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These Foods Will Give Your Skin & Hair The Moisture They Crave

If you want soft skin and manageable hair, these foods will help to get you there.

Beauty & Fashion

It's weird. Although my face isn't naturally dry, the skin that's on the rest of my body can never get enough coconut oil, shea butter or sweet almond oil (my personal favorite moisturizers). And my scalp? I washed it and deep conditioned it right before I got my latest rounds of box braids in, but three days into them, my scalp was lookin' like the Sahara.

For years, I used to get so irritated because, it seemed like no matter what I did, I was going to be able to write "dry" on some body part. Also, a few hours into my day and my scalp was going to have flakes, no matter how much I pampered it. But lately, I've realized that in order for my skin to get the hydration that it needs, it's not enough to put moisture-rich products on it; I also need to drink more water than I tend to, to take an oil supplement (my personal faves are evening primrose oil and flaxseed oil), and get some foods that are proven to moisturize my skin and hair into my system.

If you have the same problem that I do, these are some of the foods that will get your skin, scalp and hair back into a good hydration balance. My top 10 are as follows.

1. Oatmeal

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I'd be shocked if you didn't grow up having a bowl of oatmeal, at least some of the time. Good thing too because oats are considered to be one of the healthiest grains on the planet. That makes perfect sense considering the fact that a half a cup will give you 191 percent manganese, 41 percent phosphorus, 39 percent thiamin (B1), 34 percent magnesium and 24 percent copper of the daily intake level of these nutrients that your body needs (it's a good source of iron and fiber too). Oats also contain avenanthramides to lower your blood pressure.

As far as your skin goes, colloidal oatmeal is the way to go. It's basically fine oats that are boiled to the point of becoming an extract so that your skin is able to get all of the nutrients that will keep it soft and smooth. You can purchase this type of oatmeal in the form of a powder or as a soap. Or, if you'd prefer to use the raw oats that are already in your house, treat your dry skin, psoriasis or eczema by pouring a cup of oats and 10 drops of lavender essential oil into your running bathwater. Make sure the water is not too hot (hot water can dry you out too) and soak in the combo for no more than 30 minutes. You'll get out and immediately feel the difference.

2. Herbal Tea

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If you're like me and you think that the best comparison to water, taste-wise, is that it's a lot like "wet air", add a little bit of excitement by having some herbal tea. There is absolutely not enough time or space to get into all of the ways that different herbs can benefit your body. But, if you're trying to figure which ones are the best for your hair and skin specifically, here are the ones that I recommend.

  • Nettle Leaf maintains skin tone and fights premature greying.
  • Oatstraw improves skin texture and strengthens hair follicles.
  • Hibiscus contains omega-3 fatty acids and natural alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to increase the elasticity in your skin as well as your hair.
  • Matcha has Vitamin K that will increase blood circulation and chlorophyll to protect your skin and hair cells.
  • Dandelion provides liver support so that toxins are removed from your skin's pores and your hair's follicles.
  • Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties that improve the appearance of psoriasis, eczema and acne scars, along with antioxidants that improve cell damage as it relates to your hair.
  • Burdock Root has phenolic acid, luteolin and quercetin in it—all of which are antioxidants that detoxify your system so that your hair and skin cells remain healthy and strong.

Hair Moisture Tip: If you decide to use herbal tea as a hair rinse, add a little bit of honey. Honey is a humectant; this means that it will pull moisture from the air and keep your locks super soft and conditioned.

3. Citrus Fruit

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Citrus fruit is one of the greatest sources of Vitamin C that there is. That automatically means that when you decide to peel an orange, cut into a grapefruit or drink some detox water that contains lemon or lime, you are consuming loads of antioxidants. Some other good things that come from citrus fruit include the fact that they are a great source of fiber, they contain flavonoids (plant compounds) that promote heart health, and potassium that does all sorts of things, including lowering your risk of high blood pressure and strokes.

Because citrus fruit contains somewhere between 80-90 percent water, it's an excellent way to hydrate your skin. Plus, citrus fruit also contains ascorbic acid that builds collagen in your skin and hair, along with Vitamin C to reduce uneven pigmentation.

(If you're a fan of infused water, try out this refreshing rainbow citrus infused water recipe.)

4. Cucumbers

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Another food that has over 90 percent of water in it are cucumbers. Cucumbers contain protein and fiber (1 gram), along with sugar and sodium (2 grams) per serving (cucumbers have Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and manganese in them too). Cucumbers also have a lot of antioxidants and micronutrients that help to manage your blood pressure, keep you regular, improve your gut health, strengthen your bones (thanks to the Vitamin K that's in them) and regulate diabetes (if that is an issue for you).

If you eat a cup of cucumber cubes, the ascorbic acid and caffeic acid in them will prevent water retention so that water will flow freely throughout your body. Cucumbers also contain silica, a mineral that reduces eye puffiness and inflammation. Silica, along with the water that's in cucumbers, can help to increase your hair's elasticity as well.

Skin Acne Tip: Slice a couple of cucumbers and rub them directly onto your pimples or acne scars in order to soothe the inflammation and reduce the appearance of marks.

5. Tomato

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Although we were taught that tomatoes are a fruit, a lot of us tend to forget that. It's a fruit that made the list because if you cut up even just one and put it into your salad, you'll be getting 40 percent of the Vitamin C that your body requires each and every day. Tomatoes also have the antioxidant lycopene in them; we all need this in order to strengthen our vision. Tomatoes also contain fiber to keep us regular and properties to protect our skin from sun damage (click here to read a great study on how tomatoes are also helpful for diabetes management).

Tomatoes are your skin and hair's friend because they have vitamins A, B, C and E. These all work together to make your skin supple while reducing breakage and excessive shedding of your tresses. Something else that tomatoes do is boost the production of collagen so that your skin looks "plumper" and your hair is more manageable.

Hair Mask Tip: A mixture of one tomato and two tablespoons of castor oil, applied to your scalp for 1-2 hours, will increase blood circulation, pamper hair follicles and increase hair growth. (Don't forget to thoroughly rinse it out with cool water in order to seal your cuticles.)

6. Olive Oil

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When it comes to the kinds of oils that you should cook with, not all are created equal. As far as the oils that you should absolutely avoid, canola, corn and vegetable oil top the list. On the flip side, an oil that is good for you is olive oil. It contains a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid that protects your body from cancer, antioxidants to reduce your cholesterol levels, anti-inflammatory properties and ingredients that can help to keep type-2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease at bay.

Your skin and hair will love olive oil because of the antioxidants and hydrating squalene (a natural organic compound) that deeply penetrates your pores and follicles. (If you want to know the best kind of olive oils to use, check out "The Best Olive Oils, According to People Who Consume a Lot of It".)

Skin Exfoliation Tip: Mix one-part sea salt and one-part olive oil to create a scrub. Gently massage your clean damp skin with the solution to remove dead skin cells and ultimately even skin tone.

7. Sunflower Seeds

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If you like to snack on sunflower seeds, you are doing wonders for your health, whether you realize it or not. The high amounts of selenium, magnesium and Vitamin E make these kinds of seeds good for your heart. Sunflower seeds are also great when it comes to treating inflammation and reducing symptoms that are related to asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Something else that these seeds do is fight off free radicals, detox your system and, thanks to all of the magnesium that's in them, sunflower seeds can even help to reduce the intensity of headaches.

The Vitamin E that's in sunflower seeds makes it a food that's a fat-soluble antioxidant. What that basically means is these seeds will help to keep your cells healthy. In fact, a cup of sunflower seeds will give you 90 percent of the daily amount of Vitamin E that you need. If you want skin that is youthful and glowing, and hair that has strong follicles, sunflower seeds will definitely help to get you there.

8. Salmon

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For starters, salmon contains something that all of us need a consistent amount of—omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. We need these acids in order to decrease inflammation and lower your blood pressure. Salmon is also a wonderful source of protein (something our hair definitely needs). Another wonderful thing about salmon is it's basically an edible B-complex; it also has potassium, selenium and the antioxidant astaxanthin that protects the heart, prevents skin damage and gives your skin a youthful appearance.

The other good thing about salmon and the omega-3s is the fact that it lubricates your scalp and skin so that you have less brittle hair and dry skin after having it a couple of times a week.

9. Bone Broth

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Bone broth is the result of simmering the bones and connective tissue of meat. You can purchase some, usually on the soup aisle of your local grocery store. Or, you can make your own. The reason why you should consider consuming bone broth is it can do wonders for your system. Bone broth is loaded with protein; it can remineralize teeth; it strengthens immunity; shortens the lifespan of a cold; builds muscle; fights inflammation and is definitely a source of hydration. The more fluid that is in your system, the better and, because bone broth gives you electrolytes, it's another way to give your skin and hair the moisture that it needs.

By the way, if you're wondering if there is somewhat of a vegetarian alternative for bone broth, indeed there is. You can click here to learn more about it.

10. Red Wine

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Let's end this on a super high note, shall we? If you're looking for another reason to enjoy (no more than) 1-1 ½ glasses of wine a day, moisturizing your skin and hair is another. Red wine has antioxidants to boost your immune system, increase your brain power, lower your cholesterol and resveratrol that will add to your longevity.

Something else that's pretty cool about red wine is the fact that the flavonoids and antioxidants in red wine will produce more of the fibrous structural protein keratin to replenish your hair and skin and fight off free radicals. Red wine also contains polyphenols that will help to prevent cell oxidation. And, of course, red wine's got plenty of water to hydrate your skin and hair from the inside out.

Hair Rinse Tip: If you add a cup of red wine to freshly washed hair and let it sit for 15-20 minutes and do this bi-weekly for two months, you should see a significant reduction in hair shedding and overall hair loss. Yep, you can literally pour red wine all over you and be all the better for it. Enjoy!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

9 All-Natural Essentials That Need To Be In Your Skincare Routine

Uncommon (But Totally Natural) Things That Are Great For Hair Growth

Keep Your Melanin Poppin' With These 10 Skincare Essentials

Plantain Flour, Spirulina & Other Uncommon Foods To Add To Your Diet

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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