TIME medicine

5 Signs Your Hormones Are Out of Whack

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When it's normal, and when to see your doctor

Raise your hand if, in the last few weeks, you’ve felt tired, bloated, or cranky. Sound familiar? Then you know the drill: Every month, your hormones—the body’s itty-bitty secret weapon—come out to play, wreaking havoc on your mood, skin, and mind. While levels generally stabilize after your period, various factors, like stress (yup, keep those hands raised) and anxiety can throw them off balance. So how can you tell if your symptoms require an office visit? Alyssa Dweck, MD, an OB-GYN at the Mount Kisco Medical Group in New York shares the five red flags that might merit a doctor’s note.

Fatigue

Exhaustion is one of the most, well, exhausting symptoms to a doc, since it has so many possible causes. “If you’re tired after a week of final exams or late nights at work, then you’re probably fine,” says Dr. Dweck. “But if you constantly feel worn out and notice weight gain, appetite fluctuations, and a change in bowel movements, it could be a sign of an underactive thyroid.” Yes, fatigue happens to everyone, but if yours doesn’t feel logical, then it’s worth getting it checked out.

Skin changes

You’re breaking out—again. While those sudden zits could be caused by one too many nights of going to bed without washing your face, they may be indicative of something more. “Adult acne or cystic acne around the lower half of your face could suggest a high level of testosterone,” says Dr. Dweck. Although not a life-threatening problem, breakouts can take a toll on your psyche. Luckily, your doc can prescribe you medication to stabilize your hormone levels and clear up skin.

Hair growth

We’re talking really fast hair growth. “If you all of a sudden grow a beard within a month or notice coarse, dark hair popping up on your chest, back or arms, that could be indicative of a testosterone-secreting tumor,” explains Dr. Dweck. But don’t freak out: Tumors are rare, she notes, and can often be treated with drugs or surgery.

Weird periods

Just like fatigue, a messed-up menstrual cycle can be the result of many factors, like stress, thyroid issues, low estrogen, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). “The hallmark of PCOS is irregular or absent periods, but it could also present with difficulty losing weight or strange hair growth,” says Dr. Dweck. Generally, PCOS is managed through diet, exercise and birth control pills, but your doctor will work with you to develop a multi-faceted plan if she finds this to be the cause of your period problems.

Night sweats

Unless it’s unusually warm in your bedroom, waking up feeling overheated and sweaty could be the result of lower estrogen levels and infrequent ovulation—aka perimenopause. “Perimenopause can occur up to 10 years before you’re even near the age of menopause,” says Dr. Dweck, “so unless you’re having major menstrual issues before age 40, there’s a good chance your phantom sweating could actually be early menopause.” Either way, Dr. Dweck recommends making an appointment with your doc to make sure it’s nothing more serious.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME beauty

5 Beauty Tips Women Can Learn From Dudes

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This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

When we’re looking for expert beauty advice, there are certain sources we always turn to. And, typically, the men in our lives don’t make that list. It’s not because we don’t trust them — it’s just that we don’t think they have any idea what they’re talking about regarding beauty (with a few notable exceptions, of course). Really, does your brother or boyfriend or best guy friend actually know the best way to craft a perfectly tousled beach wave?

While they might not know how to make Gisele hair happen for you, these dudes do prescribe to a few key beauty theories we might learn a thing or two from. We know. So, we quizzed three experts on some of the guy tips we can and should adopt. Ahead, what men do behind (closed) bathroom doors — the lessons you can take away may just surprise you.

Exfoliation

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Since men shave their faces, they’re getting regular exfoliation — without the extra step. “Exfoliation helps to get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells, called the stratum corneum, and in doing so, it helps to force the skin to turn over,” says Dr. Anthony Rossi, a New York dermatologist. “By shaving, men are actually causing slight trauma to their skin, causing it to repair itself. It’s just like what dermatologists do when they perform a dermabrasion or laser resurfacing — we’re causing a controlled trauma that forces the body to make new collagen to repair it.”

Is whipping out your razor the answer? Not exactly. (Though, it’s safe. More on that in a second.) Rossi does urge women to exfoliate regularly — even daily, if you can get away with it. “Try using an exfoliating beard scrub, like Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub. Products like this can really help women exfoliate — this one has vitamin C and menthol in it.”

Getting back to the topic of razors, Rossi says it’s perfectly fine to shave your face — there is no scientific evidence to show hair grows back thicker or faster. “Some patients may feel that, after shaving, the quality of the hair may change, but there has not been scientific evidence to prove this,” he says. “There is no proof that if you shave, it will come back thicker.” So, shall we finally put a pin in that complaint, ladies?

(MORE: Beauty Cheat Sheet: 10 Shortcuts For Lazy Girls Everywhere)

Keep It Classic

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Ever notice how there doesn’t seem to be a ton of variety with regard to dudes’ coiffs? “This isn’t a fact, but I think probably 80% of men’s haircuts are the exact same shape,” says hairstylist Ashley Streicher, who has worked on the manes of Jason Segal, John Krasinski, Andy Samberg, and more. “Sure, lengths and textures differ. But, a classic men’s haircut is usually the base of all haircuts.”

Keeping this in mind, Streicher advises women to stick to timeless haircuts. “I think that women can learn that timeless is pretty,” she says. “Rather than always fighting to be avant-garde, sometimes just a really well-done, classic haircut can be different and gorgeous, whether it be a bob, beautifully cut layers, or a blunt fringe.” When in doubt, stick with what never goes out of style.

Moisturize

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Slicking on some lotion after we shave is standard practice for us. But, men also hydratebefore their razors get anywhere near their skin.
“A preshave oil creates a barrier on your skin from the blade of your razor, preventing ingrown hairs, razor burn, and bumps,” says Tony Sosnick, founder of Anthony Logistics. “Women can really benefit from a good prehsave oil, like Anthony Pre-Shave Oil, which is formulated with essential oils and healing calendula, to achieve a flawless shave.” Not only will the oils soften your skin, they’ll also soften your hairs, which makes them easier to shave.

(MORE: The Korean Secret to Poreless Skin)

Go With The Flow

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Natural texture? Not something we ladies always like to deal with — as evidenced by the fact that we started straightening, curling, and beating our hair into general submission early on in life. But, Streicher says most men figure out the texture of their hair right away and then just learn how to deal. “They learn their texture and work with it,” she says. “Women are constantly fighting curls by blowing them straight. Or, if their hair is fine, they fry it with a curling rod.”

Basically, we’re never satisfied. So, instead of pulling out your tools every time you wake up with frizz, work with what you’ve got. Undone hair is pretty in right now, anyway, so you’d be doing yourself (and your hair) a favor.

Steamy

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Now, this doesn’t mean you should hop into a steam room daily. (Although, we admit that sounds heavenly.) “Men oftentimes use warm face towels to steam the facial skin to release trapped hairs and make it easier to shave,” Rossi says. “It’s a technique that’s been used by barbers for many years and gives a better shave.”

(MORE: 44 Magical Beauty Buys That Will Sell Out)

You can certainly get steamy by making your own barbershop towel at home, but there’s an even easier way. “If you don’t have time for a hot towel, shaving in the hot shower can produce a very similar effect,” Rossi says. Just be careful not to stand in the direct stream of hot water — it can scald your skin and dry you out.

 

TIME skincare

Know What’s In Your Face Wash: Why Illinois Banned Microbeads

Superparamagnetic microbeads: the monosized Dynabeads
Superparamagnetic microbeads Kunnskap

Illinois is the first state to ban tiny plastic microbeads in cosmetics like face wash, which damage marine life

Exfoliating microbeads, which are tiny bits of plastic, in your face wash are causing some serious damage to your skin and environment, and states are starting to crack down.

This month, Illinois banned the sale of cosmetics containing plastic microbeads, becoming the first state to legally take a strong stance against what researchers are calling a serious environmental problem. The plastic waste caused by the microbeads, which are not filtered out during sewage treatment, are damaging water ecosystems. A report recent published by the U.N. Environment Programme says plastic waste causes $13 billion in damage every year to marine life.

Since the beads are so small, fish and other marine life easily swallow them, causing DNA damage and even death. A 2008 study from UK researchers showed that the plastics remained inside mussels for 48 days. Last year, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Superior reported at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that there were 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile in the Great Lakes.

The Illinois ban is encouraging for other states pushing similar laws, and the fact that Illinois’ new ban had industry players on board means cooperation is possible in other regions, too. “This was a cooperative effort with the industry in order to address our and their concerns,” says Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “In the end, we were trying to get something that would pass. Other states should try for more stringent standards.”

Walling says she’s happy with the results, though she wishes the timeline was shorter. Manufacturers have a phase out period between 2017-2019.

Other states like New York, California and Ohio are trying to pass similar bans. California wants to allow biodegradable beads, and New York lawmakers, which worked with plastic-fighting group 5 Gyres, have so far received positive response to their legislation. Earlier this summer, New Jersey democrat U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. introduced a bill that would make a nationwide ban possible in 2018.

Microbeads can also be vicious on your skin. While the little beads help deeply cleanse the pores, they can also cause tears if used too roughly. But if you love the feeling of rubbing dead skin off your face (that’s what they’re for)—there are some natural versions of face wash that use ingredients like oatmeal instead.

As TIME reported in May, companies appear to be open to finding substitutes. And in 2012, consumer goods company Unilever committed to making all of its products plastic-free by 2015. Big cosmetic companies like L’Oréal have also pulled away from microbeads.

Walling says she has been contacted by several groups in other states trying to outlaw microbeads, and she thinks it will only take about two more states to pass similar bans for the industry effect to be felt nationwide. “There’s definitely a lot of interest from many states,” says Walling. “Industry wants to address this issue. They have interest in getting involved.”

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