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
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
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)
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
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
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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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. ;)
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
In my opinion, oral sex is the best type of sex. In the words of my favorite female R&B group, “You gotta go downtown, that’s the way to my love...” But if you want to enhance your oral sex experience, you gotta try face-sitting.
Face-sitting has been making its rounds again on the interwebs, however, it’s been around since the 1800s. During that time, it became increasingly popular for “upper-class women” to enjoy sexual gratification from men and avoid pregnancy all at the same damn time.
What Is Queening or Face-Sitting?
Face-sitting is just what it says, sitting on your partner’s face. We're talking genital-to-face contact here. We're talking delightfully, smothering intimate oral sex. Face-sitting can be a deeply fulfilling experience for both partners since it allows them to develop incredible intimacy and closeness. Because of its throne metaphor, face-sitting is sometimes called queening. In comparison to traditional penetrative intercourse, face sitting can lead to orgasms that are much more frequent for cisgender women. This makes total sense since it’s been scientifically proven that direct clitoral stimulation boosts intense orgasms.
The only couple I trust when it comes to learning how to “face-sit” correctly are sex experts Dee H. Black and Laydee Vee of DVPassion. When I found out they actually teach a “face-sitting” class at Exxxotica a while back, I had to interview them.
Laydee Vee believes sitting makes people of all sizes feel comfortable praising their partner. Through breath play and smothering, participants learn how to enhance communication. The top person gives instructions to their partner below, which can make them feel dominant, powerful, and in control, whereas bottom partners may feel empowered and submissive.
Queening 101: The Most Ideal Sex Positions For Face-Sitting
Women sometimes hesitate to try face-sitting for fear of hurting their partner or being too heavy. Personally, I subscribe to the philosophy, "If they die, they die!" If they gotta go, why not go in between my legs? However, to build confidence, Laydee Vee suggests looking within. “Confidence starts with you. If you’re nervous, your partner may sense it, causing harm. Once you feel comfortable, you can experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you.”
Once you become more comfortable, face-sitting can be even more enjoyable for you and your partner. A good position to try and build your confidence is the classic reverse cowgirl position, with your partner lying on their back and you straddling their face while facing their feet. By adding a pillow, the bottom partner can lean back more and add pressure to the vulva to intensify the face-sitting experience.
In addition to using a pillow while in the facesitting position, the bottom partner can also use other sex toys. For example, he or she can use a butt plug or a dildo to feel enjoyable. You can also engage in face sitting while you're on your knees or in a squat with a pillow for support if you want to take things to the next level. You'll experience more sensations and pressure as a result of this.
A personal favorite from Laydee Vee and Dee Black’s workshop is “The Queening Position,” where the person on top sits on the bottom’s face like a chair. For those of you that love anal play, this can be a really intense way to get it. You can also get up close to the anus and stimulate it with your mouth and tongue. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try stroking the anus with your fingers.
Another advantage of face-sitting over other positions is that it can be used for threesomes and group sex. The top can, for instance, use their hands or a sex toy to satisfy others while simultaneously getting pleasured through genital stimulation from the bottom. The bottom, on the other hand, can also experience genital pleasure from others or even penetration while engaging in oral sex with the top.
Face-Sitting: How To Enjoy The Queening Position Comfortably & Safely
Although a number of people can enjoy the act of face-sitting, it is a very risky and potentially dangerous practice. It is possible to hurt your partner if you aren’t careful, hence why communication is key. As with any sexual act, it's important to talk with your partner ahead of time about their comfort level with face-sitting, as well as any potential boundaries or concerns they may have. In many cases, it may be helpful to start with a more gentle, exploratory approach, such as placing your partner's face between your thighs without bearing down too heavily.
Many things can be done to make face-sitting more comfortable for those who are hesitant about it. The first thing that you should do is get a good understanding of anatomy and the position. You might also want to discuss what kind of stimulation you're looking for in a face-sitting session with your partner.
A queening chair, a chair with a hole in the seat big enough for a mouth and part of the face to fit through, is another option I suggested. After lying on their back, the person on the bottom slides under the chair, allowing them to perform oral sex on the person sitting on top. Lastly, it's a good idea to have a signal with your partner for when they need a break. This can be as simple as tapping on their thigh or butt, but it's a great way to avoid having the session become too intense for them.
With a little bit of communication, experimentation, and attention to safety and pleasure, face-sitting can be a wonderfully intimate and satisfying addition to your sexual repertoire. So go forth with confidence and enjoy all the exciting new sensations this position can offer!
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