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My cycle routine is a series of intimate interviews with prominent female leaders to form a new dialogue around our menstrual cycle. We’re all different and we all have different routines or ways to deal - by sharing these stories, we hope to empower people with periods to better understand their cycle and learn how to work with their cycle, not against it.

Today we sat down with Nat to go TMI on her cycle routine..

Name: Nat Buchanan
Day job: Model, Actress and Founder of FLIPKIP
Location: Sydney 
Flow: Light to moderate
Length: 3-4 days 

Do you remember the first time you got your period?🩸

I got my period at 14. I was watching TV with my mum and sister and went to the bathroom and saw this brown smear in my undies. I simultaneously thought I was dieing and had somehow crapped myself. I whispered importantly in my mothers ear that “I needed to talk to her”. I had a deep, dramatic knowing that life as I knew it was over. I was very resentful of the whole puberty process already and this was just the cherry on top. I remember thinking, “what do you mean women bleed for 5 days and don’t die”? It was unthinkable. My mother handed me a pad and I felt like I was wearing a giant nappy that rustled when I walked. I sulked for rest of the day.

What's your period routine in a nutshell?

Light to moderate and usually lasts about 3.5 days. The week leading up to my period, I’m prone to being grumpy, emotional and unmotivated. I’ll want to move at a slower pace and be less social. I’ll feel more bloated everywhere but especially my stomach. My boobs will look and feel like planets. I’ll have night sweats 1-2 days before my period arrives. I’ll sometimes gain a new hormonal friend on my jawline that can’t be popped. I know it’s very close when I get cramps low in my pelvis. On day 1, if I’m at home I will use period undies. I’m usually woken up by cramps I feel in my uterus and back, and will need to take painkillers quickly or it will escalate. It’s generally the only time I experience any real discomfort. I use organic tampons when I’m working or exercising, and period undies at home and overnight.

What does self-care look like throughout your cycle?

I love having a shower, washing my hair, putting on a face mask, a fresh pair of period briefs and loose pj’s, before watching some kind of satisfyingly predictable show. I forgot snacks. Must have snacks. Not necessarily junk but an endless supply. I tend to go easy on the exercise, and lay in bed longer. I don’t come up with any good ideas. I don't reply to texts. I forage for more cuddles and kisses than usual. I drink lots of herbal tea.

Tell us about the relationship with your period? What was it like? When did it start to make more sense?

When I was younger, my periods were heavier and painful. It was a time of the month I resented and didn’t understand. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to draw a stronger tie between my emotional energy and my cycle. I can tune in more with how I’m feeling and why. Ive always felt connected to my period, whether its to the flow, pain or time. I was at one point so regular, it would arrive down to the hour. I think it’s about listening to your body, as cliche as that sounds. I don’t push myself to do workout now during that time. I try to give it the food it needs. I’m more grateful to experience my period, but they still suck.

What about period's and beauty? Do your beauty routines shift or change throughout your cycle?

Not drastically. I usually apply the same products all through the month. In recent times, I’ve started getting the odd hormonal spot on my jaw/chin so I might use a blemish treatment at night and do more face masks.

Whats your beauty routine and how does it change or adapt based on your period?

My morning skincare is pretty simple these days. I’ll use a scrub cleanser, hydration or Vitamin C serum, moisturiser and sunscreen. I always aim for no-makeup makeup that looks fresh, so I use a lot of cream products that layer well. My night routine involves an oil cleanser, retinol or exfoliant serum and moisturiser. I’ll tie my hair back so it doesn’t get tangled and sleep on the silk side of my FLIPKIP pillowcase. Sometimes when I run hotter leading up to my period, I will sleep on the linen side, but both sides are heat regulating.

Is there a product you turn to mid-breakout or a supplement or remedy you take to get that glow?

I’m a believer in Vitamin C serums, chemical exfoliants and Marine Collagen for a healthy glow. I’m terrible at drinking water but when I do, I see a big difference. For the odd breakout, I’ll usually try a detox mask or spot treatment more for the ritual of doing something, than for results. I find my spots will usually go away by themselves (if I can stop myself from picking them first). Sleeping on silk is also great for fighting congestion being antibacterial and doesn’t absorb my whole skincare routine.

How important is sleep to your period? Or do you prefer to hibernate?

When I dont get enough z’s, my brain doesnt perform like I need it too, which impacts my work. Im very much a morning person and a grandma at heart. I usually get my period overnight and have the worst sleep when it’s coming. I’m unsettled, have night sweats (a new thing, yay) and really weird dreams. I’ll almost find it impossible to sleep in. On Day 2, my sleep will return to normal.

Does your cycle get in the way of your relationship or dating life?

I usually feel like a failure, convince myself I’ve put on 10 kgs, cry at something minor — aaaand then I get my period the next day and everything makes sense again. I wish I wasn’t so textbook PMS. My partner will often go ‘Ah…it’s period week’ and knows what to do/where to hide. He also knows I’m more needy for attention and love once my period hits, so he gives me extra TLC (the saint).

Period sex - yes or no?

Typically no, but I am more inclined to enjoy other sensual activities. It’s such a pleasurable time of the month and your sensations are heightened, so why not enjoy it?

Does your period get in the way of your work?

It used to when I was younger. I would get really intense cramps and nausea on day 1, that would sometimes make me throw up or prevent me from standing. I would worry that my period would land on a work day and would take preemptive pain killers which usually worked if I took them early enough. Now my period is much more forgiving pain-wise. But I will be bloated as anything the week leading up to and on, which when you’re modelling is not ideal. Somehow all my swimwear jobs have fallen on Day 1 (so fun), but I find drinking water, avoiding salt & diary, exercising and taking ibuprofen helps.

Is there certain times of the month where you feel more creative than others?

I feel a bit sluggish the week leading up to my period. I adjust my exercise, diet, social calendar and work if I can. Day 3 and onwards, I have a burst of energy. I feel like doing vigorous exercise and have so much mental clarity. There really is such a link between shedding our lining and shedding our past self. I feel each month is a kind of rebirth that invites my creativity and confidence back.

What 3 tips would you give your teenager self?

  1. I remember being so embarrassed to buy pads as a teenager, that I would hide them under a stack of other items I didnt even need. Find someone, friends, fam, that you feel comfortable talking about your period to help normalise a very normal thing.
  2. Discomfort doesn’t need to be something you just ride out. If you're experiencing painful periods, see a doctor you trust. I have too many friends that sucked up period pain as teens because ‘that’s what women do’, and were diagnosed much later with endometriosis.
  3. Take time exploring what period care (undies, tampons, cups) feels best for you, not what your friends might be using. Also if a partner is too immature to talk about periods, they're too immature to have sex.

TV series, or Podcasts Im obsessed with right now:

Just finished watching The Boys. Very weird, very entertaining. I often drive listening to On Purpose with Jay Shetty or Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett for inspiration on business and mindfulness..

A bad habit Im trying to break: 

Looking at my phone first thing in the morning.

Self-pleasure or be pleasured: 

Both!

Favourite style of period underwear?

I love the brief. I wear them at night on my period and love the secure feeling they give me.

If I could only use 3 beauty products for the rest of my life they would be:

I need about 50 hair products just to walk out the door so this is hard. Let’s say…SPF 50+ Sunscreen, Concealer and my hair brush!

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