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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Feature image by Getty Images
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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.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
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