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how acne face-mapping changed the relationship I had with my skin

Your acne is tryin' to tell you something, all you have to do is listen

For this blog, we're changin' things up a bit. Acne can be a b*tch sometimes and everyone (absolutely everyone) has experienced some form of it, myself included. If you don't already know me, my name is Kate and I'm the genius behind all the content you love reading so much, and this is my experience with acne. 

When breakouts happen you're often left with questions like, 'why did this happen to me before my big meeting at work tomorrow?', or 'was it the tub of ice cream I ate last night?' (don't worry I've been there). It can be hard to determine what causes acne, whether it's stress, hormonal, your diet or all of the above, and it can be even more ex-treme-ly frustrating if you don't know how to avoid it. 

Now I've always had pretty clear-ish skin but when I do get a friendly visit from the pimple police they usually congregate on my cheeks. This always bothered me though, like why just my cheeks? I'm sure the areas on the rest of my face would make a perfectly good home for pimples too, and I wondered if I could find an explanation for this. Guess what? I sure did. 

It turns out that heaps and heaps of research has been done around the facial areas we experience acne and what might be causing it (who knew?) It even has a fancy name: acne face-mapping! 

Now this type of practice and its reliability is still being debated in the dermatological world today but it actually goes back thousands of years and I think anything that lasts that long has to have some kind of truth backing it up. 

Now those who study the practice of acne face-mapping believe that the pimples that form in particular parts of your face can be linked to other underlying health issues. Not only can acne face-mapping help you to figure out whether that pimple above your left eyebrow was caused by one too many cocktails during happy hour, but it can also help you realise and solve deeper health issues. 

A quick PSA though, an occasional flare-up of acne doesn't necessarily mean there's some sinister stuff going on with your skin or the rest of your body, but if you always get acne in the one area then it's more than worth opening up a case to try to figure out why (am I right? Yes). 

So sit back, grab a cup of tea, and get comfy. I'm about to walk you through what face mapping is and the ways it's backed by science to explain why you get blemishes in the areas that you do. 

upper cheeks 

As I mentioned before, apart from the occasional lonely pimple on my chin or on my forehead, the only area I get any form of acne is on my upper cheeks. After a bit of research of my own, I quickly found out that breaking out in that area can be related to your lung health. 

When I read that, I kind of freaked out. I mean, I'm not a smoker, I don't have asthma, and I try to exercise as much as I can. It didn't really make sense to me why I'd be experiencing acne in that area but I quickly realised, just because I get pimples on my cheeks, it doesn't necessarily mean there's anything significantly wrong but it also doesn't mean there's nothing I can do to fix it. 

After further digging, I found out that my cheek acne might be caused by the fact that I talk a lot on the phone (weird right? Who's ever heard of a millennial that prefers talking on the phone over texting). It might also be because I very rarely change my pillowcase (it's gross, I know) and I possibly touch my face too much throughout the day. 

In truth, it's probably a combination of a lot of factors but now I'm aware of them, and that's better than being completely in the dark about the ways I'm potentially causing my skin distress. 

 

forehead  

This area of the face is subjected to greater oil production than the rest of our complexion due to the greater number of sebaceous glands located underneath the skin's surface. This would be enough to suggest why people experience breakouts in these areas but acne face-mapping also leads us to believe that your pimples could be linked to your nervous and digestive systems. 

This could mean you have issues with your digestive system or your breakouts could also have something to do with stress. If you suffer from lack of sleep, or you often feel super emotional and highly strung then get ready for your acne to flare up all over your T-zone. 

To help combat this, have a close look at your diet. While snacking at 2am might sound like a good idea, your digestive system will most likely hate you and punish you with forehead acne. Try increasing your fluid intake and adding more probiotics to your diet, and you should definitely be aiming for at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

 

jawline & chin 

It's thought to believe that if you're experiencing acne along your chin and jawline that it's linked to hormones (gotta love 'em hey). Unlike in other areas of the face, there is solid scientific research to back up these claims. 

However, as I keep saying, this doesn't necessarily mean there are hormonal irregularities in your blood, it could just mean that your oil glands are super sensitive to the hormones that your body naturally produces. 

You can thank estrogens, progesterone, androgens, and growth hormones for acne in this area. 

 

between your eyebrows 

If you're prone to getting acne in this area it can be a sign that there are too many toxins in your body and your liver's not having a fun time. This can be from a number of things from the food you're eating to the environment you're in so take a step back from the amount of alcohol you're drinking and try to move your body regularly. 

Acne between the brows can also be a sign of food allergies, so if you know you're intolerant to something but you're eating it anyway, stop doing that. You could also try starting a food journal to track what you're eating to help you figure out if certain foods are making your skin go cray. 

Again, hydrating your body is a must and don't be afraid to get your sweat on at the sauna. This will help draw out all those nasty toxins that are hanging around your fat and muscle cells. 

 

the eyes and ears 

Whether you're breaking out around your ears or you experience dark circles under your eyes on the daily, your kidneys could be to blame. Kidneys balance our body's fluids so if you're not getting enough water into your system they will definitely know about it. 

Try to add more hydrating foods into your diet (hello watermelon) and try to lay off on the sodium heavy food. Yes that means you need to put down the salt & vinegar chips (damn). While you're at it, you should also probably stay away from sugar. 

 

nose 

Breakouts or redness on the nose can sometimes be an indication of your heart health - this could mean poor circulation, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. But don't worry, there are ways you can help to minimise the effects. 

It's time to try out some new veggie recipes and take a break from your meat-based meals. Instead, stock up on foods that are rich in Omega-3 so why not cook up some fish or slather some avocado on toast. 

To help keep your blood pressure where it should be, eat foods that are full of potassium, calcium and magnesium so opt for wholegrain bread instead of white, sweet potatoes instead of normal potatoes, and get ready for kale to be your new best friend.