My idea of a nightmare is someone sticking needles into my face. I had acupuncture years ago while trying to get pregnant and didn’t have the most gentle practitioner so I’ve avoided it ever since. But then I found out about facial acupunture. Yes, needles which, “can help with fine lines, sagging skin, bags under the eyes and the overall health and vibrancy of the skin,” says Yvette Forbes, an acupuncture practitioner at Sage Beauty in Sydney’s Bondi Beach.
She had me at sagging skin. And fine lines. And bags. And vibrance! The things you’ll do for beauty, right?
UNDER THE SKIN
Traditional cosmetic treatments generally treat the surface of your skin to help make changes. Things like lasers, Botox, dermal fillers and even surgery are all topical. But acupuncture works on your inner wellness. It focuses on the health of your organs and moves your ‘chi’ - stay with me - around the body to bring blood to different areas and boost the muscles which hold the face up.
“It’s the functioning and the energy of the organs that we want to work better. For example, sagging muscles are about the spleen,” says Forbes (because I specifically asked her about my sagging jawline!) “The spleen is about the digestive system so I’ll ask questions about that then place the needles on the body and face to support the spleen. Every treatment is different according to the needs of the client.”
She quizzes me on my stomach, my sleep, my period, my mood swings, my stress levels, my diet, all kinds of things. It’s almost like a nice therapy session. She works on my face with a guashua, which is a paddle made of jade, and strokes it quickly and gently along my jawline to cause micro-trauma to the skin which then draws blood to the area to heal itself. It feels lovely. But then, needles.
I try not to stress while she inserts them over legs and feet, and then into my face - even on my laugh lines. I’ve had a few different lasers over the years from Clear and Brilliant to a Revlite to IPL which all rather hurt. This doesn’t. The stress is in my head. Eventually I relax and it begins to feel good.
Irene Prantalos, a Chinese medicine practitioner at Salubre in Melbourne’s Surrey Hills, has used acupuncture to treat psoriasis and also does cosmetic treatments.
“Acupuncture addresses any imbalances in the body,” says Prantalos. “When someone says they have puffy circles or darkness around eyes, it indicates an adrenal issue, the bags can be about the spleen. If someone has a lot of wrinkles, dullness or dryness, that’s a yin deficiency.”
Prantalos says she can “raise the eyebrows by strategically applying certain needles at acupoints that causes a lifting. You can reduce pigmentation of the skin which comes from the liver.”
Both practitioners talk about the dermal hammer, which is like a dermal roller and causes trauma to the skin which then makes more collagen to heal itself, a similar process to lasers, and both say that because acupuncture is a natural treatment, you need to go often for it to work - 12 treatments is ideal.
“But we’re working on your inner health,” says Forbes, “so it will hold.”
“This is more for someone who wants to age gracefully and boost their health in a way that creates wellness and not hide the aging process,” says Prantalos, “Botox and fillers hide aging. And they don’t last.”
I only had one treatment but I’m still glowing two days later and it just may have changed my mind about the whole needle thing, I’m going back for more.
This article was originally written for and published on the Sydney Morning Herald.