Erm, does TikTok's viral #periodbloodfacemask trend actually work?

From 'healthy coke' to 'internal showering' and even 'vabbing' (also known as: using your vaginal ~juices~ as a perfume), there seems to be no end to the weird and sometimes wonderful health trends you can find on TikTok. Yes, whilst many of us have managed to upgrade our sleeping habits thanks to the social media platform, that's not to say that every trend you see on TikTok has real-life benefits.

Take TikTok's #periodbloodfacemask trend, for example, which has been taking over our feeds since the end of 2022. With over seven million views under the hashtag, it's safe to say that the trend has garnered a lot of attention. But – importantly – does rubbing period blood on your face actually do anything!?

What is the #periodbloodfacemask trend?

If you have been on TikTok at all recently, you'll have no doubt seen a fair few people adding period blood into their skin care routine. One TikToker claims that her skin is the "best it's ever been" since she started using menstrual blood as a face mask, as another says that period blood "heals" the skin.

Does the #periodbloodfacemask trend work?

What is period blood made up of?

Before we get into the question of whether the #periodbloodfacemask trend can be beneficial for the skin, let's first learn what period blood is made up of.

"When you have a period once a month, your blood loss contains dead, sloughed-off endometrial cells," explains Dr Deborah Lee at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, who adds that this uterus lining "shed" contains "blood, cervical cells, vaginal cells and natural genital secretions, including cervical mucus." In fact, Dr Lee points out that one study revealed that period blood is only made up of 34% blood, and 64% other elements.

Does period blood contain any nutrients, minerals or stem cells?

"Blood contains red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma," Dr Lee tells us. "It also contains everything else your body needs to stay alive – such as glucose, vitamins, minerals, hormones, cholesterol and clotting factors. Blood also contains enzymes which are essential for biochemical reactions."

"Endometrial stem cells are also present in period blood," the expert says. "These are cells which have the ability to proliferate rapidly and differentiate into many different types of new endometrial cells," Dr Lee adds, pointing out that: "They may be one of the underlying causes of endometriosis."

what a doctor thinks of tiktok's period blood face mask trend
gemma ferrando & jeremie roman - Getty Images

So, if period blood contains all this 'good stuff' is it healthy for your skin?

No, says Dr Lee, who stresses that "period blood is old blood and contains dead cells" – in addition to bacteria, which we'll come onto later.

"Old sloughed-off endometrial cells and dead red and white blood cells are all dead and decaying tissues," she says, adding that the stems cells found in menstrual blood are also "highly unlikely to have any therapeutic action on the face as, by the time they are applied, they are likely to be dead."

"Although stem cells can live for a long time when correctly harvested, they need to be kept in the correct conditions," Dr Lee notes. "Stem cells in period blood are old cells which, once they are exposed to the air and left to dry, will die quickly."

"None of the constituents of old menstrual blood would fulfil any of these skincare roles," she says of the so-called benefits of the trend that we've seen on TikTok. "In fact, applying it to the skin is more likely to worsen acne and generate a skin infection – such as folliculitis, impetigo, abscesses, erysipelas or cellulitis."

Are there any risks with putting period blood on your face?

As Dr Lee explains, it's unlikely that period blood offers any benefits to your skin care routine – but there are risks. "Because menstrual blood has passed into the vagina, where it can stagnate for several hours before being removed, for example, on a tampon or in a menstrual cup, and due to the close proximity to the rectum, it is likely to be highly contaminated with bacteria – including staphylococcus aureus which is the cause of Toxic Shock Syndrome," she points out.

On top of that, Dr Lee notes that according to forensics specialists, "dried blood is one of the most dangerous substances you can come into contact with because of the risk of transmission of infection." Explaining this, Dr Lee says that many types of bacteria and viruses can live for three to four days in dried blood. "Sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C and others, like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), can all exist outside the body for long periods."

As for how this bacteria can enter through the skin, she tells us: "They can enter through the skin where there are any small breaches, for example on the face, there may be micro-abrasions, acne lesions or other areas of inflammation. They can also enter via the mucous membranes – the eyes, nose or mouth."

In addition to the risks posed to yourself, Dr Lee notes that others could be vulnerable, especially those who you share a space with. "These organisms can live on taps, shower heads, toilet handles, sinks, basins and any shared devices such as razors or toothbrushes," she says.

what a doctor thinks of tiktok's period blood face mask trend
gemma ferrando & jeremie roman - Getty Images

A doctor's verdict on the #periodbloodfacemask trend

"Some women may be getting confused with the difference between menstrual blood and platelet-rich plasma (PRP)," she adds. "PRP has been used with some success to treat the changes of skin ageing. However, this means the patient has their own blood sample taken, which is spun down in the lab, and the white and red blood cells are removed to leave a concentrated sample of platelets and plasma. This is then injected into the skin by a dermatologist."

Notably, Dr Lee points out that: "Menstrual blood would not contain such a high concentration of platelets, it still contains red and white blood cells, and it is merely smeared onto the face, not injected. The two treatments are entirely different [and] if you are interested in PRP, you need to see a properly qualified dermatologist who specialises in this field."

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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