TikTok's latest skincare trend just might get your panties in a twist.
There's no denying that the video-sharing app is known for its viral beauty tips and tricks like the recent "I'm Cold" makeup look, the "vampire skin" effect and many others. And now, the buzziest skincare trend is all about using period blood to create a DIY face mask.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The hashtag, #periodfacemask, has become so popular on the social media platform that it has amassed more than six billion views. The hashtag #menstruationmasking has also picked up steam with almost three million views.
And while the skincare hack can hold different names on TikTok, the core of its purpose remains the same. Users are taking their period blood, generally collecting it with a menstrual cup, and smearing it all over their face in the hopes of achieving clear, glowing skin.
But before you start riding the (red) wave, you're going to want to read what skincare experts told E! News about the potential risks that can arise from trying this trend out.
Will using period blood as a face mask actually work?
Blair Hayes, a board-certified aesthetics physician assistant, told E! News there are several reasons why it's a big fat no.
"Our skin barrier doesn't allow blood to penetrate into our skin," she explained. "It needs some form of delivery method to get past the skin barrier."
According to the Skin By Blair Aesthetics founder, the anti-aging benefits associated with blood-derived treatments are effective if there's some sort of injury.
"This usually comes in the form of needles, micro-needling and lasers," she pointed out, adding, "there are very low levels of growth factors in your blood—or platelets—which make up less than one percent of your blood. Not a very effective number!"
A platelet-derived growth factor is one of many numerous growth factors that help regulate cell growth and division. But Hayes said the reason why medical professionals spin blood is to extract the platelets, which increases the concentration.
In short, she said that "there is zero scientific evidence" behind applying "whole blood" to the face as a skincare benefit.
As Dr. Michelle Koo, a board-certified plastic surgeon, noted, "The PRP (Platelet-rich plasma injections) utilized for improving skin quality is specially prepared and concentrated through a sterile test tube agar that concentrates the healing factors within the platelets."
How does a menstruation mask differ from a "vampire" facial?
First things first, a "vampire" facial—popularized by Kim Kardashian in a 2013 episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami—is a similar concept to PRP. The cosmetic treatment uses a person's blood (typically drawn from the arm), separates the platelets and then applies the blood back to the face. PRP, on the other hand, is a treatment that uses a patient's own blood cells to help heal a specific area, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Dr. Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist, broke it down for E! News, sharing, "Menstrual blood facials are not administered comparably to a PRP or 'vampire' facial, which uses micro-needling devices to push the nutrients from one's blood and plasma into the skin."
"But that doesn't mean you should be using a microneedle roller with your period blood facial," the Facet Dermatology founder said. "The biggest difference here is that period blood is not collected hygienically or processed properly for it to be delivered back to the skin in a useful way."
What are the benefits of using period blood as a face mask?
While many of our experts agree there are no benefits to this TikTok trend, Dr. Yadav summed it up best: "Aside from the fact that it is free, there is zero advantage to using menstrual blood on your skin."
What are the potential risks and is it safe to use?
All three of our experts pointed out that this trend is a recipe for infection.
"The collection of blood is not sterile, it is contaminated with microbes such as bacteria, yeast and even viruses that live within the uterus and vagina," Hayes explained. "When you smear your menses on your face, you're also transferring these microbes with it, which could lead to a nasty infection if your skin barrier isn't perfectly intact."
Translation: You better hope you don't have even a minor scratch.
As she put it, "How would you like to learn you have a sexually transmitted infection by waking up one morning, post-period-facial to chlamydial conjunctivitis or a herpes outbreak on your face?"
What are better alternatives to this trend?
While Hayes recommends trying a "vampire" facial instead of a period mask, Dr. Yadav suggested that you can't go wrong when you invest in good skincare products. And if you wanted some extra encouragement, Dr. Koo provided some words of wisdom.
"Avoid fads, look at the science," she said. "What is applicable for one use is not necessarily true in another use case. Avoid anything that seems too good and too fast to achieve your results."
She added, "In my opinion, nothing in life worth having comes without work or a price."
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