Skin issues, such as acne or rosacea, can be caused by a variety of things. Whether you tried a new product that irritated your skin or excessively touched your face and broke out because of it, there are a ton of factors that contribute to whatever is going on. Some causes, like the ones just mentioned, are external, but there can also be internal causes, as well. We're talking hormone imbalances, digestive issues, or even some of the foods you most commonly eat. It may sound scary, but it doesn't have to be, because with knowledge comes the ability to make the changes that'll help you heal.
This is where face mapping comes in. Face mapping is a method of determining the internal cause of your skin issues by where the problem is presenting itself on your face. Basically, breaking out on your forehead means one thing, while pimples on your jawline indicate something else. This method isn't followed by all doctors and professionals, but it's still believed by many to be an accurate interpretation of the issues your skin is experiencing.
Wanting to know more about face mapping, we chatted with Dr. Ben Johnson, the Founder of Osmosis Skincare. “Mapping the skin is an ancient medical practice that began thousands of years ago in China,” explains Dr. Johnson. “The skin has connections to all of the other organs. In my research, there are many organ connections that are visibly reflected on the face. Over the last decade, I have been analyzing images and medical histories from my client's skin patients which led me to discover consistent patterns and causes related to most skin conditions.”
Come with us as we break down how the different areas of your face correspond with your body, and discuss Dr. Johnson's general findings and solutions.
Breaking out on your forehead is most associated with your digestive system. Pay attention to what you eat — are you overdoing processed foods, dairy, or sugar? Try incorporating more vegetables and don't forget to drink lots of water. Check in with your gut health and make adjustments to your diet as needed. Dr. Johnson also suggests taking a digestive enzyme when you're eating a larger meal or food you don't typically eat.
Are you breaking out between your brows? This could indicate a problem with your liver. Be mindful of your habits, such as drinking alcohol or smoking.
Side of face
Breaking out on the side of your face could be caused by either your digestive system or by poor lymphatic drainage. Be sure to drink water, stay active, and maybe consider a jade roller or trying the gua sha technique.
They say breakouts on your nose are associated with your heart and esophagus, but don't panic, it doesn't have to be that bad. Do you have poor circulation or any blood pressure issues? On the other hand, the nose often relates to acid reflux and indigestion, so try to eat foods that don't exasperate any digestive problems.
Cheeks relate to your stomach, lungs, and respiratory system. When it comes to your stomach, think food allergies or intolerances. Your gut health also pops back up here, as your ability (or inability) to absorb nutrients manifests on your checks. When it comes to your respiratory system — are you a smoker? Maybe it's finally time to quit.
Side note: A few years back I started breaking out like crazy on my cheeks, and after some tests, sadly found out I have an egg intolerance. Since vastly reducing my egg consumption (*tear*), my cheek acne cleared up almost entirely.
Additionally, your cheeks and around your mouth are common places for bacteria buildup from either your cell phone or simply touching your face.
Chin / around mouth
Indigestion and constipation are big causes of breakouts on your chin and around your mouth. It's recommended to limit your intake of spicy and hot foods. Instead, eat more fiber and make sure you're drinking enough water.
Jawline / sides of chin / neck
Hello, hormones! This is one that even the most traditional of Western medicine doctors will agree with. Breaking out on your jawline, sides of the chin, and neck are indicators of your hormones acting up. Having pimples pop up right before you period is pretty common, but if you have persistent issues it may be worth getting some blood work done to check in with your hormone levels.
common areas and issues
We asked Dr. Johnson about the most common problem areas and issues he sees. "By far, the liver and digestive tract are the most common zones of damage. This makes sense when you realize that they face the brunt of toxicity every day."
As for issues, he broke it down by age. "In 15-25-year-olds, acne is most common because the hormone toxins are most disrupting in someone whose hormones are on the rise and because this age group eats more fast food than any other. In 25-50-year-olds, we see rosacea more commonly because the repeated hits to the gut take their toll over time. And in age 50+, the most common concern is pigmentation — in particular, liver spots that come from medications primarily."
So, what can you do to help your skin overall? I think one of the biggest takeaways is that food plays a huge role. We're not breaking it down to specifics of what you should and shouldn't eat, as everyone's body is different, but rather calling out the obvious: You should limit processed, fried, greasy, and sugary foods when possible, and make sure you're drinking enough water and eating your veggies. Take care of your skin from the inside out.