If there is any time of the year when many of us are showing as much skin as possible, the summer season would have to be it. This means two things. One, we've got to make sure that our skin looks as even-toned and healthy as possible. Two, we've got to do whatever we can to protect it from the damage that spending hours out in the summer season sun can potentially bring. This article is gonna tackle both of these points.
It's interesting because, as I was thinking about what to entitle this, "glow" came to mind. I'm glad it did because one definition is "incandescent". Another is "rich and warm in coloring". Still another is "showing the radiance of health". If this is how you want your skin to look right through here, I've got 12 all-natural ways to definitely make that a possibility. Let's do this.
1. Cold(er) Showers
While standing in the shower for long periods of time might feel really good, if your ultimate goal is to retain moisture (and lower your water bill in process), opt for showers in cooler water that lasts for a longer period of time.
The reality is, hot water zaps our skin of a lot of the moisture that it needs. Not only that but cold showers are good at energizing, increasing blood circulation, soothing itchy skin and even upping your metabolism levels.
Listen, no one is saying that the temp has to be as cold as ice. Just opt for cooler than usual. Again, your skin will thank you for it. Plus, it can actually feel really refreshing after a hot summer's day.
2. Tea Bags in Bathwater
If baths happen to be more your thing, when's the last time you dropped a few tea bags into the tub? If the answer is "never", hear me out. Black tea can help to reduce inflammation. Green tea can soothe muscle soreness. Rose tea is loaded with antioxidants. Lavender tea can relax you. Calendula tea is a natural eczema remedy. Orange blossom tea can soften your skin. And that's just for starters. Since tea bags contain dried herbs in their most potent state, it makes perfect sense that dropping a couple of them into some warm water and then soaking in the tub for 15-20 minutes could be super therapeutic for your skin, as well as the rest of your body, right?
3. DIY Body Wash
Of course, you wanna be clean. Still, if there's something that you should strongly consider skipping out on, it's traditional soap. A lot of them contain fragrances that can trigger allergies or dry your skin out. Many also have the detergent sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in them which can rob your skin of its natural oils, not to mention parabens (a type or preservative) that has been linked to (breast) cancer. For all of these reasons (and more), at the very least, read the labels of the soaps and body washes that you plan on bringing them home. Even better, why not make your own body wash? It's really not as difficult as it might initially sound (I've done it many times before).
A really easy recipe consists of ½ cup of liquid castile soap (it's a really healthy skin-cleansing base that also provides the suds that you may be looking for); one-fourth cup of Aloe vera juice (it's a rich source of antioxidants that can also decrease symptoms related to psoriasis and dermatitis); one tablespoon of grapeseed oil (it's loaded with vitamins C and E to improve your skin's elasticity); one tablespoon of glycerin (it acts as a humectant which will draw moisture from the air), and 10 drops of citrus essential oil and five drops of rose essential oil (both will soften your skin). Put it all in a bottle, shake well and use. It's healthy. It's chemical-free. And you can feel proud that you made it all on your own.
4. Exfoliating Gloves
There are a billion reasons why it's a good idea to exfoliate your skin. It sloughs off dead skin cells. It helps to unclog pores. It will draw out impurities. It can soften the appearance of scars over time. And it definitely can make your skin feel softer and smoother. While body scrubs are definitely a great way to exfoliate your skin (feel free to check out some great recipes here, here and here), on the days when you may be in a rush, wash your body with some exfoliating gloves. They get the job done and are mad convenient.
Special note, though. Because exfoliating gloves do get dead skin cells off of you and we reportedly lose somewhere between 30,000 to 40,000 every minute of the day, it's best to replace them every 4-6 weeks. The main reason is because, sometimes the cells can get trapped in the gloves which, over time, is a lot like…cleaning your kitchen counters with a dirty washcloth (if you catch my drift).
5. Herb-Infused Oil
Something that has brought me so much joy over the past several months is making my own herb-infused oil. I actually started doing it for my scalp and hair; however, I've been easing into applying it to my skin and I definitely have no regrets! The cool thing about applying herb-infused oil is it's a powerful way to get the most potent benefits of the herbs that you choose to use. And just how do you know which herbs will best suit your needs? I won't lie, it takes a minute to do your research. Thankfully, sites like Annie's Remedy can help you out. It's got a list of 400 different herbs and benefits that you can check out here.
Once you've decided on a specific herb (or combination of them) that you want to try, sites like Etsy has dried package herbs that are affordable and can be shipped directly to you (go to the site and put "dried herbs" in the search field). Then you'll need a mason jar, a favorite carrier oil (remember that coconut oil solidifies in cooler temperatures, so you might want to go with something else like sweet almond, avocado or jojoba) and a pot to boil some water in. Then you're good to go (a video on how to infuse your herbs is located here). You can also put your herbs and oils into your jar and let them sit in a dark space for 30-45 days but — who's got time for that? Anyway, it's a lick and then some if you want your skin to glow. Definitely give it a shot. I definitely have not one regret.
6. Or Rosemary Oil
If you're looking for something that is cheaper and quicker, pick up some rosemary oil (a brand that I really like, I pick up at my local Walgreens).
As far as health benefits go, rosemary has the ability to assist when it comes to boosting brain power, relieving pain, increasing blood circulation, decreasing stress levels, soothing joint inflammation and stimulating hair growth. On the skin tip, it's awesome because, not only does it deeply hydrate your skin and, thanks to its antiseptic properties, it can make eczema-related symptoms easier to deal with, rosemary oil is also bomb because it naturally repels bugs.
The ultimate summer skin oil, if you ask me, chile.
7. Homemade Shea Butter Body Butter
When it comes to skincare — especially our skin — I don't know how you could ever go wrong with shea butter. Aside from all of the fatty acids that it contains, shea butter is oh so good for your skin because it deeply moisturizes; it helps to heal damaged skin tissue; it softens the appearance of acne marks and other scars; it speeds up the healing process of pimples; it fights off free radicals; it reduces skin inflammation and, it contains anti-aging properties too.
Sometimes, I'll simply scoop some shea butter out of its container and apply it right after getting out of the shower. Other times, I'll use it as a base for a body butter. That way, I can add some other ingredients and it's oftentimes less oily that way. Some easy recipes can be found here and here. Oh, and if you want to learn how to best formulate body butters so that they are the exact texture that you want (because there are levels to this ish), a comprehensive video is located here.
8. Witch Hazel and Peppermint Spritz
Hands down, one of the cheapest ways to benefit your skin is to cop a bottle of witch hazel, next time you're at your local grocery or drugstore. Usually for under a couple of bucks, you can get something that removes oiliness; dries out pimples (without over-drying your skin in the process); prevents razor bumps; tightens pores; helps to heal bug bites, and tones your skin in a really major way, even from the first time that you use it. If you add to the witch hazel 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil, the oil's antiseptic and antibacterial properties will soothe irritation, reduce inflammation and help your skin to feel invigorated. I like to combine these and use them as a spritz. It's really great when I put it in the fridge overnight and take it with me when I know that I'm going to be out in the summer sun for a few hours. It pampers my skin and hydrates it too. Another great summer skin hack, if you ask me.
9. DIY Sunscreen
Listen, just because your melanin is poppin', that doesn't mean that you can't experience UV skin damage (check out Healthline's article, "The Sunscreen Gap: Do Black People Need Sunscreen?"). And here's the thing — if you choose to ignore the heads up, over time, that could lead to premature aging or worse, skin cancer. If you're down to apply sunscreen yet you want to use as few chemicals as possible, why not make your own? Wellness Mama is one site that I dig when it comes to natural remedies and DIY tips (you can check out her recipe here). Healthline has some other sunscreen recipes that you might want to peruse here.
10. Lip Gloss
What is the point in your skin looking amazing if your lips are dry, chapped and out here looking a hot mess?
Even on the days when you don't want to put a damn thing on your face, some mascara and a little bit of lip gloss can have you out here looking radiant. Shoot, you can even make your own lip gloss with the help of two teaspoons of castor oil, one teaspoon of vegetable glycerin, a drop of honey and a drop of cinnamon oil. When you're done, put the gloss in a lip gloss container (you can find them at your local arts and crafts stores or at places like Walmart) and apply.
If you want to take even more of a less-is-more approach, dab some shea butter on your lips. It'll keep them pretty and smooth too.
11. Vitamin C-Enriched Foods
Cultivating glowing skin doesn't just happen via what you do on the outside; you've gotta take care of your skin from the inside out at as well. Since Vitamin C is a nutrient that is loaded with antioxidants and it helps to produce collagen (which gives your skin elasticity so that it can continue to appear luminous and youthful), you definitely need to make sure that you get some of it into your system on a daily basis. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C include dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, broccoli, melons, kiwi, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and red and green peppers.
12. Water. Lots and Lots of Water.
We're made up of over 60 percent water so, of course, our skin needs it. Without it, our skin starts to look dull, our pores appear large and it's easier for fine lines and wrinkles to creep up. So, definitely keep a recyclable tumbler of water (even if it's sparkling or infused) with you at all times. It can help to keep your body temperature regulated, your system running smoothly and your skin glowing, naturally, all summer long!
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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.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood