Face mapping: What are your breakouts telling you?
We often like to think we can read faces, giving us a glimpse into peoples' characters. And, the cliché goes, "the eyes are the window into the soul". But are we getting it all wrong?
What if the most revealing aspect of a person's face isn't their eyes, or the way they smile, but the condition of their skin?
Actually, that's exactly what a technique known as "face mapping" suggests. Born from ancient Ayurvedic principles, this is a way of analyzing all-round health from skin conditions like acne - but could it be a game changer for your lifestyle?
As we'll see, while there's room to doubt the wisdom of ancient practitioners, the condition of your skin does provide invaluable insight into what's going on elsewhere in the body. Let's find out more.
In traditional facial mapping, the face was divided into sections. For example, the area around the chin and jaw was associated with hormones, the cheeks were connected to respiratory problems, while the so-called "T-Zone" (encompassing the forehead and nose), was linked to stress and digestive system issues.
Modern research has cast doubt on the ability of practitioners to be so confident about which areas of the face link up with other parts of the body. So, we can probably throw out those Ayurvedic diagrams.
But wait a moment. That doesn't mean mapping the face based on acne breakouts and other skin conditions has no scientific basis.
For example, many experts now recommend hormone-based acne treatments for breakouts around the chin and jaw, and a full endocrinal check-up for serious cases. It seems that the Vedas had more than an inkling of how pimples and glands connected together.
Now, researchers are investigating whether other parts of the face can give clues about a person's health. Modern mapping is more rigorous, than its Ayurvedic forebears, but the principles remain the same - and they are delivering some intriguing results.
Before we get onto evidence about exactly what this research can tell us, it's important to note that Chinese and Ayurvedic mapping isn't the same as cutting edge dermatology.
These ancient techniques were based on principles like Qi - a force which flows through all beings and causes disease when it becomes imbalanced. They relied on a form of folk science involving experimentation with medicinal plants, but the practitioners involved has no real idea about what causes acne.
We know now that many traditional herbs do have a part to play in improving our skin and bodily health. But the reasons weren't clear to Ayurvedic experts. So separate fact from fiction, and stick to what modern science is saying.
This means understanding the actual causes of conditions like acne, including:
When certain hormones are produced too much, the body is prompted to dilate glands in the face, which then go into overdrive, producing far more oil than the skin requires. This can block pores, leading to widespread breakouts.
Researchers have looked in-depth at what causes acne, and several popular explanations have largely been discarded, such as poor diet or face washing. However, stress is definitely regarded as a risk factor.
There's one area where diet is still considered a risk factor in developing pimples. Foods that are high in glycemic substances (such as high sugar processed food ad white bread) can stimulate excess hormone production, resulting in nasty breakouts.
Using the wrong skin lotions
Sometimes moisturizers and even acne treatments can exacerbate skin conditions. That's usually because they worsen the blockages in sebaceous pores. And some lotions also contain hormonal substances, which can stimulate pores to over-produce.
So, given all of that, can we learn anything at all from the way spots breakout on our faces? The evidence suggests that we can, but that we need to be careful about reading too much into a few pimples here and there.
Chin and jaw
The clearest connection between facial areas and breakouts is around the chin and jaw. It's well-established that breakouts in this area are more likely to be hormone-related, and that these breakouts are more common in women than men. This may be related to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
These spots often don't develop into classic blackheads. Instead, they tend to appear as raised red pimples, which can be sore to touch. As well as natural cycles, they can also be more common when women come off the contraceptive pill.
What causes acne on the cheeks is less easy to pin down. It might be due to regular use of cellphones, which transfer dirt onto the skin of the cheeks, or our tendency to touch our cheeks frequently.
If you suffer from spots on one side of the face, that could be a sign that dirt is to blame. Often, this is as simple as using an unclean pillow case, so it can usually be resolved fairly easily.
If skin problems develop in the upper part of the face, other culprits may be responsible. Look at the haircare products you're using. If they are excessively oily, they could be affecting the pores in your skin.
Oily shampoos (or pomades) are great for locking oil inside the hair, helping to keep it shiny and youthful. But they aren't so kind to the skin. If this is the issue, try using what are known as "noncomedogenic" products, as they tend to have less oily formulations.
And, if outbreaks are serious and sustained, think about using a shower cap to divide shampoo from your forehead, and be very disciplined about applying towels as soon as you leave the shower. It can make a major difference.
If you've followed our face mapping guidelines, and you're suffering from persistent outbreaks, what can you do about it? Skin conditions can be frustrating, long-lasting, mysterious, and difficult to eradicate. But there are some things we can do.
Firstly, minimizing the use of oily skin treatments and shampoos is a must. Anything which increases the demands on your sebaceous glands is going to raise the risk of breakouts.
Diet can also be part of the solution. Eating fewer high GI products (cutting back on processed foods) and adding the right supplements to your routing can help to turn things around. Here are some supplements that are well worth considering:
Turmeric is something of a wonder-drug and its value for skin treatments is well-accepted. While studies continue to probe its benefits for facial breakouts, researchers have found plenty of suggestive evidence that turmeric helps.
Omega 3 Oils
Generally found in fish, Omega 3 oils are another popular all-round supplement, and they could be ideal for treating facial skin issues. Studies have found that Omega 3 doses can relieve inflammation around affected skin follicles, with most participants reporting improved skin health. So, it's well worth trying.
Specifically, Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) might have huge benefits as a counterpart to other acne treatments. Recent randomized studies have delivered very promising results. But beware: Vitamin B12 has been linked to increased skin eruptions, so don't mix up your supplements.
Nobody wants their skin to be covered in pimples, but it's a fact of life for people all over the world. And for many of us, finding a solution is incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
However, while age-old face mapping might not be the route to flawless skin, knowing how the location of outbreaks relates to our broader health can help to find the right acne treatments.
If you want to remove those unsightly blemishes and banish breakouts for good, our supplements could provide an effective remedy. Just fill out our questionnaire, let us know where your outbreaks occur, and we'll help you create a personalized nutritional plan to promote permanently improved skin health.