Dr Abbie Cloherty explains how this traditional Chinese medicine tool can help you figure out how your inner health is impacting your skin.
Traditionally used in ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to pick up on imbalances within the body and to help prevent disease, today the modern version of face mapping follows the same principles but to diagnose what’s causing your skin dilemmas. It’s believed that if your health is in optimal condition it would show up in your skin and reflect as clear, hydrated and radiant.
By looking at common skin conditions like redness and breakouts, down to more specific changes like oil production and dark under eyes, you can determine what part of the body or which organ is linked to a specific point on your face and a certain skin condition. And if you’ve ever had a late night, a few too many glasses of wine or have been stressed you’ve likely seen how it’s impacted your skin.
Luckily, Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Cosmetic Acupuncturist Dr Abbie Cloherty deciphers how to give yourself a skin analysis using our face map guide so you can find out what’s really beating up your complexion.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this. And no, we won’t spam you.
Skin conditions: Spots and blackheads around the temples and hairline
Links to: The spleen and the brain
Analysis: “Stress hormones (such as excessive cortisol) can cause little acne spots around the temples and the hairline and quite often be dull, red, and be mixed in between blackheads that are deep and dry (this includes dry pimples that get stuck in the eyebrow hair),” Cloherty explains.
“Lots of fine lines or wrinkles forming in the forehead pertain to what we say as a spleen system and this is the type of person who is a philosopher, thinks and worries a lot.
The lines between the eyebrows pertain to perfectionism of the liver system in Chinese medicine. One line generally indicates that you’re a bit of an internal perfectionist, two lines tends to indicate you’re great at encouraging others and three means you’re in control.”
Whether it’s fine lines or breakouts both skin conditions are connected to your stress levels and overthinking so try to calm your mind. “Check haircare products for nasties such as SLSs and SELs to make sure the skin isn’t reacting to them,” Cloherty says. “Dryness and dullness is also attributed to the wood element (linking to the liver and gallbladder) so lots of warm drinks to hydrate, foot baths and stress prevention habits can help your skin.”
Skin conditions: Redness, rosacea, inflammation and irritation
Links to: Histamine levels, too much sugar and gluten in your diet
Analysis: “Redness and heat that starts in the cheeks and then rises up towards the forehead can show that you suffer from excessive histamines in your diet,” she says. “Histamines are found in certain fruits and foods (dairy, fermented foods like kim chi and sauerkraut and cured meats) and are quite easy to eliminate. Another big progress of the redness can be sugars and gluten.”
Try an eliminating certain food groups to see if flare ups reduce.
Skin conditions: Redness or dry, flaky skin on the sides of the nose, darkness around the mouth, blackheads around the nose, mouth and chin.
Links to: The stomach, digestion and digestive issues like IBS
Analysis: “Congestion that is found around the nostrils and around the sides of the mouth links to abdominal health. Sluggish digestion and bowel movements are common and are also seen in people who may have an undiagnosed parasite, but those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) commonly have this type of congestion also,” she says.
“The sides of the nostrils correlate to the end of the large intestine channel, so a cosmetic acupuncturist would see this and help your gut health to help your congestion. Redness or dry flaky skin at the sides of the nose and dark black hue at the sides of the mouth coupled with blackheads or congestion in the chin is attributed to the digestion that is slow under functioning, has lots of bloating and the stomach or spleen systems are in need of support.”
Cloherty suggests bland nourishing foods like bone broth to hydrate and heal. “It’s great for gut fermentation and building up gut bacteria, absorptive for iron and helps with gut serotonin and that helps with brain serotonin (happy gut happy mind).”
Skin conditions: Small cracks around the mouth, dry lips, aura acne around the mouth and jaw
Links to: Intestines, bowels, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and liver energy
Analysis: “If there are cracks around the mouth they pertain to the small intestine system function and the large intestine system function, so next time you have dry lips make sure you drink lots of water to move those bowels and prevent dryness,” she says.
“If you have pre-menstrual issues such as PMS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), you’re more likely to get red, hot and sometimes pussy, but mainly red aura acne around your mouth and around your jaw line. These spots are a pretty common indication that you may have painful periods and suffer from PMS during your menstruation. Chinese medicine recommends moving the liver energy and filling the blood energy to capacity. I recommend a glass of red wine to help move the energy and a steak to build the blood before your monthly is due.”
Skin conditions: Blackheads and whiteheads, collagen and skin texture
Links to: Gallbladder system, testosterone, fatty foods and alcohol
Analysis: “Blackheads appearing along the jawline and down into the neck and throat shows there may be an androgynous hormone imbalance. Chinese medicine attributes this to the gallbladder system, so a diet full of steamed leafy greens, animal proteins for B vitamins and some salt can really shift these stubborn blackheads. Quite often testosterone is out of balance, this can effect estrogens and the collagen and firm texture of the skin in this area, but also red, whiteheads can show up on the jawline can also indicate too much alcohol and damp, sticky fatty foods in their diet and this is easily rectified by lots of steamed vegetables and a good amount of ginger.”
REDNESS and SKIN TONE
Skin conditions: Redness, rosacea, inflammation, uneven skin tone, dark under eyes
Links to: Blood circulation, kidney function, stress, digestion, pain and anxiety
Analysis: Chinese medicine also looks at where the colour or skin tone is different in the face. We avoid taking a micro approach, and look at the entire “garden” or landscape. So, we look for where there might be a bit of darkness or grey which can indicate not enough blood which can also indicate that the kidney system is under functioning and needs more support. If there is green in different areas this might show that the body is not eliminating waste and toxins out of the body under excessive stress. Yellow would also indicate that the digestive system isn’t functioning optimally and that the bowels need a bit of help to support this. Redness in Chinese medicine is always heat, which can be pain heat, tension or anxiety.”
Abbie Cloherty, Chinese medicine practitioner is a leading expert in cosmetic acupuncture and founder of the Zhong Centre located in St Kilda, Melbourne. Follow her on Instagram