I’ve been working with faces in my holistic skin care practice for the past twenty plus years and I know one thing for sure: most of us don’t understand our own face at all.
It’s a sad thing to realize since so much of our attention and effort goes into making our face and skin look its best. We apply make up everyday, we moisturize and scrub and we get facials but we don’t take the time to actually understand our own face. In pursuit of beauty, we mostly treat our face as if it was one dimensional.
In my book, the face is the most fascinating part of ourselves and by getting to know it better, you can develop a more meaningful relationship with yourself and with your beauty. One that is based on understanding and deeper self knowledge, not just an on-the-surface, one-dimensional interaction.
You see, your face is nothing short of magical. It’s like the universe of you or your very own, ever-evolving piece of art. It registers and conveys your joys and sorrows, the state of your health and the level of vibrance of your energetic being. The fact is that your face is a great communicator. The question though is are you willing to listen?
Chinese medicine practitioners and Ayurvedic doctors can read your health like a book simply by analyzing your face. The science of Morphology and face reading has your personality all figured out by the shape of your facial features and markings. It’s amazing!
Of course, I’m not going to ask you to become an Ayurvedic doctor so you can read your face. However, there are a few simple yet profound face facts that everyone will benefit from knowing. Why? Simply because if you understand the workings of your face you will no longer look for solutions to your face/skin problems in the wrong places. You will also gain a deeper appreciation for the miracle of your body.
The state of your physical health is expressed in the quality and health of your skin.
This presents itself through changes in skin texture, temperature and colour.
For example, a person with a tendency to facial redness and inflammation may be prone to excess heat in the body and tendency for inflammatory conditions of the body in general. An over-acidic stomach is often accompanied by redness in specific areas of the face. I see this with my clients all the time.
Congested skin which lacks luster, looks puffy and is cool to the touch often represents a body which is slow, sluggish and congested with poor lymphatic flow.
Next time when you experience a flare up of acne or skin redness, take a moment to acknowledge its connection to the internal workings of your body. Your skin is talking. Don’t just try to shut it up by using suppressive skin care products.
The majority of chronic skin problems need to be addressed from the inside and also supported topically with clean plant-based formulas. No skin care product alone will fix your hormonal imbalance or your digestive issues. So please know the limitation of your skin care product and respond to your body’s signals by addressing the root causes. It will save you a lot of money and time that you spend searching for that perfect skin care product.
The state of your emotional health is expressed through patterns of tension in facial muscles and other tissues.
Lines and wrinkles, sad face, happy face… It is true that emotions which you are most attached to are written all over your face.
There are a few really smart people out there who have devoted their life’s work to this subject. Dr Paul Ekman is my absolute guru when it comes to the relationship between emotions and the engagement of corresponding facial muscles.
The gist of it is that every single person engages exactly the same facial muscles to express the same emotion. It doesn’t matter if you are from Paris, New York or a little town somewhere in Africa, when you are angry it shows up in your face in the same way. Of course there is nothing wrong with expressing emotions. The problem arises when you get attached to a particular emotion and feel it over and over.
Let’s say that you feel very sad and disappointed in yourself, your partner or life in general. You are feeling this way not for a week or two but for the past year or maybe five years… as you know this is not uncommon. Some people feel sad and disappointed about something throughout their whole life.
The depressor anguli oris muscle is engaged in expressing this particular emotion. It runs vertically on each side of your mouth.
If you are feeling sad and disappointed a lot, eventually this muscle becomes chronically tense. As a consequence a few things will happen: restricted flow of vital fluids (blood and lymph) which will contribute to the lack of proper tissue nourishment and accelerated aging, facial symmetry may be disturbed (more tension on one side than the other) and your lip corners will be turning down and that fixed unhappy look becomes a reality… The ‘marionette’ lines are the consequence of chronic contraction of this muscle.
To sum it up, your body, your thoughts and your feelings are all interconnected. In fact, the pattern of muscle tensions in your face is always involved in determining your emotional state.
If you don’t like the look that you are seeing on your face lately you may want to spend some time with how you are feeling on the inside. It’s amazing how happiness and internal contentment will immediately light up your face. And don’t be hard on yourself. We are all a work in progress.
Your sacred face
There also is a sacred aspect to your face and head. This is the seat of the vital energy points. In Ayurveda these are called marma points and in Chinese medicine acupoints.
These points are located all over the body (we have a few important ones on our face and head) at anatomical sites where veins, arteries, tendons, bones or joints intersect. They are also said to be the points of connection between our physical and the subtle energetic bodies. These points are connected to specific organs and sights of the body. For example the marma points located on the scalp are connected to the brain and also to the other organs.
Ayurveda says that, through skilled marma point stimulation we can have an impact on hormonal balance, eye, ear and nose health, emotional balance, memory function, we can relieve headaches and strengthen general vitality of the person. These are just a few examples.
What I have observed in my work is that, through working with the face, people can experience not only states of deep relaxation but also safety and a deep sense of wellness.
If mindfully acknowledged, the face can also be understood as the entry point or a gateway to deeper self knowledge, the starting point of communication with self.
As a skin and facial therapist whose practice is devoted solely to treatments of the face I can wholeheartedly say that receiving a deeply nurturing face treatment is a powerful medicine both for you and your skin. The effects of such treatments can be seen on the outside and are definitely felt deep within.
Now that you are a little bit more familiar with the true nature of your face, please, spend time with it. Touch it. Observe it. Not with your critical eye but with the an eye of wonder and exploration.
Before you book your next facial and let someone else touch your face, make sure that they too see its magic. Don’t be shy to ask questions to make sure that they are well trained in the holistic arts of face work and that they understand the complexity and dynamic nature of your face.