For thousands of years, Eastern medicine has been using the face and skin to discern what imbalances are happening in our internal organs and body. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda believe that skin analysis, along with tongue and pulse, can display early warning signs of disease. Like the relationship between acupuncture or marma points and the different organs, face mapping uses different areas on the face to address internal imbalances. This way we can start to understand our skin, what is happening within and the root cause of our blemishes!
The Forehead: Clogged Pores and Dry Acne
The forehead and upper face is known to reflect the health of the colon and the state of our circulation. Those of us with poor circulation often find clogged pores and dry blemishes isolated to our forehead area. Many of us think that these breakouts and congestion are from excess oil, but actually it is an accumulation of lymph and stagnation which causes these blocked pores. It isn’t oil reduction we need, but to boost circulation and lymphatic drainage to clear up these deposits. Comedones here are from excess air and relate strongly to dryness of the colon. The air element in Ayurveda (Vata) governs stress and anxiety which will tax the colon.
But not all forehead breakouts are stress related. TCM touts that acne in different areas of the forehead can also indicate different dysfunctions. For example, frown lines are liver related, which is why Botox injections can be so deeply harmful from an eastern perspective too! Acne here needs liver cleansing and pacifying excess yang. So, pile on the leafy greens and dandelion tea for some liver love!
Breakouts on the cheeks and nose
The middle part of the face is governed by heat and fire energy (Pitta), which leads to inflamed breakouts. Those with excess heat in their bodies will naturally flush and blush easily and, in extreme cases, acquire Acne Rosacea. Traditional Chinese Medicine says that the heart relates to the small intestine, opens through tongue and is in charge of capillaries. This means that acne and dilated vessels here reveal a taxed heart and, in turn, small intestine.
But the heart does not simply pump blood; according to TCM, it is also part of the mind. Thoughts, emotions and feelings come from the heart, which is why facial expressions and the state of our minds can be seen in the face. Repressed anger and a weighted heart can be seen in the form of angry acne or redness. It is important for those with high heat to stay away from alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is very heating, and high alcohol intake not only results in permanent redness and vascular damage on the nose, but also acne in this area.
Acne around the Mouth
The area above the lips relates to our reproductive organs. The corners of the mouth are a place of heat, so pimples here can indicate internal heat. In Ayurveda the lips display the healthiness of the stomach and intestines; in TCM, it is the state of the stomach and spleen. To relieve acne in the mouth region, increasing cooling, hydrating fruits and vegetables along with drinking more fluids will help calm inflammation in our digestive system.
The Chin and Jawline Cysts
The lower part of the face is governed by the earth element (Kapha). Earth is responsible for growth and reproduction. Breakouts on the chin and jaw line are often deeper and cystic. This hormone-related acne is the most difficult to clear up. Excess hair growth in this area is also due to hormonal imbalance as many women with PCOS and women going through menopause see excess hair on their chins. Decreasing foods with high earth is extremely helpful. Heavy foods like dairy, heavy starches, and fats should be avoided. Stimulating earth with cardio exercise also will help clear up the chin and jawline.
Clear skin depends so heavily on being healthy and vibrant. So next time you look in the mirror, look past the superficial and see yourself inside and out.
Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India. She is also a Certified Esthetician with over ten years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia. Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company. Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine. She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.