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health

  • 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!

  • Health, School

    Sleep and Your Body

    girl sleeping

    Everyone likes to joke about and compare how little they sleep. To some, it’s a matter of pride. 

    I sleep 3-4 hours a night just so I can manage my workload. ”

    However, what people don’t realize is that preventing your body from getting the rest it needs has severe long-term effects and hampers your performance on a day-to-day basis. Not sleeping enough can result in memory loss, lack of alertness, and mood swings, affecting your work and personal relationships.

    Teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep. Speaking from personal experience, I’m lucky if I even get half that amount. On average, we tend to get 7-8 hours of sleep. This is due to a multitude of reasons. After puberty begins, your biological clock shifts about two hours. For example, an individual who would go to sleep at 9:00 PM will now have trouble sleeping until 11:00. Though this is true and does affect younger teenagers in middle school, growing academic pressures involving grades, extracurriculars, obligations, and relationships also take a chunk out of your rest.

    What many teenagers and adults don’t realize is that the less they sleep, the more their sleep debt grows. Your body can very much feel that it’s not getting enough sleep. Your body summons sleep in two ways: by sending more adenosine (a neurotransmitter) around your body, and by sending signals from your circadian clock.

     Adenosine  can be considered a cellular  by-product and is produced and released into the bloodstream when [cells] use energy. It’s taken up to the receptors that govern wakefulness in the basal forebrain, acting as a slow buffer, minimizing your ability to be attentive and remember things. When there’s a lot of adenosine, you start to feel drowsy. (The way caffeine works is by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain, essentially numbing you to its effects.) 

    The circadian clock regulates all of your bodily functions. When it comes to sleep, it causes the human body to feel very sleepy between 12:00-6:00 AM, and a little extra sleepy between 2:00-4:00 PM.

    A study at the University of Chicago found that after having volunteers sleep four hours a night for six nights, volunteers developed higher blood pressure and larger amounts of the hormone cortisol. They also produced less antibodies and signs of insulin resistance, a precursor to type-2 diabetes. After sleeping the amount they needed to, they reversed all of these effects. Another study from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School found that after having volunteers sleep for either 8, 6, or 4 hours a night for two weeks, and a fourth group of volunteers who didn’t sleep for three days, the groups that had slept 4-6 hours a night didn’t perform much better than the one that hadn’t slept for 72 hours. 

    The hours add up. Speaking from personal experience, during the spring semester, I averaged 2-5 hours of sleep. Every night. The moment summer began, I began sleeping inordinate amounts. Before this year, my circadian clock wouldn’t let me sleep past 7:30. Now, if I don’t use an alarm to wake up, my body won’t let me wake up until 10:00-11:00. The first week of summer? I slept 8-14 hours a night. I physically can’t sleep the way I used to. My body needs its sleep. Likewise, your body will react to you not sleeping well and you’ll have more difficulty performing daily tasks. Guard your sleep. 

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health

    Health Care: Teens Have Rights Too!

    teen health care rights

    One big misconception I had about the health care system up until my senior year of high school was that my parents had full control over my medical care. Being someone who prefers to make medical decisions with her parents, this was fine with me at the time. However, I know that there are many teens who would prefer to have more freedom and control over their healthcare, and it is important to educate teens about the rights they have.

    When individuals are under the age of eighteen and live with a parent, the parent must give consent for many types of care. However, most teens don’t know that they have rights too. These usually aren’t discussed in health classes at school, so it’s important for teens to learn about these rights early on so they can use these resources to their benefit. Although laws may vary state to state, most of them are pretty standard and should apply wherever you’re from. There are no federal regulations that specify a teen’s rights regarding medical care, so you should look up your state medical board’s regulations to learn the specifics.

    Here are some common rights that minor teens have in many states:

    Mental Health. In many states, individuals above the age of twelve or thirteen can consent to receive outpatient mental health services, if approved by their health care provider. In some cases, notice must be provided to the parent, but a teen is allowed to provide consent for themselves.

    Substance Abuse. Some states allow teens over a certain age to receive outpatient substance abuse treatment services by a licensed provider. Many inpatient options require parental consent. So, if you are considering receiving this type of service, definitely look into your state’s guidelines to learn more.

    Sexual/Reproductive Health. In many states, regardless of age, birth control, family planning, and pregnancy care can be administered to a patient without parental consent or informing a parent that their child is undergoing such care. Testing and providing diagnoses and treatments for STDs and STIs are also allowed in some states if the teen if over a specific age. Additionally, abortion services are available in some states for individuals and do not require parental consent. This link includes a list of some states and their specific abortion laws. If your state isn’t on this list, go to its medical board website to find the exact rules and regulations.

    If your provider isn’t providing the reproductive or sexual health care that you are looking for without parental consent, and you would like to consent for yourself, organizations such as Planned Parenthood may be able to help you. Exact laws will vary depending on the state you live in, so you should do some research and look into these rules if you are interested.

    Now, you know your rights!

    These are just a few of the most common rights minor teens have in most states when it comes to their medical care. Always do additional research and ask around to learn about all the rights and resources available to you in your specific state. Teens have power, and although it may not seem like very much depending on where you live, you should always stay educated so you can exercise your rights in medical situations that may come your way.

  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Health, Lifestyle

    5 Small Tips for Loving Yourself More

    body confidence

    Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’ve struggled with my body confidence throughout my whole life. My extra pounds and my acne when I was younger, being taller and bigger than everyone, maybe too muscular when I used to weightlift or having no muscles at all now that I’m recovering from an injury. There’s always something to complain about my body or the way that I look… I can never be truly satisfied. 

    These past few months, after a guy that I was seeing decided to end our relationship because he “couldn’t love me if I didn’t love me”, I’ve decided to change the pattern. See, since I had been feeling the same thing for almost 22 years and it wasn’t helping me at all. Maybe it was time to try something else! And I still don’t know how, but I’ve managed to make huge changes in my confidence. So what better way to celebrate these changes than to share them with everyone else?

    Here are 5 small tips that I’ve used to accept and care for myself more:

    1. Tell the voice in your head to shut up. I know… It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, or I see myself in a picture, there’s an instant voice yelling “ugh… disgusting!” Well, it’s time to make a conscious effort to shut it down. I understand it will be hard, but try covering it up with positive thoughts such as “I look amazing!” “I feel great!” At first, it might seem unnatural, but after a while, you can revert the habit.
    2. Take a look at your beautiful self in the mirror. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself, it’s highly likely that you avoid seeing yourself in a mirror. I used to close my eyes a lot when I had to see myself in some sort of reflection. I didn’t want to face what was in front of me. It’s time to quit that: see yourself carefully, every little part of you. Look at yourself in the eyes and get to know who you are. 
    3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and what you’re capable of doing. When I feel sad, I remember something amazing that I did a while ago: maybe that time that I did stand-up comedy on TV, or how strong I was in a sports competition. I also take time to be grateful for what’s to come, for the many things that I am capable of doing. Body confidence to me is not about how I look, but about what I am able to do. When you take some time to remember what you’re good at and the things you’re passionate about, you accept your own self more.
    4. Be careful with social media! Social media can be very toxic. When your feed is full of pictures of what beauty is supposed to feel like, or hurtful tips about “how you should achieve your summer body” (ALL bodies are summer bodies!) it’s very hard to get out of the negative spiral. We spend lots of hours surfing through social media, so my suggestion is to clean up your following list. Be careful with who you take advice from, and try to find other inspiring things rather than just pictures of other people. 
    5. Get out. Go for a walk! Work out! Play the piano! Do whatever makes you happy. Appreciate time with yourself, do things that are healthy for you, follow your passions. I find that when I have an amazing day just with myself, I am the happiest when I go to sleep.

    Learning to love yourself can be a long journey, here are some tips on self-care that can help you along the way!

  • 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

    Importance of Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule During Summer Break

    sleep schedule

    Without the daily structure of school, summertime signals late bedtimes for many teenagers.

    Most high schoolers have commitments for at least part of the summer (if not for the majority of it), such as jobs, internships, and camps, and late bedtimes often result in an insufficient amount of sleep as they continue to wake up early to attend to their activities. It’s common for teenagers to go to bed past midnight, only to wake up exhausted early the next morning as they grudgingly get ready for the day ahead of them. This results in a screwed up sleep schedule.

    After some time, receiving an insufficient amount of sleep each night can affect an individual’s mood and health. Some people may try to offset this lack of sleep by taking a nap later on in the day. Although this may seem like a good idea, it isn’t because napping can mess with an already-altered sleep schedule. This results in even later bedtimes and even less sleep. Additionally, going to bed late and waking up late the next morning gets them accustomed to a new sleep schedule. Then it’s difficult to readjust once it is time to go back to their regular school schedule.

    Maintaining a balanced sleep schedule where you’re able to receive an adequate amount of sleep is essential to maintain good health and a positive attitude!

    If you’re unsure of whether or not you’re getting enough ZZZs, check out this slideshow from WebMD.

    Here are some recommendations on what you can do to maintain a healthy sleep schedule:

    1. Set a good bedtime. Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to be getting at least 7 hours of sleep. Your bedtime is when lights are turned off and you are in bed trying to sleep.
    2. Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. For many teenagers, electronic devices are the number one thing keeping them up at night. Although binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix and Snapchatting your friends is fun (and sometimes kind of important!), sleep is valuable and should take priority. Remember, you can always be on your electronics during the day and should use nighttime to rest and get re-energized. Turn off electronics and put them in a different room if you think you’ll be tempted to use them. Use the time you have before you go to bed to read a book, listen to music, or do another activity that is calming and doesn’t involve the use of an electronic device that could potentially distract you and keep you up at night.
    3. Eat dinner at a decent time. For many individuals, a 6-6:30 pm dinner time is the most ideal. Sleep schedules get thrown off when dinner time is later in the evening, causing additional problems. I would recommend maintaining the same dinner time as during the school year. If you choose to stay up later, eat something healthy to satisfy your hunger and keep yourself energized.
    4. Create a bedtime ritual. For some people, creating a daily bedtime ritual allows them to stay organized and feel calm; better preparing them for receiving a good night’s sleep. Activities on your ritual could include anything from cleansing your face to reading a book before going to bed. Figure out what makes you feel happy and relaxed, and create a thirty-minute to an hour ritual for yourself incorporating those activities! Do you need ideas for before bed activities? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to a Self Care Routine.
    5. Be comfortable. When you feel comfortable in your room, you’re going to have a much easier time sticking to your sleep schedule! Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you care about the temperature, do your best to keep it at one that is optimal for your sleep! Some summer nights, it can get very hot and may be difficult for you to fall asleep. I would recommend getting a fan for your room if you don’t already have one.
    6. Exercise daily: For some people, this isn’t something to even worry about. Their summers are spent enjoying the nice weather outdoors and being active. However, for others who aren’t very active, making the effort to get some exercise in is important. Doctors recommend exercise or doing something active for at least 60 minutes each day. Going on a run, taking a walk around the neighborhood, or playing sports are some examples of ways one can stay active during the summertime. Exercising helps individuals get a good night’s sleep, making it is very important and something you shouldn’t neglect!
  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health

    My Experiences With Health Care as an 18-Year-Old

    health care

    When I turned eighteen, many of my friends asked me how it felt to officially be an adult. To be completely honest, it didn’t feel any different from being seventeen. I for sure didn’t look any different and wasn’t necessarily treated any differently by my parents, teachers, or peers. Life seemed to go normally without any major changes until I realized that I was due for a doctor’s visit.

    I was on medication, and my doctor wanted me to come back and see her after my treatment was complete to make sure things were going well. The appointment wasn’t scheduled, so I asked my parents to call the doctor’s office and schedule an appointment for me, as they had done all these years.

    Here came one of the first big changes in my life.

    The receptionist said that since I was eighteen, my parents couldn’t schedule appointments for me; I had to call the office myself. It felt weird to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment on my own. I realize that it was ultimately just a phone call, and I have spoken to people over the phone many times before, but it felt unsettling and nerve-wracking. Did I know the name of my health insurance provider? Did I know important information regarding my family’s medical history? The receptionist was nice, and the phone call went fine, and, yes, I did actually know the answers to the questions I was asked. After the call ended, I felt relieved. It felt good to know that I had a little more responsibility. I learned to successfully schedule my own appointments, and although it doesn’t seem like a really big deal in hindsight, it felt pretty good at the time!

    The second big change came at the actual appointment.

    When the nurse called me to go into the doctor’s office, my mom accompanied me as she usually does. However, unlike all the other times I had visited the doctor, I was asked if I wanted my mom to be in the room with me. I make medical decisions with my parents, so I definitely wanted my mom with me, but it was an interesting feeling to know that it was my choice if I wanted my mom with me or not.

    Finally, during the appointment, almost all the questions were directed at me, rather than at my mom. I was controlling my appointment, which was strange and different. Being a bit of an introvert around people I don’t know well, I was comfortable with my mom asking all the questions and doing most of the talking for me, but now, I am learning how to handle things on my own. I had to make eye contact with the doctor, answer her questions, and ask any follow-up questions I had. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be because of the open environment that my doctor created. I could tell that my mom had sensed the change too when she muttered, “You’re going to have to learn to do a lot on your own now…” when we left the office after the appointment that day.

    Sometimes doctor’s visits aren’t as helpful as they could be, especially if you don’t know what questions to ask (or if you even should ask questions), if you need to eat and drink before you go, etc. It’s a lot to remember! So this article should help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit.

    More changes to come

    Although I am still on my parents’ health insurance plan, a lot of responsibility regarding my health care will start falling on me. Already, I have learned to schedule my own appointments, check my health records on the patient portal online, and talk to doctors completely on my own. This isn’t stuff that is taught in school, but it is still important for real life. Many teenagers go off to college unsure of how to manage their own health care and use the resources available to them to take care of themselves. It’s crucial for them to acquire these skills early on so they can develop independence and personal freedom as new adults. I know I will have to get some orthodontic work done when I am in college, so I will have to be seeing an orthodontist every few months. This and a lot of other things are going to be new because I am going to school in a different state.

    I have realized that it is important for me to take control of things from early on. I hope I am able to do that next year and pave a good path for a smooth four years ahead in terms of managing my health care.

    Making your own doctor appointments is just one part of being an adult, here are some other tips that make the transition from young to young adult a little easier.