Facial expressions can say a lot—a crinkly eyed smile indicates real happiness, while an eye roll and a frown show visible annoyance. But our faces go beyond just exhibiting emotion, and can say a lot more about our physical health than you might think.
By looking at the faces of their clients, some estheticians can tell whether their disciples have a dairy allergy, are stressed because of work, or are about to find out they're pregnant. Nope, it's not magic. It's the science of face mapping.
Based in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and reflexology, face mapping is the practice of reading the skin on the face to get a clearer picture of one’s overall health.
Take a look at your skin: Do you have clusters of blemishes, or just singular pimples? Maybe your skin is clear, but it's drier and bumpy in certain areas. If you tend to have areas that are always a problem, say on your left cheek or on your upper lip, this could be a sign that certain organs aren’t functioning optimally or you have a little toxicity built up in your system. Depending on where and how you breakout or have skin reactions, you can blame blemishes on something other than just clogged pores. Let’s break down each zone and what reactions in those areas could be telling you.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the forehead zone is linked to the bladder and digestive system. If you find that you’re constantly breaking out all over this region, add some digestive enzymes to you supplement regimen because your body is having a hard time breaking down meals and difficulty with elimination. Increase the hydration factor of skin with coconut water or electrolytes to help the body oust toxins more quickly.
If the area right between the eyebrows is more of the issue, cancel those happy hour plans. Irritation in this area points straight to the liver, so chill on the beers and pick up some milk thistle or dandelion tea to help your liver detoxify.
Linked to the lungs, breakouts on the cheeks could indicate that you’re breathing in a little too much polluted city air. Smokers and those with allergies might notice broken capillaries and discoloration on their cheeks, too. If allergies and city living are causing your skin to rebel against you, try downing a few capsules of vitamin E. It's known for its hydrating properties (a bonus when it comes to your skin!) but vitamin E can stop an allergic response from occurring in your body.
Dirt and bacteria from your cellphone and hands can also be to blame for those nasty bumps on your cheeks, especially if you notice pimples popping up in the afternoon and evening. It’s obnoxious, but mom was right—don’t touch your face! As for that cellphone that’s constantly attached to your hand, keep antibacterial wipes within reach for when you need to make a call.
Noticing that blackheads and redness keep cropping up on your nose? Maybe you need to simmer down on the spices you’re adding to your dinner. Ayurvedic principles pinpoint pungent and spicy foods as the reason that your complexion looks ruddy and blocked. Avoid spices and garlic for a while and opt to season your foods with lemon instead of salt, which can also be a factor in clogged pores around your nose.
Just can’t quit your garlic salt habit? Pump up your intake of vitamin B to fight redness and skin congestion while simultaneously boosting your energy!
Chalk up blemishes around your jawline and chin to hormonal imbalances. Whether it’s that time of the month or you’ve just been super stressed, if your hormones are in flux it will take a toll on your skin. If you consistently get breakouts during your cycle, keeping pores clean and luminous throughout the month can keep skin clear even when your hormones are raging.
Try an antibacterial cleanser, or if you have sensitive skin swiping a cotton ball with witch hazel over your face can keep things clear and under control. Stress and anxiety can also cause your hormones to go haywire, so pay attention to flare-ups around your chin—your body is trying to get you to slow down and breathe. If meditation isn’t your thing, try these easy reflexology tricks that will instantly increase your serenity.
Want to get a more personalized analysis of your skin? Head to an Ayurvedic skin specialist for a detailed look at what your skin could be trying to tell you about your health.
Illustration by Karley Koenig