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3 Skin Care Secrets From Traditional Chinese Medicine

Focus on circulation

Your skin is not an entity in-and-of itself: it’s an organ that interacts with other organs and systems in the body. One of the most notable systems that affects its health and appearance is the circulatory system.

“So often in beauty we talk about collagen, elastin, skin cell turnover, and those are all important things to talk about because they are part of the skin function and structure. But what Chinese medicine also says is that we need to talk about circulation–because circulation is what feeds all of that,” says Chiu. “In fact, it goes back to the very basic principle in Chinese medicine, which is that circulation is everything.”

And there are several modalities in TCM that can help support your body’s circulation, however Chiu notes one of the most important is acupuncture. “It’s a way to enhance and improve circulation,” she says. “It’s such an effective and rapid way to improve circulation, not only of the blood system, but of the qi, or the life force.”

Release tension in the face

“Aging cosmetically isn’t just about wrinkles, texture, or elasticity of the skin–it’s also how the shape of the face changes with time. Tension reshapes our face–so if we live with a lot of stress, we’re going to see it in the jowls and it will look heavier in the lower half of the face,” she says.

So part of helping the skin as you age is finding ways to release tension. “Facial gua sha is something you can do at home,” she says–noting that gua sha has the additional benefit of improving circulation and qi in the face as well. “It offers a release.”

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Use herbs both internally and externally

As an herbalist, Chiu is well versed in ingredients to help your skin–both that you can use internally and externally.

“In Chinese medicine, internal herbs are probably regarded as much more important for skin health,” she says. “But when recommending them, it just varies. It depends on the condition and it depends on the person with the condition. Chinese herbal medicine is very individual, bio-individual.” Essentially: Visit a practitioner who can give you an individualized recommendation.

However, there’s also a place for topical herbs in TCM dermatology, she notes. A few of her favorites there include cica (Centella asiatica, but sometimes called tiger grass), bakuchiol, and licorice.

For more skin care advice, tune in to the full episode.

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