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Puberty

  • Articles, Body Image, Health, Makeup, Puberty

    How-to Guide: Building an Effective Daily Skincare Routine

    African American girl good skin

    Building An Effective Skincare Routine

    OCTOBER 28, 2019

    Developing a practical skincare routine can be challenging for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for young adults. From finding out your unique skin type to trying out countless beauty products, there’s no denying how frustrating and overwhelming it is to discover what works best for you and what doesn’t. Nevertheless, it’s imperative that you take the time to discover these answers now so that you can adequately protect and care for your skin. To do this, you must first concentrate on building an effective daily skincare routine. If you’re unsure of where to start, don’t panic. Just follow this simple guide!

    Understand Your Skin Type

    Understanding your skin type is arguably the most essential step to creating the most effective skincare routine. This will make it easier to determine which products you’ll need to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. To evaluate your skin type, analyze the amount of water and oil in your skin. Depending on how well the two balance out, the type of product you’ll need may vary. For example, if your skin produces more oil than it does water, you probably have an oily skin type, which is a common skin concern for teens once hit puberty. As a result, you might be struggling with things like acne or excess shine. Lucky for you, oily skin can be treated with several over-the-counter options. It might take some trial and error before you find out which ones are most suitable for your unique skin.

    Oily skin may benefit from products that contain an ingredient like retinol, which works to boost cell turnover and clear out your pores. Still, you must keep in mind that not all oily skin is the same. Depending on other personal factors like age, genetics, and hormone levels, finding the right skincare products can be tricky. For some females, the same over-the-counter acne products may prove to be successful throughout their teen and adult years. Other females, however, may not be as lucky and choose to speak with a doctor about getting a prescribed acne treatment if the issue remains prevalent once they’ve reached adulthood. 

    Cleanse Skin 2 Times a Day

    After you’ve categorized your skin type and carefully selected your skincare products, it’s time to develop a routine. Cleansing your face when you wake up in the morning and before going to bed at night, is necessary for clean and clear skin. Not only will it work to remove dirt and other impurities from your skin, but it will also refresh your complexion.  In the morning, the cleanser should be the first skincare product you apply to your skin. At nighttime, cleanser should come directly after you remove any makeup you wore throughout the day.

    Before you use your cleanser, splash some lukewarm water on your face. When you’re done, apply your cleanser to the tips of your fingers and massage the product onto your skin in a circular motion. Do this for about 60 seconds, then rinse with water. To finish up, grab a towel or washcloth and gently pat your skin dry.

    Apply Toner (optional)

    Similar to a cleanser, toners are used to freshen your skin by removing oils from the skin and replenishing it with moisture. Although this is an optional skincare step, the benefits of facial toners are great for all skin types and ages. 

    If you do choose to use a toner, make sure you apply it after your cleanser in the morning and at night. Normally, toners come in liquid form and may either be applied to your face with a light spritz or with a cotton pad.

    Hydrate Skin Using a Moisturizer

    Regardless of whether or not your skin is oily, moisturizers are a must-have product for your daily skincare regimen. This is because moisturizers add a protective layer to your skin, while also keeping it hydrated. As you age, your skin’s ability to retain moisture weakens over time. Therefore, getting into the habit of using it now will allow you to maintain your youthful complexion later in life. 

    Moisturizers should be one of the last steps to your daily skincare routine. When you wash your face regularly, it’s easy for the skin’s surface to get stripped of its natural hydrators. This is why it’s best to spread it all over your face and neck afterward. For those of you with dry skin, consider applying a heavier moisturizing cream at night to repair and restore dehydrated areas of your skin.

    Protect With Sunscreen

    Finally, wrap up your daytime skincare routine by putting on a light layer of sunscreen. Daily use of sunscreen can help prevent future fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots that typically occur from excess sun exposure.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology, wearing a water-resistant, broad-spectrum protection sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is best.

    For the perfect coverage, use a pea-sized amount of sunscreen on your face and neck and wait 15-30 minutes before going outdoors. Or, if you’re running short on time, you can also skip the sunscreen entirely if you have other skincare products that meet the recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatology.  From face moisturizers to certain skin cosmetics, keeping your skin protected has never been so effortless!

  • Articles, Confidence, Depression, GirlSpring.com, Puberty, Tough Questions

    Redefine Your Life: My Story

    Getting off the bus after the first day of kindergarten, I remember feeling so overstimulated and overwhelmed I ran straight to my bedroom, ignored everyone, and sat on my bed crying. Thirty minutes later I came back to the kitchen, had my afternoon snack, and everything was back to normal. Reactions like this were normal for me throughout all of elementary school. I was the girl who would restrict my playdates to two hours, call my mom to pick me up at sleepovers and disappear for hours at a time into the woods. The consensus I eventually came to was I just enjoyed being alone. Other people made me tired and anxious, so at a young age I put myself into a box: I was an introvert.


    I was happy in this box for most of my life going on my own adventures and living in my own world until I realized that many of my classmates were going on the same adventures but bringing other people with them and they seemed to be having more fun. Fixing this issue was easy as I just started bringing my neighbor with me on my adventures. Soon we were inseparable; however, I still saw myself as an introvert: I was now just an introvert with a best friend. Because I had a best friend I never felt the need to meet anyone new; therefore, I never learned how to interact with new people.


    This lack of social ability was not an issue for me until I moved in eighth grade. At first, it was exciting, everyone was intrigued with me, boys were asking for my number, girls were complimenting me, and I had already learned everything I was being taught: life was great. However, I had no idea how to actually form relationships, so eventually when I was no longer new, I was all alone. Soon the box I had put myself into for so long began to backfire, I found myself feeling constantly depressed and alone. All I wanted was to climb into my bed and go to sleep. Furthermore, I was extremely confused as to why I was feeling this way as I still believed that I was an introvert and loved being alone.

    This period of depression continued into high school. I was constantly pushing people away, refusing to participate and then seeing pictures on Snapchat or Instagram and finding myself jealous or upset. This situation continued until one day I decided I was not happy and I did not fit into this box I made for myself so long ago. I clearly remember one of my first yes moments. I was at a football game that my older sister had dragged me to standing uncomfortably at the top of the student section, everyone around me was cheering, laughing, and getting involved in the game. However, because I still have no idea how football works there was no way to get involved even if I wanted to leave me wanting to just cry and run away. At halftime, people started to leave the student section and I was about to call my mom and beg her to pick me up. Right as I was reaching for my phone a random guy from my grade came up to me and asked, “Hey, do you want to walk around with me and my friends.” Instead of pretending I didn’t hear him I just said, “sure.” Although that may seem so minuscule, it was a major change in my life. It was the first moment I let myself venture out of my box. It was the first time I found myself having fun and actually wanting to stay somewhere in years.


    Throughout the rest of high school these yes moments continued to occur: saying yes to a dance, yes to a party, yes to getting involved in my school and community. As a senior, I have completely redefined myself. I am no longer the quiet, introverted girl who could not get out of her comfort zone. In fact, when I tell people that I used to be extremely shy they laugh in my face and ask, “Do you know what being shy means?” or respond “I don’t know about that.”  Now instead of being the girl unable to talk to anyone, I’m the one going up to that random person so that they can finally have a yes moment too

  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, Health, Mental Health, Puberty

    What Body Positivity Means to Me

    Three girls smiling at the camera

    Body Positivity In Our Society

    We live in a society that claims to be “body positive’, but doesn’t accept all types of people. I always hear “every person is unique” and I get that. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t celebrated. I don’t mean that we should all get participation trophies or be praised for anything we do, but everyone deserves to be comfortable and welcome without exception. It’s true that we are all unique. We are different shapes, sizes, and colors, but we should feel the same – confident and comfortable.

    I was taught to be “body positive”. What does that even mean? Why do other peoples bodies concern me? That’s just it. Other peoples bodies don’t concern me, and my body doesn’t concern anyone else. Is that body positivity? Not really. It definitely isn’t my place to tell anyone else what to do with their body. Different things empower different people. I don’t think to be body-positive means that you can’t make observations about other people’s appearance, but I believe they do need to be empowering.

    I know that the celebration and representation of all people can be directly related to self-confidence, so why isn’t diverse representation more common? It’s because we, as a society, have become used to a particular image being showcased. Some people cannot see themselves in this image, so they begin to feel inferior. Most people’s first reaction is to be judgemental. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I see someone and think. What are they wearing? but then I remember they can wear whatever works for them. It doesn’t matter what I think. If I don’t like it, then I won’t wear it. We have to train ourselves not to be critical of others because we are constantly reminded of something that doesn’t really exist. The “ideal body” cannot be captured in one image. Everyone has a different body, and that is enough, we shouldn’t accept or strive for one type of body. 

    On the other hand, we are too harsh on ourselves. I am. You are. We are all hypocrites. We tell others they should be confident, and turn around to belittle ourselves. At the same time, we get dressed, stand in front of the mirror, and pick ourselves apart. This would look better if my stomach was flat…or if my thighs were smaller, I’d be happy. The truth is, I’ll never be 100% satisfied with my appearance, and that’s normal. It’s important to remember that body positivity is for everyone – including ourselves. 

    I decided to write about how contradictory our society is when it comes to body image, because of a song I love. “Body” by Julia Michaels begins with an apology that we should all take notes on. She is apologizing to herself. She knows that she makes herself lose confidence and feel insecure. She knows that she shouldn’t treat herself like that, but she still does. All she wants is to love her body like she loves others’ and they love hers. Why are we like that? Why can we see the beauty in others, and others can see it in us, but we can’t see it in ourselves?

    Personal Relationship With Body Positivity

    My relationship with my body is constantly changing. My entire childhood I was a gymnast. I was short, strong, and could never find jeans that fit. Around the age of 11, I got taller. I was thinner, and the strongest I had ever been. Still, I hated my body. Then came an injury that ended gymnastics forever. For the rest of middle school, I was getting zero exercises and eating terribly. I was depressed. I hated myself, and I hated my body even more. The little bit of confidence I had was gone. I wouldn’t even look anyone in the eye.

    Then high school started, and I was more comfortable with myself. I was adapting well. I was doing everything I wanted to – succeed academically and socially. Spring semester of my 9th-grade year, I got sick. I lost my appetite almost immediately, I was on a lot of medications, and the doctors were running dozens of tests that were not providing any answers. Nothing. I was also participating in swim team, so I was burning lots of calories and not eating any. Obviously, this resulted in rapid weight loss( almost 45 pounds in a few weeks). The sad part is I liked how I looked. I felt confident. Friends told me “Wow! You look great! Have you lost weight?” Yes, I did lose weight, but I was so unhealthy. I was ill. The time I felt most confident was when I was thin from illness…how twisted is that?

    Remember that how you feel is always more important than how you look. 

    We should live in an environment where every shape and size is not only welcomed but celebrated. It isn’t difficult to be kind to those around us and ourselves. We all need to stop trying to fix what we see and focus on how we make each other, and ourselves, feel.

    Want to read more about body positivity and self-love? Check it out here and here!

  • Articles, Birth Control, Body Image, GirlSpring.com, Health, Puberty

    Glowing Up While Growing Up: Normalizing Hormonal Changes During Puberty & Beyond

    puberty

    Guest Post

    Do you have a habit of putting your body down? Maybe you spend hours picking at blemishes in the mirror or comparing yourself to other girls around you or online. It’s possible that self-criticism has become so normalized you may not even realize that you’re doing it.

    Beginning at puberty, we experience dozens of physical changes from head to toe. When we notice these changes in others, we tend to draw comparisons. That being said, each female body was designed to blossom differently. Nonetheless, we become inclined to scrutinize and criticize every detail of our bodies. Accordingly, as our bodies change, so can our self-image.

    But our formative years are when we’re just starting to figure out who we are and who we want to be. It’s with great hope that we all strive to be happy and healthy through good self-esteem and self-worth. This is only possible if we recognize, understand, and accept our different features. Much like plants, each body grows in its own unique way but is still beautiful and worth celebrating and admiring. We’re here to let you in on what you need to know about hormonal body changes during this time in your life and how you can love and accept your body through it all.

    Acne

    The first thing we typically observe in the mirror is our face – especially if we have acne. Acne is the most common skin condition in the nation. Almost everyone experiences some breakouts in the course of their lives. Acne comes in many forms: blackheads and whiteheads, papules and pustules, as well as nodules and cysts. These blemishes can pop up in more places than just our face. They can appear on our neck, chest, shoulders, and back too. It’s extremely common for girls to encounter acne breakouts due to hormonal changes, like beginning their menstrual cycle

    However, it’s easy to forget just how normal blemishes are when we see pictures all around us of girls with “flawless” and “clear” skin. Although acne isn’t harmful to our physical health, it can most certainly take its toll on our mental and emotional health. Instead of trying to conceal or hide your acne, embrace it! Start by making positive changes to the things you surround yourself with regularly, like social media. Delete photo retouching apps on your phone and avoid using filters on your photos that give a false sense of what normal skin is. Your self-esteem will thank you! If you find that you’re still comparing yourself to others, unfollow any social media accounts that make you feel “less than” and replace them with body-positive accounts that promote self-love.

    Body Hair

    When exploring the different changes that come along with puberty, body hair is one that can cause some unsettling feelings. As you develop, you will likely notice more hair growing in new places, like your legs, underarms, and pubic area. Despite its taboo connotation, body hair is a good thing – it’s a sign that puberty is right on track! Not to mention that pubic hair, in particular, acts as the first line of defense against UTIs and yeast infections by preventing the transmission of bacteria

    Body hair might be concerning still for some girls, especially if it’s excessive or growing in less conventional areas such as your face, chest, and stomach. In this case, it may be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common condition of females that can cause other health problems, including irregular or missed menstrual periods. So it’s important to express these concerns to a doctor who may suggest you try hormonal birth control pills (also known as combination pills). Our ovaries make the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These regulate our menstrual cycle. Our ovaries also make androgens, which can be responsible for unwanted hair growth. Hormonal birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin can balance out your hormones to reduce hair growth and regulate your period.

    In any case, body hair can serve as a reminder to take care of your body for you and your health. Not for the approval or acceptance from anyone else! Whether you choose to let it grow or let it go, good hygiene and health precautions should be at the forefront. If you embrace your body hair, keeping your skin clean can prevent the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and other things that can clog hair follicles and cause ingrown hairs. Likewise, if you decide to shave, talk to a trusted adult about the best shaving practices to avoid any “bumps in the road,” like ingrown hairs that can lead to infections.

    Growth and Development

    Speaking of estrogen, it’s also the hormone behind the growth and development of your breasts, which is one of the first signs of puberty. Because of our unique genetic makeup, breast size varies between every girl. Keep in mind that everyone’s body develops at a different rate, and all size breasts are perfectly acceptable! It’s also normal to experience growing pains while your breasts are developing. Protecting and supporting your breasts with a good first bra can help with discomfort. Girls whose breasts are less developed may consider a training bra or sports bra. Those who have developed further may choose a bra with a soft cup. It’s important that your bra is comfortable and fits correctly to allow your breasts to grow properly!

    Along with breast development, you will also notice growth spurts in both your height and weight, as well as a curvier shape to your body. Not only are these changes normal, but they are also a healthy sign of development! Your body is producing more fat to allow for fuller hips, thighs in order to support your body as it grows. Because of this sudden growth, it’s also quite common to have stretch marks. As the name implies, your skin stretched quickly to accommodate your body’s changes.

    You may even notice the development of cellulite. Cellulite is just fat storage underneath our skin that can create the appearance of a lumpy, uneven surface. Everyone has some fat under their skin, and cellulite during puberty is, like all other changes, normal and healthy! Despite what society leads us to believe, cellulite isn’t extra fat; but rather a shift in how and where our bodies store fat now that we’re growing

    Let’s be honest; it can be challenging to welcome these changes to our bodies at first. The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself is to find the good in all of it! Focus on all of the things you appreciate and like about your body. You might say things like, “I love that my body is growing because it means I’m getting stronger, which lets me run faster, jump higher, and dance more!” Don’t let comparisons put a damper on your body-image or cause you to neglect your body’s needs. It can help to remind yourself: “I will fuel my body with the love and nutrients it needs. I deserve a healthy body and no one’s going to take care of it except for me!”

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health, Puberty, Sexual Health

    Periods Made a Little Easier with Clue

    clue app

    Being on your period is always an unpleasant experience with the physical and emotional pains that come with it. However, it becomes an even worse situation when you’re out somewhere and you start, but you didn’t plan ahead because you weren’t supposed to start at that time or you don’t have a set schedule for your cycle. I know that when I started it could be as short as 28 days to 40 days in-between cycles. Even if there are symptoms that signal your period is about to start, not everyone is the same, and they won’t experience them right when they begin having frequent cycles. That’s why to make things easier girls can get the app, Clue.  

    What is Clue?

    Clue is an app that helps women keep track of their monthly cycles. It collects data based on how often you start to how low you are on your period. There are even different tracking methods that help you not only understand what is happening with your body but to also get an idea of what is normal for your body. You could be someone who is very emotional during this time, or you could need extra sleep. Because periods usually only last 4-7 days, it can be hard to pay attention to how you’re feeling and live your life. This app helps you catalogue the information in just a few seconds, so when you have some downtime you can always go back and see what happened during that time.

    Give me the Data

    The Clue app has an easy set up. You download it, create an account, and put in your birthday, height, and weigh. These details can help Clue give you better research based on who you are. After that on the home page, you’ll see a circular arrow with a red circle in the middle. This is the page that helps keep track of everything. It shows how many days it has been since the last cycle started. This is the most beneficial part. I know that there have been days for me where I think I’m supposed to start at the beginning of the month, but I have no idea when. The day represented on the arrow just lets me know whether I’m close or not.

    Moving on to entering the data. The green circle with a white plus in the middle or the red circle with “Enter today’s data” are not hard to see because they are about the only pop of color. This part is what I really enjoy while using this app. There are so many little things to add:

    • Pain (cramps, headache, ovulation, or tender breasts)
    • How much you’re bleeding (light, medium, heavy or spotting)
    • Emotions (happy, sensitive, sad, or PMS)
    • How many hours you slept
    • How energized are you
    • Mentality (focused, distracted, calm, or stressed)
    • How motivated you are
    • Hair
    • Skin
    • Cravings (sweet, salty, carbs, or chocolate)

    Each of these can be added to your personal tracking options or taken away. It is all up to what you want to know. The section about the actually happenings of your period is gross to think about, but it helps to know how much bleeding you have to see when your period will be over. It also provides information that a doctor may need to know.

    Other really cool functions of the app

    Another function of Clue that I enjoy is the notifications. Every app has these, but Clue has set reminders to let you know when your cycle will begin, if you’re late, or if PMS is about to hit. This saves so much time. If I get notified that I’m late or about to start then I can make sure I have a pad or tampon with me. Most girls probably already have these any way, but sometimes after using one from the last cycle you forget about restocking because you’re just glad it’s over. That has been a problem for me in the past. Once that last day is over, being on my period is the last thing I want to think about.

    The final part of Clue that really makes it a good app is the Cycle Science section. When first starting your period, you may not know the ins and outs of it. You probably just think, “Hey, I’m bleeding. This is a thing now.” This section explains why all of the functions in Clue are important.  There are little articles with medical terminology, too. Some of this stuff you might not be taught, so having this here will help later when you’re older and go to the doctor. You’ll have the information you need to tell your doctor exactly what’s wrong if your period has something to do with it.

    If there is something to dislike about this app, it would be the “Plus” section. I have never found the need to pay for anything more because it is all provided right there in plain sight. There could be some extra analysis data I could be missing, but with everything that is already there, I don’t think you actually need anything more. This app is pretty straightforward so using it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Wanna download Clue and make period tracking a breeze? Get it on the App Store or Google Play. Or do you have more questions about periods and birth control and everything else that comes to sexual health? Check out our Need to Know page.

  • College, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Goals, Mental Health, Puberty, School, Stress, Tips, Tough Questions

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    By Maggie Thompson

     

    Being uncertain is a feeling with which we are all familiar.

    A looming pressure to know exactly what we want in life is placed on us as early as middle school – if not before. This question of what we want our lives to be is actually ridiculous. How could one possibly know what they truly want if they have yet to decide what they do not?

    Uncertainty is how we learn.

    When we acknowledge our uncertainty, we open the door for more opportunities. This is because knowledge is not obtained without first admitting its absence.

    Experiences shape our beliefs – on everything.

    Hesitating to wear a certain color, deciding to study before a test, and avoiding certain types of people are all decisions made due to past experience. We believe the color yellow is not flattering for our skin tone because we read it in a magazine, we study before a test to avoid a failing grade, and we choose not to befriend dishonest people so that we don’t get hurt. Regardless of how big or small the belief – it is formed by past experience. However, some of these beliefs will alter as we learn and grow. This is a good thing. Being open to new challenges provides a chance for a new perspective.

    As a result, being uncertain is the best way to unlock change and growth.

    Do not be afraid to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, for this is how truth is uncovered – through exploration. So when you are feeling down about not knowing exactly which direction to go, accept that some of the steps you have taken thus far have been incorrect. Although this feeling is initially terrifying, it begins to dissolve as soon as you take the first step into the unknown. Because before you know it, you will find yourself happier and more engaged with life.

  • Puberty, Sexual Health, Teen Pregnancy

    We all go through it…The Change

    Puberty – How Your Body Changes

    Your body is changing; your moods may be unpredictable and sometimes hard to explain. Don’t worry. These changes are normal. Our guide to teen health is designed to help you understand the common physical and emotional changes you are going through, and deal responsibly with new personal and social situations you may encounter. These changes are called puberty.

    Puberty lasts for several years and marks the life stage when your body is changing from a child to an adult. Hormones help trigger and guide this process. Hormones are natural chemicals in your body that produce gradual physical changes during this time and may also cause emotional changes that can sometimes seem uncontrollable. These changes are common during puberty, and they happen to everyone. Although it may seem that these changes and feelings are out of your control, don’t worry—you’re still you, just the “growing up” version.

    Common Physical Changes in Girls

    Girls going through puberty often notice physical changes, such as larger breasts, hair growth in new places, acne and changes in the shape of your hips, waste, bottom and thighs. Below are some of the common physical changes you may experience.

    Menstrual Periods & PMS

    Menstruation is a turning point in your development from a child to a teenager. It’s important to remember that this is natural and something that makes being a woman special.

    Larger Breasts

    One of the first changes you will notice are your breasts growing, usually between the ages of eight and 12. Once your breasts start growing, you will most likely want to buy a bra.

    Common Social and Emotional Issues

    Today’s young women face many emotional and social challenges during puberty. Below are some of the common tough issues you may find, and tips for handling them.

    Self Esteem & Peer Pressure

    The foundation for positive self-esteem is built at an early age and is influenced by relationships between you and your family. Your feelings about yourself will change as you grow.

    Sex & Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    When to engage or not engage in sexual relations is one of the most important decisions a person can make. From getting pregnant to becoming infected with an STD, make sure you understand the risks.

    Mental Health & Abuse

    Overall health means more than simply being in shape and eating properly. Mental health, which includes your thoughts and feelings, is just as important as physical health.

    Hair Growth

    Hair will start to grow under your arms, on your legs and on your pubic area. Shaving your underarms and legs is a personal choice, but talk about it with one of your parents first.

    Acne

    This aggravating condition may be mild (blackheads and whiteheads), moderate (larger inflamed-looking blemishes) or severe (large cysts or nodules). Acne is caused by a build-up of oil, microorganisms and dead skin cells in the hair follicles under the skin.

    Eating Disorders

    With a more prevalent preoccupation with appearance and weight in today’s society, girls may be at risk to develop eating disorders.

     

    Substance Abuse

    During your teenage years, it is a good idea to take some risks, like trying new activities or sports. However, some risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs have negative effects.

     

    Visiting Your Doctor

    Before the onset of puberty, discuss your questions and concerns with your health care professional. It is also a time for you to gather printed material on a variety of health issues, including your menstrual cycle, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).