Sometimes, we do bonkers things to look beautiful and improve our skin, but is sticking needles in your face going too far?
Acupuncture, the practice of sticking said needles into your body, is an ancient Chinese medical practice that has been alleged to work wonders on the body.
Some celebrities swear by it – Kim Kardashian relaxed with an acupuncture selfie on Instagram and apparently the fascinating treatment even helped Mariah to get pregnant.
But how does it actually work? And more importantly, how much does it hurt?
We caught up with Dr John Tsagaris, an internationally renowned doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine to find out the finer points of this mysterious practice.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Firstly, it's important to note that the needles aren't just any needles, and they're not used just anywhere. 'Acupuncture involves stimulating certain points on the body, with a specialised needle of various lengths and sizes that penetrate the skin to various depths', explains Dr Tsagaris.
'The acupuncture points are carriers of vital energy which interconnects and interfers with all aspects of our body and mind. Not only do these points have an effect on the organs, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems but also emotional and cognitive functions too.'
So essentially, we're tapping into our internal energies via specific points on our body and there are numerous ailments that acupuncture can help to fix.
What Are The Benefits Of Acupuncture?
There is clinical research behind the anti-inflammatory benefits of acupuncture which show it to be effective against inflammatory conditions like rosacea and eczema, but can acupuncture specifically help the skin's appearance, even when we don't have a condition to treat?
Dr Tsagaris explains that for cosmetic acupuncture, needles are inserted into deeper layers of the face and neck and they change the muscle blood flow locally at different levels. This treatment can increase the hydration levels and elasticity of the skin, enhancing volume for a rejuvenated appearance whilst triggering the production of collagen and elastin.
How Does Face Acupuncture Work?
Treating the face is different to the rest of the body. 'Facial acupuncture addresses the skin's structural changes, such as fine lines and wrinkles, but particularly aids in activating the skin. The skin's healing process is triggered by acupuncture and stimulates the cells that initiate skin repair and collagen replenishment', explains Dr Tsagaris.
With connective tissue in the skin making up to 80% of the dermis, rebuilding the structural integrity is crucial for clear, smooth skin.
By enhancing micro-circulation and strengthening the skin's own ability to resist external aging factors like sun exposure and oxidative stress, facial acupuncture also improves firmness and helps to prevent skin aging.
So How Does That Effect The Rest Of Your Body?
Given the concept of energy flow throughout the body, it's no surprise when Dr Tsagaris reveals that our skin health is related to the rest of our body. 'Changes and deterioration of the skin or muscle tone reflect the state of the zang fu organs, Qi, blood, yin and yang.'
But what does that mean?!
Bring on the Chinese Traditional Medicine for Dummies!
Roughly translating years of Chinese study into one sentence, it turns out the zang fu organs are the heart, liver, lungs etc and Qi is the vital energy, or 'breath', of life.
Blood, we all know, and yin and yang, being far more than the black and white icon we used to doodle on our notebooks in the 90's, is actually the theory that contrasting energies can interconnect in a complementary manner.
What Does That Mean For Your Health?
The point is that the body is interconnected via this invisible energy and certain parts of the body are more connected.
For example, Dr Tsagaris explains how the heart is linked to circulation in the skin, and the lungs are more connected to pore size. The spleen is connected to sebum production and the liver to pigmentation or age spots.
'Acupuncture is very prescriptive. Different treatment methods are employed and appropriate points chosen according to the aging process on an individual level.'
Now, the most important question...
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Inserting needles in your skin is a terrifying concept for many but Dr Tsagaris maintains that it is not a painful procedure. 'The sensation is variable according to the individual and any sensitivity accelerates the healing response and regenerative abilities of the skin.'
Where Can You Go To Get Acupuncture?
You can use Core Spirit Practitioner Directory to find Acupuncture and TCM Practitioners in your area.
We make sure the all practitioners we list are professional and accredited with either the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM) of the British Acupuncture council. They should have proven experience and certification of treating skin conditions, cosmetic acupuncture and health acupuncture.