Hurrah, it's period time! Woo-hoo!
Of course, I'm being sarcastic. I hate my period. I have suffered for years and years with fortnight-long PMS, freaky hormones doing all sorts of crazy stuff to my hair, skin and mental equilibrium. At one stage, my PMS was so bad that I saw a consultant about having a hysterectomy; I don't want kids so what's the point of having evil ovaries?
The culprits of this ridiculousness are the wild peaking and troughing of oestrogen and progesterone, which play an incredible role in the health of our skin and hair, and of course our fertility.
I've had a billion tests and more gynos have inspected my bits than boyfriends, which actually, with my almost nun-like sexual history isn't so difficult.
Not every visit has been bad though, once, my regular gyno said to me, and he did this while popping his head up from between my legs and letting out an impressive whistle like a plumber backing out from fixing the U-bend under the sink, "Well, one thing's for sure you are very female, you have a lot of oestrogen, you are what we call 'super-female!'"
OMG!!! This is the best frickin' day of my life!! A male man gyno bloke is seriously impressed by my bits and has declared, with the gravitas that only medical training gives you, that I am a SUPER-FEMALE!!!
Anyways, I digress. Back to the seesaw of menstrual chaos that results in a whole gamut of skin and hair woes.
The upside of having a crazy monthly monster (I am trying really hard to be positive) is that I have tried many, many hair and beauty products to combat the various ways mother nature tries to bring me down, and so I'm going to share these with you. You're welcome!
Period problem: red, blotchy skin
This happens around 9-7 days before my period. Red patches on my cheeks, like I'm having a hot flush. Permanently. This is, by and large, because skin is more sensitive before a period so it’s likely to freak out a little.
Solution: Avene Eau Thermale Anti Redness Rich Moisturising Cream
Oh, how I love this stuff. This ultra-natural pale green cream just knocks the edge off the redness and really lightly moisturises, too, so I don't get greasy skin by applying over the top of my daily moisturiser. I honestly love it. £13.50, boots.com
Period problem: dry patches of skin under my eyes and across the bridge of my nose
Around 2-3 days after the red patches I get really dry, flaky skin but always only on my nose and under my eyes.
This is a little harder to tackle. At night I use a really thin layer of vitamin E oil. I usually buy vit E supplements and pin-prick a capsule and use that, that way the oil stays fresher for longer; vitamin E oil goes rancid pretty quickly if it's exposed to the air. Any residue that's left over I smooth onto my lips.
Period problem: puffiness, all over, not just in the face but EVERYWHERE
I gain around five pounds two/three days before my period. This means that I look and feel bloated, and in actual fact, I am.
It may seem a little vain, and certainly stupidly expensive, but I've found that Rodial Body Sculpture helps. It gives my skin a tingling, tightening feeling, that whether or not results in a smaller dress size, I dunno, but it makes me feel better, and during my ‘special time’ I’d pay anything to feel a little less Sumo. £75, rodial.co.uk
Period problem: dull, tired, pale skin
Just before your period starts (for me, this is one or two days before) your body goes through erratic temperature changes. These results in a really difficult night's sleep; hot, cold, sweaty. As a result, the next morning I look pale, tired and feel as though I need scaffolding to hold up my face.
Instead I rely on ELF Corrective Concealer Erase & Conceal. It’s a quad of concealers in green, pink, beige and yellow, yes, weird but believe me, the magic of these crazy colours is that they cancel out the reds, blues and browns that besiege my complexion. Yellow under my eyes for dark circles; lilac on my eyelids to make my eyes look wide awake; green on all the spots and red patches, and beige everywhere else to even out my skin tone. £3.75, eyeslipsface.co.uk
I pat a little Sanctuary Illuminating Moisture Lotion because it gives skin a bit of a glow, and although my skin is now even and my eyes look bright, I still need to fake a healthy glow. £13.72, boots.com
Period problem: suddenly greasy hair, like, really suddenly
The day before, or sometimes just a few hours before my period starts my hair looks fine, fine, I tell you. Then I have some kind of superhuman surge of oil and my hair is suddenly greasy, really, really greasy.
I need something that is going to wash my hair but also give me the sort of emotional support that stops me from sobbing constantly and eyeing up window ledges on very tall buildings… Apparently, that’s a bit much to ask from a shampoo, so instead I use something else...
Pass the body wash. But it’s not just any old body wash. Malin & Goetz Geranium Body Wash. Somehow it leaves my hair so shiny and clean that I really think they should re-brand and call it a shampoo. Plus, the heady, floral-peppery aroma of geranium does something to my mood that’s like a shot of St John’s wort straight into my central nervous system. I don’t go a bundle on aromatherapy but this stuff works! £15.50, uk.spacenk.com
Period problem: spots, all kinds, all sizes, pretty much everywhere
Finally, I have my period, and that hails an avalanche of spots on my neck and chin (big, red welts) and also on my forehead (small, bumpy little critters).
There is only one thing for this face furniture and that is Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Spot Treatment Gel. I put it on at night and in the morning my skin is definitely less spotty. Definitely. £13.50, clinique.co.uk
Then it’s a diet of dark chocolate, sloe gin, crying and sleeping for a week, lovely.