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Diagnose and Solve Your Skin Problems With Face-Mapping

Find out why you might be breaking out and how to help prevent it in the future.
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Art Credit: Clare Owen

There’s a saying that our eyes are the windows to our soul. But what about getting a window into our chronic breakouts? That's a window we want!

Well, according to Chinese dermatology, there may be. Used widely in modern spas, face-mapping, or “Mien Siang”, is a 10,000-year-old Tao-ist tradition based on the idea that blemishes on certain parts of your face indicate your inner health and overall well-being. A face-mapping practitioner performs a zone-by-zone analysis of the skin on your face that looks for signs of dehydration, breakouts, and fine lines to determine what might be happening on the inside to cause your skin irritation.

Dermatologist Dr. Brian Russell shares, “There are no medical studies to link facial mapping with specific breakout areas, but there may be factors you are overlooking.” Where conventional Western medical treatments of acne rely on oral antibiotics, topical applications, and skin treatments, among others, face-mapping can provide an even deeper view, delving into the “why” behind your skin concerns—and many people swear by it!

Don't have the dough to drop on a spa appointment? No worries—we put together this handy guide to help you find out why you might be breaking out in certain parts of your face and tips to prevent these types of breakouts in the future.

Forehead and T-zone
Breakouts on your forehead and T-zone—your nose and the area between and just above your eyebrows—are annoying but trying to cover them can do so little. According to face-mapping, the skin on your forehead has a connection to your bladder and digestive system. So drinking too much alcohol or eating too many rich foods may cause breakouts in this area.

Fix: Drink plenty of water and eat more whole foods. Try to cut or limit processed foods from your diet in general. Researchers at Colorado State University found that those eating a Western diet high in refined grains, sugary soft drinks, and processed baked goods had high rates of acne. Processed foods such as white bread, potatoes, and sugary drinks and snacks contain simple sugars that cause high insulin levels. And high insulin increases androgen, which stimulates sebum production and clogs pores.

Around the Eyes
This area is linked to the health of the liver and heart. Acne here may also signal lack of sleep or dehydration. It’s no surprise that you may find blemishes around your brows and puffiness and darkening around your eyes. They contain a network of mucous membranes and sensitive blood vessels which makes this area more sensitive to tiredness and dehydration.

Fix: Reduce your intake of fatty foods, dairy, and alcohol. One of the easiest ways to avoid redness or dark circles is to get plenty of sleep and drink lots of h2o.

The cheeks contain tiny blood vessels that are an accurate glimpse into our lungs, signaling respiratory distress. Smoking and allergies can also cause blemishes here. Another culprit: your cell phone, touching dirty hands to your face, and even dirty pillowcases.

Fix: If smoking or allergies aren’t your issue, consider changing up your routine to avoid dirt from your hands and other objects reaching your face. Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face at all. Change pillowcases at least every other week. And because your phone is a bacteria hotbed, be sure to clean it often with a bit of alcohol and a soft, dry cloth.

Acne on our nose may be linked to heart health, like high blood pressure, or a Vitamin B deficiency.

Fix: Try decreasing your intake of oily foods and meat. Lower your cholesterol by cutting out so-called “bad fats” in processed foods: thick steaks, French fries, pastries, and some cheeses. Replace these with “good fats,” such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, avocados, and nuts. Consider taking a daily multivitamin to supplement a balanced diet. Check that your makeup is not past its expiration date and try unclogging pores with a scrub, mask, or pore strips.

When it comes to the lower lip area and the chin, breakouts reveal that you may be stressed out or have a hormonal imbalance. The chin is also linked to our small intestine and stomach, so breakouts could also indicate poor diet, lack of exercise, and possible food allergies.

Fix: Change your eating habits by avoiding heavy or greasy food and beverages like alcohol and caffeine that can further create hormone imbalances. And get better at handling stress by combating these unhealthy habits.

Sides of the Chin 
Breakouts along the sides of the chin usually signal the arrival of your monthly cycle. Even if you’re not on your period, your body may still be going through significant hormonal shifts.

Fix: Getting a full eight to nine hours of sleep, drinking plenty of water, and consuming leafy green vegetables will help nourish your skin. You'll need extra rest, vitamins, and minerals when your hormones are in rollercoaster mode.

Face-mapping may not have all the answers to our unwanted acne and blemishes. So it’s best to consult your doctor or dermatologist for a proper prognosis, especially if you're worried about something like high cholesterol. But​ ​i​t’s also​ important to examine your lifestyle and consider all factors before concluding that your breakouts are just because you have "bad skin." Apart from clearing up your breakouts to look your best, it may be time to make significant life changes so that you can look—and feel—your best!