Beauty inside out

The popularity of Eastern therapies is growing as more and more of us strive to achieve harmony between inner health and outer beauty.

Jennifer Kang explains how you can use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to blossom… naturally.

Using TCM to enhance outer beauty is a relatively new trend in Western culture, but the ancient therapy has been used in Asian countries for hundreds of years. In the TCM point-of-view, it is the balance between the two sides of the body’s composition – the yin and yang – that maintains our inner health and outer beauty. Consequently, “skin problems can be signs of imbalances in internal health,” claims Melbourne Chinese medicine practitioner, Dr Juanita Jolly of Balance Complementary Medicine.

“A person’s face is affected selectively by the health of their internal organs,” she says. “That’s why we look at the skin from an internal perspective – identifying underlying health issues – while Western medicine traditionally looks at the skin from an external perspective.”

In the pursuit of beauty and well being, TCM draws on a variety of techniques – acupuncture facials, herbal remedies and jade rollers – to stimulate the body’s natural energies or qi (pronounced ‘chee’), rejuvenating the face as well as promoting inner health and wellness.

Acupuncture Facial

Originally used by ancient Chinese royalty more than 800 years ago, the acupuncture facial involves fine pins placed at specific locations to stimulate qi. The acupuncture points used on the face activate specific muscles, which result in the face lifting itself through the muscles’ tightening and toning action.

The Treatment

Targeting muscle tension that can cause frown lines, under-eye bags and puffiness, the non-invasive treatment is also thought to stimulate collagen production. The acupuncture facial aims to produce lasting results by tackling the underlying health issues standing between you and radiant skin. “It’s a gradual, organic process,” says Dr Jolly. “Patients usually have 12-15 acupuncture sessions to achieve the desired outcome and treatment is combined with herbal remedies and encouraging lifestyle changes.”

Does it hurt?

While the thought of having multiple needles inserted into the skin is bound to detract some, Dr Jolly says there is little pain involved with the procedure. “It’s no more painful than getting your eyebrows plucked.”

The Results

Dr Jolly says the insertion of fine pins at acupuncture point’s results in ‘positive injury’, stimulating blood circulation to improve facial colour and radiance. The age-old therapy can also act as a natural muscle relaxant, visibly reducing the appearance of frown lines caused by muscle tension. “After an acupuncture facial, patients look like they’ve been on a holiday – there is noticeable improvement with increased radiance in the skin,” she says.

Healing Herbs

From a TCM viewpoint, the mantra, ‘real change comes from within,’ could not be truer. According to RMIT Chinese medicine researcher Dr Brian May, you can’t maximise the benefits of beauty products and treatments by “putting things on the surface of the skin alone.” Dr May says treatments on the surface of the skin can penetrate deeply, but more noticeable results will occur with the help of Chinese herbal medicines to improve overall health or to target a specific disorder. By performing tongue and pulse diagnosis, a skin examination and a general assessment on health and lifestyle, a Chinese herbalist will produce a custom-made herbal remedy for the patient to balance disharmony in the body.

The Treatment

“In TCM, herbal medicine is used to promote inner wellness by targeting health problems relating to stress, inflammation, digestive disturbances or blood flow, which commonly affect the skin,” says Dr May. “While conventional cosmetics you find at the supermarket sell things for the surface alone, in the TCM point-of-view, it’s important to treat the internal condition as well. Especially when it comes to chronic skin problems,” he says.

This is not to say Western skin products are not useful. “These days, cosmetic industries are increasingly using plant extracts for their antioxidant effects. Patients will benefit from taking herbal medicines in conjunction with using topical treatments.”

The Results

For chronic skin problems like persistent dryness or chronic acne, the healing process is gradual, claims Dr May. However, for patients with acute skin conditions, treatment effects can be rapid.

Dr Jolly combines the use of Chinese herbal medicine with acupuncture facials and says each person will notice different results depending on what they are being treated for. “Patients suffering from hyper-pigmentation, eczema, dry skin and rosacea will see visible improvement. Treatment is very specific and individual to each person, but each patient will notice there will be increased radiance in the skin. If there is no noticeable change, you’ll know there hasn’t been the right diagnosis or it’s a sign the patient’s diet and lifestyle still need to change,” she says.


DIY Chinese beauty tips to have you blossoming with beauty this spring!

Eat fruits and vegies in season – in Chinese medicine, spring is a good time to rejuvenate the body. To make the most of the spring bliss, eat fresh, in-season produce to help the body start anew.

Drink water at room temperature – while cold water is refreshing in its taste, it’s bad for the digestive system. Cold drinks injure our stomach and the spleen’s ability to digest. Digestion is the key to good health and remember, good health means glowing skin!

Combat dry skin – if winter sapped your skin of its moisture, now’s a good time to start getting moisture levels up again. Soak cotton buds in warm ginger tea and dab it on the face. This will help bring forth moisture to the skin’s surface.

Pinch the jaw-line – this will stimulate the skin and lift the jowls.

Roll With It

Jade rollers have been around for hundreds of years. The Chinese roller, made from jade – the stone of youth and longevity – is used to massage the face, stimulating the skins surface and increasing blood flow.

The Treatment

Different roller movements are applied to varying acupuncture points on the face and neck to relieve muscle tension. Dr Brian May claims that if half the face is massaged, the immediate before and after results are clearly visible.

“Under the surface of the skin where people have wrinkles and puffiness, muscles can be tight and sore,” he says. “By massaging those spots, you’ll look better and feel better by making that area warmer and relaxed.”

The Results

Just like any facial massage, jade rollers can diminish the appearance of puffiness, frown lines and skin discolouration, as well as having a ‘lifting’ effect. Its cooling properties can tighten enlarged pores and soothe the skin. Dr Jolly says massaging the face with a jade roller is ideal for people with dry skin as it brings forth yin (moisture) to the skin.

Patients can maximise the benefits of a jade roller facial by having a herbal mask massaged into the skin at the same time. An obvious benefit is its general meditative effect – there’s no denying that we could all do with a facial massage fit for ancient Chinese royalty! NH


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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.