Condoms. These days, I must admit, whenever I think about them in the context of pop culture, I'm pretty sure you know whose name immediately pops into my head. Without—eh hem—naming any names, you know, someone really can control the way their future turns out if they would simply choose to wear them more often. And actually, that's what this article is all about in a nutshell. While I was one day reading some semi-fascinating facts on condoms (like the fact that they were invented in 1855 and the first ones were made out of linen), I figured it would be cool to share some facts on this particular kind of birth control; especially since it's absolutely one of the best ways to prevent a pregnancy you may not want while also keeping you from getting a sexually transmitted infection (what you get before an actual disease) or disease (what you get once you've been properly diagnosed).
Not that any of the following points are earth-shattering information or anything. But since currently there are around 110 million people in America with an STI right at this very moment, the more you know about condoms, the better. Right?
So, let's hit 10 points about 'em real quick.
1. There Are over 10 Different Kinds of Condoms
If you're not a big condom fan because, to you, they are synonymous with being boring AF, believe it or not, they do have an upside. Variety. In fact, there are actually more than 10 different types of condoms for you to choose from. There are flavored condoms (which should be strictly used for oral sex), ribbed or studded condoms (which can help you to have more intense vaginal orgasms), warming condoms (these are made of a thinning latex so that you and your partner can feel each other's body heat easier), Sensis condoms (long story short, they have ribs/strips that make it easier to put and keep a condom on), and even glow-in-the-dark condoms—and that's just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended)! So, if you want to switch things up, add some of these—and others—to your condom collection. Doing so might help you to see rubbers differently.
2. Condom Size DOES Matter
I am floored by how many guys I know who don't know what size condom they wear. To them, all they need to do is walk into a drugstore, pick out a box and it's all good. Yeah…naw. Since penises come in a variety of sizes, wouldn't it make sense that rubbers would too?
It really wouldn't surprise me in the least if, one of the main reasons why a lot of people hate them is because the condoms they're using are too big or too small. That's why it's important to know which one best fits your man at all times. By the way, if he needs a little help, "Condom Size Chart to Help You Find the Right Choice" is a pretty informative read.
3. Condoms Can Last…for a While
There are a lot of people in this world who keep condoms in their possession well past their expiration date (which is on the box, by the way). If you're wondering if you're one of them, if you've got some rubbers in a drawer somewhere and, for whatever the reason, you don't see it's "time's up" date, just keep in mind that condoms are able to last for about four years. Well, so long as they are stored in a cool, dry spot, that is. If it's been longer than that, toss 'em.
4. Female Condoms Aren’t Quite As Effective
If you'd prefer to take matters into your own hands and want to go with a female condom (which is a lubricated pouch that's made out of synthetic rubber that you can put into your vagina up to eight hours prior to having sex), it's important to know that it's not as effective as a standard condom is. If you use it perfectly, it's 95 percent effective (not bad); however, on average, its success rate is somewhere between 72-85 percent. While you can get one without a prescription, it doesn't affect your natural hormone levels (like birth control pills do) and it's safe to use with both oil and water-based lubricant (which is pretty cool), due to the material that it's made out of it, it does tend to irritate quite a few vaginas and vulvas out here. Just so you're not one of them, you might want to speak with your doctor first if this is the route you want to take.
Oh, and if you've never used a female condom before and you're wondering how to get one up into your body, it's a lot like using a menstrual cup. The condom itself comes with a soft and flexible ring around each end and, when you insert it inside of you, it helps to keep sperm from going up into your body and coming into contact with your uterus. You can see a brief instructional video on how to use it here.
5. There Is Absolutely No Point or Purpose in “Double Bagging”
While there used to be a time when condoms only covered the head of a man's penis (I'm pretty sure you can guess how well that went), avoiding having too little coverage is not a good reason to go overboard. In other words, you are not "super protected" by having your man put on two condoms. Not only does that make sex less pleasurable for him and possibly more vaginally irritating for you, but you also significantly up the chances of either one of the condoms breaking, or worse, one of them getting stuck inside of you. Yeah, take a total pass on the double bagging whole double bagging thing. It's useless.
6. You Don’t Have to Go to the Drugstore If You Don’t Want To
Do you hate to go out shopping for rubbers? Yeah, I used to hate doing that too. These days, you can easily order them online, though. Companies like LELO HEX, Undercover Condoms and Condom Depot all have an impressive variety of condoms, at good prices, that ship quickly—and very discreetly.
7. Women’s Pleasure Isn’t Affected by Condom Use (Sort Of)
OK, this one is a little tricky. On one hand, while there are studies out in cyberspace that emphatically profess that condoms have no barring on a woman's sexual pleasure, there are articles like, "Women Don't Like How Condoms Feel Any More Than Men Do" that claim "not so fast". Personally, I think a lot of factors play into all of this. Is the "woman in question" allergic to latex (if so, there are safe and effective alternatives)? Does the condom fit correctly? Is there some sort of psychological barrier that makes her think that sex with a condom is automatically worse than sex without?
I will say that I do think that anyone who is trying to get as close to their partner as possible, in every way, would probably prefer to go without using a rubber. But when you stop and think about the fact the condoms prevent unplanned pregnancies, STIs/STDs, and can actually help a man to last longer in bed, it seems to me that using them is more pleasurable because they can maintain the quality of life you want and help you to have orgasms more often. (Here's hoping, anyway.)
8. There Are a Few Ways to Make Condoms Feel Better to Him
If your man is not a condom fan because he doesn't like the way it feels (in one interview, a guy told me that condoms feel like shaking someone's hand with a baseball glove on your own), there are two things that can make it better on his end. First, putting no more than a couple of drops of silicone-based lubricant in the reservoir tip of the condom can keep it from feeling dry (and more like he's inside of you without any barrier). Also, it can help for you and yours to try out different brands and textures of rubbers. A good starting point would be Men's Health's feature, "The 10 Best Feeling Condoms for Pleasure".
9. Yes, Magnums Are an Ego-Boosting Joke
Two marketing ploys that people totally fell for are diamond engagement rings (you can read more about that here) and Magnum condoms. As far as Magnums go, I think every woman who's ever had protected sex before has been with a man who believes he's "worthy" of rockin' a Magnum. Why does this bring guys so much pride and joy? It's because they were fooled into thinking that they are for men with big packages when the reality is, only the XL ones apply to men who are "above average" (which is around 5" erect). When it comes to all of the other types of Magnums, they can basically accommodate five inches or more which isn't actually about a member that is "unusually great in size", like the word "magnum" suggests. Yep, the jokes on you, fellas. Sorry.
10. Less Folks Are Using Condoms Than You’d Probably Think
Even though, when used correctly, condoms are around 98 percent effective (we're human, so, on average, they are actually around 85 percent effective), surprisingly, only about one-third of people use them. Yep. You heard me right. Several years back, when some researchers interviewed 11,300 women and more than 9,300 men, they discovered that only 24 percent of women and 34 percent of men put a rubber on during their last sex session.
Again, while I get why and how condom-less sex is probably the preferred sex of choice, there is simply no way around the fact that if you want to not have a kid right now, you want to avoid getting a sexually transmitted disease or you want to have sex with someone before getting each other's test results (try and avoid that, please), a rubber is gonna be your best bet. You can literally feel better about using them if you take all of these points into consideration before picking a box out. Making this present decision is something that your future will thank you for. Unlike some other people's…futures (wink, wink).
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Three Influencers Show Off Their 2022 Holiday Hair Looks Using Their SheaMoisture Faves
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
For Black women, there’s one compliment that will boost our confidence like none other: “Come through hair!” You know the vibe! Walking into a room with folks acknowledging that your hair is laid for the gawds, and the effort that it took to get it there, is a top five feeling. And with the holiday season just weeks away, you’ll be hearing that quite often. Between Thanksgiving gatherings with the family, Friendsgiving, company parties, and Christmas get-togethers, the opportunities to let your hair show up and show out aren’t too far away.
Apart from the holiday stuntin’, the end-of-year slow down is also the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the year your hair has had. Whether you kept it cute with protective braids, went big with blowouts, or let loose with textured twist-outs, this is the perfect time to give your hair the gift of TLC - tender lovin’ curls. Like the weather, our hair goes through seasons and has different needs depending on what we’ve put it through. Perhaps the transition into fall/winter has left your curls a bit parched and in need of some serious hydration. Or maybe your strands could use some restorative conditioning after taking it down from a convenient protective style. No matter what category you fall into, SheaMoisture has hundreds of ways that you can clean, treat and refresh your hair for a healthy shine that will bring you into the new year right. Bring your curls back to life with the nourishing and fragrant Coconut & Hibiscus line. Boosted with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, neem oil, carrot oil, and shea butter, this line is the antidote to reviving thirsty, dehydrated hair. Even better - with SheaMoisture’s custom quiz, you can get a hair analysis that will lead you to the right products for your hair needs. Say hello to sleek edges, and moisturized, stronger strands.
In need of a little hair-spiration? We got you covered! xoNecole and SheaMoisture have teamed up with three natural hair influencers to debut their holiday hair looks. Meet Ambrosia Malbrough, Jasmin Moses, and Daye Covington - beauty bawses who’ve created some incredible holiday looks that are stylish and easy to achieve. They also gave us the scoop on the SheaMoisture products they’re loving right now, as well as their 2023 hair goals.
Read on for more:
Daye Covington Kicks Her Twist Out Up A Notch With A Voluminous Updo
“I wanted to create a style that was super cute but also easy to pull together, so I went with a puff and tendril combo! It's a style that can be done on freshly washed curls or one that can be done on old hair. [It’s perfect for] when we're short for time but want to add a little razzle-dazzle to our hair before a special occasion. It's very versatile!”
“My favorite Shea Moisture product hand's down is the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie! That is definitely a #TeamNaturalHair staple. Coconut is one of the ingredients that my hair favors. I also find that medium/light creams absorb best in my hair, so it's no surprise that I get amazing definition and moisture when I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I love it for twist-outs, braid-outs, and rod set styles. Any product that can give me versatility when it comes to styling plus added moisture, that's what a staple is for me!”
“I would love to dye my hair back to blue! It was my favorite hair color, but unfortunately, my 9-5 now prohibits unnatural hair colors. I'm pushing it with this dark plum color, but I look forward to the day where I can transition into a new stage of life and go back to blue. In the meantime, I'm focusing on length retention. I've been doing well for 2022 and have had no major cuts so I'm hoping to stay consistent with my routine in 2023.”
Follow Daye on Instagram @dayelasoul
Ambrosia Malbrough Made Magic With Poppin’ And Defined Finger Coils
“[Finger coils] is a style that I don’t do often, it takes much more time than my usual wash and go. But that extra time put in makes it extra special and so worth it. The results are beautiful. It’s a style that offers many days of wear, too!”
“[Earlier this year] I did my 4th big chop. This time around hit different as a mom of two. I don’t always have the extra time on my hands to put into my hair, so the short ‘do has been convenient. I’ve realized that not all wash days are created equal even if I use the same products. However, my 4c coils are loving the products I'm using now”
“Since I’ve been having my hair dyed, I’m looking forward to trying Shea Moisture’s new Mongongo and Jojoba Oils High Porosity Moisture Replenish Hair Masque. I am currently growing my hair out and plan on having fun with more highlights and a new shape - possibly a shag cut in 2023!”
Follow Ambrosia on Instagram at @brosiaaa
Jasmin Moses Shows The Secrets To Her Jaw-Dropping Curly Ponytail
“I love doing a sleek ponytail with my baby hairs laid to a T! It helps so my hair isn't in the way when I am cooking and running errands, but it's still snatched to provoke anyone in the room to stop me to say 'girllll your hair is laid!'. I like to add a little razzle dazzle by adding my cute, naturally curly ponytail extensions. It elevates the look perfectly for the holidays.”
“It took me from my freshman year of college to now, almost seven whole years, to know what works for my hair. I love protective styles like wigs and braids because my hair thrives when I don't mess with it. When I leave my hair alone, it grows the best, so I love taking off my wig when I get home, oiling my scalp and putting my bonnet on for bed! When I do wear my natural hair out, what helps me maintain the health of my hair is to get in a rhythm with my hair. [I do] my wash days on Sunday, wear it in a wash n’ go all week, and repeat the next Sunday.”
“My 2023 hair goal is to get back to my 2021 hair length! Recently, a hairstyle damaged my hair causing me to lose 4 inches in length, which was not fun. So I’m working on getting [my hair] back to its original health and keep growing from there! I am also looking forward to trying the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a one-product wash n’ go! I hear such great things about it and I think it will give me hold while also keeping my hair lightweight and voluminous. I’m also excited about the Coconut & Hibiscus Defining Styling Gel and Edge Gel.”
Follow Jasmin on Instagram @slimreshae
Exclusive: Teyana Taylor And Director A.V Rockwell Explore Black Motherhood In New Film, 'A Thousand And One'
“This was a match made in denim and door-knocker heaven!” Actress Teyana Taylor jokingly said after letting out a laugh. She was referring to her relationship with the main character Inez De La Paz, in the film A Thousand and One, approaching theaters nationwide this Friday.
Set against the backdrop of 90s - early 2000s Harlem at the inception of gentrification, A Thousand and One chronicles the life of a 20-something-year-old mother of color raising her son. The film captures the realness and relatability of motherhood, family, and marriage. The movie stars multi-talented actress/entertainer Teyana Taylor, William Cartlett, Aaron Kingsley, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, and Terri Abney. It was executive produced by Lena Waithe and was written and directed by A.V. Rockwell.
This film was written through the lens of the often complicated relationship between mothers and sons. However, it isn't your typical movie about urban Black motherhood. No one gets shot, has a drug addiction, and if you ask me, Inez De La Paz (Teyana Taylor’s character) is a ‘shero’; she saves the day, or at least Terry’s life (her son).
This multilayered film touches on the challenges faced while establishing a life following a prison sentence, the flawed NYC foster care system, motherhood, marriage, love, the relationship between a father and son, and Black NYC neighborhoods at the onset of gentrification.
"There's a lot of pain in it, and in order to express pain, there has to be a love that comes with it. So I felt like the movie was a love letter to Black women but a heartbreak letter to New York City…. We contributed so much to the city and made it the special place that it is," said Rockwell. I asked myself, 'How do I reconcile the fact that this place that I love and that is home to me never loved me?'
Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley Adetola.
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
Both Rockwell and Taylor are New York natives, Rockwell is from Queens, and Taylor is from Harlem. The pair agreed they directly related to the lead character, Inez. During our conversation, Taylor explained how we could all connect with Inez. "Inez is within us from being judged or considered difficult for your strength, for your voice, for your tone, no matter how right you are, you're wrong because you're too loud… When you minimize yourself, it's an issue. You're not enough, and when you maximize yourself, it's too much," she said.
According to Rockwell, Taylor auditioned for the role and earned it fair and square, "Nobody can take away from the fact that she earned this role in all the right ways. I think it's great to have that cherry on top. The fact that she's a Harlem girl and that this is a movie about protecting her neighborhood not only what it means to us New Yorkers but what it means to black identity and history in general," she said. "Not only are we honoring Harlem, [but] she is [also] a part of that history that we are trying to protect. I'm really proud of that as well. This person who is a part of this historic neighborhood gets to be the one leading the torch of this role."
We all know Taylor as the uber-talented singer, dancer, actress, fashionista, entrepreneur, artist, wife, and mother. She seems to do it all so effortlessly, but Taylor described the role as therapeutic. It allowed her to put down that superwoman persona while filming on set. "The easy part about this role was that I'm already a mom, so I'm naturally nurturing… In some ways, Inez became very therapeutic for me because it was the only time that I could actually be weak and turn off my strength, and cry and let out all of the things I was battling," the "Rose in Harlem" singer revealed.
Director A.V. Rockwell
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
After watching Taylor master the leading role of this complicated story, it's not absurd to think she may be awarded extensively for her portrayal of Inez. Taylor told me she's ready for everything to come but isn't looking to get too comfortable while soaking up the likely inflow of accolades, "I'm ready. I think it's everything that I prayed for. I think this is God saying ok, here you go… I'm blessed, and I'm grateful, and I just want to continue to just keep working hard and not get too comfortable. Stay hungry, stay the hustler that I am…this is really only just the beginning."
It's not every day we get to see a film with a Black woman starring in a leading role. Furthermore, it's not common to see a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning movie directed by a Black woman. It's no secret that diversity in Hollywood is uncommon, and the aforementioned are all the more reasons we should visit theaters this Friday to see A Thousand and One.
Not only is this film amazing storytelling, but the production of this film helps to move the needle of diversifying Hollywood and creating spaces for Black women in the film industry forward.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Focus Features