12 Things We Learned This Month That Could Literally Change Our Lives For The Better

12 Things We Learned This Month That Could Literally Change Our Lives For The Better

Hi world, I’m Megan and I’m part of the Lifestyle and Trending News team here at BuzzFeed. We’re a group of about a dozen people living all over the US who spend our days scouring the internet for tips, trends, and viral stories about health and wellness, cooking and food, finances and parenting, and so much more.

I love being on this team because it means I’m always learning new tips, tricks, and information that I can apply in my actual life. This month, I asked the members of my team to share their favorite things they’ve learned in the last month, and there’s so much good stuff. Here’s what we learned in January 2024:

1.Hannah Loewentheil shared what she’s learned so far as a first-time mom to a 6-month-old baby, and she beautifully captured the joys and struggles of parenthood with refreshing honesty and a whole lot of love. If you have a baby who doesn’t want to sleep, like, ever, you’ll definitely want to check out what Hannah’s learned about “wake windows.”

Ellie asleep in her bassinet
Wake windows are the developmentally appropriate length of time that a baby should typically be awake between naps. Hannah writes, “Rather than pay attention to Ellie’s often-absent sleepy cues, I found that focusing on her age-appropriate wake windows was a much better way to determine when to get her to nap.” Genius!Read more: I Am A First-Time Mom Who Recently Had A Baby, And These Are 16 Realities I Wasn’t Prepared For Hannah Loewentheil

2.I rounded up 22 frugal tips for 2024, and it was a great reminder to shop around once a year for the best rates on regular monthly expenses like auto insurance, cellphone plans, and internet service. It might not be the most thrilling way to spend an afternoon, but locking in lower rates now could save you hundreds over the course of 2024!

woman going over her finances at home
There were plenty of other handy money-saving tips on the list, including some grocery shopping strategies that people say have really cut their costs. Read more: “It Has Literally Saved Me Thousands Of Dollars”: 22 Frugal Tips People Swear By For 2024 D3sign / Getty Images

3.If you’ve ever had a friend breakup that hurt you on a really deep level (haven’t we all?), you’ll want to check out this post by Raven Ishak. Raven interviewed experts who shared 7 tips for healing after a friend moves on — including how you might want to change up your social media activity.

depressed young man looking at his phone in bed
It goes beyond resisting the urge to look at your former friend’s insta every day. You might also want to take a break from posting. As female friendship coach Danielle Bayard Jackson explained, “I see people who post subliminal messages in the hopes that the other person will see it.” Continuing to communicate, even indirectly like this, keeps you mentally “in” the relationship and hinders your ability to move on. Read more: People Have Been “Ghosting” Their Friendships Way More Lately, So Here’s How To Heal When There’s No Closure Julpo / Getty Images

4.Ross Yoder rounded up 21 cooking “cheat codes” that people say make it so much easier to serve up a delicious dish, and he’s personally hooked on one of them.

woman peeling a piece of ginger
The tipster wrote, “This subreddit taught me to keep fresh ginger root in my freezer and just grate it with a microplane whenever I need some. It lasts longer, and I haven’t peeled or minced a piece of ginger in years.” As someone who hates peeling ginger, I need to try this too!Read more: People Are Revealing Their Cooking “Cheat Code” That Made Everything So Much Easier Kentaroo Tryman / Getty Images

5.Reese Witherspoon took some heat online after sharing how she likes to eat a little snow now and then, as a treat. Claudia Santos investigated and found out how you too can enjoy some sweet, sweet snow the safe way.

reese eating snow
Food scientist Bryan Quoc Le told Claudia that the best snow for snacking is undisturbed and not discolored or partially melted. He also advises snow connoisseurs to, “wait for several hours after the first snow, when most of the pollutants have been absorbed by the first snowfall.”Read more: That Viral Video Of Reese Witherspoon Making “Snow Ice Cream” Has Generated A Lot Of Mixed Reactions — Here’s An Expert’s Take On The Trend @reesewitherspoon / Via tiktok.com

6.Claudia also rounded up some lesser-known cooking hacks that take flavors to the next level. She says one tip in particular is so simple but it still makes chocolatey treats taste extra scrumptious.

fresh baked chocolate chip cookies
The tipster wrote, “Anything with chocolate in it gets a dash of cinnamon — it enhances the flavor. My ex’s family used to go nuts over my chocolate chip cookies. It’s just the recipe from the bag with cinnamon added. Also, cinnamon in hot chocolate is amazing. My dad adds cinnamon to the Pearl Milling Co. pancakes, and they suddenly taste so fancy.”Read more: 25 “Unknown” Home Cooking Tricks That Will Impress Anyone u/missingquark / Via reddit.com

7.How are you doing on your new year’s resolutions? Mine was to read more books, and I’ve already finished two so far this year — largely thanks to the tips I got when I asked three of my favorite book tokers for their best bookish advice.

Mr. Johnson from Abbott Elementary reading a book with his feet up on a desk
I often struggle with staying focused once I manage to sit down with a book, but doing this piece gave me the idea to put my phone on “do not disturb” first. It’s so simple, but it’s been such a gamechanger for me. Read more: How To Read More In 2024, According To People Who Read A Ton Of Books In 2023 ABC / Via giphy.com

8.Hair oiling is far from a new practice. It’s common among communities of color and is thought to have originated in India centuries ago. However, it’s gained more popularity in recent months thanks to TikToks promising better scalp health, smoother tresses, and fuller hair. Fabiana Buontempo got some expert insights on the practice and gave oiling a try herself.

the author showing a before and after of her scalp
After a couple of weeks of using organic coconut oil on her hair, Fabiana noted, “So far, my scalp seems to be less flaky and more hydrated overall. I can’t tell if it’s made an overall difference with my frizz or dry ends, but I’m eager to continue doing this pre-hair wash for the next several months.”Read more: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Viral “Hair Oiling” Trend Fabiana Buontempo

9.Recently, a woman went viral after mold lurking inside her reusable water bottle made her sick, and it unlocked a new fear for many of us. Fabiana talked with Dr. Jessica Peatross, MD, GP, internist, functional medicine practitioner, CGT, IFMCP for tips on how to prevent mold build-up in your water bottle and some info about what mold sickness looks and feels like.

woman drinking out of a reusable water bottle
Dr. Peatross says, “Mold-related illnesses can manifest with a variety of symptoms, including respiratory problems (such as coughing and wheezing), nasal and sinus congestion, skin irritation and rashes like eczema, increased urinary frequency, digestive issues, headaches, fatigue, and general malaise.” Read more: This Expert Revealed What Happens If You Don’t Wash Your Reusable Water Bottle Often Enough, And I’m Floored At This Leopatrizi / Getty Images

10.Dannica Ramirez reached out to a woman who went viral for sharing the astronomical costs she was quoted when she sought eldercare for an aging parent. 42-year-old Tiffany Stuart says she was told that care for a parent in New York City would cost $8,000 a month. Who can afford that??

Tiffany saying I called an eldercare facility to find out pricing for one of my parents and they said $8,000 a month
To learn how non-billionaires can plan for these expenses, Dannica also interviewed Priya Malani, the founder and CEO of Stash Wealth. Malani shared how people can access this care more affordably, starting with, “Outside of paying out of pocket, there are two ways to help afford this major cost: long-term care insurance and Medicaid.” Then, Priya breaks down how each of these options work in a way that’s actually easy to understand.Read more: A 42-Year-Old Woman Was Quoted A “Ridiculous” Monthly Payment For Her Parent’s Long-Term Care. Now Others Are Sharing Their Own Harrowing Eldercare Experiences. @wellwithtiffany / Via tiktok.com

11.It seemed like the whole internet was buzzing about kids and tweens swarming Sephora stores, so I talked to triple board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mamina Turegano about what kinds of products are actually safe for kids to use. She says most kids are just fine with a basic cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF, and she shared some more guidance about ingredients to avoid.

shoppers approaching a sephora store in a mall
Dr. Mamina says, “Other than salicylic acid [for acne], I would avoid other exfoliating acids, including glycolic acid and lactic acid. I also recommend avoiding retinols, vitamin C, and scrubs. If the child has oily or acne-prone skin, then retinol may be okay to use.” I also asked mental health pros if there could be downsides to a tween’s interest in skin care.Read more: The Whole Internet Is Talking About Sephora Kids. Here’s What You Need To Know Megan Liscomb

12.Speaking of skincare, Alana Valko talked to medical esthetician Tegan DeLuc about how overly complicated skincare routines can actually do more harm than good — especially if you’re combining strong active ingredients that can irritate your skin when used together.

bottles of skincare serums
DeLuc says, “Some actives you never want to mix are retinol and vitamin C, or retinol and AHAs/BHAs.” Using products with these actives can dehydrate or over-exfoliate your skin, resulting in damage to the skin barrier. Ouch! The experts in this article go on to explain how you can safely use actives without hurting your skin, and it’s so much more minimalistic than you might