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What Your Face Says About You

Coco Chanel once said “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.” Lincoln said "Every man over forty is responsible for his face". According to Traditional Chinese Medicine face reading or mien shiang, is a 3,000-year-old practice that views the face as a map with each section connecting to a different organ or system.

In an article by Empirical Point Acupuncture it is presented that the face reading can "determine many aspects of not only current health, but past illness and trauma. This system allows the Chinese medicine expert to read and interpret your congenital, present, and future health predispositions. Mien shiang also detects your tendencies in predominating emotions, character traits, and patterns of behavior.

Mien shiang breaks down the face in several different ways to make determinations about your physical and mental health. A face reader will examine the two sides of your face in relation to each other, determine your face shape and what that reveals about you, and evaluate the three primary zones of your face and your 12 facial features.

How Chinese Face Readers Evaluate Your Health

Here’s how mien shiang is used to determine characteristics about your health.

Two Sides to Every Story

Imagine a line down the middle of your face, dividing it into left and right. Though most people would like these two sides to be symmetrical, they are dissimilar, though typically only slightly. In Chinese face reading, this is believed to be due to the control of the face by the brain, which is actually divided into two sections, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere.

But what does this mean when reading the face?

Your left brain controls logic and reasoning, as well as the left side of your face. Logically, logic and reasoning are represented on this side of your face, as is how you associate with your inner self. It also represents the influence your father had on you.

Your right brain, the intuitive and creative side, is reflected on the right side of your face. This is your outer side that shows how you respond to the world, as well as your mother’s influence.

A Chinese face reader will compare the two sides and make determinations about your personality based on appearances. These traits give awareness into previous and current health and help determine how your future health can be improved by making changes.

The Five Elements and Face Shapes

In Chinese metaphysics, there are five elements – water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Chinese Medicine uses these elemental cycles and correspondences to understand the nature of disease as well as understand disease progressions and best course for treatment. These elements also are represented on the face in an overall shape, a regional way, and in facial landmarks.

In relation to the face shape, the elements are associated with the five face shapes – round (water), wider at the jawline (earth), or rectangular or long (metal), wider at the top of the head and tapering town (wood), and heart-shaped with a pointed chin (fire).

Face Reading

The three facial zones are read from top to bottom – the upper, middle, and lower zones. The upper zone, which goes from your hairline to the top of your eyebrows, represents your early life. This is often where your signs of aging first start showing, especially if you had a difficult childhood.

The middle zone, from your eyebrows to your nose’s tip, corresponds to your health in the middle stages of life. A large middle zone can indicate that your middle age will be the best stage of your life.

The lower zone, from the bottom of your nose down, holds key information about your senior years in life. People with larger lower zones may experience true health and happiness as they advance into the later stages of life.

Facial Features

There are 12 prominent facial features evaluated to determine many personality traits and the experiences you’ve been through in the past that have affected who you are today. They include:

• Hairline • Forehead • Eyebrows • Brow bones • Eyes • Cheeks • Nose • Lips • Mouth • Chin • Jaw • Ears

Evaluation of these features, from the color to shape and size, allows your practitioner to delve even deeper into your true health and temperament. Discoloration, spots, or horizontal creases can be indicators of past, present, or future physical health concerns. They also reveal much about your individual nature, as well as how difficult or easy life has been and will be for you, based on the nine palaces [According to an article by Triangle Acupuncture Clinic, The Nine Palaces are "nine primary areas of life where we humans struggle and seek satisfaction. They are a reflection of our health and where we have (or lack) control in our lives. They are the key to longevity, to a feeling of sovereignty over our lives. Having control over the Nine Palaces, and over the areas of our life that they govern, gives us control over our lives and, the Chinese say, over our destiny."].

According to an article on,

"The Center Forehead

The upper center of the forehead is linked to our small intestine. This is where we break down food from the stomach and absorb nutrients. When we aren’t breaking down our food properly, we suffer from uncomfortable or irregular bowel movements. We can also suffer from malnourishment or deficiencies, since we are not absorbing what we need from our food. If we break out here, or see some dryness or inflammation, or fine lines seem to deepen, we should take a better look at how and what we are eating.

The Sides of Forehead

Flanking the aforementioned center forehead, we have the sides of our forehead, which are tied to our bladder. When we are severely dehydrated, have an infection brewing, or perhaps a yeast overgrowth, we will experience irritation or some kind of upset in this area. We should take care by drinking plenty of water and adding electrolytes for boosted hydration absorption. Drinking pure cranberry juice or popping some cranberry concentrate pills could be helpful as well.

Above the Eyebrows and Above Upper Lip

While not necessarily close in proximity, both of these areas are linked to the heart. Redness, dryness, excess oil, and/or blockages like blackheads above the brows or rimming the upper lip indicate blockages within the heart. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is recognized that this can be emotional. However, it’s also vital to understand where our blood pressure and cholesterol levels land—this could be an indicator that it’s time for a checkup.


This area is affiliated with the gallbladder, a necessary organ to aid in digestion and detox. It stores bile produced by the liver. It’s nice and full until it’s time to eat, and then it juices itself like a fruit, sending bile into your digestive tract to help break down food, absorb nutrients, and get rid of unwanted compounds.

When we start breaking out along our temples in little red, inflamed bumps, or whiteheads, it could mean our gallbladder is compromised. This could result in further toxicity, weight gain due to our inability to break down fats, and malabsorption of nutrients that are fat-soluble. Symptoms could include nausea, diarrhea, pain, and loss of appetite. If these are occurring, see a doctor immediately.

Between the Eyebrows

This area is associated with the liver—our vital detox organ. Fine lines, redness, dryness, or breakouts could be a result of poor diet, overconsumption of alcohol, or even chronic negativity and stress.

Under Eyes

Under the eyes is associated with our kidneys, so puffiness, tenderness, deep, dark circles, or irritation and dryness will give us a sign that we are fighting infection in this area. If we are retaining water or are dehydrated, or taking any medications that aren’t agreeing with us, we may experience kidney stress.

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Upper Cheek

The apples of our cheeks are linked to the stomach. Red cheeks from inflammation, dryness, or rosacea might be linked to stomach inflammation, too much acid, and even not enough acid. Breakouts in this area could be linked to food allergies.

Bridge of Nose

This area is affiliated with our pancreas, a vital organ in the digestive process. The pancreas produces a special enzyme juice that breaks down sugars, fats, and starches. It also produces vital hormones like insulin. This is an important area to keep an eye on if we have a prolonged poor diet or a family history of diabetes. Look for chronic dryness or cystic breakouts.

Jowl Area

It’s not just “smoker’s mouth” that causes deep creases. The jowl area can sag from a breakdown of collagen due to smoking, sure, but this area is also associated with our lung health. Dullness, dryness, and cystic breakouts in this area can be a result of lung stress. If a persistent dry cough or shallow breath occurs, see a doctor.

Laugh Lines, aka Nasolabial Folds

These creases near the mouth that make us feel a bit like a ventriloquist doll are tied to our large intestine. Sudden deepening of these lines, irritation, eczema, and dryness or redness along this area might be telling us that our large intestine is not absorbing excess water or salts from our food that has already passed through the small intestine, meaning that we are not staying hydrated or detoxing properly.


Most of our hormonal period breakouts will show themselves on the chin or jaw area, because it’s so closely linked to our pelvic and reproductive organs. Stress or an off-balanced cycle will manifest in breakouts, small or cystic, in this area. Supporting ourselves with mediation, proper rest, nutrition, and adaptogenic herbs could help ease and regulate this area."

Reading the Body: Ohashi's Book of Oriental Diagnosis provides greater insight when looking at the face. Ohashi explains that a persons personality can be discerned by looking at the features of the face. It is common knowledge that an enlarged and swollen nose with red spots may indicate an overconsumption of alcohol but, according to Ohashi it could also indicate a heart condition.

As Oliva Newton John sang, "Every face tells a story, It's hard to hide a lie".

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