Come period day, ladies know that we can go from feeling pretty to pretty lousy in a matter of minutes. From mood shifts to bloat to acne, is it possible to look and feel great while we reluctantly welcome Aunt Flo for an extended stay? We list the most common menstrual beauty bummers below.
The worst! One day our skin is totally normal and the next, you’ve got a breakout worthy of a middle school yearbook portrait.
Why it happens: Our hormones begin to change around the middle of our menstrual cycle. Ovaries go into hyper drive, producing excess levels of testosterone and causing puberty-esque breakouts from overactive oil production, which only gets worse the more we stress over it.
How to cope: Take it back to 7th grade and invest in a few over the counter acne products. If you experience a regular period, mark down the date in your calendar a few days before your acne generally flares up so you be preventative about it and clean with a salicylic acid face wash. Also don’t pick! With oil production in hyper drive, a small breakout can spread to a major one when provoked.
Products: One of our favorite lines, Indie Lee, has two great acne products! The Indie Lee Blemish Stick looks like a lipgloss and is great for carrying around during the day. The Blemish Lotion is for use at night. Just dip a q-tip in as-is and then apply (no need to shake it).
Cue the numerous bathroom breaks. No gal can feel great when she has to worry about a diaper change every hour.
Why it happens: When menstruation occurs, the lining of the uterus is shed, resulting in a day or several of heavier bleeding for some ladies. It usually happens at the beginning of the cycle but it can strike toward the middle for some as well.
How to cope: A backup supply of pads and tampons is a must, but there are a few common sense tricks to surviving heavy flow day, too. Wearing dark colors down below is a must to avoid unwanted visible leaks—especially for those of us with jobs or classes that require long periods (no pun intended) of sitting down. Keeping clean with daily showers and wiping with a wet cloth will help combat unwanted odor so you can keep feeling like yourself. Finally, stock up complex carbs and eat frequent small meals throughout the day as opposed to 3 large ones. This will help regulate your blood sugar levels—important when you’re dealing with blood loss.
There’s nothing pretty about menstrual cramps and while the measure of pain varies from person to person, I think we can all agree it’s one of the least pleasant things we have to look forward to each month.
Why it happens: Fluid retention in the abdomen flares up during our cycles, thanks again to those pesky hormones (what can’t they do?). This results in a bigger belly and sometimes an uncomfortable feeling of fullness that can last days. Similarly, as the lining of the uterus is shed during menstruation, hormone levels will shift, causing the walls of the uterus to contract in order to move the old lining out of the body (aka, having your period). All this can result in abdominal pain and swelling that can break a girl down.
How to cope: Drink more water! Not only is this another way to ward off period acne, it can trigger the body to release more fluids, cutting down on visible abdominal bloat. What’s more, some women have reported that a full bladder can reduce feelings of menstrual cramping. Eating less salt on bloat days will also help ward off the swelling. If cramps are a problem for you, taking an over the counter pain reliever like Aleve or Ibuprofen right when they flare up.
PMS mood swings have given periods a bad rap, but it’s the feelings we tend to internalize that can put the biggest damper on our cycles.
Why it happens: Changes in hormones can trigger intense emotional responses, like anger and sadness. Though the myth is that women on their periods cry for no reason, in reality we cry over the little things that may have already been upsetting us when we were feeling 100%. Most commonly it’s the negative we often internalize. On a good day we have no trouble ignoring the little voice inside of our heads, but on period day, we feel our confidence drop to negative zero as though we were our gawky 13 year old selves again.
How to cope: Pamper yourself. Period time is a good excuse to take a little “you” time whether it’s a hot bath, a night out with friends, or a quiet evening in. Break out your favorite lipstick, wear your hair in a foolproof style, and go for the handbag that always gets you compliments. You to feel beautiful right now, and it’s not a time to experiment with a new look or step out of your comfort zone. It’s normal to not feel like the prettiest posie in the pot right now, so surrounding yourself with your favorite things will remind you that you deserve to feel beautiful– heavy flow or not!