Somewhere between masks made out of nutrient-rich mud and human placenta, you need to ask yourself the question: how far would you go to get the smooth and glowing skin of your dreams? For some women, applying menstrual blood on their faces does not qualify as crossing the line.
Menstrual masking, or ‘moon masking’, is a trend that has billions of views on TikTok, with hundreds of women swearing by its skincare benefits. As the name suggests, menstrual masking requires you to collect your period blood, ideally using a menstrual cup, and applying it to your face during your cycle.
As gross as it sounds, the fact that so many women continue to use their period blood as a face mask and promote its benefits ardently requires a little investigation. So let’s unpack what menstrual masking is all about together, shall we?
What is up with human blood and skincare?
Using blood, period or otherwise, for skincare is not a new practice. Back in 2013, Kim Kardashian shocked the world by sharing photos from her ‘vampire facial’ session. In the photos, Kardashian could be seen with vivid red blood dotting her skin, leading many people to ask the question we posed a few paragraphs earlier: how much is too much?
The ‘vampire’ or PRP facial is actually a medically backed, albeit ridiculous, skincare solution where your blood is extracted and the beneficial elements are isolated from it. This processed blood is then injected back into the skin for an unmatched glow.
In 2019, the inventor of the ‘vampire facial’ created Blood Cream, a $1,400 face cream that had proteins from a patient’s blood mixed with hyaluronic acid, supposedly, for the same benefits as a PRP facial.
Hungarian noblewoman and serial killer Elizabeth Báthory was an early adopter of the ‘blood for glowing skin’ trend as she is said to have bathed in the blood of hundreds of women and girls between 1590 and 1610 to achieve a youthful glow.
But is period blood the same as regular blood? Not really.
Period blood contains a little regular blood, along with uterine tissue, mucus lining, and bacteria. While research suggests that it’s filled with stem cells and nutrients like zinc, copper, and magnesium, it’s still not evident that your skin can absorb all this supposed goodness through a period blood face mask.
What do experts say about menstrual masking?
Dermatologists across the board vehemently disagree that the act of putting period blood on your face can reap any skincare benefits. The practice and its reported benefits are not backed by any science and there’s no research that links period blood to healthy, acne-free skin. While it’s a myth that period blood is dirty, it’s definitely not hygienic enough to scoop up and apply on the face directly.
Popular TikToker and dermatologist Dr. Joyce Park, M.D, has condemned the trend on her platform and said that the procedure is not sterile and can cause infections on the face, not to mention spread STDs like Herpes to the facial area.
What do the Menstrual Masking enthusiasts have to say?
Even though there’s no scientific backing to the claims of glowing skin via period blood masks, people who practice it love the results. According to the women, their skin has never been as clear as it got after they began Menstrual Masking and their acne breakouts have also reduced drastically.
The supporters dismiss the ‘no research, no result’ argument by saying that nobody has invested in any study or research in the area and therefore the results have not been able to be backed by science. In the Philippines, the practice of washing your face with period blood has been passed down for many generations and continues to be a common skincare practice. It supposedly helps you get acne-free skin during puberty.
Many women feel that it’s because it’s a matter related to female sexual health, it’s easy to dismiss it as ridiculous or frivolous. To be fair, there have been multiple kinds of research on the effects of semen on the skin. There’s even a popular ‘penis facial’ (not the kind you’re thinking) that’s loved by celebrities, including Cate Blanchett. Created by Georgia Louise, the facial is made from human foreskin cells.
So is the condemnation of the act rooted in patriarchy? It doesn’t sound far-fetched.
According to several accounts of Menstrual Masking supporters, getting past the grossness of the fact that they’re scooping up their own period blood, and spreading it on their faces, helped them connect more with their womanhood and become more comfortable with their bodies.
Menstruation and female sexual health has always been considered taboo with hundreds of myths surrounding the subject. The act of using their period blood this way supposedly helps women claim back some of the power that has been stolen because of a patriarchal outlook towards female sexual health and feel more attuned to their bodies.
Should you save up your period blood for a facial?
It depends on you. We’re neither experts nor have we tried it ourselves. The practice is not sterile and can cause infections, and this is a fact. But it’s also true that millions of women across the world have been doing this regularly and swear by its benefits. So ultimately, it’s up to you. But, as is the case with any new skincare trend or product, it’s best to consult your dermatologist to know all the facts before trying it.