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.)

Do you hear the words, “Oh my God you’re SO EXTRA!” more often than your name? Do you start each week vowing to control your OTT behaviour, only to get to Wednesday and turn back into a human meme? Well, my fellow drama queens, that’s OK. In fact, it’s more than OK; it’s downright fabulous.

You see, I might keep them under wraps 75% of the time, but I definitely have ‘so extra’ tendencies. Case in point: wearing a dress with my own face on it to my 21st birthday party – and the fun didn’t end there, oh no. I then changed into a black leotard and gold glove for a surprise solo performance of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies dance. Yep, I watched way too many episodes of My Super Sweet 16 growing up, but there’s no shame in that.

In fact, being extra could be the antidote to a world where we’re too often taught it’s cool to play it cool. In relationships (“don’t text back too quickly!”), fashion (“why does she always try so hard?”) or in social situations (“ugh, she’s just so LOUD!”), we’re always being told not to care too much or show our excitement too easily. Whether they realise it or not, unapologetically extra gals are actually paving the way for their fellow females to speak up for themselves, and to do, say or dress as they please without judgement.

Take Beyoncé, for example (can you tell I’m obsessed?). Whenever she has an important announcement to make, be it a tour or the birth of her twins, does she just send out a tweet or a statement from her spokesperson? Indeed she does not. There’s a full-blown Instagram photo shoot every time, with the first snap of her baby twins garnering over 10 million likes to date.

Sir Carter and Rumi 1 month today. 🙏🏽❤️👨🏽👩🏽👧🏽👶🏾👶🏾

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Not that it’s about the ‘likes’, of course; quite the opposite. Being truly extra means giving zero cares as to what others think of your decisions. It’s all about what YOU want to wear, say, do and project onto the world, without actually needing their approval. It’s about the dress code being casual, and you turning up in sweats with six-inch heels and stacks of jewellery. You’re not being rude, that’s just how you chose to interpret ‘casual’.

There’s a level of self-awareness that comes with being extra, too, which Rihanna demonstrates perfectly. “When you a plus 1 but squad wanna come,” she captioned a recent Instagram photo of her, hairstylist Yusef Williams, personal assistant Jenn Rosales and BFF/photographer Melissa Forde. Yes, RiRi was being extra with her entourage, but she owned it. “Spam,” is another of her favourite captions, for when she posts five frames of a red carpet or shoot instead of one – classic extra behaviour.

when you a plus 1 but squad wanna come

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Being in on the ‘extra’ joke is all part of the fun. While in my day-to-day life I’m generally limited to wearing head-to-toe sequins or using more superlatives than a Kardashian, I live for the moments when I can let out my inner Paris Hilton, the queen of extra behaviour. And Paris, like Rihanna, is 100% in on the lols. Heck, she’s even taken to reposting memes that use pictures of her as the punchline, so aware is she of her own OTT behaviour.

Yas Queen! 👸🏼

A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

So, next time someone calls you ‘extra’, embrace it. If it’s good enough for Queen Bey, Rih and Paris, it’s good enough for you.

Image: Scream Queens

Plaid has never been our colour, pattern or style. Yet, there we are, Monday to Friday, dressed like a little Scotsman in an oversized kilt. With a blazer, some ‘smart’ shoes (which frankly, are just plain ugly unless your mum is cooler than mine) and a just-about-acceptable school bag. Not in summer though. Finally, we’re freeeeeeee! Here’s why not wearing school uniform is one of the best things about the summer holidays…

You can express yo’self…

Whether you’re more My Chemical Romance or Malibu Barbie, you can wear your style with pride, without getting told off by your grumpy headteacher.

…And not look like every other person in the room

This is not Despicable Me. We are not in Gru’s lab, and we are not Minions. (Even though they are freaking cute).

You can even experiment with your look

Want to dye your hair peachy blonde or try a fierce plum pout? The holidays are the best time to play around with your style because you can actually see what works in the safe haven of your bedroom. Grab the Colour Switch lippie from this month’s bettybox and try all the shades under the sun before you step out to reveal your brand new vibe.

You’ll actually have clothes to wear in the morning

We’ve all experienced the wait by the tumble dryer in the morning, in hope of a nice, crease free white shirt. Your wardrobe is full of possibilities when uniform isn’t a thing!

You can rock the cutest accessories

Since when is a tie a must-have accessory? FYI teachers, it isn’t. We’ll be flashing about the Stylondon henna tattoo from this month’s bettybox instead, thanks.

Your legs can actually breathe…

The combo of an oversized skirt and knee-high socks mean our legs never actually see the light of day during term time.

…And your arms can wave wild and free too

No constricting blazer holding you back from dancing to the summer bangers. Result!

Stylondon henna tattoo and Saturated Colour, Colour Switch lipstick are available in August’s bettybox. If you haven’t subscribed already, don’t worry! You can sign up for a bettybox here.

 

The end of school is nigh, and all of a sudden you feel like you’ve got 100 decisions to make. What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to go to college, or uni, or do I want to get stuck straight into work? It’s easy to feel lost when you don’t know what you want to do, or how to get there.

But while you have literally your whole life to make up your mind, a little bit of good advice can go a long way. So with that in mind, in a series of interviews, we’re speaking to women who’ve ‘made it’, and asking their advice on how to follow in their footsteps.

This week, we speak to Tine Bladbjerg, jeweller and owner of A L’Etage 2.

How did you end up as a jeweller?

I always wanted to do something creative, I knew that much, I was fortunate that my parents supported that idea and they found me a jeweller I could do work experience with when I was 16. I was hooked. I was at the bench and they showed me how to do it, on the job. I finished school, took a year off and went to art college in the evenings to build up my portfolio and learn to do life drawing, then I got into college in Rochester in Kent. That’s how I ended up in England (I’m Danish, but grew up in Belgium). When I finished college, I moved to London and shared a workshop with two jewellers, then last year opened my own shop.

What are the best bits of the job?

I like to do a bit of everything. I’m quite enjoying having the shop, it’s been a good move for me. I sell my own pieces that I make in the workshop at the back of the shop, but I also sell other people’s work and when all the stuff came in to sell it was like Christmas—even if I can’t keep it! I still like the making and I still like buying the gemstones, that’s always nice.

Are there any bad parts?

A lot of creative people don’t necessarily like to do bookkeeping and stuff like that. When I first started I wasn’t sure if I was going to sell directly to the public or through shops and I didn’t enjoy knocking on doors very much, but some people don’t mind that. It’s up to you how you do it. Sometimes customers can be tricky! And there are a lot of jewellers out there—competition is very steep and you don’t always get into the shows you would like to. That can mess up your year and getting the rejection letters isn’t enjoyable. But you just have to keep going, and get back up.

The big question: uni or no uni?

I do know self-taught jewellers, but I think it’s good to have some kind of training—whether college or university or, if you’re lucky enough to get one, an apprenticeship. There aren’t many of them but they do exist, The Goldsmith Company do pre-apprenticeship courses too.

The thing about being a craftsman or an artist is, people often think that it’s something you do for fun but actually you have to do the business side as well. You need to have the skills to be able to do it, and you need to be thick skinned. When I came out of college I worked part time and I think that’s a good way to do it—going straight from college and thinking you can make a living self-employed is unrealistic. When I finished college, I shared a workshop with two older people who had been in the trade a long time, so they could advise and mentor me in a way.

I would say do any work experience you can get, even if it’s not paid. It’s because I did that I was able to get part-time design jobs for some quite big companies. You have got to be willing to put the work in. In some ways, it’s more fun to keep it as a hobby, because you only get to do the fun bits and there are no time constraints—for me, there’s always deadlines and there’s never enough time.

What sort of skills do you need to be a jeweller?

It’s partly design, partly making, so you have to learn the traditional way of painting up the jewellery, and how to make the pieces up. It depends what kind of business you want to be: if you want to design and make your own stuff, of course you have to know both, but I do know jewellers who just make other people’s work—maybe for a stone dealer or designer, or just people who come in with ideas but may not have the skills to make it. I like to do both.

If you could tell your 14-year-old self one thing, what would it be?

You’ve got to follow your dream, but be realistic. If someone offers you help, take the help!

@EllieCostigan

Image: Katie Edmunds

You haven’t really lived until you’ve found yourself standing, baffled, in the middle of an inexplicable war between two close friends.

Each of them has a case, and each of them puts that case to you, over and over again, and you listen and nod and sympathise. You can’t help being confused, though. You can’t help thinking that they’re really fighting over nothing, and should get over it, so you can all go to next week’s party together and have a nice time.

So what do you do, when you’re caught between two beefing friends? Is it possible to soothe everyone’s feelings without anyone getting more upset than they already are?

The good news is, yes! It totally is. But once emotions are in turmoil it’s easy for them to spiral, so here are some tips for keeping the road smooth.

1. Listen

Amy Schumer listening

The first one seems easy. A lot of things seem easy, really, but very few things actually are, and listening is not one of them. It’s easy to listen when your goal is simply finding the next point in the conversation when you can talk. It’s easy to listen when someone is telling an interesting story, and all you have to do is react. But listening intently, and considering someone else’s feelings and point of view is harder than you think.

No matter how baffling the conflict in question is, and no matter who you think is more wrong or right in the situation, if you don’t start out by listening properly, you won’t get anywhere. You can’t help anyone if you don’t understand where they’re coming from.

2. Feel

New Girl hug gif

While the first step on the road to reconciling your battling friends takes only concentration, step two requires a little more. Namely: tact and empathy.

You will need both to figure out when each friend is talking about important things, like their feelings and when they’re basically just venting. Everyone needs a safe space to vent, on the understanding that the venting goes no further. Vent sessions are Vegas, and what happens there stays there – your role is just to accept the flow of rage and help release it into the ether. Feelings, however, need to be worked through and understood. People have been hurt, and hurt needs to be respected.

3. Mediate

Be quiet

This is the point when a really delicate touch is necessary. Here, you are trying to get two people, separated by presumably many angry words, and behind-the-back slaggings off, and horrible things that were never actually done or said but which each has imagined the other one doing or saying, back together. It is part of the human condition that, while we know that most of our own actions are haphazard, spontaneous and totally unconsidered, we still tend to assume that other people plan every move and every syllable – so if they hurt us, they must have meant to do it. But actually they are bumbling through as much as we are.

You, as the person who has heard both sides of the story, can reassure everyone how much stuff was said in the heat of the moment, how much regret each person is feeling, and (carefully) what they might have done that needs apologising for.

Btw, it is important here to note that none of the venting needs to be communicated. Venting is sacred, what you say when you vent is rarely what you actually feel, it is nothing more than the popping of the boil of emotion. And unless you are willing to carry around the fluid from that boil and bring it out at dinner parties, you should not be repeating vent talk.

4. Buffering

Chocolate

Now things can get a little more fun. Once the dust has settled, once some of the wounds have healed a bit, you can gently start pushing your two friends back into the shallow waters of generally hanging out. You don’t want to do anything too dramatic to start with, not a lavish party or a weekend in Majorca. A girls’ night in is a good idea, with hot chocolates and movies and enough snacks to feed Hagrid.

The film selection is key – you want something good enough that any awkward silences can be easily pushed past, and unimportant enough that no one will mind if you end up talking all the way through it.

5. Just keep swimming

High five

A strange truth is that the best way to get yourself out of an awkward social situation is to pretend it is not awkward, until it simply stops being so. It is time for jokes. Gentle teasings that show how affectionate you all are for each other, stories about what’s been going on in everyone’s lives that gently gloss over the old rift. Before you know it, all will be forgotten and, if you’re lucky, you’ll all be better friends than you were before.

Friends fight for all sorts of reasons, and it’s always the worst – whether you’re one of the battlers, or whether you’re stuck in the no man’s land in between. But nothing lasts forever, and working through a fight is almost always worth it.

@J9andlf

#BrowGameStrong. #BrowsOnFleek. The world (and Instagram) is obsessed with eyebrows, with the face-framers now more talked about than any other feature, and a new brow product popping up every week.

But what if you’re just getting into this brow-grooming malarkey, not yet an Anastasia Beverly Hills expert, and are starting with the traditional eyebrow wax?

Well, you’ll probably never look back, but your first brow wax does come with a whole host of emotions, like…

Acceptance

Sure, big brows are in, but your slugs are starting to drive you crazy and you want more of an arch. You book a wax at a random (cheap) salon on Treatwell before you can change your mind.

Fear

What if the salon’s gross and you end up with an infection on your face? What if it hurts? What if half of your skin comes with the hairs? Maybe you should just cancel and stay sluggy forever.

Excitement

Once your brows are in shape you can start buying all those products the Instagram models advertise! Like, they’re crazy expensive, but that’s what you’re meant to do right?

Pain

WHAT EVEN WAS THAT?! SERIOUSLY?!

Embarrassment

Why didn’t you think to have someone pick you up from the salon? Now you need to get the bus with a big red forehead and everyone is clearly staring. Sigh.

Uncertainty

Did she make them too thin? Are they even? Is this the shape du jour?

Pride

Actually, they look great. You can’t wait to show them off at school; most of your mates have only had a few ill-advised encounters with their big sisters’ tweezers. You feel like the grown-up one for a change.

Annoyance

Why do they grow back so quickly? This upkeep faff is time-consuming and expensive.

Obsession

But you do it, time after time, because who doesn’t want a strong brow game?

Image: Clueless

The first time I ever fancied someone I was four years old.

Let’s be honest, that’s premature. And a bit weird. So you can imagine my surprise – and disappointment – when, first secondary school disco in full swing, I found myself in the girl’s toilets, totally consumed with fear at the thought of the night ending in my being someone’s girlfriend.

It wasn’t like Scar from The Lion King was even there (plot twist: I no longer fancy cartoon lions, but still love a black hair/ green eye combo). Or that anyone was showing the slightest whiff of interest in the glitter hair mascara fringe I was debuting that evening.

But, despite the sassy four-year-old inside me who was so desperate to be wifeyed back in 1994, the mere thought of anyone trying to snog, dance or really do anything beyond offering me their seat so I could rest my inexperienced platform-heeled feet was enough to make me fake illness and call my Dad to come take me home. Ah, home. I could eat Indian takeaway and watch Friends there, I could have a bubble bath, I could listen to The Killers and imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship without the scary reality of actually having to go through with it.

Needless to say, after that first school disco, it was obvious: casual intimacy intimidated me. And I ended up spending my entire teenage years single.

It wasn’t because I’d suddenly stopped fancying anyone – quite the contrary. I fancied everyone. At least it felt that way; but as I quickly learnt, my feelings were fickle. The second anyone paid any interested in me I was onto the next one, before they had a chance to fish out the alleged eyelash from my heavily kohl-lined socket.

On several occasions I was accused of being a tease or a flirt, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was interested in being in the relationships I formed in my mind – it’s just the reality brought so much pressure, and I was yet to meet anyone with the maturity and patience to match my timid curiosity. I wanted fun from a relationship and, from the looks of things, the real-life kind involved heartbreak, school gossip and the risk of everyone knowing the private things I only wanted special people to know.

It took me longer than I wish it had to realise that I wasn’t a tease, and I wasn’t frigid. I just didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone who didn’t love me. It was as simple as that.

Of course I felt embarrassed about being what from the outside probably looked like a ‘late bloomer’. When you aren’t in love it always feels like everyone else is – but, honestly, this is just imagination talking. I have friends who lost their virginity aged 14 and friends who had their first kiss aged 22, there is no finish line when it comes to intimacy. There just isn’t. Adult life doesn’t begin with your first kiss. If you’re interested in that stuff then life will be littered with it, and you’ll have times when it’s happening a lot and times when it isn’t happening at all.

I’m a bit older now, and I’ve had a serious relationship. We made it work for three years, which doesn’t sound like long but considering the fact that we were broke, lazy students who wore the same Dominoes-stained joggers every day (him) and believed that jarred pesto counted as one of your 5 a day (me), it was a triumph against bad odds. That relationship had everything I’d thought up in my Killers bubble baths. He was loving and hilarious with a gorgeous face, and the first time we kissed I remember being surprised because I wasn’t thinking about when it would be over like all the regretful snogs before him.

It’s important to say here that I think prolific ‘relationship people’ – the types that seem to have loved a hundred times before they’re even legally allowed to drink – are sensational. In my experience they tend to be super open, to both rejection and love, because they come as a pair. Emotional gamblers, pursuing subtle flirtation with the conviction of some sort of intimacy gladiator. But, unless that comes naturally to you, you can’t force it.  As with everything in life, but especially your emotions, you’ve got to consider what you’re comfortable with.

A few days ago a friend asked when I was going to get round to dating someone seriously again and I felt that familiar pang of embarrassment – like FOMO with a sprinkling of shame. The truth is, I just really like being single. Not because I’m frigid, or want a different person every night, or have low self-esteem, or think I’m too good for that bloke who asked me out. I simply love being single because there is so much to love about it.

I don’t have to share anything; my money, my time, my bed, my pizza. I’ve got to know myself in incredible depth, because I’ve had to. I plan my weekends depending on what I want to do, I go to places I want to visit on holiday, I cook what I love for dinner every night. I know exactly what I’m lacking, and what a potential partner could give to make me a better person, but I also know that I’m enough. It’s a strong and sentimental statement, but it’s true. And I like to think this relationship with myself started during those relationship-less teenage years. I’m not scared of being single.

Ultimately relationships can be crazy, fun, sad, beautiful life experiences. But they’ve got to happen on your own terms. My advice would be: take the time to understand exactly what you feel comfortable with.

Because in the end, the only person you have to live with forever is yourself.

 Image: Getty

You know the saying knowledge is power? Well that’s soooo the case when we’re talking vaginas. Discovering all the wonderful, and let’s face it sometimes weird, things that goes on with our ladybits is fascinating, huh? More importantly though, learning what *really* happens between our legs can be the difference between thinking you’re freaky and knowing you’re totally normal. Trust us, you’re normal.

So how much do you know already about the inner and outer workings of your vag? A lot? A little? Nada? Take our test to find out…

1. How many holes do you have *down there* (bum included)?

2. Which moves us swiftly on, what the heck is the urethra?

3. The clitoris is the vagina’s super-sensitive feel-good button, but how many nerve endings does it have?

4. Vaginas are clever, but which one of these things CAN’T your vag do?

5. The outer lady bits – the labia, clitoris, urethra and the vaginal opening – are together called…

6. Which one of these ISN’T part of your vagina?

7. Their official name is the labia, but do you know the purpose of your lovely lady lips?

8. What is the hymen?

9. The cervix links up your uterus and your vagina, but do you know where it sits?

10. ONLY one of these discharge situs is totally normal. Can you spot it? (The others need checking out by a doc btw)

Image: Katie Edmunds

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they first encounter the idea of their body being a series of ‘problem areas’ or obstacles to overcome, fix and change.. For the first few years of life, most of us are lucky enough to see our bodies for what they do rather than what they look like. We climb trees, feel our arms slice through water as we swim, and eat when we’re hungry. That changes though. I remember reading the word cellulite in a magazine while I was waiting to see my GP when I was about twelve. ‘How To Get Rid Of Unsightly Cellulite’, the headline read in big black letters. ‘Unsightly’ was in bold.

As soon as I found out what cellulite was, I couldn’t stop noticing it. Roaring red circles around the thighs of celebrities on beaches that showed a hint of it, across three or four pages of a gossip magazine’s ‘summer body special’. These images of models and actresses with cellulite, taken without their permission as they tried to enjoy a holiday didn’t make me feel better about my body – but I couldn’t stop reading them.

I pinched the flesh on my thighs and felt disgusted at the sight of the soft dimples that appeared under my skin. I wouldn’t wear shorts, skirts or dresses without opaque tights and the thought of going swimming made fluttery waves of panic course through my body. The concept of going bare-legged anywhere was just a no-go.

Hours of research went into what food to eat and avoid, what body brushes to stimulate circulation to buy, and I compared myself to other girls whose legs remained smooth when they sat down. This went on for a few years, and so too did the hope that I would finally get rid of it and feel free to dress however I wanted.

The thing is though, cellulite isn’t a ‘problem’ that you can tackle for all eternity with expensive products, following a strict diet and drinking water 24/7. Instead, there are ways to stop caring about it, and I highly recommend you take that route instead.

So, what is cellulite exactly?

The connective tissue in your body that separates the fat cells from the skin is made up of a substance called collagen. This tissue has a honeycomb-like structure (yum), and sometimes the bands of collagen can be weaker in some areas – these are the areas you might see a dimpled effect. You’re more likely to see it around your hips and thighs, but some people get it on their stomach or arms too.

Why do some people have it while others don’t?

Let’s be real here. Countless advertisements from the beauty industry tell us that cellulite is a specialised condition that you need to spend lots of money on to get rid of. During the summer you’ll notice there will be a push to sell creams, lotions and treatments that apparently get rid of cellulite for good – you can’t possibly go to the beach with less-than-perfect thighs, apparently.

What they don’t say is that 90% of women have it or will develop it in their lifetimes. That’s nine out of ten women, of all shapes and size and all walks of life. Like stretch marks, it’s just your body changing and developing as you grow and live in the world. Some people are more genetically predisposed to it, and it doesn’t have anything to do with how much you weigh or whether you exercise often or not. It just happens!

Mythbusting time!

Many ‘cellulite-eliminating’ products do so apparently by getting rid of ‘toxins’ from the body. By taking the supplement or slathering on the lotion, these toxins that cause cellulite are apparently removed. This is a complete lie with ZERO scientific evidence to back it up.

Creams that contain caffeine are marketed as a way to achieve Barbie-smooth skin, but any effect they have is totally temporary until you stop using them. Be sceptical about workout gear that claims to reduce the appearance of cellulite. This marketing gimmick will just leave you out of money with only a pair of overpriced leggings to show for it.

Much like bogus detox diets, these products just play on your fears and insecurities in order to get you to fork out your hard-earned money.

Being kind to yourself

Now more than ever we can see a diverse range of bodies represented in the public eye. The power of social media means that people are now seeing themselves represented. Instead of discussing ways to minimise ‘imperfections’ and desperately trying to fit into one single acceptable standard of beauty, people are celebrating and redefining what beauty really is.

The only reason we see things like cellulite as a problem is because we’re sold the idea that it is. Companies have successfully marketed a perfectly normal and common genetic trait as a gross eyesore to be body-brushed and exfoliated away. Thoughts like this can make something as fun and carefree as a trip to the beach turn into a spiral of anxiety.

It’s important to remember that your body is the only one you’ll ever have, and you should look after it. Think about all the cool stuff you could do with the time you might have spent being angry at yourself for something you really can’t control. You could learn a language, make a Victoria sponge cake or finally perfect your winged liner. It’s a good idea to counteract negative thoughts about your body the best you can.

Ask yourself, ‘would I tell my best friend she shouldn’t wear that cute swimsuit because of how her body naturally stores fat?’ Whether it’s cellulite or thigh gaps, there will always be a new part of your body that you’ll be told to fix, smooth or scrub. None of it matters. Eat good meals when you’re hungry, drink lots of water and be kind to yourself.

Image: Katie Edmunds

Hands up if you’re secretly missing school at the mo. Yeah, it’s not like we miss Pythagoras and his theorem or anything, but we’re just not used to being away from our buddies for so long. And no summer job is going to be able to cover the amount of meals, cinema trips or ice cream cones we need to make up for lost time.

So, with the parents’ permission, get the girl gang round to yours! You don’t need a lesson timetable to dictate your bonding time. August’s bettybox is the PERFECT inspo for recreating your own betty sleepover (*hotel not provided. Soz. Wouldn’t fit in the box).

You’ve seen the vids; you know how Grace Victory, SophDoesNails and Just Jodes rocked their betty sleepover hosting, but just incase you need a little tick list…

1. Set the vibes

Ambiance is super-important, so crack out the fairy lights and crank up the tunes. Sort a playlist ahead of time, so you can really nail the mood. You’ll be wanting some proper belters in there, so you can all sing along, plus some good dance tunes to mess about to. The bedroom floor is your stage, Beyoncé.

2. Snackage

Popcorn, marshmallows (try the chubby bunny game, but be careful not to choke), cake and a biccy or ten = sleepover snack goals. The lemon and ginger flavours in Rhythm 108’s biscuit in your August bettybox are a perfect pairing and we want a whole plateful right now.

3. Drinks

If your mum is on to you about your teeth, or your friend is getting all health conscious (erm, hello, it’s the *holidays*), The London Tea Company’s Purple Tea is a fab alternative to fizzy drinks. Now, we’re not suggesting you sit with a hot cuppa in the middle of summer. Oh, no. It’s all about iced tea, baby! And how Instagrammable is a purple drink? Very. First step Insta, next step YouTube and vlogging superstardom!

4. Get yo’ face on

Sleepovers are a great chance to try out new looks without the fear of being judged if it looks crapola. Let your friends loose on your face with your new My Flawless brush (it’s made of soft synthetic fibre that picks up the perfect amount of blusher/bronzer/powder/glitter) and the Colour Switch lippy from Saturated Colour, both included in August’s bettybox. Why not try the ombré lip tutorial featured in this month’s collective booklet?

5. Nails

You’re not hosting a proper sleepover unless nails are getting done somewhere in the room. Raise the bar a notch and expand the art past your nail beds with a Stylondon henna tattoo. It’s really quick and easy to do, and looks oh-so-pretty on your hand.

6. Sharing is caring

A girly sleepover is a great forum to share any worries and get advice from your girls who may have gone through, or are going through, similar things. As you’ve seen at our betty sleepovers, the girls share their experiences with each other, which make them feel less alone. Getting an outside opinion will always put problems into perspective.

7. Wind down

When the credits roll after the 10th film of the evening, it’s probably time to wind down. After the make-up, facemask goo, and 16 new dance routines you’ve choreographed to perfection, don’t even think about committing the cardinal sin of sleeping with your make-up on! Get the gunk out of your pores using your Urban Veda purifying face wash. Squirt into your new Spa For You Konjac sponge for a deep but gentle clean. Now, after all that, go forth and catch some zzzzzzs. You’re on breakfast duty in the morning!

If you haven’t subscribed already, don’t worry! You can sign up for a bettybox here.

Image: Kerri Walter

I’ve got a real love-hate relationship with group chats.

On the one hand, no one really has the time or patience to manually copy and paste the same sentence into a gazillion separate messages. We’re not about that. It’s way easier to moan on mass and gather important outfit info in a single shared conversation where, in theory, everyone reads and responds to texts with an suitably lol emoji at the drop of a notification.

But, we all know that’s not quite how it goes, is it?

Group chats are brilliantly chaotic at the best of times. If you’re anything like me and have roughly 19 on the go (and by that I mean 19 that exist but two that are actually ever in use), you might have noticed that they all follow pretty much the same pattern before fizzling out.

If they were all boiled down to seven stages, this would be it. Sound familiar?

1. The name game

What’s in a name, you ask? So. Much. Pressure. I’m pretty sure when Shakespeare threw that line into Romeo and Juliet, he wasn’t thinking about the stress of inviting a bunch of people into a convo and then having to decide whether to name it or not. But it’s about as stressful as what the star-crossed lovers were dealing with*. Kind of.

Obvs, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t name your group chat. But for the sake of knowing which chat is which and avoiding that tragically awkward thing of sending the wrong message to the wrong group, a named chat can be the saving grace you didn’t see coming.

*maybe don’t cite this in your English homework.

2. Who’s missing?

Working out who to include in a group chat is normally straight forward enough. But when it comes to those irregular chats, the ones with a specific purpose outside of your day-to-day gab, there’s always that minor panic of not including someone. After all, no one likes to be left out.

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Saying that though, once I panicked a bit too much about not inviting every single person I knew to a conversation and accidentally added the friend whose surprise birthday we were planning. Safe to say it didn’t remain a surprise.

3. Awkward side commentary

There comes a time in every group chat when someone goes rogue. They’ll say something that you’re not happy about, that doesn’t make sense or that really needs some thought.

So you end up having separate conversation with your BFF to talk about what’s been said, which then becomes a live commentary on what is (or isn’t) spoken about.  Then you end up chatting about a load of completely unrelated things and forget about the group chat you were originally meant to be paying attention to.  Which leads us swiftly on to…

4. The dreaded ‘delivered, read, no response’ fiasco

On a scale from one to annoying, this HAS to be at the top of everyone’s list of blood-boiling, forehead-vein-popping pet hates.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. Sometimes we’re on our phones and then it rings/dinner’s ready/Netflix crashes/you fall asleep. The messages we were meant to reply to are then forgotten, leaving our friends with nothing more than two blue ticks and zero idea whether we’re okay with going as the Seven Dwarf to that fancy dress party. But still, it drives everyone crazy.

5. ‘Oh. Okay. Bye then’

You unlock your phone and open your app. You check into the group conversation to see how many people read your last message because as we mentioned earlier, people forget/get busy/don’t respond. Then you see the five words no group chatter is ever emotionally ready to read…

‘Jessie has left the conversation’.

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They’ve left. Like, gone. Without so much of a ‘bye guys’.

Sometimes it’s an accident and they have to awkwardly ask to be re-invited. But it never looks like an accident, does it? Oh, no. The rest of you are left scratching your heads wondering what on earth you might’ve done to annoy Jessie so much. 

6. Get a room

Ok, this might be what annoyed Jessie so much. There’s a time and a place to talk about the things that only really relate to a single person, my friends, and that’s in one of those old school one-to-one ‘conversations’.

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But eventually, inevitably, someone in every group chat will direct a question an individual rather than the whole group. Next thing you know they’re 58 notifications deep into a conversation that no one else can jump into. Take it outside, people.

7. Stalemate

If you’re lucky, by this time the whole reason for starting a group chat in the first place will have been resolved. You’ll all know what you’re wearing to that fancy dress party, the surprise birthday will be planned and that thing you needed to moan about will have received a hearty amount of support.

But then everyone runs out of things to say because questions have been answered and you’re left in GCL (group chat limbo). As other conversations overtake, it’s no longer at the top of your screen and your pocket pals are left in the wilderness.

At least, that’s until the next group chat is created. See number 1.

@JazKopotsha

Image: Hailey Hamilton

The end of school is nigh, and all of a sudden you feel like you’ve got 100 decisions to make. What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to go to college, or uni, or do I want to get stuck straight into work? It’s easy to feel lost when you don’t know what you want to do, or how to get there.

But while you have literally your whole life to make up your mind, a little bit of good advice can go a long way. So with that in mind, in a series of interviews, we’re speaking to women who’ve ‘made it’, and asking their advice on how to follow in their footsteps.

Next up, Kristen Scnepp, who makes award-winning Mexican-style cheese in her micro dairy in South London.

Describe your typical day

When I was starting out I was up at 4am, I’d go to the farm and get some milk, come back, put the milk in a vat and start to make the cheese. I would do a lot of cleaning and taking readings of the milk. The next stage is to process the curd, which can take a long time! Today we made 100 kilos of cheese, so that’s 100 kilos of curd that needs to be churned by hand, put into molds by hand, packed up and put in the chiller and labelled. It’s a lot like baking, it’s a long day—in the business world you can decide when a powerpoint is done. With cheese, it decides when it’s done.

What’s the best part of the job?

For me it was all about starting my own business and doing something I’m passionate about. I think the best part is living life on your own terms and doing something that’s creative and different. I’ve done so much better than I ever thought I would; we’re growing dramatically and that is incredibly satisfying.

Are there any bad points?

There’s always something, with any job. It is incredibly physically demanding, like I said—it can be knackering. And when it is your own business it can be difficult to set the goals for success. It’s always easier to focus on the bad things that happen, so it’s important to stop and go yeah, this is great. And that’s really hard to do. You have to pat yourself on the back.

The Big Question: uni or no uni?

I am self-taught mainly, but I do have some experience and have taken a class on professional cheesemaking at the School of Artisan Food. Most people who want to become a cheesemaker the way I did (rather than beginning at a farm) start at home. High Weald Dairy in Sussex do a course, as do Wildes Cheese in Tottenham. Making cheese involves a lot of science! We hire a lot of university graduates, many of whom have an interest in business, food, or food science, or even social justice, sustainability. There’s also the decision as to whether you want to do it for somebody else or start your own business.

What about A levels?

To be honest you could do something sciency, or you could do computer programming, it really doesn’t matter. People come from all different directions—I think the number one thing you need is passion. Really what the person needs to be willing to do is get their hands dirty. If you want to sit at a desk this is not for you, not at all. It’s very demanding and even though you’re a cheesemaker, a lot of it is about cleaning. You spend a lot of time talking about hygiene. It’s certainly not glamorous!

Are you a cheese addict?

I love my own cheeses like children, so can’t pick a favourite! But otherwise, I would have to say Epoisses, which is an extremely soft cow’s milk cheese from the town of the same name in France. And I do still eat cheese all the time—my wife gets very cross because we are constantly running out at home!

If you were to give one piece of advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

I have asked myself whether I would do something different because I am definitely of a generation where I did what I was ‘supposed’ to do, but I don’t really regret any of it. I would, however, tell myself to be more courageous.

@EllieCostigan

Image: Katie Edmunds