There’s no ~delicate~ way to say this, so please forgive me in advance. I...make face masks out of my own menstrual blood. Whew. Wow. Yup, I said that. And did that. Aaaand you probably have some very valid questions running through your mind right now, such as, “wait, WTF?” and “are you alright?” And I promise I will answer them all.
But first, an *~IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER~*: No matter how I feel about menstrual masking (I love it), and what it’s done for my skin (a lot), you should know that absolutely no medical professional—nor Cosmo—under any circumstances, would ever (like, ever, ever) advise trying this at home. Menstrual masking is entirely my choice, and I do not encourage anyone else to take on this potentially dangerous, very, questionable DIY. We all got that? Cool.
Now WTF was I thinking?
A few months ago, I came across a bizarre and beautiful article from Dazed titled “5 Uses For Your Period Blood.” My own period blood had zero uses at the time (besides alerting me to the fact that my uterus remained, thankfully, unoccupied), so this intrigued me. The first suggestion was “Do A Face Mask,” and my beauty-obsessed, body-loving brain bypassed the WTF stage and went straight to the I-MUST-TRY-THIS stage.
Fine, maybe there was a momentary ripple of repulsion, but I quickly realized that reaction was mostly stemming from pure, patriarchal B.S. I mean, I’m definitely not the first person to Google “is semen good for skin?” And there are countless articles about aesthetician Georgia Louise’s viral penis facial, made from human foreskin cells and loved by classy lady Cate Blanchett. So if dicks can make it into mainstream beauty, why should period blood be any different? Um, it shouldn’t, IMO.
According to the article (and studies), menstrual blood is filled with stem cells, along with incredibly rich nutrients, like zinc, copper, and magnesium—all of which are also found in trendy beauty products and acne treatments on the market (though, as I found out after my experiment, not necessarily effective when used in a DIY menstrual mask; more on that below). Still, the prospect of brighter, smoother skin—and the lack of medical foresight, whoops—was enough to convince me to try it out on myself. Multiple times.
My face-masking experiment
I stumbled across the article while on my period and using a menstrual cup, which made it easier to collect the...necessary materials. The next morning, I went to the bathroom, pulled out the cup, and emptied it into the mason jar I brought along (a crafty touch, no?). After cleaning up, I took a long, hard look in the mirror. It wasn’t a great skin day. I was in the middle of my period, after all, with a couple of hormonal zits and an overall blah-ness. I took a deep breath, dipped two fingers in the jar, and painted my face with period blood, like some fearless warrior of far-flung skincare experiments.
So, a few things: Menstrual blood is warm and watery, which actually feels nice and dries quickly, but it’s not the most pleasant-smelling thing in the world. But surprisingly, the whole thing didn’t really gross me out? I actually felt super strong and connected to my body—and even a little bit badass. The Dazed instructions said to leave it on for 15-20 minutes, during which time I channeled the divine feminine energy within, snapped bloody-faced selfies like Kim K getting a vampire facial, and only sort of questioned my sanity.
My DIY results
I had both very high and very low hopes for the results, as one does with these DIY experiments. So when I finally washed my face 20 minutes later and peered into the mirror, I was legit impressed to find that my skin looked...good? Like, I’m not even exaggerating—my previously blah skin seemed a bit brighter and calmer, and even though the monstrous cyst on my chin was still there, I swear it was thatmuch smaller. Honestly, it was so good that I immediately texted a friend, “OMG IT’S SO GOOD.”
Placebo effect? Maybe. But enough to make me try it again? Hell yes. I masked two more times that week, and by the end of the experiment, I noticed fewer active breakouts and a pretty ~magical~ glow, if I’m being objective (and I’m trying to be!). Is this nature’s way of saying sorry for PMS pimples? Is it straight-up witchcraft?! Or is it just...me?
What the dermatologists say
“In theory, menstrual blood has many properties that are beneficial to the skin, such as anti-inflammatory properties and stem cells, but there is no current scientific evidence that supports the use of menstrual blood as a mask,” says Dr. Jennifer Vickers, M.D., dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology. (To be clear, SHE IS IN NO WAY TELLING YOU TO TRY THIS AT HOME.) And because no one has paid for a scientific study to prove the theoretical beauty-boosting powers of period blood (yet), we don’t know if its stem cells or nutrients have the ability to absorb past the skin barrier and actually have an effect on your face.
But even if they did, you’d still have the little obstacle of, uh, your vag. “While menstrual blood in the uterus is sterile, it would be very difficult for the average woman to extract it in a sterile way, so there is a concern about transferring disease from the genitals to the face,” says Dr. Vickers. “If, for example, a woman is infected with human papillomavirus or herpes simplex, menstrual blood could potentially serve as a means for transmitting these viruses to facial skin.” Not ideal.
So were my results real?!
As I’ve said before, I am not a skeptic. I look for the best in people and, apparently, in period blood. But without a doubt, I saw a change in my skin after menstrual masking, even if it doesn’t make medical sense. If I had to guess why, though, my results likely have more to do with the fact that I don’t use traditional skincare products to begin with. Any of ‘em.
Thanks to my incredibly sensitive, reactive skin, I can only tolerate pure Manuka honey, rose water, and jojoba oil on the daily—things that don’t upset my skin, but also don’t deliver mind-blowing results. Which is probably why I’m out here raving about a mild application of mineral-rich menstrual blood the way other beauty enthusiasts wax poetic about the smoothing effects of the cult-favorite Drunk Elephant Babyfacial™. This Bloodyfacial™ is my Babyfacial™. Let me live!!!
A final, very important note
If you do, against all medical advice and sound reason, want to try period face masks for yourself—I mean, I won’t exactly tell you how to do it (Google, my dear friend), but I will advise you to maaaaybe not tell anyone. Though I, personally, am all for the normalization of menstrual masking, society sadly isn’t there yet.
Some brave souls have shared their period blood beauty journeys on YouTube, and the comment sections are brutal. “I’m going to have a face mask of my own piss,” one commenter wrote, attempting to point out the absurdity of it all (but actually, has anyone told this guy about urine therapy?). Still, even the haters can’t keep me from masking the next time my period rolls around. It’s free, it’s easy, and my skin loves it. And that’s more than I can say about the majority of things I’ve put on my face in the name of beauty.
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