“Why Am I Breaking Out?” Face Mapping Will Tell You

While a major zit popping up the night before something important (that’s always how it seems to go, right?) may seem like some sort of karma, oftentimes your breakouts aren’t as random as they seem. More often than not, breakouts tend to cluster around the same areas of your face over and over again, whether it be always on the chin or hovering around the hairline.

It can be frustrating to see breakouts, inflammation, dry skin, and more no matter where they form on your skin, but paying attention to the specific areas that seem to be brewing the most trouble can be pretty enlightening. Besides checking in with a dermatologist or esthetician to get tailored skincare advice, you may want to start by turning to an ancient Chinese practice called face mapping. 

“Chinese medicine has practiced face mapping—the belief that different parts of the face correspond to different organs in the body—for thousands of years,” explains Dr. Shari Auth, a leading holistic health practitioner in NYC. “If blemishes, rashes, or other variations in skin tone and texture (like dry skin) appear on the face, their whereabouts can indicate a health problem involving that organ.” Here’s what each area may mean for you: 


The forehead is commonly home to breakouts, pore congestion, fine lines, and wrinkles for many. According to Auth, concerns in this area all correspond to the bladder and intestines. “Variations in skin in this area, including wrinkles, might indicate digestive issues like leaky gut, irregular sleep patterns, a buildup of toxins, or too much stress.” While your doctor is your best bet when it comes to digestion, getting plenty of rest and practicing de-stressing exercises will without a doubt benefit your skin.

In Between the Eyebrows and Temples

This area “represents the liver, which, according to Chinese medicine, corresponds with anger,” Auth explains. “Issues with the skin in these areas, including deep grooves, might indicate toxin buildup from the environment, toxins in the food you’re eating, or too much stress and frustration.” Cut back on alcohol and smoking and amp up the exercise, fruits, and vegetables in order to keep these areas in check.


Under-Eye Area

Everything from fine lines and wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles can make their mark on the thin, sensitive skin that sits below the eyes. “The under-eye area relates to the kidneys, which is associated with fear in Chinese medicine,” Auth says. “Variations in this area, including bags and puffiness, might indicate adrenal issues or anxiety.” Drinking plenty of water and limiting salt intake can keep kidneys feeling their best, while adding a little bit of mindfulness to your life can do wonders for anxiety and stress.  


In the meantime, apply a soothing eye gel like Vacation Eyes to
 de-puff and brighten dark circles.


“The upper cheek and around the cheekbones are linked to the stomach, and inflammation, acne, or other variations in the skin around this area could relate to digestive issues,” Auth says.

“However, the lower cheek below the cheekbones corresponds to the lungs, and variations in skin in this area might indicate
allergies or other respiratory issues.” 




While dullness, dryness, and inflammation are all potential problems in the chin area, it’s most common to struggle with acne here. “Acne on the chin is common for a lot of women around the time of ovulation or in their luteal phase, leading up to their menses,” Auth explains. “In Chinese medicine, the chin corresponds to the reproductive organs, and variations in skin might indicate a hormonal imbalance or gynecological issue.” That may be why you notice more acne popping up on your chin around or during your menstrual cycle. 

Consult with a doctor or specialist to figure out a solution if you think hormones (including birth control) or reproductive issues are at play here. In the meantime, opt for purifying and clarifying products that exfoliate and decongest pores, such as our Find Clarity Purifying Mask. As for those underground, cystic pimples that often appear around your cycle? Dab on a spot treatment to fight bacteria and prevent future breakouts from forming.

If you’re looking to turn to more holistic practices to improve your overall health, not just your skin’s, consider turning to acupuncture, herbal supplements, and practitioners that specialize in Eastern medicine. As Auth explains, “Chinese medicine uses acupuncture and herbs together to treat a wide range of health concerns. Together or separately, they both target root issues in the body that can cause skin concerns and damage by healing digestion issues, balancing hormones, and relieving stress—all contributors to acne and other skin issues.”

Got more acne questions? Check out this handy FAQ.