Want to know what’s going on inside your body? Your face just might be telling the tale. 

Long before allopathic medicine, our ancestors were practicing healing arts — now better known as “alternative” medicine — such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda.Today, that ancient knowledge is being used in more mainstream capacities with the practice of Face Mapping, in which the nuanced characteristics of our eyes and face are used to determine where our bodies are imbalanced.

With an extensive range of practices dating back 2,000 years, TCM incorporates natural herbs, acupuncture, massage, Qigong, and dietary therapy to affect the body’s energy. According to the theories behind TCM, our life force, called Qi, travels along meridians in the body, branching off into each organ like superhighways of information to determine how our bodies function. Blockages in these pathways can lead to illness by preventing Qi from getting to its destination, or altering messages — similar to the telephone game in grade school where the initial statement is nothing like the sentence at the end.

Ayurvedic medicine is based on the Vedic texts of northern India that stress wellness as the balance of body, mind, and spirit. This 5,000-year-old art focuses on three types of energies, or doshas, believed to circulate through the body and govern physiological activity: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When doshas are in balance, we experience health. When they’re out of balance, we experience maladies and illnesses. Diets based on doshas, exercise (yoga), herbs, meditation and other tools help to keep one in, or restore, balance.

Despite the differences and particulars between TCM and Ayurveda, what’s clear throughout both traditions is that the body’s systems — lymphatic, circulatory, digestive, neurological — are linked. Our physical body is constantly providing us feedback through how we look and feel and Face Mapping looks at what is written on our faces.

Whether done by an MD, traditional practitioner, or a specialized esthetician, Face Mapping can tell us what is happening inside the body by examining the part of the face where we experience breakouts, rashes, dry/oily patches, or redness, and offers holistic approaches to address these imbalances.


TCM and Ayurveda link breakouts in this area to digestive issues — difficulty breaking down specific foods (gallbladder), toxic overload (liver), and stress (nervous system) — even sleep issues. Adding digestive enzymes like papaya and bromelain, getting seven to nine hours of shut-eye nightly, and detoxifying the liver with dandelion tea or extra onions and garlic can help. Reducing dietary fats, processed foods, and stress (through yoga and meditation) can also help to balance the Vata dosha.

Between the Eyebrows 

Linked to the spleen and pancreas, this area will act up when you’re ingesting too much alcohol or fatty food. Per Ayurveda, lines on the right side can indicate repressed emotions such as anger (liver), and those on the left can indicate emotions bottled up in the spleen. Watching diet, reducing stress, and dealing with darker emotions is key.


A yellow tinge to the eye indicates liver issues (jaundice). Small irises can reveal joint issues, while enhanced whiteness of the eye can indicate possible joint degeneration. A light ring around the iris is a telltale sign to reduce salt and sugar intake, while a spotty iris hints at poor intestinal absorption. A balanced diet is key.

Below the Eyes 

Swollen/puffy lower lids and dark circles indicate kidney issues and dehydration. Time to stoke the digestive fire (increase Pitta) by adding some spices to meals and chewing food 30 times per bite.


Discoloration or patchiness can be a symptom of low nutrient absorption (iron or folic acid), or of reduced metabolism. Linked to the lungs, indoor and outdoor pollution and allergies can lead to cheek breakouts. Cooling Pitta through whole fresh foods (raw and cooked) that are hearty, dry, and high in whole-grain carbohydrates will reduce internal heat, prevent inflammation, and absorb excess oil. Don’t forget the basics of hygiene; holding a cell phone to the face, especially if not regularly cleaned, can contribute to breakouts.


Broken capillaries and/or redness in the nose are linked to high blood pressure. To offset this area’s fiery Pitta energy, boost essential fatty acids (flax, olive oil, and avocado). Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee, which tend to feed the flames.


The tongue tells many tales, so be sure to look at it each morning! Outer edges looking uneven or ridged? That could be a sign you’re not absorbing key nutrients. Reduce processed foods and make sure to not overdo vitamins. Circular white deposits on the back of the tongue point to colon or intestinal toxic load. Try a gentle dietary cleanse focusing on whole foods. Abrasions or frothiness along the tongue’s edge relate to the lungs, so be sure to engage in regular meditation and aerobic exercise.

Lower Lip

Related to intestinal functioning, brown spots along the lower lip may be an indication of poor enzyme function, indigestion, parasitic infection, or even intestinal worms. Pale lips can be an indicator of anemia, so increase iron-rich foods, including leafy greens, red meat, beans, dried apricots, and raisins. Blue-tinged lips are most often a sign of reduced oxygen levels and frequently related to heart conditions, especially if experiencing shortness of breath Kidney issues may lead to discolorations on the edges of your lips, while intestinal issues can manifest as discoloration of the lower lip. Please see a medical professional for these concerns.


Hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle often manifest on the chin. Incorporate natural hormone-balancing foods into your diet, including coconut oil, broccoli, almonds, avocados, eggs, and salmon. Reduce caffeine intake and make sure you’re getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep. Dominated by the Kapha dosha, stress reduction through meditation and yoga/exercise are keys to reducing these breakouts.

Remember, oils and germs are transferred from our hands each time we touch our faces, so being mindful of how clean you’re keeping your mitts can go a long way toward reducing breakouts. And while keeping our skin clean externally can clearly have an impact on its texture and appearance, using non-toxic products and feeding our bodies, minds, and spirits with nourishing food (including positive thoughts) are the best ways to face the world each day.


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