I thought hot flashes had been exaggerated for TV. I mean, how bad can hot flashes really be? As it turns out: really, really bad. Here's how to deal – in public, too.
How to stop hot flashes in their tracks_image2

What is happening to me? I’ve gone from being the coldest person in any room, always running around closing windows, to having hot flashes and peeling off layers of clothing when I can feel one coming on.

“Wow. Your face just got really red.” Great.

"Hey, you look really glowy.” Better, but maybe they’re just being polite?

In case this hasn’t happened to you yet, hot flashes are a freight train of intense upper-body sweating that washes over you on the reg when menopause sends estrogen levels into a nosedive, and your confused body has trouble regulating body temperature and overreacts to heat. They can happen as often as once an hour during the day and may even ramp up at night (when they’re known as night sweats), disturbing sleep and turning you into a short-tempered zombie by day.

Watching the first season of House of Cards, I understood why Robin Wright’s character, Claire, leans into her open fridge – it's a clever way of showing that she's going through "the change." But being cluelessly pre-menopausal, I thought it had been exaggerated for television. I mean, how bad can hot flashes really be? 

As it turns out: really, really bad.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in House of Cards

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in House of Cards

I also didn’t get that hot flashes would be even worse for lovely, fictional Claire given her immaculately-tailored, tight-fitting dresses.

Because that’s a hot flash trigger – restrictive clothing. Also: warm clothing, wool clothing, synthetic clothing. Scarves. Sweaters. 

Basically, wearing clothes is going to be a problem. Also alcohol, cigarettes and stress. It’s a long list.

You can keep hot flashes at bay by deliberately under-dressing for the weather. That's why on frigid days, you’ll see older women willfully ignoring the wind and cold, wearing nothing more than leggings and paper thin, v-neck t-shirts and no jacket. I went to the Gap and bought 10 black, white and linen v-neck t-shirts, and that’s pretty much all I’ll be wearing until this ends. The v-necks help quite a bit, although I’m aware of the irony – I’ve begun wearing them at an age when I’d rather be covering up my décolletage. #goodbyecollagenandelastin #missyoumuch

Hot-flash dressing when it's 13 degrees celsius

Hot-flash dressing when it's 13 degrees celsius

I noticed this woman (right) at Ikea on the very day I bought a lighter-weight duvet to stay cooler at night. It was 13 celsius and she was in the hot-flash-appropriate outfit of v-neck and flip flops. I get it now.

According to a New York Times article, intense exercise, multiple times a week, may help alleviate the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Or it might have no effect at all. They’re not really sure because the study was small. 

So I read that story for nothing.

Sipping ice water can help stop a hot flash in its tracks (I briefly toted a water bottle around at all times like a not-terribly-convincing yoga mom), but a hydrating facial spray is a quicker, more portable solution. And a small atomizer won’t leak in your purse and kill your phone.

The beautygeek in me also loves spray containing skincare ingredients, so I can get skin repair along with the merciful cooling.

hot-flash relief: skincare heroes

Bliss Triply Oxygen Radiance Restoring Mist

Bliss Triply Oxygen Radiance Restoring Mist

On foggy-brain days, I lean on Bliss Triple Oxygen Radiance Restoring Mist (from $17 CAD at and from $14 USD at a little too heavily. The vitamin C brightens and its sharp citrus-peel scent is head-clearing and smells like a cocktail.

Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Water

Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Water

Neroli, rosewater and sage-scented Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist ($110 CAD and $90 USD at instantly calms skin (thanks to mineral-rich Hungarian spa water) and has the added bonus of making your immediate environs smell like a very expensive spa.

Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic toner

Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic toner

Rodial Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Toner ($59 CAD at and $52 USD at nordstrom.comis loaded with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid while the rosewater scent calms, and anti-inflammatory dragon’s blood takes away blotchy redness.

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water ($21 CAD at and from $9.99 USD at amazon.comis the crisp, white shirt of the beauty world: essential, but taken for granted. Untouched even by air until you depress the atomizer, and full of soothing trace minerals, it has the finest, most even mist for a good cool down.

How to stop hot flashes: Evian + Christian Lacroix

Christian Lacroix Evian Brumisateur

Too large for my bag, admittedly, but how cool is this limited-edition Christian Lacroix Evian Brumisateur ($19 CAD at and $18 USD at now)? A partner to his cool water bottle, this gets pride of place in my fridge. If I’m going to be made miserable, I can use all the pretty I can get.

Avène Thermal Spring Water

Avène Thermal Spring Water

Like La Roche-Posay's, Avène Thermal Spring Water ($10 CAD at and $18 USD/3 at amazon.comis so pure that you can spray it on your face with your eyes open so you get the cooling and dry eyes catch a break too (no, really!).

How to stop hot flashes: Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Masque

Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Masque

I’ve discovered a new use for the Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Masque ($68 CAD, medi-spas and dermatologist offices, and $47 USD at Designed to offer relief after laser procedures, it’s also a kickass redness reducer thanks to soothing botanicals and a calming dipeptide.

How to stop hot flashes: Vichy Neovadiol Night Compensating Complex

Vichy Neovadiol Night Compensating Complex

For night-time, along with the lighter weight duvet, I now have Vichy Neovadiol Night Compensating Complex ($52.50 CAD at and $55.90 USD at which in addition to containing plumping and hydrating ingredients to slow TEWL (that’s trans-epidermal moisture loss, yo), includes ingredients to lower skin’s temperature by 2.7 degrees. Every little bit helps.

Maybe I’ll even keep mine in the fridge. You know, next to the facial sprays.

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