Face Mapping & Acne Vulgaris

When I was a teen suffering from a severe case of acne vulgaris, I would have never thought of learning about face mapping for acne.  In fact, it wasn't until I was working for many years that I first heard about a face map for acne, and even then, I was a skeptic.  My years of training with Dermalogica showed me that maybe, there is something to this face mapping after all.

I was born and raised in the United States of America, and here, as in most of the word, we practice Western medicine.  This form of medicine has benefited many lives, and has extended the life expectancy well beyond what previous generations could even dream of.  This post is not to belittle the accomplishments of Western Medicine.

That being said, there is something that is lacking in Western medicine, in my opinion.  That shortfall is the fact that Western medicine teaches that each organ of the human body is separate from one another, which creates a medical industry with specialists that practice in each of the different fields.  Alternatively, Eastern medicine, or Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the body as a whole.  They believe that each organ is related to each other. For example, the lungs and skin, liver and eyes, kidneys and ears and stomach and muscles are all sister organs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that it is the whole being, as well as the cause of the ailment, that is treated and not just the symptoms, which is generally what you see in Western medicine.  An additional difference between the two is that a health problem may not just be physical.  The Chinese believe that a mental or spiritual imbalance could be the cause.

Which View is Right?

My goal in presenting this topic is to share an alternative view to Western medicine, and does not mean that one method is right or wrong.  In fact, I tend to think that a healthy balance of both Eastern and Western medicine yields the best results.  Additionally, this alternative insight gives us a different way of looking at our skin, and it allows us to understand ourselves in a more well rounded way.  But before we get to the breakdown of a face map, lets dive into the basics of Chinese medicine.

Chinese Medicine - The Basics

China is one of the oldest cultures on this planet.  Long known to be innovators in technology and medicine, we are lucky to have access to some of their early findings.  The earliest book on Chinese medical theory, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic, otherwise known as Nei Jing, by Kwang-Ti, dates back to around 2500 B.C. This book has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine, and describes how the Chinese view symptoms (such as acne) in relation to the whole body, not as isolated problems to be dealt with on an individual basis, as Western medicine generally looks at illness.

Here is what you can expect when visiting a doctor who practices Western medicine.

  1. Start with a symptom
  2. Searches for a cause
  3. Determines a specific disease.

Things are quite different when vising a practitioner who practices Chinese medicine.  They will look for the disharmony of natural body energy, not seeking a specific disease. The Chinese method is based on the idea that no single part of the body can be understood except in relation to the whole.  This is where a face map for acne begins to make sense.

The basic ideas of Chinese medicine are simple. These ideas form a foundation of discussion in order for us to get an idea of “what’s going on” in our body. Following is a basic breakdown of how Chinese medicine views the body:

Chi: (Also known as Qi)  Chi is our basic life force and energy.  This energy is believed to have been formed from maternal energy in the prenatal state then replenished by food and breath. It runs and regulates the body’s energy state, and it is generally either Yin (passive) or Yang (active) in nature. Chi flows through the entire body via the meridian network.

Blood: A liquid, Yin (passive) in nature that sustains and supports the body parts.

Jing: Translated as essence of the body. It is the basis of reproduction, growth, ripening and withering.  It is supportive and nutritive.  Ongoing development through life corresponds to changes in the body’s Jing.

Shen: Best translated as Spirit, an incomprehensible concept in the medical tradition. Human personality and consciousness indicate the presence of Shen, which is the capacity to form ideas and the desire to live life. Shen is Yang (active) in nature.

Fluids: These are bodily liquids other than blood and include saliva, urine, sweat and gastric juices. Their function is to moisten and lubricate the skin, hair, orifices,  membranes, muscles, organs and flesh.

Balancing the Meridians

Thus far, we have learned that in Chinese medicine, one analyzes the person as an entire being and that Western medicine views the body as separate parts that are put together functioning as a whole. In Chinese medicine, practitioners treat the root cause of a problem, whereas those in Western medicine treat the symptoms presented. Two elements are incorporated into Chinese diagnosis: the constitution of the person – this being the current condition, which varies each day, month and year – and balance. The body needs balance; we do not want to be ecstatically energetic or tired, happy or depressed. If we are in perfect balance, then we are in perfect health, and this is also true for the health of our skin.

Chinese Facial Skin Analysis

In traditional Chinese medicine, the face is an indicator of health or disease. By using a face map to analyze skin conditions (such as face mapping for acne)  as well as changes, we can attempt to determine inner imbalances along with stressed areas of the body. Since each area of the face is said to correlate to an internal organ, disharmony in that internal organ, will in turn, lead to a change in the texture, complexion or moisture of the corresponding facial area.

Facial Zones

A face map breaks down your face into what can be called zones.  Following is a breakdown of what each area of the face corresponds to:

Forehead: Linked to digestion. The upper forehead is linked to the bladder and the lower forehead links to the intestines. Think about your elimination habits, noting any constipation.  Try increasing your water intake, and incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your diet.

Between the Eyes: Linked with the liver. Do you have a history of hepatitis, jaundice and/or liver stress. If your diet is high in fat, and if your tend to eat late, this may cause this area to break out in acne or show flaky skin.  Deep lines from liver stress may also be visible. This is commonly known as the wine and dine area.

Under the Eyes: Linked with the kidneys. Eyes may be puffy (Yin) or darker (Yang). If your eyes are puffy, improve your water intake. Grittiness under the eyes links with an excess of uric acid, common in Yin energy types. A pale white appearance of the inner lid indicates Yin energy, while a red inner lid area indicates Yang energy.

Nose: Linked with the lungs.  Numerous comedones and oiliness over the nose indicate Yin energy, which is prone to colds and bronchitis. Redness, broken capillaries and puffiness over the nose indicate Yang energy, which is prone to allergies, respiratory stress and sinus problems (hay fever, sensitivity to smoke, etc.).

Cheeks: Linked with the lung area.  Pustular breakouts in line with the teeth may indicate sinus or gum inflammation and infection. Comedones and congestion beneath the surface indicate a Yin condition, while red, inflamed, pustular breakouts indicate a more Yang condition.

Chin: Linked with the reproductive organs. Breakouts in this area are often associated with the menstrual cycle in women. Micro-comedones are often present at the sides of the chin and may erupt into papules or pustules at the onset of menstruation.

Skin Therapy and Chinese Medicine

Balance is key to overall health, and this hold true using the face map technique with your skin and treatment of acne.  In the Western world, we often overlook the importance of balance in our lives, so please, take the opportunity to not only treat your skin issues, but restore balance to your bodies as well.  Remember, you are more than just your acne.  You are a whole being, and you need to treat yourself as such.

If you suffer from acne and you found this information about face mapping for acne to be beneficial, or if you have any follow up questions, please leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you!


This information is not intended for medical diagnosis.  It is to illustrate the Chinese approach to facial diagnosis.  If all Western causes have been considered, but have not been beneficial, it may be useful to consider what Chinese medicine has to offer on the subject.  This is in no way an attempt to diagnose a medial health condition.

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