Face Mapping Your Acne – An Intro to the Traditional Practice

Face Mapping

Hello, my lovely skincare addicts! Kay Beauty here, and this week we are going to be looking at one of the most interesting aspects of traditional herbal medicine — face care for acne prone skin.


Did you know that WHERE you get pimples on your face can tell you different things about what the cause of that acne could be? Do you always get acne on the same part of your face and nowhere else? According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the location of your acne reflects various imbalances and issues with your health. While your Western dermatologist might have no idea what you’re talking about if you bring up face mapping, it certainly can’t hurt to consider ways you can improve your diet and health as it relates to acne.

Face mapping can get quite complex, but for the sake of conciseness, we’re going to focus on four main areas. Keep in mind that other factors may also contribute to acne, so make sure you’re changing your pillowcase frequently, and check if your shampoo, cosmetics, or detergents may be causing irritation.



If you typically get acne on your forehead, digestive and metabolic issues may be to blame. Adjusting your diet to include more fruits and vegetables, and reducing your intake of sugars and refined flours may help. Cutting out dairy, cheese, and processed foods may also help some people. Drinking plenty of water (or green tea) to help nutrients move through your system, as well as flushing out waste, can keep your digestive system working properly.



Acne on the nose can be related to poor circulation and perhaps excess intake of greasy and salty foods. Cutting out unhealthy processed foods and alcohol, and increasing your intake of water, fruits and vegetables can help. Some people believe that redness on the nose can indicate high blood pressure — it’s not a bad idea to get a regular physical exam to rule that out.



The cheeks, ah, the bane of my existence! I only ever get acne on the sides of my cheeks under my cheekbones. Apparently, there could be a whole host of reasons why acne only appears on my cheeks. Often acne on the cheeks can be caused by pollution or bacterial transfer from cell phones, hands, or pillows. Or, acne on the lower cheeks can be caused by poor dental hygiene or overeating of sugary foods.

Well, being more careful about leaning my cheek on my hand is probably a good thing to do. There’s not much I can do about air pollution besides doing a thorough double cleanse every night. And I’ve always been super diligent about my dental hygiene, so I don’t think that’s it, but I could certainly cut back on the sweet treats! Goodbye, pastry habit!

Chin and Jaw

Acne in the U-shaped area of the chin and jawline is, according to the practice of face mapping, often caused by hormones. Do you notice that you usually get acne here (or acne worsens) during that time of the month? If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance, seeing your doctor about getting your hormones tested might help.

Hormones are intimately tied to other parts of our health, so reducing stress, sleeping well, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can all contribute to a better hormonal balance. In conjunction with a medical health professional, you may find that taking certain herbs and supplements can help to restore healthy hormones.

A Holistic Tradition

Please keep in mind that none of the above should be taken as medical advice, but rather an interesting way to start thinking about how your health could be tied to your skin. Please don’t do anything drastic to your health without consulting your medical health professional!

As someone who loves to nerd out on the science of skincare, to me, the notion of face mapping is definitely more of a holistic practice. But since holistic medicine tends to support general health, I definitely see no problem with taking some of the advice to eat healthily, keep active, and to see my doctor about possible chronic issues. It makes a lot of sense to me that the various parts of the body are interconnected, so something off-kilter in the rest of the body could show up as a symptom on the face.

What do you think?

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