Whether you are a well-seasoned skincare guru or looking for a perfect beauty ritual, there is always room for growth when perfecting your self-care practice. Did you know that your skin can be a window to your health? It's true! And it's all thanks to the ancient art of Face Mapping.
What Is Face Mapping and Its History
Face mapping, aka Mien Shiang, is an ancient eastern medicine modality still utilized by skincare professionals and Ayurveda practitioners alike. Face mapping considers the type of skin condition on the face (acne, blemishes, dark spots, etc.) and correlates them to a specific organ system that may require a little extra TLC. Face mapping can consider various conditions like hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, stress levels, etc. The idea is that specific inflammatory flare-ups on your skin, like acne, can help you understand what is going on in your body based on the skin condition's location.
The millennia-old art of face reading or face mapping is utilized across many cultures today. Still, Ayurveda and Chinese medicine practitioners have truly pioneered and harnessed this method for centuries. While face mapping is anecdotal, it can be useful in helping highlight parts of your health that require some extra care. It's similar to being told as a teenager that chocolate and sugar could cause an acne breakout (and you probably know it often did!). Something you're doing to your body (or putting into it) can trigger a facial skin reaction hours and even days later. Many women can tell when their cycle is nearing due to acne breakouts, specifically on their chin. It's this understanding of your own body, which is how facial mapping can be beneficial.
How To Use Face Mapping
In the beauty industry, especially the holistic beauty industry, there is a well-known synergistic balance between your inner health and outer beauty. Skin blemishes and conditions are merely a window to peek into your health. If you feel good on the inside, it radiates on your outside.
Understanding how face mapping works can help you significantly improve your skincare ritual too. Did you know that it is possible to have multiple skin types on your face? It's true and is commonly referred to as combination skin. Some people can have a chronically dry forehead but an oily nose or rosacea cheeks with a cystic acne-prone chin. In these cases, you would use multiple skin care products in different areas of your face, especially during facial mask treatments.
For example, you may need to use a soothing mask on your cheeks if you're prone to rosacea, you'd like our Earth Harbor NYMPH NECTAR Superfruit Radiance Balm (especially mixed with our AURORA Superfood Luminance Ampoule), but you would benefit from GLOW JUICE Refining Enzyme Mask on your acne-prone chin, followed by BLUE CRUSH Marine Perfecting Mask for your chronically dry forehead. In this instance, you just perfected your skincare ritual by acknowledging and then accommodating your various skin types. Yes, it may involve more skincare products being added to your arsenal, but it's worth it in the long run; this is true skincare multitasking.
Understanding Skin Types:
Normal – Barely visible pores. Your skin rarely faces blemishes or pimples. It can occasionally feel dry, but not enough to classify as "dry skin."
Oily – Your pores, especially on the nose, are enlarged and visible. Your face can look shiny and feel oily.
Dry – Your skin may chronically feel tight, especially around the cheeks and corners of the lips, and your forehead can feel rough and matte. Your skin will often quickly absorb lotions or moisture. To be classified as dry skin, your skin will need to feel this way, usually, even shortly after applying moisturizer.
Note about "Dry" skin: There can be "acute" dry skin. Your skin may have the same symptoms as listed above for dry skin, but it's only on occasion. This dryness could be from the weather, being in a new environment (vacationing, etc.), or from dehydration in the body. The symptoms of dry skin usually improve soon after the cause is removed.
Combination – You could have (or not have) visible pores, especially on the nose, and your face occasionally blemishes. A characteristic of combination skin is a shiny T-zone.
Sensitive – Your skin is very reactive & prone to redness and inflammation, whether you neglect it or apply skincare products.
Over time your skin changes. This change can be acute in response to your diet, lifestyle, or environment, or it can be a chronic change due to underlying health factors like hormonal changes or other conditions. It's essential to know the difference between a skin type and a skin condition.
Potential Issues: food intolerances or allergies, dehydration, sluggish liver, constipation.
From eyebrows to hairline: Liver and Gastrointestinal
Between Eyebrows: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, skin conditions in this area can be tied to angry emotions and require acts of forgiveness. It can also indicate Skin conditions in this area may indicate liver function. Sometimes it's as simple as a lack of sleep.
Remedies: Consider a diet rich in fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, or kimchi to help the GI tract and avoid alcohol for 90 days. Brew up a cup of roasted dandelion root tea to aid the liver. Consider supplementing a high-quality probiotic or liver supplement which contains Artichoke, Milk Thistle, and Dandelion Root.
Under Eye: Kidneys and Liver
Outside of Eyes: Issues with spleen and liver
Potential Issues: kidney function and unmanaged stress.
Remedies: The kidneys are super sensitive to stress. Consider adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha or Magnolia to help combat the effects of stress on the kidneys and adrenals. Tip: Ashwagandha and Magnolia make for a delicious and relaxing tea infusion!
Potential Issues: red or flushed nose could indicate blood pressure imbalances and even poor circulation.
Bridge of Nose: Heart
Side of Nose: Gut-related inflammation.
Remedies: Consider an anti-inflammatory diet rich in healthy fats such as wild-caught salmon or supplementing Omega-3 fatty acids.
Potential Issues: Often, the lower cheeks being red or flushed is a sign of lung function—the same logic as to why your cheeks get flushed after a cardio workout or jog.
Upper Cheeks: Lungs, Large Intestine, and Stomach
Lower Cheeks: Respiratory system
Remedies: Consider a diet rich in antioxidants such as dark leafy greens or consider supplementing Goldenseal and Bromelain to help aid healthy respiratory function. Tip: a great source of Bromelain is fresh pineapple.
Potential Issues: Particularly associated with PMS (think hormones are going crazy!) and women who have endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and PCOS.
CHIN AND JAW
Hormones and Bladder (sometimes Kidney)
Remedies: Consume two raw carrots a day to help with estrogen metabolism (Raw carrots, not juiced or cooked!) or consider supplementing Milk Thistle, Yarrow, or Cramp Bark to help regulate menstruation.
Potential Issues: Having a skin condition that impacts the neck can indicate a compromised immune system. This could be from allergies, a common cold, or other acute conditions.
Remedies: Consider short-term immune-boosting such as foods high in Vitamin C, A, and E, such as dark leafy greens like kale. Consuming raw garlic is an excellent immune booster. Consider botanical supplements such as Echinacea and Astragalus. Tip: If you're more sensitive to raw garlic, consider a homemade vinaigrette with raw chopped garlic, dijon, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Toss with raw kale, and you have an immune-boosting salad that also keeps the vampires away.
Overall, face mapping, according to the scientific community, lacks evidence proving that Chinese and Ayurvedic face mapping is accurate and useful for most people.
However, some research shows that certain skin types and skin conditions that manifest on the face tend to show up in particular areas that correlate to specific organ and body systems, such as acne or redness on the chin or cheeks, which may be representative of problems such as hormonal issues, stress, or immune reactions.
Understanding that skincare goes further than skin deep can help you create an intuitive health journey and create an instinctive skincare ritual. While helping address issues at the root cause, it allows your skincare products and regimen to truly shine.
Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. This article or website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Any mention of dietary or herbal supplements needs first to be discussed with your licensed healthcare provider. The opinions and views represented by this article and its author are merely for educational purposes only and do not necessarily represent the views of Earth Harbor.
Kurt Stradtman, FDN-P, AADP