R + Co Dark Waves Body Wash

“As someone who spent almost their entire childhood by the ocean, I’m continually chasing products that replicate that musky, salty scent.

Few brands can, but R + Co’s new Dark Waves Body Wash does it effortlessly with a unique mix of citrus, sichuan pepper, amber, and patchouli.

If you’re already dedicated to your current shower routine, this scent also comes in body lotion and candle forms.” — Nicola Dall’Asen, digital staff writer.

Pat McGrath Labs Chromaluxe Hi-Lite Cream in Astral Blue Star

“Squeeze the Pat McGrath Labs Chromaluxe Hi-Lite Cream out of the ointment-like foil tube to reveal a white paste.

As you rub it into skin, it transforms into the sparkliest blue pigment I’ve ever graced my face with.

Depending on how the light hits it, it shifts to a shimmering lilac. Trust me when I say, it looks incredibly dreamy at all angles, though.

You can tap it onto your cheekbones for an otherworldly glow, but I prefer to add it to my lids for an easy, glitzy look.” — Devon Abelman, digital beauty editor.

Glossier Futuredew

“I love the look of my skin after I do my skin-care routine. It looks glowy and fresh, and makes for the perfect canvas to put makeup on top of.

Thanks to my dry skin, though, it takes a lot of different skin-care products to achieve this perfect dewy look. Futuredew has been a true lifesaver.

This oil-and-serum hybrid, made with jojoba oil, rosehip oil, and sugarcane squalane, helps me use less product in order to achieve the same look.

It gives my face a nice shine that shows through my makeup. The bottle is also very cute, and honestly, I only use a tiny bit at a time because I don’t want to use it all up.” — Sabrina Chatlani, associate social media manager.

Colorescience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy

“The first time I went to squeeze a little bit of Colorescience’s Total Eye out of its contoured, cooling applicator tip, I already knew I was getting more than the average eye cream.

In addition to sophisticated ingredients that promise to smooth little lines and reduce puffiness — like peptides, hyaluronic acid, and algae — includes mineral sun filters for SPF 35 protection.

What I didn’t know was that the light-yet-creamy formula would be peach-colored. As I applied it, it became immediately apparent that the tint was counteracting the grayish tones of my dark circles while remaining undetectable, and the texture made it perfect to serve as a primer for concealer.

That said, on days I don’t feel like wearing foundation and concealer, a little bit of this brilliant multitasker by itself is more than enough to brighten up my eye area and make me look more refreshed while blending in seamlessly with bare skin.”— Marci Robin, contributing editor.

Neon Mélange Sweater

Neon Mélange Sweater
She doesn’t believe in ugly sweater season.

Shests Are the Comfortable Trend You’ll Want to Try Before Fall

Hanna Lassen/Getty Images

What if we told you it was possible to double your wardrobe without spending extra money? It’s something the world’s most fashionable people know all about, and the secret, of course, lies in finding new ways to wear old stuff.

Take vests, for example, which came back into our lives for 2020 (blame Little Women), right along with popcorn shirts and twin sets. In our minds, figuring out how to wear one was easy: you layer it over a top — a button-down, a sweater, maybe something ruffled — and call it a day.

However, ladies like Bella Hadid and a handful of street style stars have been skipping a step. They’re wearing nothing underneath, and styling their vest as if it were a shirt — a shest, if you will.

Popcorn Shirts Are on the Verge of a Comeback and, Honestly, I’m Very Confused

Samantha Sutton

Out of all the questionable things I wore during my late-’90s and early-’00s youth, popcorn shirts — aka magic bubble shirts, or scrunchie shirts, as they’re called on occasion — were definitely among the most confusing.

A shirt that’s initially tiny enough to fit a doll, but expands large enough to fit your dad? Kind of strange, but apparently appealing to my middle school self, who proudly wore a floral printed one purchased from Limited Too.

After this trend died down, these shirts slowly made their way to drugstore clothing aisles, and then to the verge of extinction. At the same time, I added this stretchy top to my ‘never again’ fashion list — but now, I’m reconsidering that choice.

Happy, Floppy Hats Are Taking Over This Summer

This playful accessory instantly makes every outfit better.

Georgie Hunter/Getty Images
Whenever I hear the word “hat,” I automatically think of cold weather. It’s something you grab before you head out the door, along with your scarf and gloves, or maybe it’s a felt beret you decide to style with your sweater. But hats — especially those with a wide brim — are indeed a summer staple. And for 2020, the trend seems to be the bigger and floppier the better.

To be honest, it’s hard to think of a summer outfit that wouldn’t be made better with the help of this accessory. Throwing on a simple gingham romper? A straw hat will make it even cuter and retro. Is that breezy sundress looking a little…meh? Add a floppy floral option as your statement piece. Even at the beach or pool, big hats are considered a must-have. On top of turning bathing suits into a full look, they’ll also shield you from the sun. It’s a win-win.

SPF-Infused Skin Tint Blurs Fine Lines and Plumps Skin — and It’s Currently on Sale

A cult-favorite for a reason, this clean formula blends makeup, skincare, and sun protection all in one.

Three’s a crowd — luckily, ILIA Beauty’s Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 eliminates the need for a trio of separate bottles on your vanity. The makeup-skincare hybrid combines SPF, foundation coverage, and hydrating ingredients into one lightweight, silky-smooth formula — and thanks to the arrival of the brand’s friends and family sale, it’s currently discounted to just $37.

The blend of nourishing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, squalene, niacinamide, and aloe, keep skin hydrated throughout wear, while non-nano zinc oxide protects from damaging sun rays and blue light. Since a little bit of the serum goes a long way, it’s a great option for those seeking a dewy finish that won’t feel heavy during the summertime.

Canceling out any and all imperfections from blemishes to fine lines and wrinkles, the skin tint will give a radiant, smoothing boost across all skin types. And, since it’s non-comedogenic, silicone-free, fragrance-free, and chemical screen-free, even those with the most sensitive skin can use it regularly without fear of irritation or breakouts.

Shop now: $37 (Originally $46); iliabeauty.com

Hourglass’ New Lengthening Mascara Is Like Lash Extensions in a Tube

It does not smudge.

My quarantine makeup routine has been minimal at best.

Even on days when I have a ton of Zoom calls, I rarely go beyond applying some concealer and tinted lip balm.

Pre-coronavirus, I used to find the methodical way I applied my makeup every morning to be a calming, grounded way to start my day. Now, going through a full routine seems frivolous. Not to mention, I’ve been letting my skin breathe because I’ve been in hormonal breakout hell since stay-at-home orders started. But, that’s another story.

So, right now, a product needs to be ridiculously good in order for me to take the extra effort to apply it.

Like the name says, the brand’s newest mascara is meant to instantly give lashes as much length as you would get from lash extensions. The vegan formula also defines and lifts lashes, thanks to a special film-forming tubing technology that coats each lash with smudge-proof fibers. As for the brush, it has rubber bristles that capture every single lash.

To buy: $29; sephora.com.

Why These Twin Eritrean Political Refugees Made Sure To Own 100% of Their Beauty Brand

Getting venture capital funding is often an uphill battle for Black-owned businesses.

Courtesy of 241 Cosmetics
In the Los Angeles loft headquarters of 2.4.1 Cosmetics, gray walls give way to a calming and warm ambiance, with flowers and flickering candles framing the space. The founders’ own quote, “Don’t let the eyeliner fool you” sits on a wall. It’s a nod to one of their first products: a rich black eyeliner named “Wing It,” that caters to cat eye lovers.

The company’s aura is a reflection of its leaders, twin sister Eritrean political refugees Feven and Helena Yohannes. The two are on a quest to instill confidence, kindness, and integrity in women with their beauty brand, as they say, “one eyeliner at a time.”

2.4.1 Cosmetics is a clean and classic collection of cruelty-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free lipsticks and lip glosses, eyeshadows, and liquid and gel eyeliners, each with a name that has special meaning.

“We were really intentional about naming the products,” Feven shares, referencing their creamy nude Role Model, pinkish-brown Honor, and mauveish plum Redemption lipsticks as examples.

They were just as intentional about the products itself.

“We’re not trend driven,” Helena says. “2.4.1. is not just about a woman looking good. It’s her feeling good as well,” Feven chimed in. “The essence of 2.4.1 is deeply rooted in our early memories as political refugees, and the idea that women are resilient and strong.”

That echoes in the company’s beauty philosophy which describes the 2.4.1 girl as one with “both brains and beauty,” who knows to enhance her beauty and not conceal it. “It is soul deep makeup for all women,” Helena said.

In less than a year after launching 2.4.1 Cosmetics in July 2019, the Yohannes sisters’ products have already been selling out. And a few weeks ago, beauty veteran Bobbi Brown announced on Instagram that she would be mentoring the pair after already supporting the brand months beforehand.

To shop: $22; 241cosmetics.com

Feven and Helena’s determination to be a force in the beauty industry on their own terms is a testament to their past — and how much it took to get to where they are now.

They were born in a refugee camp in Sudan in the early 80’s in the midst of the Eritrea-Ethopia war (which their father fought and suffered injuries in) that lasted from 1961 to 1991, and came to the United States via the green card lottery.

Seeking a better life for their family, their five-foot tall mother waited in the lottery line, which was half a mile long, carrying Feven on her back and Helena on her chest. On a stroke of luck, they were spotted and moved to the front. The Yohannes family was sponsored by a Presbyterian church in Rochester, New York, and eventually moved to the U.S. to build a new life.

Settling into a new country and new home was what helped Feven and Helena develop an affinity for makeup. “Beauty has been a vessel for connection with a lot of women that we know in our lives,” Helena says.

They would do makeovers for girls in their neighborhood at only eight or nine years old. “It was a way for us to make friends. We were these Eritrean immigrants who moved to this predominantly white neighborhood,” Helena continues. “We were just trying to connect with them. We wanted people to feel good about themselves.”

In August 2016, they turned their childhood passions into a business, and started their journey to launch their cosmetics company. After nailing down their name, they networked with as many people in the beauty industry and in business as possible, and researched beauty product creation from top to bottom.

Jodie Turner-Smith Looks Like a Totally Different Woman With Long Hair

The Queen & Slim actress got real about her past insecurities.

Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Jodie Turner-Smith made waves this fall as the leading lady of the instant box office hit Queen & Slim, and she’s been having fun while out promoting the film by trying out different hairstyles for her short cut.

The star has worn headwraps, tried classic finger waves, and even played with a little color. But we’ve yet to see Turner-Smith with long hair (aside from the occasional set of box braids), until now.

On Dec. 17, the actress posted an early TBT of her high school yearbook photos where she had long, straight hair. In the caption, Turner-Smith opened up about her journey to getting to a place where she felt comfortable in her own skin.

“I’m humbled when I look at this girl. 17 year old me. Not just because of how I look on the outside, but because I remember how I felt on the inside,” she wrote. “I remember how badly I hated myself and hated the dark skin that made people call me ugly. How I turned my helplessness at being unable to change my outward appearance inward, by constantly cleaving away any and all parts of myself that I was told made me unacceptable to others.”

The actress went on to describe how at the time she exhausted herself by trying to change her appearance in an effort to be more acceptable to those around her. But looking back now, she sees a totally different girl.

“I am grateful for the girl in these photos and for every part of this journey,” she shared. “Because I couldn’t be me, now, if I wasn’t first her, then. When you know what it feels like to hate yourself, finally loving yourself is a freedom that cannot be matched by anyone else’s approval. Also worth noting — I was voted Most Likely To Succeed! But we all thought it would be in somebody’s office.”

Is It Normal to Bleed After Sex?

Here, eight reasons why you may be seeing blood after sex — and when you need to head to your gynecologist.

Sophie Mayanne/Getty Images

Considering we equate blood with injury, bleeding after sex can be particularly terrifying. But, when it comes to post-coital bleeding, it’s usually not cause for serious concern, assures Makeba Williams, M.D., ob-gyn at UW Health in Madison, WI.

In fact, roughly 6 to 9% of women worldwide have bled after sex, according to a 2014 review in Obstetrics and Gynecology International — although some gynecologists believe this number is likely much higher.

A lot of the time, the red surprise is a sign of hormones fluctuating or some kind of inflammation. That’s part of the reason bleeding post-sex is most common around 20 to 24-year-olds, when women often start birth control and issues like cervical ectropion, cervical polyps, are most likely (more on all of this below). And in roughly half of women, any instance of bleeding after sex will resolve itself, says that same study review.

But it can be a marker of something more serious — namely, cervical cancer. And because of that, you should always pay attention to and tell your doctor if you bleed after sex more than once, adds Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University.

To soothe your anxiety until you wait for your appointment, check out the eight most common reasons women bleed after sex.

You got your period early.

The problem: If you weren’t due to get your period, there’s still a chance it’s the cause of your spotting. Upping your exercise frequency, being uber-stressed, starting new birth control,  changes to your sleep habits — there are a ton of environmental and hormonal causes that can deliver an early or unexpected period, says Santa Monica-based ob-gyn Sherry A. Ross, M.D., author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.

The fix: If it happens once or twice, it’s not cause for alarm, but if your period continues to be unpredictable, be sure to tell your doctor.

You aren’t producing — or using — enough lubrication.

The problem: If your estrogen levels are low — which happens naturally during menopause, perimenopause, or while breastfeeding — your vagina gets less blood flow. This causes the vaginal tissue to become less elastic, creating more friction during sex and potentially causing you to bleed, Dr. Minkin explains. But even among young women, if you aren’t very aroused before sex, this dryness can also create friction.

The fix: If your issue is hormonal, use an OTC moisturizer like Replens two to three times a week to keep the tissue moist. If you aren’t getting aroused enough before sex, tell your partner to spend a little longer on foreplay to up the chances you’ll get wet naturally. For either cause, come game time, use a lubricant like Replens Silky Smooth or Good Clean Love as needed during sex.

Your hormones are causing cervical ectropion.

The problem: Another possible cause for bleeding is cervical ectropion. This is when the soft cells that usually line your cervical canal have spread to the outer surface of your cervix, where cells are normally hard. If your partner hits them during sex, you’ll bleed, Dr. Minkin explains. Some women are born with this fairly common condition, but it can also be caused by fluctuating hormones — namely, from taking the birth control pill.

The fix: See your ob-gyn for a pelvic exam. The easiest solution may be changing your birth control. But if that’s not an option or doesn’t solve the bleeding alone, there are a number of therapies your doc can do to treat cervical ectropion — namely cauterization of the area under local anesthesia using heat (diathermy), cold (cryosurgery), or silver nitrate.

You’ve been in a dry spell — and now your partner is really big.

The problem: “Lacerations to the entrance of the vagina are a common cause of bleeding after sex if it’s been a while,” says Dr. Ross. A common cause of the small cuts and tears: a large or thick penis, and a small vaginal opening. Going deep can also cause the small lesions, she adds.

The fix: Start by lubing up liberally. If you’re still seeing small tears in your skin, Dr. Ross suggests talking to your doc about vaginal dilators, plastic tube-shaped devices used to stretch the vagina over time. While that may sound slightly terrifying, they shouldn’t cause any pain if used slowly and gently and can help keep your vagina more elastic.

You’re pregnant.

The problem: Your cervix becomes very soft when you’re pregnant, especially the closer you are to full-term. Even gentle contact with the cervix is enough to cause bleeding, Dr. Williams points out. So if your man (or toys) are well-endowed, it might cause spotting.

The fix: This is a natural by-product of your body preparing for delivery, so there’s no solution. But do mention it to your ob-gyn, especially if there’s a lot of blood, since it could be a sign of other concerns like cervical ectopy or placenta issues, Dr. Williams adds.

You have an infection.

The problem: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and things like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis create inflammation in the vaginal tissue and cervix. Irritation from sex can cause the tissue to then bleed. This is especially true for chlamydia, but also gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and herpes, Dr. Williams says.

The fix: Always use a condom when not in a mutually monogamous relationship and get an STI test after every new partner. If you experience bleeding and think it’s from an infection, go see your ob-gyn who can prescribe treatment, whether it’s antibiotics or an antifungal cream.

You have cervical polyps.

The problem: Benign cervical polyps — that is, non-cancerous growths that pop up on the cervix — are quite common in women over 20, Dr. Ross explains. Docs aren’t quite sure why they happen — it may be from long-term inflammation, an increase in estrogen levels, or clogging of blood vessels. But hitting one of these during sex can cause bleeding.

The fix: Your ob-gyn looks for polyps during routine pelvic exams and pap smears. Usually, they coincide with vaginal discharge and heavier-than-usual periods. If this is the cause, your doctor can perform a simple procedure to remove them in-office.

You have cervical cancer — or a precancerous condition.

The problem: The biggest concern with post-coital bleeding is that it’s a sign of cervical cancer. Fortunately, that’s rare in young women — roughly 3 to 5% of women worldwide who bleed after sex have cervical cancer. However, up to 18 percent have cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precancerous condition in which abnormal cells grow on the surface of the cervix, according to a 2014 review in Obstetrics and Gynecology International. That’s why you need to tell your doc about any issues.

The fix: “Cervical cancer is one disease that we can almost totally prevent by women getting the HPV vaccine,” Dr. Minkin points out. In fact, the current formula protects you from about 90 percent of cervical cancers — so if you haven’t gotten it yet, talk to your doctor.

Suicide Is a Leading Cause of Death Among New Moms

Maternal deaths by suicide are an unrecognized — and preventable — public health issue. Why isn’t anyone talking about it?

Maura Felter
This is Real Women, Real Bodies: Your destination for trusted health and wellness advice, reflecting the untold experiences of people like you. This month, we’re exploring maternal mental health, including the myths and misconceptions surrounding motherhood.

In January, at a pediatrician appointment for my then six-month-old daughter, I was handed an iPad-like device and asked to respond on a scale of 1 to 10 to prompts such as: ‘In the past seven days, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things,’ and ‘I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.’

The questionnaire is part of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), which is used to detect postpartum depression among mothers globally. A score of 10 or higher, or a positive answer to question #10 — ‘The thought of harming myself has occurred to me’ — is suggestive of postpartum depression, while women who score above 13 are likely suffering from a depressive illness of varying severity.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends screening all women at least once for depression and anxiety during the perinatal period, which is usually defined as the later weeks of pregnancy through the weeks following birth. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages pediatricians to screen new moms at the one-, two-, four-, and six-month mark. But just because it’s encouraged, doesn’t mean it’s done. I’m actually at a forward-thinking pediatrician’s office in that they do these screenings.

It feels impersonal, but screenings are important. They can catch mental health conditions early. They can save lives.

Amid reports that 15 to 20 percent of women experience a perinatal mood disorder (PMAD) during pregnancy or up to a year postpartum, including depression, anxiety, or OCD, what often goes unreported is that suicide is a leading cause of death in the postpartum period.

A recent study in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that deaths by suicide, in combination with accidental drug-related deaths, accounted for almost 20 percent of postpartum deaths. That study — which looked at about one million women who gave birth in California from 2010 to 2012 — found that of 300 women who died during a one-year follow-up period, suicide was the seventh leading cause of death, accounting for 15 deaths. (The leading cause of death was obstetric-related problems.)

Data suggests the rate of maternal mortality by suicide varies from 5.3 to 6.5 percent; about the rate of death by suicide for women. But the number of deaths by suicide among new mothers is still higher than expected, explains Claire Margerison, Ph.D., a perinatal epidemiologist at Michigan State University who co-authored the The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology study.

Moms are also often left out of the suicide conversation. “Suicide is a big problem in the U.S. Rates have been increasing but mothers, especially new mothers, are not focused on when we talk about suicide prevention,” says Sidra Goldman-Mellor, Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, Merced.

Further: A recent review of research published in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology calls these deaths an “unrecognized and preventable outcome.”

So why aren’t we talking about it?

Why Maternal Suicide Remains a Silent Issue
The reasons that maternal death by suicide remains underreported are many, starting with issues involving how these deaths are reported in the first place.

First, while today, death certificates in all 50 states include a pregnancy status ‘checkbox’, that addition is fairly new. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged states to include the checkbox — and, according to the new data from the CDC released last week about maternal mortality in this country, it wasn’t until 2017 when the last state adopted this checkbox item.

But there is also an issue with how ‘maternal mortality’ is defined in the first place. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a ‘pregnancy-related’ death is a death of a woman while pregnant or within one year of the end of pregnancy, ‘maternal mortality’ is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy. Those new statistics about maternal mortality, released by the CDC in late January, include the 42-day definition.

But many argue this definition of maternal mortality falls short. It doesn’t include deaths deemed ‘accidental’ or ‘incidental’ meaning suicides are left out of the statistics, explains Panagiota Kitsantas, Ph.D., a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at George Mason University. “Currently, the process of identifying and correctly classifying maternal deaths due to self-harm is minimal to non-existent.”

She adds: “The lack of research studies in this field and funding resources, as well as the fact that suicide has been excluded from the definition of maternal mortality have turned maternal deaths by suicide into an unrecognized public health issue. This is sad given that it is a preventable outcome.”

It’s also challenging to differentiate maternal deaths due to suicide from other causes of death, such as drug overdose-related ones, Kitsantas notes. All of these reporting issues mean the number of maternal deaths by suicide could have been underestimated for years, she explains.

Then there’s the issue of the mere classification of terms such as postpartum depression (PPD). While you’ve likely heard ‘PPD’ before — and doctors have used it since the 1980s — postpartum depression was not even formally added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the “bible” of psychiatric disorders, until 1994.

Even today, PPD is referred to in the DSM as Major Depressive Disorder “with peripartum onset,” which means depressive episodes have occurred during pregnancy or in the four weeks postpartum. Researchers are currently working to get postpartum psychosis, a rare illness with symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and rapid mood swings, into the DSM.

It’s a step forward but many experts and organizations, including Postpartum Support International (PSI), a non-profit dedicated to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, feel as though the period following delivery should have been extended past a month “to recognize that real suffering often occurs during the first year.”

After all, some research finds that the peak in maternal deaths by suicide happens between 9 and 12 months postpartum — far past that month marker point.

Pregnancy, New Motherhood, and the Stigma That Lingers
Today, we know that monumental physical, hormonal, and brain changes take place during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

During the 40-some weeks of pregnancy, your hormone levels increase (levels of the hormone progesterone, often called ‘the pregnancy hormone,’ alone increase between six- and eight-fold), then, in 24 hours after delivery (or after a miscarriage or abortion) they are gone. “That’s a real jolt to the central nervous system,” explains Margaret G. Spinelli, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

The drop in hormones can impact receptors, neurotransmitters, and chemical details in the brain, she explains. While the ‘baby blues’ — a feeling of sadness or moodiness after giving birth — happen to about 80 percent of women, feeling depressed or even having mixed feelings during pregnancy, having a history of depression or bipolar disorder, or a lack of social support can all increase your risk of postpartum depression.

RELATED: Meghan Markle Is ‘Not Okay’ — and She’s Not Alone

In 2020, this is still relatively new information. Rewind to the early 1980s and you might find physicians in this country telling women that their mood was “protected” during pregnancy and postpartum, Dr. Spinelli explains. You’d find research papers making claims such as “the incidence of mental illness is substantially lower in pregnancy” and “without exception, the changes are in the direction of improved physical and psychological health after delivery.”

They’re incorrect statements, of course, says Dr. Spinelli, but at the time they created a workforce of doctors that didn’t know much — if anything at all — about mental health concerns in the perinatal period. In fact, Dr. Spinelli recalls having to travel to London in 1987 after med school to learn about perinatal mental illness because “there was no such thing as ‘perinatal psychiatry’ in the United States,” she says.

Today, stigma around mental health — specifically mental health during pregnancy — still exists.

“Maternal death by suicide clashes or counters the societal idealism of a pregnancy and the overall picture of a happy mother and her infant as being positive and rewarding experiences,” explains Kitsantas.

Amplified by the belief that disclosing mental health problems may lead to possible parental rights termination, it may even deter women from seeking mental health treatment, she says. It also could lead new moms to lie on mental health screenings like the one I took. With little context, holding an iPad sitting in the pediatrician’s office with your newborn baby responding to statements like, things have been getting on top of me, you might not always be inclined to tell the truth.

In fact, a 2018 study found that stigma was the biggest barrier for women in disclosing postpartum mood symptoms, and it can have devastating effects.

“This ‘clash’ between what society recognizes as the norm (a happy expectant mother) and the despair, depression, and psychotic symptoms a pregnant women or a new mother may experience may drive them toward suicide ideation and attempt,” says Kitsantas.

RELATED: The Postpartum Symptom No One Warns You About? Rage

What You Can Do to Help
Suicide is a complex issue. And when it comes to addressing the issue of maternal suicide, there are broader societal, cultural, and infrastructural changes that must take place.

For one, increasing awareness of the emotional changes that go on during pregnancy, something groups such as PSI work to do, is key in changing the conversation about how a pregnancy or postpartum period might look or feel.

“Changes in health insurance policies and public funding for access to mental health services and treatment can greatly help those pregnant and postpartum women who are in need of these services,” adds Kitsantas. “Finally, standardizing the definition of maternal mortality to include maternal deaths resulting from self-harming behaviors is an extremely important step in identifying and measuring this major preventable public health issue.”

On an individual level? There are almost always multiple reasons why someone might take their life, but experts say risk factors for maternal self-harm-related deaths include a depression diagnosis, substance use disorder, the presence of another psychiatric condition, a history of self-harm, current psychiatric care treatment, and recent illness onset, among other things.

According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, most people who die by suicide exhibit warning signs, including the below:

Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Talking about being a burden to others
Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
More research is needed to fully understand other factors, including personal and family history of mental illness, and how they influence the risk of suicide ideation and attempt in pregnant or postpartum women, Kitsantas says.

Finding a therapist or support group, building a support network, and learning to recognize warning signs, as well as having a plan to cope with them if they arise, can all help you help yourself in moments of need.

If you’re concerned about someone you love, speak up. Ask them: Have you had thoughts of suicide? Many people worry that asking this could actually increase the risk that someone dies by suicide but it does not increase risk, says Dr. Spinelli. “If anything, it’s a relief.”

If a person you love says that they are considering suicide, take them seriously, stay with them in a safe environment, and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255).

If you’re in crisis, call the hotline or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741, call 911, or go to your nearest hospital.

Maternal death by suicide is preventable.

How Your Anxiety Might Be Affecting You Physically — and What to Do About It

Anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million U.S. adults every year, are often characterized by nervousness, near-constant worry, racing thoughts, and other consuming mental health symptoms.

But anyone who lives with anxiety knows that it not only affects their mental well-being but their physical comfort, too, from their digestion to their likelihood of getting a decent night’s sleep.

Here, we’ll look at some of the ways in which anxiety can affect your physical health — and what you can do to reduce its impact on your everyday life.

RELATED: 5 Simple Ways to Be Less Stressed at Work

Gastrointestinal issues, such as indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, or heartburn, are some of the most common ways in which anxiety manifests itself physically, explains Rebecca Hedrick, M.D., a psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai.

Anxiety triggers the same fight-or-flight reaction in the brain that mortal danger triggered in our prehistoric ancestors, and when those instincts kick in, more blood flows to our muscles and away from our GI tract. As a result, our normal digestive processes slow down or stop.

Back in the prehistoric era, we’d have a chance to return to a state of rest after confronting a stressor like a predator, but nowadays our stressors come in the form of social media, the 24-hour news cycle, or financial woes — they’re “chronic,” as Dr. Hedrick describes them, and can be too prevalent to avoid.

In addition to chronic gut issues caused by existing in this constant state of responsiveness, rather than rest, there’s another factor at play.

Digestive issues can also spike with anxiety because when the body’s main stress hormone, cortisol, increases in production, so does stomach acid, explains Michael E. Ford, M.D., an internal medicine physician with NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Hudson Valley.

Taking an antacid (like Pepcid) should help mitigate this issue, Dr. Ford says.

Again, anxiety’s effect on sleep is closely tied to that fight-or-flight response — when the body is in survival mode, sleep is not a priority.

And, as described earlier, living with anxiety means that you shift into that mode pretty easily, and have a hard time shifting out of it.

“The brain is turned on to either fight or escape, and patients often times awake with ruminative or excessive worry about events in their life, preventing them from falling back asleep,” Dr. Ford explains.

Naturally, sleep disturbances can lead to excessive tiredness when you’re awake, and that’s on top of the fatigue that mental distress naturally causes. “Anxiety takes a lot of brain power. It burns a lot of calories; it uses a lot of energy to have all of those anxious thoughts,” Dr. Hedrick says.

She points out that many people will try to address this problem with caffeine, which only makes their anxiety worse. Instead, she suggests practicing healthy sleep habits like avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and screens before bed, and using a sleep mask or earplugs if needed.

Menstruation and Reproductive Health
According to Jessica Chan, M.D., an assistant professor and ob-gyn specializing in reproductive endocrinology at Cedars-Sinai, anxiety can contribute to irregular periods, fertility issues, and even worse symptoms of menopause.

Its impact on menstruation in particular is once again due to the fight-or-flight response that awakens when we feel anxious. That same increase in cortisol that messes with our GI tract also decreases our levels of reproductive hormones, which leads to a lack of ovulation and, in turn, irregular periods, Dr. Chan explains.

She adds that if your period has been irregular for three months, you should get in touch with your gynecologist.

The relationship between anxiety and fertility is more complex, Dr. Chan says. On one hand, research shows that people dealing with fertility experience anxiety, stress, and depression at higher rates than those who aren’t.

On the other hand, Dr. Chan believes pre-existing anxiety can lead to issues with fertility, considering anxiety’s effect on ovulation and menstruation, for one thing.

Beyond that, she notes that anxiety can have a negative impact on couples’ relationships and even lower sufferers’ libidos, which makes simply having sex, the initial step to conceiving, difficult.

Finally, anxiety can intensify such menopausal symptoms as sleep disturbances and hot flashes (which, Dr. Chan says, can feel very similar to an anxiety attack), as a result of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone decreasing in production.

Dr. Chan also says people who had been living with anxiety prior to transitioning into menopause may notice that their anxiety worsens at this point.

Rapid Heart Rate
This symptom usually crops up as soon as a bout of anxiety begins — and it can set off a vicious cycle that only makes those feelings of anxiety worse.

“Once somebody’s heart rate starts racing, a lot people will have palpitations — they feel the fluttery feeling of their heartbeat — and that feeling itself can trigger worsening anxiety, which can trigger a full panic attack,” Dr. Hedrick says.

This is yet another side effect of the body’s survival mode, which can be addressed with therapy and practiced relaxation — more on that below.

What You Can Do to Manage Anxiety and its Accompanying Symptoms
Right off the bat, Dr. Hedrick says to get in the habit of practicing any of the following relaxation techniques: diaphragmatic breathing, where you breathe into your belly as opposed to your chest; progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense and relax your main muscles one at a time;

body scanning, where you simply observe the sensations surrounding your body from head to toe; and, finally, mindfulness, in which you observe your feelings and environment in the moment without judgment.

Try them out when you don’t feel particularly stressed, so that when your anxiety does rise to the surface, you have these techniques down pat.

It’ll be incredibly useful to have these tools in your back pocket, but you should also make an appointment with a mental health care professional to learn more about the roots of your anxiety.

And, if you’re experiencing these physical symptoms on top of anxious thoughts, visit your primary care provider as well as a therapist.

Even though anxiety can contribute to issues around sleep, menstruation, and digestion, it’s important to make sure there isn’t an underlying physical condition or illness that’s causing them, too.

Surrealist Images

We always knew the coronavirus pandemic would lead to changes for the fashion world and, ultimately, the runway.

But, when Dior unveiled its Fall 2020 haute couture collection on Monday, at first via short film directed by Matteo Garrone, the fashion house included another unexpected twist.

The designs had been miniaturized, presented on doll-sized mannequins and arranged in a trunk meant to look like Dior’s Avenue Montaigne headquarters.

According to a press release from the brand, Maria Grazia Chiuri had been inspired by surrealism this time around, and she focused on the work of artists like Lee Miller, Dora Maar, and Jacqueline Lamba.

“Surrealist images manage to make visible what is in itself invisible,” the creative director said in a statement. “I’m interested in mystery and magic, which are also a way of exorcising uncertainty about the future.”

Where to but Michelle Obama’s Necklace?

The literal statement necklace is speculated to be a custom-made piece from ByChari, a Black-owned jewelry brand featured in ELLE’s 25 Jewelry Brands To Bookmark On Instagram.

The brand’s vibe is minimalist with a focus on light accessorizing. “Rather than create one-and-done pieces,” ELLE editors Nerisha Penrose and Justine Carreon write of the brand, “ByChari crafts simple, elegant necklaces and rings with subtle embellishments ensuring they’ll have more than a one-year residency in your jewelry box.”


Despite what 2020 has brought us, fashion designers are promising us the same level of imagination and star power as always. The fall-winter 2020 campaigns have arrived, casting a stoic John Waters in Saint Laurent and Gigi Hadid for Prada.

Fendi took it one step further, giving Chloe x Halle complete creative control to conceptualize their own Peekaboo shoot and video. Click through to see all the season’s best campaigns, here.