Embracing the Ebb and Flow
Rael’s 360° Approach to Holistic Cycle Care
Spring is finally here! Even though it's still pretty chilly in Bavaria, the sight of the first flowers and fresh greens and the longer days fill me with a sense of renewed energy and aliveness. It's interesting how we are acutely aware of the influence of the annual cycle of seasons on our lives and how we structure our days around the 24-hour cycle, yet we rarely talk about the cycle that governs a significant part of the lives of people who menstruate.
Sustainable Shopping Made Simple
Cycle Care is More than Period Products
Many of us have been conditioned to think of the hormonal cycle in terms of menstruation alone. When I first visited the Rael website for vetting the company, I read “cycle care” and immediately assumed this would be all about period products. However, the reality is that the ebb and flow of hormones govern not just menstruation, but a wide range of bodily functions, not to mention energy levels and moods. I love how Rael recognizes this and formulate their 360° approach:
Ever wonder why feminine care starts and ends with just the days of your period? We did. We believe women’s care should be holistic. Not just for one week of the month, or only one part of our body. From your face to your vulva, we've got you covered.
From “About Rael”
Yes, Rael offers a range of menstrual care options, from clean ingredient single-use products made with organic cotton to reusable alternatives such as washable pads and liners, period underwear, and menstrual cups. But their commitment to holistic cycle care goes beyond menstruation. Rael has also developed herbal heat pads to deal with cramps, natural vulva care, and a vegan skincare line that helps its customers feel great throughout their cycles. Recognizing that our skin's needs change throughout the month due to hormonal fluctuations, Rael provides products that cater to those unique needs, from acne-prone days to days when skin is more dry or sensitive.
Finding Balance in the Hormonal Rollercoaster
Hormonal fluctuations are natural, but sometimes, we don’t like the way they show up. Many of us are familiar with the frustration of hormonal acne, which can be particularly prevalent during certain times of the menstrual cycle. Instead of covering up those impurities, you could try Rael's solution to the problem: “Miracle Patches”. These discreet hydrocolloid patches are available in different variations, each designed for specific acne stages and areas, from pre-acne impurities to post-acne dark spots. The patches work by penetrating deep to extract oil and impurities while protecting the skin from further irritation, promoting faster healing, and reducing the urge to pick.
But it's not all bad news when it comes to the impact of hormones on our skin. There is a time in the middle of the monthly cycle when many women experience a glowing complexion and an overall feeling of looking and feeling their best. Rael calls this "Week 2 Skin" and goes on to explain:
Week 2 Skin is something every woman has, but may have never thought about. During the second week of your cycle, hormones align perfectly so you look and feel your best. We created Rael Beauty so you could feel that way all month." Rael Beauty products are specifically formulated to cater to the skin's unique needs during this time, leaving users with a glowing, healthy complexion all month long.
From a global standpoint, worrying about pimples or choosing between a menstruation cup or reusable period underwear is a very privileged problem. There are still large parts of the world in which menstruation products are not readily available or simply too expensive. Period poverty is a serious problem, not only in developing countries but also in the US. A 2019 study found that more than 60 out of a hundred women in the group (all from low-income households) had not been able to afford menstrual products at some point in the previous year. The term period poverty also includes the lack of education about menstruation. This may stem from the strong taboos around periods (or as one researcher wrote “anything that has to do with a uterus”).
It's great to see Rael’s mission to change that. In their own words:
We are committed to making clean and effective menstrual products for all women as part of our effort to bridge the gap between period poverty and menstrual dignity.
They encourage companies and institutions to provide free period products in the bathrooms and support two amazing nonprofits.
One of Rael's partners is #HappyPeriod, which is the first Black-led organization with a focus on menstrual health education, advocacy, and access. They are dedicated to spreading awareness about period health and providing people with affordable, healthy, and eco-friendly menstrual products. The organization also aims to break down the social stigma surrounding menstruation through education and advocacy.
Rael's second partner is "I Support the Girls," which collects and distributes essential items, including bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products, to people experiencing homelessness, impoverishment, or distress. The organization's mission is to provide individuals with the dignity they deserve, regardless of their situation.
Let’s talk about Periods!
I think Rael is doing a fantastic job of destigmatizing periods. Their educational blog posts are headed by “Get real with Rael” and talk openly about acne, mood swings, and PMS. They are not scared to address controversial topics on their social media, such as masturbation as a remedy for period cramps (that Instagram post got a lot of negative attention…)
Additionally, it's great to see that they use red liquids to demonstrate their products' absorbing powers. As a young girl, I remember seeing those strange blue liquids in TV advertisements, and even though I knew that it was “supposed” to be blood, that reinforced the idea that bleeding was something shameful and needed to be hidden. Rael's commitment to authenticity is an important step in normalizing and celebrating periods.
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Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.
Check out her website Landscape in Motion and follow Jennifer Scales | Fine Art on Instagram to see her artwork.