You know it and I know it. Whether it's those cute lil' shorts that we bought on sale last fall, the swimsuit that we copped while on vacation, or the sexy strappy dress that hugs our curves in all of the right places, if there's any time of the year when we're out here showin' off the gorgeous melanin that God blessed us with the most, it's during the summer season. This means, if there's a time of year when we're also focused on making sure that our skin is as flawless as possible, it would be Memorial Day weekend (even though, this year, summer officially begins on June 20) through Labor Day weekend (even though, this year, summer official ends on September 22).
There are a ton of products on the market that claim to give you the glow that you're looking for, but if you'd prefer to take a more holistic approach, these 10 tips will have your skin looking just the way you want it to—all summer long (and beyond).
1. Eat Foods That Will Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Just like there are foods that can protect our natural-born melanin (what? You didn't know? Check out a list of those here), there are others that can actually protect our skin from the sun's damaging UV rays. Some of those include blueberries (the antioxidants fight off the sun's free radicals); tomatoes (they contain lycopene which absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation); cauliflower (it has the alpha-amino acid histidine in it which absorbs UV radiation); green tea (it contains catechins which fight sunburn inflammation); red grapes (they've got phytonutrients that help to prevent sun damage that can ultimately leads to skin cancer); dark leafy greens (they contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that halt the cell growth that's related to UV damage), and watermelon (which has 40 percent more lycopene than tomatoes do!). All of these are good for you on a myriad of levels, so eat up as much as possible in the weeks to come.
2. Switch Your Soap Up
Hopefully, you're not someone who uses deodorant soap a lot (because it tends to be very drying). But just in case you are, make sure that you switch over to a more "fatty (acid) soap" (Dove is a good example) during the summer months. Not only will it help to moisturize your skin, but it will create a thin protective "film" that can keep your pores from scorching in the summer sun.
If you're into making your own soap, try and add some palm kernel oil to your recipes; it has lauric acid, myristic acid and oleic acids in it that can also protect your skin during this particular time of the year.
3. Get Dead Skin Cells Off of Your Body
If you want less acne, dull-looking skin, big pores or skin drama all the way around, exfoliating the 40,000-per-minute dead skin cells that you shed is an absolute must. While there are exfoliants that you can buy, you can also keep some coins in your pocket by making some from the comfort and convenience of your home as well. Combining some brown sugar and olive oil will certainly do the trick (feel free to watch Ebony Christina's DIY video on how to make it here). Or, if you want to try a recipe that helps to get rid of razor bumps while clearing up any skin discoloration you might have, Kaice Alea's YouTube channel has your back. You can check her recipe out here.
Boost Up Your Collagen
There's nothing sexier than creating that glistening summer glow. On the outside, bronzer can make that happen. On the inside, getting more collagen into your system is a surefire way to have your skin looking beautifully youthful. While there are collagen supplements that you can take, there are also foods that have lots of collagen already in them. Some of those include berries, garlic, bone broth, fish, chicken, carrots, bell peppers and pumpkin seeds.
5. DIY a Grapeseed Oil Toner
Skin toners are dope because they help to balance your skin's pH balance, deep clean your pores, make your pores appear smaller, hydrate your skin and they can even assist with preventing ingrown hairs. If you add a little grapeseed oil to your toner during the summer season, the oil will offer your skin cells the support that they need to repair and rejuvenate themselves, so that your skin has less fine lines or wrinkles and more of a radiant appearance.
6. Spot-Treat Pimples
I don't know about y'all but something that gets on my very last nerve during the summertime is body acne. Actually, I don't really get breakouts so much as a few pimples here or there. Still, they show up at the most inconvenient times and sometimes leave a mark that takes several weeks to go away. I'll tell you what, though, something that nips them suckers right in the bud is tea tree oil. All you've got to do is put a little of it, right on the pimples themselves, and thanks to the oil's anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, you should see a noticeable difference in how inflamed the pimple is within 12-24 hours and a much smaller zit in 48. Another thing that I like about this oil is it reduces the appearance of scarring too.
Just a heads up, if you've got sensitive skin, you might want to mix the oil with a carrier one like jojoba or sweet almond oil. Tea tree oil is super potent and if your skin is sensitive (or you've already popped the pimple), it could cause a bit of a burning effect. You want to avoid that if you can.
7. Put a Scrambled Egg on Your Face (No Joke)
If you've read the health and wellness pieces that I do often enough, you know that I try and find items that make you be like "huh?" Well, today's offering are scrambled eggs. Word on the street is if you put a scrambled egg on your face, the warmth of the egg will not only be soothing on your skin, but it will cause the protein from the egg to penetrate into your pores faster and result in smoother skin and less wrinkles. While I know it might sound crazy, when you think about the fact that egg masks exist…it's probably not as wild as you might initially think…huh? (Make sure you scramble the egg only to get the best results.)
8. Apply a Little Papaya
If you're a fan of papaya, this is the perfect time of year to cop some; that's because it's in season from early summer through the fall. On the health tip, papaya is good for you because it contains a ton of Vitamin C, along with a good amount of Vitamin A, fiber, protein, folate and potassium to help keep your heart strong, fight inflammation and yes, even protect your skin from sun damage.
But the specific reason why I chose to feature it in this article is because, if you want to have less body hair this summer, papaya is an awesome natural hair remover too. All you need to do is mix a half-teaspoon of mashed papaya with half-teaspoon of turmeric powder, rub it onto the areas of your body where you want to see less hair growth (over time) for 15 minutes before rinsing off. If you do this 2-3 times a week, the enzyme papain (that's in papaya) will start to weaken your hair follicles and hinder regrowth. How cool is that?
9. Soften Your Cracked Heels
As far as summer beauty goes, I'm not sure if there's ANYTHING worse than seeing someone with some killer sandals on while their heels looking like they've been in a fight with a flour bag for two days. One way to prevent yourself from being this kind of statistic is to take extra care of your heels. A pumice stone (to exfoliate). Some (DIY) heel balm. Honey (if you apply it to already cracked heels, it will help to heal them). Coconut oil (to fight off skin infections). Shea butter (to deep moisturize). If you've got these five things in your skincare arsenal, your heels will look just as fly as those shoes you've been waiting to rock!
10. Make Your Own “Soda”
One more. Since one of the best keys to fresh, healthy and glowing skin is water, and also since we typically lose more fluids during the summer season, of course, taking in more water is paramount. While it's recommended to drink 64 ounces (roughly eight glasses) of water everyday during most of the year, from June through September, bump that up to 100 ounces (around 12 glasses), if you can.
If you're like me and water isn't exactly your favorite thing on the planet, try making your own soda to make consuming it easier to do. I personally just get some sparkling (or even mineral) water and add either some fresh fruit or juice to it. It's refreshing, it tastes great, and I'm still able to keep me and my skin well-hydrated in the process. Here's to the best summer skin of your entire life, y'all!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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