Oh, spots. You enigmas.

We can squeeze you, prod you and ignore you – but we just wish we could understand you. If we could only sit down for a good heart-to-heart, here are a few of the burning questions we might ask.

1. “Why?”

The first word that springs to mind the moment you catch sight of the monster staring belligerently at you in the mirror. Just why, you ask desperately – and for a while, this bleak three-lettered word is really all you can think. Facts about sebaceous glands, stress and hormones can’t reason with it.

But eventually the blind panic subsides into more nuanced questions like…

2. “Why me?”

It’s hard to answer. Spots are caused by all sorts of complex reasons – see above – but if there’s one thing we can assure you of, it is not because the universe hates you. It seems that way right now, but this has everything to do with chemicals that everyone has – and nothing whatsoever to do with you personally.

Pimples (a slightly more technical term for the little terrors) appear when oil-producing glands become clogged and infected. This could be hormones causing you to produce more oil; it could because your fingers or a hat or scarf you’ve been wearing has been irritating your face. It’s unlikely to be a product – most are tested for that these days – and probably not your diet either, whatever certain people in your family and friendship circles might tell you.

3. “Why now?”

Because, hormones. They’ve the starring roles in the film Period – and if you’re feeling them, chances are it’s heading to a cinema near you shortly. Testosterone levels are generally higher in puberty, and as that’s believed to increase oil production, it means you could get spots any time. Rest assured this has nothing to do with the fact you’ve a date tomorrow night, and it doesn’t mean said date is automatically doomed either.

4. “Are you as obvious to other people as you are in my head?”

Is Vesuvius erupting on your forehead? Is there real lava and people running away you screaming? Then no, he (spots are always he) isn’t.

Other people probably haven’t even noticed it. But that won’t stop you capturing every conceivable angle another human could see your face at in the mirror and on your phone camera, and begging friends, “but what about the south south west-facing aspect of my chin??”, of course.

volcano

5. “When will you make for good pick?”

Officially, of course, the answer to this is ‘never’. But we know that no sooner has the offending spot appeared than you are assessing his fitness for picking: prodding and stroking, dreaming of past victories, and comparing their colour and feel. Weirdly – grossly –  it’s actually a very similar process to that of feeling if a fruit is ripe: you will know innately when the moment comes. The challenge is holding off until it then. Strike too soon, and you’ll blow your chances of great picking for good.

6. “Why did you pretend to be ready when you weren’t?”

He looked so promising and pickable! Now he’s just a messy, painful blob. Ow. Liar.

7. “Can I hide you?”

The sensible seventh question one can only arrive at having wailed one’s way through the first six – to which the answer is that it varies according to the spot you have. If you leave him bare, he will heal quicker – but provided the spot is not, in the least gross possible way, leaking, then if you want to cover up with some concealer (or a big scarf) go for it. Just ensure you choose your product wisely…

scarf

8. “Why the hell won’t you just stay covered?” 

In short, not all concealers are born equal. Indeed, some are so ineffective they succeed in creating more of a blemish than the one they’re supposed to be concealing: all too vividly do I remember one teacher telling me that I had “a splodge of mud, dear, on the centre of your chin.”

So do your research: ask friends, family, magazines, the woman at the make up counter, what they recommend for your blemishes. You’ll cut not just the amount of time you have a spot, but the amount you spend checking, and thinking about checking, and – after you have checked – obsessing about the way the spot is blooming though your cloudy concealer like a full moon.

9. “How long are you here for?”

You beg to know, every single time you meet it in the mirror. There is no clear answer, but one’s thing for certain: the longer you pick, prod and fill him with rubbish concealer, the longer you’ll be having this conversation. Like so many bullies, the best way to deal with a spot is to not engage.

10. “Is this it for the rest of my life?”

Now for the good news. Though you will probably run into the odd one from time to time, once puberty’s done and dusted the most offending spots will plague your younger siblings (who’s laughing now, brother?) and leave your skin in peace.

peace

See ya, tiny pal. So glad we had this chat.

@finney_clare

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. 

Gone on the pill because your skin is playing up, or your periods are reaaaaally heavy? It can be a bit of a lifesaver, tbh. But if you’ve still got a load of questions about how it affects your body, or what happens to your monthly flow when you’re taking it, look no further. Here’s everything you NTK…

The pill stops you ovulating

The most common way the pill works is by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation). You’ll probably remember from biology that periods happen each month if an egg is released but not fertilised, so when the pill stops your ovaries from releasing an egg each month, it technically means you don’t get periods at all.

There’s usually still a bleed though (sorry!)

Even though you don’t get a real period, you’ll still experience monthly bleeding that’s similar to having your period. It’s officially called a “withdrawal bleed” but, whatever you want to call it, your fake period is usually lighter, more regular, and less painful than a normal period.

When you first go on the pill, you might also get a bit of spotting (bleeding between periods) but this should settle down. If it doesn’t, speak to your nurse or GP.

The type of pill will affect if/when you bleed

There are two main types of contraceptive pill: the combined pill, which contains a mixture of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen, and the progestogen-only pill (POP, or mini pill), which – as the name suggests – only contains progestogen.

On the combined pill, you’ll take a hormone pill every day for three weeks, and then have a seven-day break. Your bleed happens at some point during that break, when your body is withdrawing from the hormones.

If you’re taking the most common type of combined pill (brands like Microgynon, Brevinor and Cilest), you won’t take any pill at all during your hormone-free week – so remember to start your next pack on time at the end of it. Some types of pill are known as every day (ED) pills. They work in the same way, but you take dummy pills (placebos) during your hormone-free week.

On the POP, you take a pill every day and don’t have a break between packs. Some (but not all) types of POP prevent ovulation, but the effect on your period can vary a bit more than with the combined pill.

The pill can also help with PMS and those pesky pre-period breakouts

Again, it depends on the type and how your body reacts to it, but the pill can help to reduce PMS symptoms like mood swings and acne breakouts. Unfortunately, it can also cause those things as its own side effect, so there’s a bit of trial and error involved in finding the pill that works best for you.

“We would normally start with a simple combined pill and see how you get on for at least three months,” explains Sue Burchill, Head of Nursing at sexual health charity Brook. “Because you’re introducing hormones, your body is more likely to react at first, so your skin or PMS may get slightly worse, but these side effects may well improve.” If the side effects don’t settle down after three months, do go back to your nurse or GP about trying another option – your body might react horribly to one brand but get on absolutely fine with another.

You can use the pill to control your periods

The best thing about your hormone-free week is always knowing when your period’s going to show up. No more being caught out without a tampon or pad! For me, it usually starts on the fourth day of my pill break, and finishes on the day I start my next pack – but it might be totally different for you.

You can also use the combined pill to avoid bleeding at all, by taking two or more packs back-to-back, without the usual break in between. Don’t want your period putting a downer on your winter holiday, or sabotaging that gymnastics competition? Just start taking your next pack as soon as you’ve finished the previous one, and you basically get a free pass on that month. “It’s fine not to have a period every month,” Sue says, although you might still get a bit of spotting, or breakthrough bleeding, when running the packs together.

This method can also be handy if you’re forgetful about taking the pill every day. “If you miss pills, your body’s not going to know what’s going on, so it can be easier to remember if you run packs back-to-back,” Sue explains. “It’s absolutely safe to do this and there are different regimes you can follow to manage it. Your doctor or nurse will explain which one to use.”

If in doubt, ask an expert

Hormones are complicated, and everyone reacts differently, so make sure you talk through the options and side effects with a nurse or GP, either at your local surgery or sexual health clinic. “Do not just use your friend’s pills!” says Sue. “Your doctor or nurse will ask questions to make sure you’re safe, but remember that it’s a confidential service where you can get information and advice,” she adds. If you’re concerned about anything – from abnormal bleeding to long-term side effects – get it checked out.

For more information on the pill, visit Brook.org.uk or go to your local GP surgery or sexual health clinic.

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. 

Same strop, different day. Not that we’re predictable, or anything…

1. The Ignition

Jelly wobble spoon gif

It might be something as small as not being allowed a packet of crisps before dinner (despite the fact you’ve been at school ALL DAY and need to get your energy levels back up for all that Instagram scrolling you need to catch up on), or something bigger like not being allowed to extend your curfew despite your friend’s parents allowing HER to be out until 10pm… but your parents have wronged you.

The heat inside you has begun to bubble…

2. The Decision

Now you have mere seconds to weigh up the situation and decide whether to implement Strop Central. Is it worth it? Can this be reasonably sorted out instead? Do you have the energy? You’ve been at school ALL DAY, remember…

3. The Storm

Little girl storming out gif

Of course it’s worth it! DING DING DING, off we go. You narrow your eyes, take a deep breath, dislocate your jaw for maximum impact and give an almighty HUFF before sassing your way out of the room.

If you’re going all-out, you choose a phrase to shout as you leave. Something like “THIS IS RIDICULOUS”, “YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND” or the timeless, “UGGGHHHHH.”

4. The Stomp

Joey slamming a door on Friends

A strop must always involve stairs. That is the law. If the Ignition occurs downstairs then you’re set. You can stomp, stomp, stomp up to the bathroom or bedroom. If it occurs upstairs, you can stomp your way to… the garden shed? Just make sure you slam a door on your way out.

5. The RIGHT THAT’S IT

Angry little girl

Well, everybody in the immediate vicinity knows you are in a strop. Good. You’re fuming. You’ve had enough and this is the final straw. Nothing will ever be the same again for this family. They will regret their decision until the end of time itself.

6. The Reflection

Glowering girl gif

It’s been 10 minutes and you’re still sitting on your bedroom floor. The dust has settled, the bubbling anger has subsided. You realise that maybe this strop isn’t sustainable and maybe you could have tried to compromise and… NO. No, you must stick with the strop. You chose this path, you are entitled to the strop. Right?

7. The Hunger

How I Met Your Mother food gif

It’s been 45 minutes. You’re called for dinner. You hear your brother come out of his bedroom and run down the stairs. It does smell good and your stomach’s rumbling. You were at school ALL DAY, remember? There’s nothing in your room to eat… maybe this was a rookie error.

8. The Return

Beyonce strutting

Ok. You’ve built yourself up and will go downstairs for dinner. You realise that you can’t stay up here (or in the shed – too many spiders) forever and dinner really DOES smell good. You open the door, hold your head up high, and walk down those stairs with great confidence.

9. The Dignity

Dignified girl

You won’t mention the strop. You’re over it. But they must still know that you’re not happy with their parenting, so you’ll take on a silent protest. No eye contact. No conversation. You will sit and you will eat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Apart from asking for the ketchup.

10. The Pretending Like Nothing Happened

I'm Fine Ross gif

Screw it. You can’t be bothered to be quiet and you’re getting a headache from looking down so intently. The strop is over, the silent protest is over, and you just hope that no one mentions it…

“Stopped stropping now, have we?”

HOW DARE THEY.

See stage 1.

@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

Ahhh hormones, they make the world go round, right? Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but they’re deffo responsible for rollercoaster emotions and the weird and wonderful things that happen to bods during puberty and beyond.

So are you clued up or totally clueless about the chemicals that make us fabulously female?

Let’s find out! (WARNING: This test is tricky).

1. Ok, so one of these ISN’T a legit hormone. Can you spot it?

2. What’s the name of the super-important hormone that kicks off your first period during puberty?

3. Aww, did you know the brain releases a ‘cuddle’ hormone that makes you feel all warm and loving. What’s it called?

4. What natural chemical in the bod causes those demon cramps when you’ve got your period?

5. Boys have oestrogen in their bodies too. True or False?

6. You feel pain less when oestrogen is at its highest (the week after your period finishes). Fact or fib?

7. The follicle-stimulating hormone sounds fancy. But what does it do?

8. Due to the blue light that devices let off, too much time on your phone late at night (yup, guilty), can meddle with the sleep-related hormone called…

9. Progesterone majorly peaks sometime during your monthly menstrual cycle, but do you know when?

10. What’s the name of the brain-chemical that makes you happy and fun? (When this dips you can feel super-sad too. Boo.)

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. 

I’m not a crier. I mean, sure I cry, I’m not a complete robot. But I’m not one of those people who cries every day. I probably cry, on average, once every two to three weeks.

I’m quite a specific crier: I don’t cry from pain, I don’t cry in movies that I’m supposed to (honestly, I’ve remained resolutely dry-eyed in The Notebook like, 10 times but I did openly weep in Cinderella) and I absolutely loathe crying in front of people.

Because of this, I’m quite good at delaying my crying. I know from experience that I can feel a cry coming on, sit in the tube for half an hour, walk the twenty minutes home, open the front door, shout hello to my housemates, scramble upstairs and the minute I cross over the threshold into my room – that’s when the tears will come.

This tactic means that I can generally stave off my tears until I’m in one of my trusty crying places:

In the shower

This is a practical option because a) no one can hear me, b) I don’t have to wash my face afterwards and c) for some reason, when I cry, I sweat a lot too. It’s like my sweat glands feel left out and want to get in on the action, so in addition to being snotty and teary, I also have the added benefit of looking like I’ve just been on a harder than average jog. The shower fixes all that in one.

In the bath

The reasons are all the same, but the bath has the added benefit of bubbles and candles and a John Mayer album if I want a nice romantic cry.

In my bed

Once every six months, when I can’t fall asleep I will let my imagination roam so far into the deep recesses of my brain that I will imagine how it would feel if someone in my family died. I know it’s morbid, but if I let my mind wander at night without any leash, this is where it ends up. The crying makes my eyes sleepy and the next day I’m always extra nice to my family. So, I guess that’s a silver lining?

To my dog, Bella

Bella is a 13-year-old border collie who has gone grey around her nose and her muzzle. She has arthritis so she can’t jump up on my bed like she used to, but I don’t mind sitting on the floor to talk to her because she’s still the best listener in the world. Bellsie is the most loyal of dogs, who only gets mildly annoyed when I throw my arms around her and tell her how much I love her.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-15-53-23

(This is Bella)

In the cinema

As previously mentioned, I don’t like crying in front of people, but I don’t mind crying near them so long as we are in a completely dark room and no one is looking at me. I cry in films all the time, sometimes for reasons I can’t explain. I am an expert at the discreet eye-dab, the subtle wiping of nose on the sleeve, the silent sort of weeping where your eyes just won’t stop leaking. Plus, the cinema always involves excellent snacks, so they’ll cheer you right up.

On the floor

I once knew a girl that would only talk about her feelings if she was sitting under the dining room table. This is kind of how I feel about crying. In my opinion, crying is best done on the floor, where you can wail and weep and be in the foetal position or child’s pose (the two best crying positions) in a matter of milliseconds.

To my mum

My mum is the only person in the world who has the ability to make me burst into tears by just saying ‘Hi darling, how are you?’ I am a terrible liar. I can’t lie to my dentist about how often I floss or even to street fundraisers (once I ended up actually cancelling my credit card rather than just coming up with a reason why I couldn’t donate to Greenpeace). But I especially can’t lie to my mum. She smells my lies. I’m be part way through saying, ‘Oh, things are fi-” and my voice will wobble involuntarily and before I know it I am sitting on the floor blubbering.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with have a good cry, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar or has never seen any of the John Lewis Christmas ads. Embrace your cry.

After all, it’s what Weepy Girls’ Corner was made for.  

Image: Manjit Thapp

Kylie Jenner has been making headlines this week.

Or, her chest has. A few curious fans wondered if Kylie’s boobs were looking bigger than normal

Within the hour, some tabloids were asking the same question – with their traditional class and sensitivity…

But when Kylie took to Twitter to dispel the rumours, her explanation had girls across the world nodding in solidarity.

Nope, she didn’t spend thousands of dollars on a boob job – she was just on her period, folks. Jog on, nothing to see here! You might say ‘TMI’ Kyles, but we say Just The Right Amount of Information. JTRAOI. Ok, that’ll never catch on.

This isn’t the first time that Kylie has had to talk about her boobs either. In September 2015 Kylie shot down more rumours that she’d had cosmtic surgery. “No, people – I haven’t gotten breast implants!” she wrote on her website. “Everyone is obsessed with that. Truth is, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained 15 pounds and my body has changed; I’ve definitely filled out.”

Truth is, girls’ bodies do change. Jeans that are loose one week can be impossibly tight the next. Bras that fit perfectly in the shop can struggle to contain your nipples when your period comes a-callin’.

Bodies aren’t static, like Barbie dolls or Donald Drumpf’s hair. They change. A lot. And it’s perfectly natural when they do.

So cheers Kylie, for letting girls everywhere know that even the Jenners have to deal with periods. And best of luck riding the crimson wave!

Holler if you want to borrow a hot water bottle, k?

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/Katie Edmunds