There are many ways to diminish wrinkles and rough spots, to achieve beautiful, glowing skin, and to acquire a more sculpted jawline. Are you ready to give Chinese therapeutics a try? The foundation of Chinese beauty treatment is that the skin on the outside is a reflection of the health of the inside. Often, herbal treatment in the form of teas and food therapy are part and parcel of traditional beauty protocols. So is acupuncture. But did you know that there are many centuries-old ways to enhance the health and vibrancy of your face and neck that do not involve needles or herbal formulas?
You may have seen articles about acupuncture treatments for facial rejuvenation (or read some of my blog posts on the subject). You may have seen pictures of jade rollers or those flat jade rectangles used to gently scrape the skin in a technique called gua sha. Or possibly you’ve heard of cupping for the body (have you seen pictures of those marks on the Olympic athletes’ shoulders?). Maybe you didn’t know that cupping could also be applied to the face. It can, and to amazing effect!
If you have been following my blog, you know what tui na is and that it’s a foundation of my work in the field of Chinese medicine. But as I deepen my practice in the realm of beauty and aesthetics, I am becoming that much more of a convert to the cause of traditional beauty routines. Taking good care of one’s looks is not just for wedding season or special events. These treatments can also help you if you have scars, TMJ, headaches, puffiness around the eyes, and tension in the back of your neck. Your skin deserves to glow every day of the week AND you benefit not just your outside but also your inside when you practice regular self-care and health maintenance.
So how does this work? And what are the primary techniques for facial rejuvenation if a person does not want to try acupuncture?
Here is a short list of my top four favorites:
A healthy mind, body, and spirit makes for a lovely face. For this reason, facial treatment is best-served by starting with either tui na for the overall constitution or, if not, with acupuncture. As I’ve written elsewhere, tui na is a form of Chinese medical massage that is, in and of itself, a distinct medical specialty. It is centered on dedicated study of muscles and bones and, in practice, is somewhat like a massage and otherwise like an acupressure regimen. Treatment is based on Chinese medical theories regarding healthy balance within the body. A tui na practitioner in China can set bones, specialize in joint dysfunction, and/or work with soft tissue injury, among other things. Beautifying the muscles and other soft tissues of the face and neck are within the skill set of a tui na practitioner.
What you can expect from treatment of overall constitution is varied. Some people have a lot of internal body heat (or, instead, cold); this can be resolved to a certain extent with judicious acupressure via tui na. Others may have muscle imbalances that go up the kinetic chain and flower in the face; this, too, can be addressed. TMJ and headaches can affect expression and tui na can ameliorate their effects also. When you are experiencing the tui na part of your facial treatment, you can expect to feel soothed, relaxed, in right balance for health, and even potentially happier, as I discuss in the linked essay.
Gua Sha and Jade Instruments
People love the tui na aspect of the treatment and tell me that it is incredibly rejuvenating and very different than a regular massage. The next step, then, can be to use a jade instrument to perform an ancient Chinese technique called gua sha. Here, the skin is lightly oiled or moistened with oil-free massage lotion (depending on your individual skin needs). Then I scrape gently with the edge of the flat piece of jade you see in the picture here that has the notch on one end. This is not like gua sha for the the body. (Have you seen those wild red or purple marks left by gua sha on the neck or back? That is not what a facial gua sha treatment will do to you by any means!)
Chinese facial rejuvenation treatments are not like an aesthetic facial with steaming, masks, or extractions. At any time during the treatment, I may make use of pearl powder or special oils, true. But it’s different than what you would expect from a spa facial. The gentle scraping of facial gua sha can relieve pain and it can smooth roughened skin. It activates circulation and releases heat and congestion. It can soften tightened muscles and improve overall texture of the sub-surface realms of the face. I’ve had great success in reducing puffiness, redness, uneven texture, and–among other things–softness at the jawline using the jade gua instrument. The external quality of the skin is notably improved because the underlying causes of disharmony are dispersed via the jade instrument. It is one step that most will need before going on to other ancient Chinese modalities.
By now, it seems like most people have at least seen the pictures of Michael Phelps at the Olympics (or photographs of various actors and actresses) with bruise-like circles on their shoulders. Like gua sha with the jade instrument compared to the kind that leaves the purple marks, what happens on the face is much more refined. The small cups with the blue bulbs that you see in the picture of my South office, above, and in the final picture of this essay, below? Those would be facial cups.
What you can expect when I use the facial cups on you is to feel a gentle, pleasant suction sensation as I move lymph and fluids; this action sculpts your face and reduces a double chin or puffiness beneath the eyes. Judicious cupping can also smooth fine lines on the nasolabial fold and between the eyebrows. A treatment can consist of gua sha and cupping or, depending on the skin, cupping alone. The magic of cupping is in its ability to contour, I think, and its capacity to beautify the neck, especially.
The Jade Roller
The final step is usually detailed contouring with a jade roller (also pictured in the aforementioned photographs). After relaxing and balancing the system via tui na treatment, then stimulating the skin’s surface with gua sha and/or contouring with cups, the beauty of the visage is polished to perfection with a jade roller.
This is done by rolling a circular piece of jade across the skin. It sounds easy and you can do any of this at home, but when you’ve had it from someone with lots of practice and a real love for detail work, it’s magical. The jade roller targets acupressure points in addition to its ability to refine and reshape. It can improve blood circulation and promote lymphatic drainage. It can smooth pores and soften any lingering stiffness in the fine muscles of the face.
Cupping and the jade roller are, in my opinion, the two best ways to sculpt a lovely, firm jawline. Both techniques are superb for underlying puffiness and the resulting uneven quality of the facial contours. People tell me that the jade roller is incredibly soothing too, and that it’s amazing just how good it feels. I love it when I hear this after a treatment!
So what can you expect if you come to see me in either my North or my South Austin location? Oh, all sorts of loveliness and ease, to be sure!
A Two Hearts Wellness signature treatment will begin with tui na to boost circulation and to enhance the healthy function of your organ systems in a way that is similar to an acupuncture treatment. With your body in a state of balance and relaxation, the jade gua sha instrument can lift and sculpt, and smooth and refine. Cupping moves fluids and reduces lines and puffiness. The jade roller, finally, defines and perfects. All total, a treatment can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, dullness, and uneven tone. This can result in a tighter neck and a defined jawline, brighter skin tone, and lifting of brow and eye areas.
Chinese medicine in general sees ongoing health nourishment as a way of life. For the purposes of beauty and facial rejuvenation, though, one treatment is perfectly sufficient if you are planning for a special occasion or if you just want a treat. For lasting results, a series of eight or ten treatments is best. This is holistic and natural treatment at its most excellent. Not only does it beautify without toxins or surgical intervention…you may even find yourself feeling happier and calmer. You may notice less jaw or neck tension, headaches, or sinus trouble after treatment. You might even sleep better. When we treat the face, we treat the whole body by extension when we make contemporary use ancient Chinese beauty techniques.
If you are in Austin, why not book now, either at my South or my North location? Try it for yourself and see–your lovely face and soothed spirit will thank you!
Paula Bruno, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, an AOBTA-CP traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, and a wellness educator. She maintains an active and growing practice at her Austin, TX offices. Dr. Bruno is also available for distance appointments for wellness consultation or coaching.
In her first career, she was a Spanish professor.
Dr. Bruno’s specialties as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner include: • Musculoskeletal health (acute or chronic pain relief; Ehlers Danlos syndrome & hypermobility support) • Digestive support, gut health, and weight loss • Aesthetic treatment, including scar revision • Men’s health • General preventative care and immune support for all persons.
When you are ready to discover what traditional medicine plus a vibrant and engaged approach to holistic health can do for you, either contact Dr. Bruno or book an appointment online.
Note: Material on this web site is not intended to replace your treatment or care provided by an MD. It is for educational/entertainment purposes only. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness. Always consult your primary care doctor for health concerns.