overall hair care approach that you need to take; in part, because the straighter your hair is, the easier it is for the natural oils from your scalp to go down your hair shaft and moisturize your tresses. The curlier it is, the more difficult it is for the oils to move about; not compensating for that can lead to dryness and brittleness, if you're not careful.

When it comes to figuring out what your hair type is, a lot of people figured theirs out via what is known as "the water test" (check it out here). You can also take a hair type quiz (do that here). I've also got an overall video breakdown for you to learn more about your hair here.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #2: You’re Not Deep Conditioning Your Hair

Personally, unless I'm trying to get rid of a ton of product in my hair (which isn't often because I typically don't use much), I don't use a shampoo that has sulfates in it. Sulfates are a lot like a detergent and, if you apply them too much to your locks, they can end up drying your hair out. A sulfate-free shampoo is much gentler. But whether you go with a sulfate or non-sulfate shampoo or not, it's always important to follow washing your hair up with a conditioner.

Honestly, something that I used to really underestimate is how important it is to do more than just leave a regular ole' conditioner on my head for a couple of minutes. What I mean by that is, my hair actually started getting a lot softer and more manageable once I made a point to deep condition it. Doing that gives your hair more elasticity, more moisture and even more sheen.

What I personally do is mix some Chebe powder into a rich conditioner (one that I've recently been really enjoying is Tropic Isle Living's Strong Roots Red Pimento Conditioner; its growth oil is actually pretty bomb too). I apply it to my hair and let it sit for a couple of hours (sometimes overnight if I've really got time). Once I rinse it out (with lukewarm water; hot can also dry out your hair), my locks are super soft and actually remained that way until my next wash day (which, on average, is 10 days later). Yeah, never skip the deep conditioning step. Your hair won't be nearly as healthy as it could/should be, if you do.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #3: You’re Not Dusting Your Ends

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While it is sho 'nuf a myth that trimming your hair makes your hair grow faster, if you do make a point to get rid of your raggedy ends, that can help to keep split ends away. Know what else? It can also reduce the amount of snagging that happens when you comb or brush your hair due to the tangles and fairy knots that can happen when your ends aren't trimmed enough. While I personally think that the "every 4-6 weeks rule" for trimming your hair depends on how well you care for it, dusting your ends that often can be a really good idea. Dusting is when you simply trim a very little bit of your hair; so little, in fact that, so long as you've got a good pair of shears (dull ones can also snag your ends), you can dust your ends yourself. For tips on how to do that, check out this video.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #4: You’re Not Using a Thermal Heat Protectant

In the article, "Top To Bottom: 10 Tips To Strengthen Your Hair Follicles & Protect Your Ends", I talked about how you should towel and blow dry your hair. I also lightly touched on the importance of applying a thermal heat protectant, but I want to go into a little bit more detail about why it's also such a smart thing to do. Back before I was using it, sometimes I would notice that my hair was frizzy or that I'd have an increased amount of split ends. Basically, what thermal heat protectant does is seal in the moisture that your hair needs while smoothing your cuticles so that the heat from your styling tools doesn't zap out your moisture which can lead to dryness, frizzing and breakage. A heads up—if you've got thick hair like I do, it's best to go with a cream-base thermal heat protectant than a spray. Otherwise, your tresses may laugh at the product and still you could still end up with all of the frizz that you're trying your best to avoid.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #5: You’re Dyeing Your Hair Too Much (or the Wrong Way)

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Back in the day, I used to change my hair color, just about as much as I changed my clothes. But now that I care more about the health of my hair (and my health overall) than the hue, I don't do it as much. I also avoid permanent hair dyes and stick to rinses (because they are far less damaging) or hair wax for fun. Still, if you're someone who likes to go the more permanent route, while some people seem to have no problem with using box brands of dye, in order to get the results that you want with less breakage, I recommend going to a beauty supply store and selecting a color and developer and mixing the two. Anyway, the bottom line here is that dye swells up your cuticles (especially when you choose to go lighter due to the peroxide that's in it) which can definitely lead to dryness, damage and hair breakage over time. That's why it's important that you always deep condition color-treated hair, that you don't touch up your roots less than every 4-6 weeks (longer, if you can stand it) and that you follow all directions when applying to dye.

Side note, real talk, I really think it's smarter to go to a professional stylist if you've got length that you want to keep. But if not, make sure to baby your hair as much as possible. Dyed hair is mad fragile and needs all of the TLC that it can get.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #6: You’re Overstretching Your Locks

This might be the "something new for the day" revelation for some of y'all. Oftentimes, when you hear people offer up no-nos when it comes to blow-outs and flat ironing, heat is the reason. But did you know that there is actually such a thing as overstretching your own hair?

Word on the street is, if we constantly stretch our natural curl pattern beyond 30-35 percent, it can start to damage our hair's cuticles over time and ultimately lead to breakage. This is something to keep in mind if you're someone with natural hair who is constantly doing whatever you can to stretch your locks out and reduce shrinkage.

Oh, and when you do decide to stretch your hair (whether it's blow drying, braiding or even threading), make sure not to do it when your locks are wet; it's super fragile in that state and you could definitely cause breakage. It's best to stretch your hair after it has air-dried about 70 percent. That way, it will be strong—and still flexible—enough to handle your stretching techniques (so long as you use them sparingly).

BREAKAGE CAUSE #7: You’re Always Styling Your Hair the Same Way

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Tension is something that our hair, especially the roots of it, do not need. But whenever we settle on a fly hairstyle that we just can't seem to get enough of, that is oftentimes just what our hair follicles have to put up with. Something that I personally like to do is wrap my hair up in a bandana and put a knot in the front. It's cute and y'all can't tell me nothing, but I had to start switching things up a bit when I realized that I was experiencing a bit of breakage, right where the knot would go. Black hair is dope because it's versatile as all get out. Reduce breakage possibilities by changing up your look, at least a couple of times each week.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #8: You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Not too long ago, I wrote an article for the site about the oftentimes overlooked signs of being dehydrated. While I did happen to mention dry skin, what I didn't talk about is dry hair. The reality is, no matter how many moisturizing products that you may put on top of your tresses, it's not gonna matter much if your system isn't getting enough water too. Matter of fact, what a lot of people don't realize is when you're not drinking enough water, your hair can end up becoming dry and frizzy because your scalp is parched and your hair follicles aren't getting enough fluids to properly disperse the vitamins and nutrients that they need in order for your locks to thrive. So, if you're not a huge water lover but you definitely want longer hair by the new year, perhaps this point is what will inspire you to take a few more glasses in, on a daily basis.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #9: You’re Not Tying Your Hair Up at Night

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Friction is nobody's hair's friend. Yet when you're tossing and turning around in bed, for 5-9 hours every night, that can literally wear your hair out and ultimately result in breakage. That's why it's so important to make sure that you tie your hair up at night with either a silk or satin scarf or bonnet (you can check out a DIY bonnet video here). While we're here, it's also a good idea to give your hair a break from bobby pins, barrettes, clips, etc. First, dab some oil onto the ends of your hair and then either braid or twist your hair or put it up into a pineapple. The oil will prevent your hair from losing extra moisture while you sleep and the braids, twists or pineapple will help to keep your ends from taking a real beating (from all of your moving around) at night.

10. Your Diet Sucks

Your hair follicles need nutrients, just as much as the rest of your body does. When you want to keep your hair moisturized, so that it breaks less, it's important to consume the kinds of foods that will give your hair the moisture that it needs. In walks the article, "These Foods Will Give Your Skin & Hair The Moisture They Crave". When you get a chance, check those out. Also, try and avoid eating a lot of the foods that are literally bad for your hair. For starters, sugar is bad for your locks because your hair is made up of mostly protein (keratin); when you've got a lot of sugar in your system, that can prevent your body from absorbing all of the protein that it needs. This means that white starches pretty much suck too because they turn into sugar whenever we eat them. Oh, and try and limit your consumption of alcohol while you're at it. A nutrient that your hair needs in order to thrive is zinc and, while alcoholic drinks like red wine have lots of health benefits, a not-so-good thing that they can do is slow down how zinc is processed in your system; plus alcohol can also dehydrate you which, we already discussed can wreak all kinds of havoc on your hair.

Yeah, this was kind of a lot. No one said that growing long beautiful hair was exactly easy, but best believe it is very possible. Start with setting hair goals and avoiding breakage-causing patterns. Then watch how your hair shows out on you, in the best ways possible, once you do!

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When Kara Stevensara Stevens started Frugal Feminista, she was on a mission to offer something she didn't see enough of as a young Black woman looking to become debt-free. She'd taken her personal finance matters into her own hands, turning to library books and other free resources to get out of $65,000 in debt. "During that process, I'd found books—some written by Black women, some by white men—and they were all helpful, but I noticed that there was a dearth of literature really speaking to what Black women in their 20s and 30s were facing. I couldn't relate," she recalls.

"I began researching and implementing some of the things I learned. I wanted to broaden the discussion around what it meant to be a Black woman who is out of college, educated, looking for love, wanting to travel, and wanting to have it all, and how money plays a role in that."

Courtesy of Kara Stevens

After getting out of debt, Kara, an educator by trade, eventually moved up the ladder into administration, putting her in the club of six-figure earners. However, she found that she had some further growing to do when it came to how she approached managing her money. "I was still having a lot of anxiety around money despite being, on paper, more well-off than, say, 90 percent of average Americans. What that led to was a deeper understanding of the lessons I learned around money and self-worth in terms of asking and receiving," she says.

"[It was about] understanding the energy of being confident and assertive in a way that allows you to expect the possibilities and expect things to happen in your favor. Money is one of the values, ways, and measures of getting what you want whether it be a salary increase, starting a business or anything related to achieving something in that arena."

Below are six keys Kara found, through her own journey, in resetting her mentality about money in order to thrive:

1. Decide what you really want out of life and how money fits into achieving your goals. 

It's important to explore self-reflection that will lead to decisions about your short-term and long-term goals related to what your best life looks like and how to create and sustain it. "What do you want to do with money?" Kara adds. "Do you want to travel with money? Do you want to start a business? Reflect on what your beliefs are about children, businesses, or travel, and see if they align with what you're trying to do with your money. If there's a disconnect, you're going to have a lot of difficulty in either finding the money or keeping the money in relation to achieving your goals."

2. Get to know your deep-set beliefs about money and their origins.

"Oftentimes, they're largely influenced by what your parents beliefs are," Kara explains. "In my experience, I had a lot of emotional hurdles to overcome when it came to dealing with money because growing up, I was taught that you shouldn't take risks with life, money, love—with anything."

"Even though I was able to technically get out of student loan debt, I still had this fear of being able to have a balanced approach to investing or a balanced approach to even giving myself the things I wanted."

Growing up, Kara saw a money management focus that was solely about basic needs. "Anything else was considered unnecessary. That made me a very measured and withholding person emotionally and financially, and that eventually led to having to learn more about myself in therapy."

Once she was able to pinpoint beliefs she'd carried from her childhood, she was able to form a renewed relationship with money and nurture a new mindset. "I was able to give and receive, take risks, and make my needs an important part of how I make decisions instead of looking at deprivation, hoarding, financial paranoia, and scarcity."

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3. Pinpoint how those beliefs inform the way you currently view money and how that perception affects achieving your goals.

Kara urges women to create a "family financial tree" exploring childhood memories related to money that they still hold on to in adulthood. "I grew up thinking, for example, that due to my mom's heartbreak with my dad, men are never to be trusted with money. That was a given," Kara says.

"But you have to look at that belief and analyze the validity or the universality of it to determine how useful that message is in serving you in your life goals. I know that ultimately I want to be happily married, so I had to rethink that message to create one that's more affirming, rational, and abundant."

"Not all men can be trusted with money, but the man I choose, I will trust because I trust myself to make good decisions. So, think about how you can flip that negative narrative and rewrite it to make it affirming and thoughtful and align with your goals."

4. Create a budget that incorporates your values and puts a focus on progress versus perfection.

"Having a budget that doesn't allow for fun or pleasure is not a budget you can stick to," Kara says. "Putting the pleasure element and values element in a budget is a key part to enjoying your money management and to thriving with your money."

Kara remembers a time when she was first getting out of debt and how the process was much more sustainable when she gave herself grace throughout the journey. "Sometimes you trip and fall and miss a payment or overspend, but don't take it personally. If you continue to make progress in the general right direction, you'll be OK, and you'll eventually meet your goal."

She incorporated a debt payoff strategy that allowed her to tackle each one in a particular order, gaining momentum by getting rid of them one by one. "I felt good when I was able to reduce the number of debts I had. Eliminating them made me feel good that I was actually making progress."

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5. Shift your approach to budgeting in a way that puts faith first.

"There's a place for living within your means, but the rationale behind it [is important]," Kara says. "You have to have that faith-based approach to handling money. Check in with yourself on whether the reason you're doing something is based on some type of fear perspective or more of an abundance or faith-based perspective. You have to tell yourself, 'I believe that what I'm offering is worth it,' or 'I believe that what I'm buying for myself is going to add value to my life so I'm going to do it without apology, shame or guilt.'"

6. Figure out a monthly flow for managing your funds.

"In addition to having a budget, knowing the flow of your money every month is important," Kara says. "I use a financial calendar. Sometimes you can feel that, by the end of the month, there's more month than money, and it's not necessarily that we don't have the money. It's about how we space out our spending and our savings to meet our various financial goals."

With a financial or budget calendar, you can track payment amounts and dates and estimate how much money flows in and out of your accounts on a monthly basis based on your money goals and lifestyle. You can do this the old-school pen-and-paper way, via an online spreadsheet or through handy apps that are free or downloadable for a fee.

Taking deliberate steps toward shifting how you think about money and its management can be totally life-changing and make reaching your dream life that much more believable and obtainable.

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It's Pride Month, and what better time to highlight amazing Black LGBTQ leaders and advocates killing it in business? Yep, now is the perfect occasion. These entrepreneurs and executives are providing spaces for inclusion, disrupting and innovating in fashion, tech, entertainment, and finance, and giving voice to the struggles, issues, and vibrancy of LGBTQ communities. They are exemplary examples of brilliance we all can admire and take a nod from in our own lives both professionally and personally. Check them out below:

Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of National LGBTQ Task Force 

This power woman and mother is the first openly queer-identified Black woman to hold the position at the long-standing organization, and she's tasked with leading strategy to ensure equality and justice for LGBTQ people across the nation. The National LGBTQ Task Force works to fight against discrimination in housing, retirement, employment, healthcare, and more.

Kelsey Davis, CEO & Founder of CLLCTVE

Kelsey Davis was a creative professional who worked for major companies including Conde Nast and created content for brands including Coca-Cola before launching her own firm that provides services for matching freelance creatives with Generation Z brands. It's the creating real opportunities for other young creatives to get to the bag for us.

Lena Waithe, Co-founder of Hillman Grad Productions

If series like The Chi, Boomerang, Them, and Twenties, or films like Queen & Slim don't ring a bell, sis, you need to go ahead and pop from under that rock, subscribe to somebody's streaming service, and get caught up. Lena Waithe not only includes diverse depictions of LGBQT stories within her scripts, but she takes the advocacy further via the hiring practices and opportunities of Hillman Grad Productions.

Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy, Co-founders of BLK MKT Village

This fab couple offers super-cool items that show just how rich and beautiful Black culture truly is, and they do it so stylishly. Together, Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy lead their Brooklyn shop and online community of more than 280,000 followers, offering a well-edited selection of collectibles, apparel, and heirlooms that would put any museum curator to shame.

Ariell Johnson, Founder of Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse

Ariell Johnson's North Philly shop offers an array of comics that put inclusion and representation at the forefront. From books and magazines to toys and figurines, she provides a special selection of items that ensure all lovers of the genre can find something to enjoy and be inspired by, and she unapologetically includes LGBTQ sci-fi "geeks" and comic enthusiasts in the all.

Natalie Patterson, Founder of Natalie Is Poetry

A self-proclaimed "teaching artist," Natalie Patterson fosters growth, compassion, and integrity via workshops, breakout sessions, performances and lectures. Her client roster includes brands like Sephora, Uproxx, and the United Way, and sis will have you deeply moved with her poetry. Trust.

Arlan Hamilton, Founder of Backstage Capital

As if surviving homelessness, living out of an airport and building a venture capital fund isn't impressive enough, Arlan Hamilton has spent the last six years raising millions of dollars to support more than 170 companies founded by female, minority and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. And get into this latest win: A recent crowdfunding effort reached its $5 million goal via more than 7,000 supporters. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Way to get to that coin, sis!

Angelica Ross, Founder of TransTech Social Enterprises

Her company serves as an incubator to economically empower LGBTQ professionals and their allies by providing training for career skills. The platform particularly provides a forum for tools to fight against employment discrimination, and Angelica Ross, a self-taught programmer and actress known for her role on Pose as well as her work as a transgender rights activist, partners with brands and companies to foster training and employment opportunities.

Corianna and Brianna Dotson, Founders of Coco & Breezy

These savvy businesswomen have been giving twin-rock star-Black girl magic energy since 2009 with their eyewear brand, worn by celebrities including Beyonce, Prince, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, and Lady Gaga. As a brand, Coco & Breezy has since expanded into a luxury retreat venture, DJing, and visual art projects. They're also huge in LGBQT activism, lending their voices, art, and platform of more than 170,000 followers and supporters to issues of advocacy and rights protections.

Janelle Monae, CEO of Wondaland Arts Society

She's the soulful, ecclectic, tuxedo-wearing, boundary-pushing singer, producer and actress known for her roles in Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Antebellum. Janelle Monae is also a fierce artist mentor, record label exec, and LGBTQ rights activist who has identified as pansexual and rides for equal rights and freedom of expression for all. Word to Django Jane.

Featured image via Coco and Breezy/Instagram

You know, love is a funny, funny thing. I once read that 90 percent of it is based on the friendship developed by the two of you, and only 10 percent is actually based on love. And oftentimes, your marriage will boil down to the work put into maintaining and nurturing that 90 percent. Ain't that sumthin?

That's why when I see couples who have been married for many years, especially those in the public eye, I take every opportunity to celebrate their union with them. After all, love fades, and it can even vary from day-to-day. Friendship is the basis of all of this, it's the foundation.

And one duo who certainly understands this assignment is our dear faves, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker. They have spent much of their marriage genuinely loving on each other and helping other couples along the way just by being themselves. From revealing the infamous "prayer", to showing the importance of the little things; things like date nights, or complimenting your partner openly and unapologetically.

Most recently, Boris took to Instagram to swoon over his wife in the cutest way. Shared with a screenshot from FaceTime, he asks:

"Hey Babe, can I ask you something? Can you please keep shining your light on me? Like 20,30,40 more years maybe? Feels really good. Thank you. I love you."

To which Parker responded:

"I'm gonna shave my legs. to. night. #yourenotreadyyyy"

It's the hashtags fa me.

Then there was that time that he was checking her out, and complimenting her fitness, which, *swoon*:

There's the time he surprised her on a boat and copped a few feels:

Same.

When she celebrated his latest venture as his number one fan:

When they celebrated their anniversary with a few locals and dance in the city:

All while jamming to some, which is always a vibe.

And when Boris showed her infinite love on International Women's Day:

The lovers and friends pair have said before that their relationship is not different from anyone else's and that that they have simply taken the time to do what works for them, which is having fun. Nicole even addressed it directly, offering advice by saying:

"You become better people on the other side. Everyone wants to run if you have one argument, one misstep or one mistake. But if you commit to going through the desert, so to speak, it's so good on the other side. And Number 2: treat him like your boyfriend. Because in marriage, you get into a practical rut. It's nothing new. Don't panic. You're going to get in a practical rut about who is doing what, paying bills, sharing the house, two different jobs, then the children. You become roommates."

She continues:

"But if you remember that this person is your boo [laughs], you keep it fun. You can't wait to get home, even if 10 years have gone by. You can't wait to buy him a gift for no reason on your way home from work. He gets you flowers for no reason. So, I always say, the minute you find your husband, make him your boyfriend."

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image via Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks about love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

When the pandemic hit, it really changed the way we connected with one another. While yes, social media has always been around, it has never been relied on as much as it is now. Especially within the last year. Social media became instrumental in building relationships as it continues to be a main source in making new friends, business partners, and, of course love interests. I mean, when it comes to love interests we are all familiar with the swipe left, swipe right, and the DM slide. But it is much more special when social media is actually the motivator for you to fly out and meet the woman of your dreams, who lives almost 1,000 miles away.

A simple scroll and a nice charming smile is what caught Andrea Fernandes' eye to really see what Jibre Hordges was all about. The 25- and 27-year-old were able to connect and after a couple of weeks of text messages and phone calls, the now-couple decided that distance or a pandemic was not going to hold them back. Andrea mentions, "I felt like time flew by when we were together. When we met in-person, we were able to talk for hours and hours."

The couple made it official in June 2020. Since their initial meeting online, Andrea and Jibre have been positive influences in each other's lives. They have been complementing each other's strengths and challenging each other's areas of improvement. They support each other through their own individual journeys of growth and never losing sight of faith. While Andrea and Jibre are still in a long-distance relationship, they are dedicated to spending that quality time together. For these two, they are only one call and a flight away.

In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the publicist and actor shares how their love continues to grow by honest communication, speaking each other's love languages, and keeping God as a shared value.

How We Met

Andrea: I was scrolling through Instagram one day and I came across Jibre's page. I saw that one of my friends followed him too. So I sent his photo to my friend and asked, "Who is this man?" (laughs) I will say that if it wasn't for my friend also following him, I probably wouldn't have tried to connect with him. After some time, I decided to reply to one of his IG stories. This is something I have never done to a guy, I honestly don't know. But I liked his teeth, so I decided to give it a shot (laughs).

Jibre: After our mutual friend told Andrea who I was, we started following each other. We followed each other for about two weeks before we even said anything to each other. I lowkey had my eye on her, but it's all about timing. Since she reached out to me when I was already planning to reach out to her, I thought, Say less, let's do it (laughs). When we started following each other, I already noticed that she stayed in New York. But I work for an airline. So I was willing to fly out to see her, no problem. We talked for a couple weeks before we decided to finally meet in-person. We worked with each other's schedules and I flew out to see her.

"When we started following each other, I already noticed that she stayed in New York. But I work for an airline. So I was willing to fly out to see her, no problem. We talked for a couple weeks before we decided to finally meet in-person. We worked with each other's schedules and I flew out to see her."

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

First Impressions

Jibre: From talking those few weeks, I already knew that I liked her. But when I met her in-person, I immediately thought she was beautiful. We talked to each other for hours and just picked each other's brain. Her brain is definitely a reflection of her beauty.

Andrea: I thought he was very nice. Overall, he exceeded my expectations. I felt like time just flew by when we were together. We actually had dinner reservations that night, but ended up skipping it because we continued to just talk and get to know each other more. The chemistry between us was there from the start.

Courtship

Jibre: So after we met, I flew out a couple of more times to hang out with her. But after the second time we hung out, Andrea was honestly a little skeptical about moving forward with us. Initially, I was down for it. I was thinking about her all the time. I was calling her, texting her, and telling my friends about her. But she was trying to ghost me the whole time (laughs).

Andrea: I know I am in the hot seat now (laughs). But yes, I was definitely second-guessing myself. I felt that I was moving kind of fast with him and it honestly scared me. I was coming into the year where I was focusing on myself and self-love. So even though I did like him, I thought maybe I like him a little too much (laughs). So I tried to distance myself from him. My thinking behind it was, I would rather save myself now before I fall too deep and there's no turning back. But it wasn't until one day I was with my mom and she saw me ignoring his calls. She was the one who told me to answer and I listened (laughs).

Jibre: I didn't know that was how she felt. It really caught me by surprise because I thought things were going well. But thankfully, I was persistent.

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

Making Things Official

Andrea: So a month later, I invited him on a group trip with my friends. That was when I could picture myself being with him. The way he put in the effort to actually make it to the trip meant a lot. It was a little challenging, but he was dedicated to making it happen. My friends also loved him, so that was a plus (smiles).

Jibre: It was around the same time for me too. When we met, she mentioned that she mainly focuses on herself and self-love. So when I started seeing changes where she was including me in her life, it made me feel like she was choosing me to stick around. At first, I was thinking about making things official on Valentine's Day. But even though it didn't happen right then, the weekend with her friends was a huge weekend for the both of us.

The "L" Word

Jibre: We were having a lot of difficulties starting out. For one thing, I am a Gemini and she is a Taurus. And if you know about astrology, Tauruses can be some tough cookies. I was getting that stubborn side of her and we clashed a lot. Some people would agree that when you keep clashing, it's easier to walk away. But as time went on, any time I felt I wanted to walk away, I just couldn't. My heart would keep telling me to stay and make it work. It had been years since I had been in love. So I knew this had to be real love because I didn't want to be with anyone else.

Andrea: We did conflict quite a bit in the beginning. I always told him that we would clash over our differences and our similarities. It was tough. I am usually the person that can walk away from things easily, but I couldn't with him. So I knew it was different. My heart was truly in this and he was honestly everything I ever wanted. There's this song that says, "I would rather have bad times with you than good times with someone else." It's so true with him and I just love him.

"I am usually the person that can walk away from things easily, but I couldn't with him. So I knew it was different. My heart was truly in this and he was honestly everything I ever wanted. There's this song that says, 'I would rather have bad times with you than good times with someone else.' It's so true with him and I just love him."

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

Favorite Things

Andrea: My favorite thing about him is also the main thing I complain about the most (laughs). Jibre is kind of a neat freak. I jokingly make fun of him all the time for it. But his organization actually pushes me to be more organized in my life. So I don't think he knows how much of a positive influence that has been for me.

Jibre: My favorite thing about Andrea is that she genuinely wants me to be a better person. She is willing to tell me the things that other people won't tell me. Like the things that I don't want to hear, but I need to hear. I can really appreciate that because it just means she wants me to be the best version of myself.

Early Challenges

Andrea: I grew up an only child. So I was always focused on myself, even if I was in a relationship. When Jibre and I got together, I struggled a little with providing what he needed from me. I am a huge advocate for self-love. But I am learning now that I can balance loving myself and prioritizing him as well in my life. Jibre and I worked together on what I could do more of to show that I am still considering him, while I still work towards my personal goals.

Jibre: In conflict, I have noticed that when I get angry or emotional, I tend to just react and not think things through. I have learned that sometimes in a relationship, you have to look at yourself and give yourself grace. You have to know yourself enough to be honest and hold yourself accountable when you may be wrong. We have strengths and weaknesses. So learning what your weaknesses are and then working on them, is a good way that has helped us be better together as a couple.

"We have strengths and weaknesses. So learning what your weaknesses are and then working on them, is a good way that has helped us be better together as a couple."

Courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

Love Languages

Andrea: I still tell Jibre that I think he changed my love language. At first, when I took the test, all the areas were even (laughs). So I figured, I guess I need all of them (laughs). But when you truly love someone, you want to be loved in a different way by that person. So when I took the test again, it showed I value physical touch and words of affirmation more than the other areas.

Jibre: My number one is physical touch. Growing up, my mom was very affectionate with me. So that stuck with me as I got older and now I am a very affectionate person. My number two was quality time, but while being with Andrea, it has grown into acts of service. At the end of the day, we make sure we give each other the entire spectrum.

Love Lessons

Jibre: Man, love is so complex. But true love wins every time. Being in a relationship has definitely taught me that you have to be patient with your partner. It's important that we are still learning from each other and with that you have to have patience through each other's growth. God is also the center in everything we do. So keeping him as a foundation in our relationship is very important to us.

Andrea: Keeping our faith is definitely something we share. I think another thing that has been an important lesson is a sense of understanding who your partner is. To really get out of your head sometimes and put yourself in your partner's shoes. Like how something I do may make him feel and vice versa. People can be really set in their own ways. But if you make it a point to understand your partner's point of view on things, it is really essential.

For more of Andrea and Jibre, follow them on Instagram @drea.lisanna, @jibrehordges, and @jibreandrea.

Featured image courtesy of Andrea Fernandes

In a move that makes us so happy, the ever-so-stunning Ryan Destiny has been making her rounds lately, showing off her subtle but enamoring vibe in recent appearances with Vogue, HelloBeautiful, and even Doja Cat's new "Need to Know" music video. The former Star actress and singer also took a moment to join Harper Baazar for their 'Go to Bed With Me' segment, a video series where various celebs show off their nighttime skincare routines.

This appearance was our absolute fave because to see her demonstrating how to maintain her beautifully radiant skin is something we all want to know, right?! Right. So, sis...we gotchu just in time for summer!

Here a guide on how to achieve Ryan Destiny's poppin and oh so melanated skin:

What you'll need:

La Mer The Cleansing Oil ($95)

Black Opal Blemish Control Bar ($6.50)

Black Opal Lip Oil ($6.25)

CosMedix Clarity Serum ($42, or $35 with subscription)

Black Opal Brightening and Plumping Serum ($14.95)

​Harper’s Bazaar/YouTube

Rocking a blow-out for the gawds, after a cute intro, Ryan opens with this one simple, but loud, tip:

"Wash your hands. Wash your hands before you start anything."

She then proceeds to use the La Mer Cleansing oil and thoroughly massages the product all over her face and neck. Get in there good ladies, this step is important!

"Rub it all over my face, get down on my neck. And once I feel that it's all broken down, I am going to rinse."

Harper's Bazaar/YouTube

Next up, Ryan focuses on a problem area that many of us have: hyperpigmentation. To combat this, she uses the Black Opal Blemish Control Bar, a brand she has used since she was 16 years old. She is also the face of the brand, which is Black woman-owned.

"What's really really great for the hyperpigmentation that I sort of have a lot of right now, is the . It's like extra, extra important to me to take of all of the makeup before you go to bed. It just makes such a difference. It's the worst when you go to sleep with your makeup still on, and you just know it just sets you back like a whole week."

Harper's Bazaar/YouTube

Destiny then moves on to hydrating her lips with the Black Opal Lip Oil.

"I kinda sorta sorta kinda kinda have chapped lips. But not anymore becuase I did a lot of trial and error, and I found something that works for me. It works with my makeup as well. It nourishes and hydrates my lips, it's not there to just look pretty, you know."

Harper's Bazaar/YouTube

As a final step, she moves on to her serums for pigmented skin and dark spots. Here she uses the CosMedix Clarity Serum and Black Opal Brightening and Plumping Serum.

"This is also really great for prepping your makeup. I use this serum right before I start doing my makeup. It like, glides right on and helps my makeup look better and apply on my skin better."

We stan a simple but effective routine, sis!

Watch the full video below:

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Featured image by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET

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