Have you ever heard about Chinese face reading?

I’ve become increasingly more interested in the idea that your face can show up internal health imbalances, and keep a keen eye on my own face for any changes. I do find that I get the odd break-out on my chin, which is the traditional female hormone-related area of the face. I also used to notice that spots on my left cheek used to crop up whenever my immune system was low and were almost always followed by a sore throat, cold or swollen glands! 

My immune system is far stronger now than it was in my early 20s (I admittedly partied a lot more then too!!) but these days I’ve got used to linking up any changes in my face or the texture of my skin, with what’s going on inside me. If I have dry skin, for example? I know I need to boost my intake of omega-3 fats! Walnuts, flax, hemp and chia seeds are all good plant sources. 

walnut-copyI studied a little bit about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) during my nutrition training with CNM, and it was a fascinating insight into how a very different culture sees the human body, health and the prevention and treatment of disease in comparison to orthodox medicine. 

I also spent a lot of time travelling around China for the Miss World competition in 2003 and 2004, from Beijing to Shanghai, Xian, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. It was the first time that an international beauty pageant had been held in the country and it attracted plenty of attention.

Being the first ever woman to win the Miss World Competition in China, it was a huge experience for them as well as me, and I learned a lot about beauty practices in the East, and what they consider healthy and beautiful. I also spoke to Miss China about her experience of the perception of beauty in her own country. But what struck me most in terms of how we can apply some TCM knowledge to our own beauty and health, is in Chinese Face Reading.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practised in the East for thousands of years, yet Modern Medicine dominates the Western World and gives little consideration to TCM, meaning that we don’t know an awful lot about these ancient healing practices.

However, the one well-known exception is a 2012 study that was reported in a number of prestigious medical journals, including the American Journal of Cardiology, which reported the high relationship in people under 70, between a diagonal line in their earlobe and coronary heart disease.


Face reading, called mien shiang or mien xiang, originated almost three thousand years ago in China, and was a healing medical art carried out by Taoist monks. Modern day practitioners of TCM still use face reading as a diagnostic tool. Minor health issues can show up instantly, which makes it helpful in preventing disease. 

Up to 70% of ailments and diseases can be diagnosed by examining a person’s face for signs, such as uneven colour and texture, breakouts in certain areas, patchiness, lines and many other issues. They tend to be extremely telling of far deeper problems developing in your organs and systems. They’re viewed as warning signs to make various lifestyle and diet adjustments to protect health in the long-term. 

Based on the fundamentals of Chinese face reading, various areas of your face mirror the health status of different organ systems. For example, your cheeks are correlated to your lungs, your eyebrows are associated with your liver, and your lips with your digestive organs.

But it goes deeper than that, with each person’s face corresponding to one or more of the five TCM basic elemental types: wood, fire, earth, water and metal.



Even the colour of your face can indicate certain health conditions. For example, a greenish facial colour indicates low liver function, a reddish hue shows potential high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, a darker facial colour or dark eyes means a decreased kidney function and a pale face can show poor lung capacity.  

Your face can tell you so much about your own health…. try spending some time in natural daylight just examining your features, lines and wrinkles, and your skin’s colour and texture. Although don’t make the same mistake as me and use a magnifying mirror in bright light. That’s just scary! 🙂

Thankfully, your cells and bodies have the incredible ability to heal and regenerate themselves, so making positive changes to your diet, lifestyle, activity levels and emotional health can really balance your system and transform your health and beauty.



According to Chinese medicine, these are some of the main lessons you might learn from inspecting your face:

1. A vertical line between the eyebrows: This relates to a congested liver, holding in toxins and angry emotions. In TCM, emotions get trapped in parts of the body and lead to disease in various organs. Life experience markings tend to be horizontal and their position on your face correlates to their effects on the organ. 

2. Breakouts and Horizontal Lines Across The Forehead: These generally point to blockages and a build-up of toxins in your digestive tract. I used to get bad breakouts on my forehead in my teens when I ate dairy, animal protein and fats, and cooked oils. 

3. Breakouts On The Chin and Jaw: These generally indicate an inbalance in your hormones, but may also relate to a digestive system blockage.

For us girls, spots on your chin and jawline are pretty common around the time of your period and sometimes ovulation too. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, plus focusing on healthy skin foods can help to rebalance hormones and reduce painful pimples. 

4. Crow’s Feet Around the Eyes: An all too common indication of premature ageing, an acidic and imbalanced system and too much stress being placed on your adrenals.

The fine skin around your eyes can lose moisture quite easily and begin to look dry, especially in winter when the central heating is on. I use a thick protective cream to lock in moisture around my eyes at night and even if I’m at home during the day, as well as staying well hydrated.

5. Darkness or Fluid Retention Underneath The Eyes: This relates to your adrenals and can indicate a taxed system, caused by too much caffeine, a stressful lifestyle or too little sleep.

6. A Yellow Hue on The Whites of The Eyes: This may indicate a liver issue, in which excess bile is entering the blood due to damaged liver cells. A trip to the doctor is definitely recommended.

7. Red Nose or Line Through the Nose: Your nose is connected to your heart, and redness or unusual markings may indicate heart problems. 

8. Upper Lip: Changes to the colour or structure of your upper lip may occur if a woman is suffering with hormonal changes or fertility problems. 

9. Cheeks: Your cheeks are associated with your lungs, and changes in the appearance or texture of the hollows of your cheeks may indicate lung issues or be a sign that you’re not inhaling oxygen deeply enough.

Interestingly, I picked up a very bad chest infection a few years ago and the day before I really felt the pain and mucus building in my chest, I got a terrible breakout of red, sore, angry spots in the hollow of my right cheek. They seemed to come from nowhere and disappeared when my chest began to get better. That experience also helped to really spark my interest in Chinese facial reading.