Warning: reading this will cause itching.

Every summer, my friends and I would become inseparable. We would have marathon sleepovers, bouncing from house to house. We would monopolise each living room with a tangle of pillows and mattresses before falling asleep curled around each other like a whole drawer of spoons.

We shared meals and clothes and sun cream, which was nice. We shared hairbrushes and pillows and towels, which was not.

One summer, we noticed that our heads were itchy. Not in an absent, scratch-and-it’s-over way. But more like, I-want-to-dig-my-nails-into-my-scalp-and-gouge-out-entire-chunks-of-flesh sort of way.

In a hugely unsurprising turn of events, we all had head lice.

It was impossible to identify who patient zero was. Not only did we all have lice, but all of our siblings had lice too. As did an unsuspecting and completely horrified parent or two.

Looking back, I realise this is the closest I have ever come to being part of an epidemic. Lice were everywhere. All across our neighbourhood, towels, duvets, pillow cases, bed sheets, dresses and t-shirts were washed twice and hung to dry in the harsh Australian sun. Finally, the hole in the ozone layer could do something useful for us.

Hairbrushes and combs were left to soak for hours in the sink. Ha! Take that lice.

Cowboy hats (they were in that year, don’t judge me) and miscellaneous sporting caps were thrown out in a bug-induced panic.

Next we assembled, like some sort of Ghostbusters team, in my next door neighbours’ garden. We came armed with nit combs, loo roll and a bottle of conditioner each.

We sat in our bikinis, one behind the other, like a weird mix of a beauty pageant and a conga line. The process began. Apply entire bottle of conditioner to the person in front’s head. Comb a section of hair. Wipe comb on loo roll. Say ‘ew.’ Comb a section of hair. Wipe comb on loo roll. Say ‘ew.’ Comb a section of hair. Wipe comb on loo roll. Say ‘ew.’

We were like a colony of less sophisticated monkeys, simultaneously thrilled and disgusted by the entire ecosystem going on in our lemon-bleached locks. We dispelled hundreds, if not thousands of lice from our heads along with alarmingly thick chunks of hair.

The idea was floated that we should just shave our heads and be done with it. We all murmured assent. But we knew none of us was ever going to part with our hair, even if it was so infested with lice that we could have named one after each member of the Kardashian/Hadid/Jenner clan going back five generations and still have plenty of lice left over.

Instead, we carried on with our grooming in companionable silence that was occasionally interrupted with a ‘Woah! Look how big this one is!’ and we would pass the impressively large lice around like some sort of repulsive trophy.

It wasn’t a particularly glamorous experience and if I could have avoided it, I probably would have. But I’ve done some reading on ‘grooming behaviour‘ and Wikipedia (don’t judge my sources either) tells me that an animal helping another animal clean itself is a form of social bonding that helps build trust. And I kind of know what they mean.

It’s that same feeling as when your mum paints the fingernails on your right hand, or your friend braids your hair. That feeling of someone else loving you enough to want to take care of you. And on the flip side, you trusting them enough to not screw it up.

The lice went away eventually, as lice generally do. But the friends? Well, they’re stuck with me forever.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Project Mc²

How many times have you stalked a couple on social media? Whether you’ve known them for years, or found them through your best friend’s cousin’s dog’s postman’s niece? Trawling through a couple’s social media history is a brilliant way to procrasti- I mean, super interesting. You’ll find you can probably filter them into these eight categories…

The ones in the same room-ers

mindy

@girlfriend101: @girlfriend102 Pass the remote.

@girlfriend102: @girlfriend101 It’s literally right next to you.

Their phones have taken over so much of their lives that they can no longer communicate physically. They’ve forgotten how to. Everything is done by @-reply. You know in WALL-E where the future humans are stranded in those chairs? Basically that.

The LOOK HOW GREAT THEY ARE-ers

look-how-great

Where they get their money from is anyone’s guess, but they’re constantly buying each other lavish presents and splashing them all over social media. Yes, yes your boyfriend’s wonderful. He is good at buying stuff. We all know. But just think of the clear-out you’ll have to do when you eventually break up. Effort.

The meme taggers

happy-gif-56b472ee7a1fa

It’s all they do. It’s their life, it’s their Bible. They tag each other in memes. Everything is relatable. They are peak internet.

The Snapchat streakers

taylor

Much like your nan telling you that one day the wind will change and you’ll be stuck frowning, soon these Snapchatters will have the dog filter permanently plastered on their faces. They’re obsessed with showing their bf/gf their every sight during the day and the heart emoji is cemented next to their name to prove it…. UNTIL IT’S NOT?! WHO THEY HELL HAVE THEY BEEN SNAPCHATTING? Which brings us on to…

The popcorn gatherers

popcorn

You don’t really have any care for these people, but their drama is too good for you to ditch. They love to air their dirty laundry publicly on every social media site (just in case you missed it elsewhere) and break up on Facebook at least once a week. It might be worth keeping a tally.

The subtweeters

maths

Much like the above but instead of being explicit about their drama, these couples like to be cryptic. Who was that dig directed at? Why has one of them had a terrible day and the other is ‘thinking about who’s really important in life’? It’s the modern crossword. It would save a lot of time if they just stepped up a level to ‘popcorn gatherers’ and were a bit more direct but, hey, it gives our brains a workout.

The vomit-inducers

mute

The only thing worse than couples fighting publicly on social media is couples who actually love each other. They check in together everywhere from Nando’s to the dentist, post kissing selfies with every heart emoji every damn day, and hashtag every soppy status with #love #truelove #loveofmylife #couplelife #relationshipsgoals #soblessed… ugh, sorry, I can’t… I’m gonna… oh God… *retches*

The ones that make you question whether they’re still together-ers 

modern

And finally, the couples who are too chill for social media. Yeah, they’re together, but they make you work for proof of their existence. You’ll be honoured with a viewing of a collage of their goofiest selfies on each other’s birthdays, maybe, and they tag each other in the odd meme. But otherwise, you’re kept on your toes. And while you’re seven months deep into their Instagram, they’re hanging out IRL.

Who are the real winners in this scenario? Hard to say.

@louisejonesetc

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

If you’re anything like us, you’ll enjoy that weird (and pretty much socially unacceptable) feeling of being satisfied and sick all at the same time. Especially in the bathroom. Enter dirty make up wipes, cotton buds, tweezers – all sorts of amazing tools to help delight your inner Shrek.

Yep, we all secretly take joy from some pretty gross things, and actually we think it’s okay to admit it. We’re not saying shout it from the rooftops, or worse yet, reveal your rank manners on Instagram, but there’s no harm in admitting your fave disgusting habits to your bffs.

Here’s seven to get your started. Who knows, sleepovers could be about to get a whole lot more exciting…

1. Admiring the amount of blackheads you didn’t even know you had after peeling off a pore strip.

2. Popping a really juicy white head… ahh, that sweet, sweet relief.

3. Marvelling at the amount of gunk on your wipes after cleaning off a full face of makeup.

4. Or, committing the cardinal sin of not washing your makeup brushes for months, then watching the sink water turn a deep shade of orange when you do.

5. Feeling super proud that although your overnight pad is soggy AF, you’ve not leaked. You are a period queen.

6. Picking at your peeling skin when you get back from holiday and mourning the loss of your tan at the same time. Minimise burning and peeling by applying a good SPF when you’re in the sun, peeps.

7. Feeling extra windy after a big roast dinner (sprouts are back, baby) and aiming the outcome in the exact direction of your bro or sis. Suckers.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.

Hi, I have some bad news to share with you all. Oh god, guys this is bad. Real bad. So bad I am pulling this face at the computer as I write. A level of repulsion that only a gif can truly capture.

face-gif

There’s something you’ve probably heard before, but you can’t remember from whom and you never thought to check if it was true or not. You buried it deep in the back of your brain, because it was too gross to think about. Here’s the myth I’m talking about: that there are more germs underneath your fingernails than there are on a loo seat.

Well folks, I did a little digging and it turns out, it’s not a myth. It’s a fact. A really, really gross one.

Scientists at Birmingham’s Aston University tested the fingernails of 100 men and women for potentially harmful bacteria. It turned out 24% of the men and 15% of the women had bacteria that could cause diarrhoea and vomiting lurking underneath their fingernails.

How did these bacteria get there? Well, we used our hands for pretty much everything, and while we wash our hands (hopefully) regularly, bacteria can still get trapped under fingernails where they can grow and flourish – like Neville Longbottom in Herbology.

But what’s worse is, I’ve barely scratched the surface of things that are dirtier than a loo seat. Here are four of the most… well, gross.

Your phone

phones

In a 2013 study, British researchers swabbed 30 tablets, 30 phones, and an office toilet seat. The tablets had up to 600 units per swab of staphylococcus (also known as staph, which can cause severe stomach sickness) and the phones had up to 140 units. Meanwhile, the typical toilet seat had less than 20 units. This shouldn’t be that surprising since 75% of people say they use their phones or tablets while on the loo. *studiously avoids eye contact*

Your clean washing

cat-washin-g

“But my washing is clean,” I hear you saying. “I know it’s clean because I just bloody washed it!” I know, I know, the world is unfair. It turns out, a load of knickers will transfer at least 100 million E. coli bacteria – the nasty one that gives you diarrhoea – to your clothes. Maybe we’ll put that wash on again…

Your handbag

handbag

If the bottom of your handbag looks anything like mine, this one probably won’t come as that much of a shock to you. At any one point in time there are destined to be crumbs, an open sugar packet, three mints, a tampon and some unidentifiable sticky substance at the bottom of my bag.

When British researchers studied 25 handbags, they found that the average handbag is three times dirtier than a toilet seat. Brilliant. While handles carried the most bacteria, items inside the bag were still pretty grim —hand and face creams and lipsticks were the dirtiest. Maybe it’s time throw out that New Look backpack you’ve had since 2012? Maybe.

Your keyboard

keyboard

I’m shuddering typing this. When British researchers swabbed 33 keyboards in a London office, they found that there were up to five times more germs hiding in between the cracks of keys the the germs of a toilet seat. We’re feeling less like QWERTY and more like queasy.

If, after reading this, you’re considering submerging all of your electronics in a bath full of Dettol, breathe. We’ve been living with germs for ages, and we’re all FINNNNNNEEEE.

The main takeaway from all this? Loo seats aren’t exactly the pinnacle of hygiene, but maybe we need to stop giving them such a hard time. In the mean time, let’s all take a solemn vow right now to never, ever, chew our fingernails again.

Source: Reader’s Digest  

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

For Christmas this year, some people got bikes or new phones or cosy jumpers. Some people got a nice candle or earrings or a generic voucher from a relative that doesn’t know them that well.

Me? I got conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis is basically when the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye becomes red and inflamed and, as a result, causes your eye to produce manky yellow pus that makes you want to crawl under the covers and hide. This option was made even more tempting by the fact that one of my eyes was literally sealed shut so I had to ply it open with the same precision I usually reserve for plucking my eyebrows or nibbling around the edge of a Kit Kat until only the wafer is left.

Conjunctivitis is not a disease suited to the festive period. Conjunctivitis in mid-February? Fine. You can hunker down and avoid seeing people for three straight days if needs be. Conjunctivitis in July? Easy breezy, chuck on a pair of sunglasses and you’re good to go.

But at Christmas, there’s nowhere to hide. You have to go to the party at your neighbours’ house. You’re expected at your cousin’s place to play endless games of charades. You’re practically legally obliged to see your grandparents. And then, on top of that, you have to see the family friend you used to have a crush on, knowing that for the next year, the image that they’re going to have of you in their mind won’t be of you in a nice sequinned dress, but of you with puffy red eye that periodically fills with gummy snot.

Almost every every single conversation I had over the four days while my eyes looked like the final, haunting scene from a horror film that keeps you awake at night was some variation of this:

Person: Hello!

Me: Hi – oh no, I wouldn’t hug me, I have conjunctivitis (lifting up my sunglasses and pointing at my gammy eye. Why conceal something when you could draw attention to it, right?) 

Person: (pulling a face and taking a step away from me) Oh. That’s… (person searches frantically for a word to say that isn’t ‘gross’ or ‘repulsive’) …unfortunate.

Me: Yeah, it’s all full of pus. And I can’t really see out of it at the moment so your face is slightly blurry.

Person: Oh.

Me: But you look great blurry. Er, not that you wouldn’t look great if you were, um, un-blurry.

Person: Is it contagious?

Me: Oh, it’s super contagious.

Person: (taking another step away from me) I mean, it’s not *that* bad.

Me: Really? I’m paranoid I have pus on my eyeball at all times.

Person: (pulling awkward face).

Me: I have pus on my eye don’t I?

Person: Only a bit. Well, actually quite a lot. But, er, Happy Christmas! (awkwardly pats me on the shoulder and makes a hasty escape).

Me: Brilliant.

After four days of avoiding any contact with anyone and baffling my family by wearing my sunglasses indoors, my conjunctivitis cleared up. Mercifully, I don’t seem to have passed on good ol’ pus eye to any of my loved ones – and let me tell you, I have never appreciated my normal, un-gummed eyes more.

Hopefully next festive period, the only thing I’ll be spreading is Christmas cheer.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Alright, there’s no need to panic. Whether it’s a few lone ranger spots or a whole party of pimples, acne is pretty much bound to make an appearance at some point in everyone’s teenage years.

Rihanna? She’s had it. Miley Cyrus? Yup. Chris Hemsworth? Uh-huh. Liam Hemsworth? Him too. Michelle Obama? Yep, acne.

While knowing that the rest of the world has, or at least had acne, might be slightly reassuring, we thought you might like some practical advice as well.

Why, skin, why?

Acne is a super common skin condition that affects almost all teenagers at some point or other. Generally, it causes spots, lumps and oily skin, but some people find that it also makes their skin hot or painful to touch.

Most people develop acne on their face, but a lot people might find that they notice acne on their chest or back. Keep calm, this is totally natural! Acne can be made up of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, cysts or a lovely pick ‘n’ mix of all four.

WHY ME?

This isn’t because you ate an entire bag of Buttons yesterday, or because you haven’t been washing your face enough or because you are a disgusting human. Spots are generally just your hormones saying ‘Hello!’

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Keep your face clean using a mild cleanser and lukewarm water before bed, so that your skin can breathe overnight.
  • Try not to squeeze. We know. Just do your best.
  • If you’re going to use skincare products, have a good idea to have a chat with a pharmacist for advice on the best product to use for your skin type.
  • If your acne is severe or you notice that it’s sprouting on your chest and back, it might be a good idea to head to the GP.

Acne often comes on during puberty as your hormone levels change. If your parents had acne, it’s more likely that you will too.

BUT the good news is that for most people acne goes away towards the end of their teen years.

Why is this happening?

Those teeny tiny little holes in your skin (look closer… closer… there they are!) are your pores, and they contain glands that make an oil called sebum. Sebum is actually really useful – it’s the thing that lubricates your hair and skin and makes it healthy and shiny, like the beautiful land mermaid you are.

But during puberty your hormones (oestrogen and progesterone, we’re lookin’ at you) can confuse your glands and cause them to produce too much sebum, which can clog your pores. Which can lead to acne.

You’re not alone

Acne is super common among teenagers and young adults – about 80% of people aged 11-30 are affected by acne. EIGHTY. Sometimes, there really is safety in numbers.

That being said, the word ‘acne’ is a bit like the word ‘fine.’ In the same way ‘fine’ can mean, ‘I’m good,’ or ‘I’ve had the worst day of my life but don’t want to talk about it.’ ‘Acne’ can mean, ‘I have one or two spots and everything’s ok,’ or it could mean ‘my entire face appears to be made of pus.’

What can I do?

Annoyingly, the most common cure for acne is time (arggh). But don’t worry – there are plenty of things you can do to ease the symptoms.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

There are loads of different ways to cleanse your face. You can use wipes or balms or foams or face washes; but the most important thing is to find a product that works for you. You might want to look for products that contain salicylic acid, which is an anti-irritant that can reduce redness and work as an anti-inflammatory to calm breakouts, or over-the-counter products featuring benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria on your skin (use sparingly and always follow instructions).

If you can, try and wash your face once or twice a day, but avoid doing it more often as frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse. Fussy, we know.

It might help to avoid using a lot of make-up, as it can clog your pores even more. If that’s a deal breaker, have a look for ‘noncomedogenic’ or ‘nonacnegenic’ make-ups, as they can be a bit kinder to your skin. If you’re wearing make-up, it’s an even better idea to wash your face before bed so that your skin can breathe overnight.

Ex-squeeze me?

Step away from the mirror! You’re not meant to squeeze spots because it can spread bacteria, make them worse and lead to scarring. But look, we know that’s easier said than done. If you’re one of those magical people that can ignore the temptation to squeeze that zit into oblivion, you are our hero. We salute you.

But if you do it, at least do it right – and that means clean fingers, be reeeally gentle and don’t go digging until it’s definitely, definitely ready. Here’s a handy guide.

Run like the wind.

We know we say it a lot, but exercise can help your skin look better. And while it might not always improve your acne situation, it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem – which is far more important than your pores, really.

Anything else?

There are loads of lotions and potions available to help get acne under control. In order to avoid staring at an entire aisle of products in Boots, it’s probably have a good idea to have a chat with a pharmacist for advice on the best product to use for your skin type.

If your acne is severe, affecting your confidence or you notice that it’s also sprouting on your chest and back, it might be a good idea to head to your GP. They can prescribe you stronger treatments that can get your skin back in tip-top shape.

Acne is kinda an inevitable part of life. Like locking yourself out of your house. Or members of your favourite boyband eventually leaving to try and launch solo careers (ily Zayn).

But the good thing is, loads of people are fighting the same battle. Acne won’t trouble you forever. And spots or no spots, your skin does a pretty great job of keeping your organs in – let’s not forget that. So take off your paper bag and remember, beauty is way more than skin deep.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Say goodbye to period stains

Your period is over for another month! Arrivederci. Au Revoir. Adios. Auf Wiedersehen. Hwyl fawr, baby. *waving emoji*

Except, you might find you’re left with a few…  um, souvenirs of those magical days. In your knickers, on your sheets, inside your pyjamas, maybe even an unlucky sofa cushion – we’ve all been there. Honestly, we have.

But fear not, these aren’t the kind of weird souvenirs that your aunt brings you back from Torremolinos and asks to see every time she comes around. No, these souvenirs are ones you are fully allowed to ditch.

First up…

Don’t panic. We know this feels easier said than done, especially as you shove your pants into your sleeping bag in horror and race to your friend’s bathroom for an emergency laundry session. But this happens to everyone, we promise. There is barely a woman in the UK right now that doesn’t have a slightly stained pair of ‘period pants’ somewhere in her underwear drawer.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Do not panic. This happens to basically everyone.
  • Try holding the stained area taut under cold running water for a few minutes. If it refuses to budge, try rubbing in soap or bodywash and rinsing again.
  • If that doesn’t work, give salt, contact lens solution, baking soda or lemon juice a go. Or just ’fess up and ask a laundry whizz for some help – you’ll survive, we promise.

Bottom line: you should never have to be embarrassed about nature doing its thing. No one should ever make you feel bad about leaks and stains, no matter how expensive the bedding. If anyone does, the shame is aaall on them.

But because you can’t keep buying new underwear and life is too short to walk around with a bottle of Vanish in your bag, here are some DIY methods that might help in a sticky situation…

Keeping it old school

To remove blood stains from lightweight fabric such as knickers or sheets (i.e the main culprits), try holding the stained area taut under cold running water for a few minutes. If the stain is refusing to budge, add whatever soap or bodywash you can find nearby and massage it into the stain, then try again.

Sometimes the best solution really is the simplest. Or the simplest really is the best. We can’t remember which way that saying goes.

Everything but the kitchen sink

No joy? Don’t worry, there are a lot of other options.

Have any salt handy? Sprinkle some (okay, a lot) over the stain and give it a good, hard scrub. Rinse it off and wash the fabric as normal.

Or if you’re out of salt and happen to have some contact lens solution (saline) handy, you can use that instead. Mind blown.

For a darker fabric, have a rummage around your kitchen cupboard for some baking soda. Mix it with water to form a paste and then spread it on the fabric. You should probably allow it to sit for at least half an hour, so you have plenty of time to watch another episode of PLL, but you can leave it overnight if you prefer and then wash the item as usual.

Or for light-coloured clothes, you can also try a more tropical vibe. Squirt some lemon juice on the stain and leave it in the sun for a while before washing. But this could cause discolouration on darker items, so test it on a tiny bit of the fabric first.

Still code red?

Sometimes stains can be stubborn, so it might take a few tries before everything’s back to normal. And even if you can’t get all of the stain out, don’t worry too much. Sometimes it’s more of a ‘see you around’ than a proper goodbye.

Let’s think of those stains as ‘period ghosts’. Aw.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

There is nothing in the whole world as satisfying as cleaning your ears out with cotton buds.

Yes, I understand that I am not supposed to. I understand that it actually just pushes the earwax further down my ear drum. I understand that cotton buds themselves even urge you not to clean your ears with their product.

I even understand that I might be damaging my ears, one cotton-tipped stick at a time (the NHS website pretty clearly tells me I am).

But.

In my defence, IT FEELS SO GOOD.

When I get out of the shower, I like to have a rummage around my ear. I have a very particular technique. I start with my outer ear (I like to collect whatever tube grime, conditioner and general city muck that might have found its way into the ridges). Obviously, the more gunk I collect, the more satisfied I feel. Like blowing your nose or cutting your nails, quantity is key.

Then, when I’m satisfied, I flip the bud to use the clean end and start in on my inner ear. This is where the real enjoyment lies. This is the nirvana of the ear-cleaning process. Because our ears are full of sensitive nerve endings, it feels like you’ve had an hour long massage in the space of two seconds.

To me, cleaning my ears feels better than coming home, taking my hair out of a particularly tight pony tail, slipping off my shoes and unclipping my bra – which is obviously the holy trifecta of relaxation. Even better than that.

300-giphy

If you wondering how I enjoy something I know is bad for me, I say to you: have you eaten so much you feel sick? Like, you know you should stop eating because you’re almost definitely going to spend the next hour clutching your tummy and groaning but, well… the food is delicious and surely one (ok, five) more bites won’t make it that much worse, right?

Or, have you ever stayed up too late watching TV or reading a book? (If you’ve ever watched Pretty Little Liars or read The Hunger Games, I know the answer to this is yes). You know you’re going to be tired in the morning. You know that when your alarm goes off you are going to immediately be filled with regret. And yet, you start the next chapter. You click the tempting, ‘play next episode.’

Sometimes humans are short-sighted and decide to do the thing that might make us feel crappy later, but feels oh so good right now.

That is exactly how I feel about cleaning out my ears. Yes, I might get an ear infection. Yes, I know the wax is meant to be there. I know all of these things… but oh, it feels so damn good at the time.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty