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.
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
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
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.)
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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