If your eyes are the window to your soul, then your face just might be the window to understanding your breakouts, or anything else that’s plaguing your body. We’re referring to the concept of face mapping, which, for the unschooled, is an ancient practice rooted in Ayurveda teaching and Chinese medicine that treats your face as a roadmap to pinpoint underlying issues in other parts of your body. Say, for example, that pesky breakout in the middle of your forehead. Face mapping connects that specific area of your face to an organ or body part, which allows you to make the necessary changes to your diet or lifestyle to make it go away. Intrigued? We were too, which is why we consulted Dan Hsu, LAc, an NYC doctor who specializes in Eastern medicine.
Keep scrolling to find out where face mapping came from, how it works, and how to diagnose breakouts on different areas of your face.
“Face mapping goes back thousands of years,” Dr. Hsu says. “A lot of it comes simply from clinical experience. Nowadays, you have all types of blood tests and scans, but back then, doctors would have to give a diagnosis by looking, touching, and asking questions.” Chinese medicine states that all organs have a different color, temperature, and taste, and are manifested in a certain way. The liver, for example, is manifested in the eyes. Even nowadays, one of the first symptoms of jaundice (a liver disease) includes a yellowing of the eyes. “That was true 2000 years ago, and it’s still true today,” Hsu says.
Hsu says that the skin on your face is an expression of your health. “The body is made up of a bunch of systems—lympathic, neurological, digestive, to name a few—and all of these systems are tied together,” he explains. “It’s very difficult to affect one without affecting others.” He says face mapping is a way to verify what’s going on inside your body, since every part of your body is linked to different organs (hence the jaundice example he gave earlier). “In Chinese medicine, we look at the body as a whole, and how everything works together,” he says.
According to Chinese medicine, the area above your brows is linked to your gallbladder and liver. If you’re getting breakouts there, try eating less processed or junk food and reduce the amount of fat in your diet.
Hsu says that breakouts between your brows mean you’re drinking or smoking too much, or eating too many rich foods. “Cut down on rich foods, butter, cheese, and late-night snacks,” he advises. “Incorporate more exercise into your routine, and get more sleep.”
Your nose, not surprisingly, is connected to your lungs and heart. To combat breakouts in this area, Hsu recommends cutting back on spicy foods, meat, and salt and replacing them with fruits, veggies, nuts (which are full of good fats like omega-3 and 6). If you’re getting constant breakouts on your nose, check your blood pressure and vitamin B levels—Hsu says that upping your vitamin B intake can help combat flare-ups.
“Chinese medicine is really big on left and right,” Hsu tells us. If you’re breaking out on the left side of your face, he recommends eating what Chinese medicine practitioners refer to as “cooling foods”—think winter melon, cucumber, and the like. The left cheek is more connected to your liver, which Hsu says is the weakest between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon. “If you’re having a breakout on your left cheek, try to avoid any strenuous work during that time of day,” he says.
Hsu says the right side cheek is more connected to your lungs. He recommends doing aerobic and breathing exercises early in the morning to strengthen your lungs. The right cheek is also more sugar-focused. “If you’re breaking out on your right cheek, I would recommend cutting back on junk food and sugar, as well as wine, taro, and seafood,” Hsu says.
If you suffer from breakouts around your mouth area, once again, your diet could be to blame. The area around your mouth is associated with your digestive organs, like your intestines and liver. Hsu recommends cutting back on spicy foods and fried foods, while eating more fiber, fruits, and veggies.
“Modern acupuncturists would say that if you break out around your chin, you should get your hormone levels checked,” Hsu says. “Stress can also be a huge part of it.” He recommends drinking spearmint tea and taking omega-3 to soothe these breakouts, as well as talking to your gynecologist about your hormone levels.
Have you ever heard of face mapping? What do you think of it? Tell us below!
This post was originally published at an earlier date on Byrdie and has since been updated.