Facial observation is incredibly useful for diagnostics in Chinese Medicine. As a practitioner and recipient of Chinese Medicine, I have found that you can always see the internal health of someone by observing their face. Not only does it tell you about the spirit (shen) of the person but you can also see you a number of bodily fluids, blood flow, emotions, and organ health in the face as well. You can capture the internal landscape of the client by the quality of the facial skin, the muscle tone, the brightness of the eyes, and in many other ways!
One of the things I do in the morning when I wake up is take a good look at my face. I observe my skin tone, my eyes, and I also stick out my tongue to take a look at the inside of my mouth, too. I try to be a student of my own face. The reason I do this is because it gives me information on how well I am taking care of myself, but also, it assists me in understanding my clients.
Across the board, I have found that sleep, hydration, diet, sun exposure, and the quality of my thinking affects my facial skin health more than any other factors. So, it’s no wonder that these lifestyle factors also influence our deepest internal organs as well. With that said, here are some helpful lifestyle tips to keep your insides and outsides glowing and healthy!
Sleep, ah, sweet sleep. Our quality of sleep can be detected in the tone and musculature of our “under-eye” area. It can be so hard to get in the proper amount of hours every night, especially in a bustling metropolis like New York! As a society, we tend to stay up late to look at screens, consume too much caffeine, and accumulate too much stress. These factors can all affect our sleep cycles. My lifestyle recommendation for clients who have trouble sleeping is no screens after 8 pm, no caffeine after 12 pm, and at least 5-10 minutes of wind down meditation before bed. It is very important to be asleep well before the window of 1-3AM as this is our bodies most restorative time, but only if we are within a REM sleep cycle!
Hydration. You know who you are…and you probably think you are not drinking enough water. Our overall skin tone and glow are affected by hydration. The good news is, if you are thinking about it, that is a good thing. Don’t make yourself crazy documenting every glass of water during your day…remember that the 8 fl. oz 8 times a day (8×8 rule) was created as a blanket rule for many different environments and temperatures. My recommendation is room temperature (or warm water) when thirsty, 8 fl. oz glass 10 minutes after each meal and between meals.
All in all, you should aim to get close to 2 liters a day, and maybe, even more, water for those with larger bodies. However, If you are eating a good diet that nourishes your fluids (lots of vegetables!) along with other beverages, you are being hydrated in those ways as well so you can add that to your total. Barring those suffering from illness or other circumstances, follow the rules above and you should remain well hydrated.
Sun exposure is a tricky one. While I do believe it is important to get at least 10-15 minutes of pure sunlight a day for our Vitamin D levels, overexposure has its negative effects on the skin. For the face, it could be useful to purchase a large sunhat to protect from overexposure as the skin on the face is much more delicate than the rest of the body. Of course, a good sunscreen is great if you plan to be in the sun for many many hours. However, overuse of sunscreens with all the chemicals they contain can also be detrimental. In terms of sun exposure, I recommend using your judgment. Everything in moderation, including sun exposure!
Overthinking is also a tricky one, as it can create extra lines and creases in the face. But oh, there is so much to think about! This is a very personal one for me so I write about it here. My most important tip is meditation or some sort of mind-clearing method. My facial skin looks completely different before and after a meditation when I am allowed to connect to my spirit and separate from my overthinking. Try to experiment with this one, you may find tremendous results that show up on your skin!
Diet is the number one factor that affects our skin. I have found that inflammatory foods, mostly sugar, affects my skin adversely. This is a particularly important factor if you suffer from acne. It takes experimentation, but you may find other inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, alcohol, or fried foods affect your skin as well. Everyone has different “triggers”. For example, you may have a friend that can drink 8 margaritas and eat leftover fried chicken followed by 7 layer chocolate cake and their skin looks amazing and clear the next morning. Some of us, well, not so much… So, find out what’s right for you through observation. Try eliminating certain food groups like gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol and fried foods for a week at a time and see how it affects the quality of your skin.
In sum, a skincare regimen using products as close to nature (Like Muah by Alexandria Face Mask! Click Here to Shop) is absolutely important. I have found that hydration, being asleep well before 1-3 am, staying away from inflammatory foods, healthy thinking, and limited sun exposure are incredibly helpful to achieve a healthy internal and external glow!
Priya Ahuja L.Ac owns her own practice in New York and Los Angeles. She uses Acupuncture, Feng Shui, Nutrition and other supportive modalities to help her clients achieve their highest goals!