A Guide to Face Mapping Acne to Find the Source of Your Breakouts

Portrait of a woman with the map of the world painted on her face.

Here’s a fun fact: acne is the most common skin disease, with around 80% of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 experiencing acne outbreaks at some point during their lives. But as common as acne is, we all experience it a little differently.

Some of us have frequent outbreaks on our foreheads while others are plagued with chin acne. Still others have acne that prefers to reside on one or both cheeks.

Whatever the case, if you’ve experienced persistent acne on specific parts of your face, you’re probably wondering what the deal is. Why is it that you continue to get breakouts in the same areas over and over again?

If you’re curious about the answer, face mapping acne may hold the key.

What is Face Mapping?

Practitioners of Eastern medicine believe that health is a state of balance in the body. When forces within the body fall out of balance, whether due to stress, injury, poor nutrition, or other causes, illness occurs.

Increasingly, Western practitioners of medicine are adopting Eastern philosophies regarding healthfulness and mindfulness. Originally a Chinese diagnostic technique known as Mien Shiang, face mapping has gained in popularity as an approach to acne treatment.

The Chinese believed that acne breakouts in specific areas of the face could be the result of issues elsewhere in the body. By addressing these issues, acne could be controlled or eliminated. These areas were “mapped” to link the location of the breakout on the face with areas of the body that might be out of balance: liver, digestive tract, lungs, heart, kidneys, etc.

There are 14 mapped areas, or zones, on the face. Beginning with the forehead, there are two areas, one above each eye. The remaining areas are between the brows, the temples, the nose, the cheeks, the area around the mouth, the chin, and the jaw.

Ready to face map your acne? Let’s get started!

Face Mapping Acne: Find the Source

Here’s your guide to the major hot spots of acne breakouts and what they may mean.

Forehead Acne

If you frequently get acne on your forehead, the culprit could be poor digestion and a reduced elimination of toxins. Your best course of action is to develop habits that support your digestive system as well as your ability to flush out toxins.

What’s the best thing to do?

  • Drink more water and cut out soda and other sugary drinks. This will help your body naturally flush out waste and toxins. If you must have something flavored, try an iced green tea or infuse your water with fresh fruits, which are full of antioxidants that neutralize toxins.
  • Get more rest, especially between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM. This gives your body time to relax and restore itself. It also gives your digestive system a break.
  • Eat slowly and remember to chew, because after all, digestion begins in the mouth. It’s one of the most helpful things you can do for your digestive system.
  • Add probiotics to your daily routine to build up a healthy gut microbiome. This is one of the most beneficial things you can do for acne, digestion, and your overall health.
  • Take digestive enzymes like bromelain before each meal to help break down foods.
  • Cut out processed foods, and try to stick to a diet of healthy, whole foods.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing. Stress can do a number on your body, including upsetting digestion.
  • Make time to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes each day, preferably outdoors, which reduces stress and improves your overall health.

Finally, the source of forehead acne could also be something as simple as oil and dirt from hair (and hair products) making their way into your pores. Always remember to wash your bangs and clean any hats worn frequently!

Acne on the Temples

Your temples are connected to two adrenal glands that secrete vital hormones and are located above the kidneys. Breakouts in these areas are thought to be related to stress.

If your glands aren’t functioning normally, you may also be experiencing other symptoms like sluggishness, fatigue, and a reduced capacity for handling stress.

What’s the best thing to do?

  • Cut out processed food, fast food, and junk food in your diet and reduce fats (except for healthy fats in avocados and fish).
  • Eat more “cooling foods” like watermelon, celery, tomatoes, and cucumber.

Acne Between the Brows

The middle of your forehead, between the brows, is connected to your liver. If you’ve noticed that you get pimples there after a night of drinking, that could be the biggest culprit. It can also have to do with congestion from foods that your body cannot tolerate well, like dairy and greasy, fatty foods.

What’s the best thing to do?

  • Avoid alcohol and smoking. We know this is hard, but if you’re a smoker, take this opportunity to either attempt quitting cold turkey or to try a vaping device.
  • Do a liver cleanse. This is nowhere near as complicated as it sounds. It can be as simple as eating a diet of foods that are good for your liver and taking a daily supplement of milk thistle.
  • Sleep when the liver is strongest (between 1 AM and 3 AM) and avoid overworking and stress when the liver is weakest (between 1 PM and 5 PM).
  • Cut out dairy. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, as there are many other alternatives such as nut milks, soy milk, hemp milk, and oat milk.
  • Replace greasy, fatty foods with lighter, cleaner foods that are easier on your system.
  • Increase exercise. Even light exercise helps your body’s toxin elimination.

Nose Acne

Frequent pimples on your nose can mean blood pressure is elevated and should be addressed.

What’s the best thing to do?

  • Meat, salt, and spicy foods should be eliminated from the diet.
  • Foods should be eaten at a medium, not hot, temperature.
  • Make sure you get plenty of B vitamins either in your diet or in supplement form.
  • Ramp up your exposure to fresh air and outdoor exercise. Take a nice walk, preferably every day.
  • Massage the area around the nose regularly to improve circulation.

Cheek Acne

If you have persistent acne on your cheeks, check to see specifically where it seems to crop up the most. It may be a respiratory issue if you find it’s mainly on your upper cheeks, since the tops of the cheeks are linked to the lungs. If you’re a smoker, this is a good time to quit. You may also just in a polluted area; frequently inhaling air pollution can contribute to this.

Acne that mainly clusters around your lower cheeks can be linked to problems in the mouth, especially the gums. Here’s another call to avoid sugary foods and drinks and regularly brush and floss.

What’s the best thing to do for cheek acne?

  • Quit smoking. You don’t have to go cold turkey. Switch to vaping to help ease yourself off the tobacco habit.
  • Eat more cooling foods like tofu, alfalfa sprouts, and bananas.
  • Avoid overeating, and stick to alkaline foods like fresh fruits and vegetables over acidic foods like dairy, alcohol, meat, caffeine, and sugar.
  • Also avoid fast food, junk food, mango, taro root, seafood, and other foods that might cause sensitivity.
  • Practice thorough dental hygiene and get your teeth checked regularly.
  • Get more fresh air in the great outdoors.
  • Try to get more exercise especially between the hours of 7AM and 9AM when the lungs are the strongest.

Sometimes, it can be the simplest, most obvious things. Cut out the common culprits that can be causing cheek acne, like bacteria on the surface of your cell phone – use Bluetooth or wipe frequently – or the fabric softener you’re using to wash your pillowcases.

Acne Around the Lips

Do the breakouts around your mouth normally occur during menstruation? That’s because this area is connected to your ovaries.

What’s the best thing to do?

  • Increase the amount fiber in your diet.
  • Increase fruits and vegetables and decrease spicy and fried foods.
  • Change to an all natural lipstick. Chapstick can be a culprit, too – especially if it contains pore-clogging petroleum jelly. Go with an all natural chapstick like Hurrah. They have an amazing range of flavors and the cleanest, most beneficial ingredients.
  • Try a belly massage where you massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction.

Chin and Jaw Acne

Finally, we come to a part of the face that plagues so many of us, the chin and jawline. This part of the face is linked to hormones and the things that influence hormones like menstruation, pregnancy, and stress. The chin is also linked to the small intestine, which is where 90% of digestion and nutritional absorption takes place.

What’s the best thing to do?

  • Try your best to get your hormones under control. Ask your doctor for a hormone test to get a better understanding of your hormonal levels. Also, take a natural hormone balancing supplement like Vitex or Maca root.
  • If your testosterone levels are high, sip Spearmint tea to naturally lower your testosterone levels.
  • Help your body find balance by consuming more fruits and vegetables, taking omega-3s to regulate hormones, and getting at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Keep stress at a minimum by getting enough sleep, adopting meditative techniques like deep breathing and yoga, resting the eyes for five minutes every hour in the afternoons when working, and even treating yourself to a massage or two!
  • Support your small intestine by staying away from fried, oily meals.
  • Again, probiotics are your friend. They’re helpful both for hormones and for your small intestine.

Final Thoughts

No matter where your acne is, most of the recommendations above are common sense: eat right, limit junk food and fats, drink lots of water, get regular fresh air and exercise, and avoid stress. All of these are good advice in the modern world.

What is interesting is the Eastern influence on this advice. Eastern medicine believes in prevention of disease through healthy lifestyle, and treatment of disease through the restoration of balance within the body. Western medicine believes in naming a disease, and curing/treating it through surgical intervention or drug therapies.

So if you’ve had enough of the Benzoyl Peroxide and are unwilling to go through a round of Accutane, try the natural strategies found above. After all, none of them come with side effects!

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