Beauty and Periods with Jessica Wu
Peter Do’s press director and founder of Period Space, Jessica Wu, shares her idea of beauty and dealing with pre-menstrual breakouts.
Whether you’ve heard of her or not, it’s likely you’ve seen Jessica Wu on Glossier’s and Apple’s ad campaigns. When she’s not modelling in front of the camera, Jessica is a freelance stylist and the press director for cult label Peter Do. BEAUBIT speaks to the 25-year-old about her career, the idea of beauty, and her site Period Space, a space dedicated to normalising common women’s health issues.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did your career as a stylist and model begin?
It’s so funny to think back to this, but in high school, I started a fashion blog. When I moved to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, I connected with a lot of the bloggers and creatives I got to know online. I met up with one of them, and we started a fun collaboration where I “styled” for the tests she had with agencies. After a few months of working with my own clothes, I realised that this was a potential career path and began to research how I could access samples.
As a fresh fashion student, one resource that appeared in plain sight was my peers; our annual fashion show was actually how I got to know Peter and his work! I slowly began to diversify my portfolio and did simple editorials for online publications and small magazines. When I graduated, I pursued styling seriously for two years, juggling editorial for exposure with commercial jobs like e-commerce or assisting with advertisements.
For modelling, I was lucky. I made a connection with Glossier early on; one of their photographers found me on Instagram, I went in for a casting, and then I ended up shooting with them! I’ve been working with them for 3 years now. And I think another huge factor in modelling was changing my look. After I went blonde (12 hours in my bedroom and bathroom with my friend David), I modelled for Apple, which really pushed off my modelling career. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to model for clients like AmorePacific, Laneige, Covergirl, NARS, Adidas, and ASOS.
And now you’re press director for Peter Do. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while expanding the work that you do?
I think one of the biggest challenges is maintaining the balance between all the pursuits I have. At Peter Do, the hard work has really paid off—the brand has grown immensely over a short 2 years, which is exciting and intimidating. With my role in the company expanding to beyond just press, managing my time between the roles at Peter Do is something that can be challenging at times.
One habit that I’ve implemented in all parts of my life for years now is list-making. It sounds so simple, but physically writing out a list of what needs to be achieved has always proved effective in reminding me of my tasks. I also do this at home for my other projects; the act of crossing off something on paper makes you feel really proud and relieved at the same time.
Your skin is amazing! Can you share your favourite beauty products and your typical skincare ritual?
In the morning, my typical skincare ritual consists of an essence (in place of toner), vitamin C serum, moisturiser, followed by sunscreen. I’ve been loving Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum and La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Brume Fraiche Invisible SPF 50. At night, it’s just essence, serum and moisturizer. Sometimes I’ll do a sheet mask before my routine—I really love Rael’s Hydration masks.
“I used to try to follow an intense 10-step skincare routine, but I finally realised that my skin didn’t need that. You should experiment with your own routine to figure out what’s best for you. “
On an everyday basis, I don’t wear much makeup, but the absolute holy grail product that I’ve been using religiously for years is the CLE Cosmetic’s CCC Cream, which has an added bonus of SPF 45. I’ve also been using the NYX Professional Makeup Matte Liquid Liner for 8 years now. When I feel like having more fun or am taking selfie content, I dip into the Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Norvina palette.
What’s the one thing you never leave the house without?
I never leave the house without lip balm. I always have good old Carmex on hand, or Mario Badescu’s Lip Balm.
What does beauty mean to you?
Societal standards for beauty will always fail us. When we try to find ourselves in someone else, we can’t succeed because we’re unique individuals. It’s human nature to want external validation, but from personal experience, I’ve learned that looking inwards is how beauty manifests.
“When we work to improve our inner qualities and focus on mental growth, our inner beauty can replace the pressures of cosmetic beauty.”
That isn’t to say that the emotional reward of self-awareness can’t manifest outwardly, as it has given me far more confidence about my presentation in society than ever before in my life. If anything, the inside reflects the outside, as cliche as that is!
You’re very open and real on social media about women’s health issues. What’s the story behind Period Space, and what do you hope to provide women around the world through it?
I’ve always had a very complicated and painful relationship with my period. I used to get heavy periods that lasted 2-3 weeks, every 2-3 weeks. I dealt with this quietly for most of high school; my mom would feed me copious amounts of Chinese herbal brews (which I remember looking and tasting like sticks and dirt!).
When I moved to New York, I was interning for someone who stressed me out so much that at one point, I was bleeding for three months straight. I suffered alone because I felt deep shame about the constant bleeding. It finally took overcoming the fear of a potential diagnosis to finally get to a doctor who could help. After finding a benign polyp in my uterus, we decided on hormonal birth control to try to regulate the bleeding. I’ve since had an on-and-off relationship with hormones to regulate my period; I’m currently on one that has worked pretty smoothly for about 2 years. While I don’t enjoy being dependent on hormones, it affords me some reassurance amidst the other stress in my life.
Period Space really began after a few DM conversations I had with my followers. I was sharing anecdotes from my period horror stories very openly and began to receive messages from people who had gone through similar situations and were feeling shame or helpless.
“My goal with Period Space is to create a safe space for people to not only access basic information about menstrual and reproductive health, but to also encourage conversation and foster an open dialogue around bleeding.”
Our Period Talk section is a collection of personal essays and research pieces written by our own community of followers. Periods and bleeding are still so stigmatised throughout the world, enough so that many women don’t know what’s going on with their own bodies for much of their lives. Through my platform, I hope to provide solace and comfort in letting people know that they aren’t alone and that countless others have gone through the exact same thing. I also hope that Period Space can give others the agency to practice body literacy, engage in conversations that de-stigmatise periods, and help people feel comfortable in their own skin.
What advice do you have for women struggling with heavy or irregular periods?
No two periods are the same! Irregular periods are common in many people because there isn’t even such a thing as a remotely “regular” period. We’re textbook-taught that periods last a week, you’ll get it every month exactly, and you’ll need a medium pad or tampons, when in reality that’s just not the case! Everybody’s body is different. Some people are genetically predisposed to have irregularities and severe conditions while others live with relatively painless and easygoing periods.
If your period is making you unable to participate in daily activities, even after remedies like heat pads or painkillers, it may be time to see a medical professional. Finding proper care is a daunting task, but one worth your energy and time. You deserve someone that cares for you in the right way. Don’t settle for one that isn’t addressing your concerns and needs!
Do you have a specific routine when it comes to dealing with premenstrual acne? Can we actively do anything ahead of our periods to reduce these breakouts?
When I get cystic pimples or a bad breakout, I use Zitsticka’s Killa Spot Clarifying Patch—I usually need repeat applications, but they can really do the trick. I drink a lot of water to flush out toxins and try not to wear a lot of makeup which might clog my pores during this sensitive time.
During my period, it’s rather unpredictable for me. So I think it’s important to stay fit, eat well, and take care of your body overall. Something as topical as skincare or deeper things like mental health is important. I think those altogether definitely reflect in my skin’s behaviour.
Jessica’s Beauty Picks
AmorePacific Vintage Single Extract Essence
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, SGD114
AmorePacific Essential Creme Fluid
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Brume Fraiche Invisible SPF 50, SGD20
Rael’s Hydration Sheet Mask, SGD22
CLE Cosmetic’s CCC Cream, SGD43
NYX Professional Makeup Matte Liquid Liner, SGD12.50
Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Norvina palette, SGD75
Zitsticka Killa Spot Clarifying Patch, SGD47.95
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