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Face Mapping: Here’s What Your Acne Is Telling You

Face mapping has emerged as a compelling approach to making educated guesses about what causes acne and what could be making it worse.

While the science around creating an accurate acne face map is a little shaky, advocates love the outcome.

Face mappers believe that acne or skin redness can indicate issues elsewhere in your body depending on where they show up on your face. 

Read on to learn more about this ancient diagnostic technique and what acne and blemishes on the skin may suggest according to face mapping practitioners.

Understanding How Acne Develops

Before we take a closer look at face mapping, it’s important that you know about the different ways acne can develop. When you understand what causes an acne breakout, you can make use of preventative measures to combat blemishes. 

Excess Sebum Production

Sebum is a mixture of oil, fatty acids, and wax that’s naturally produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. Although sebum is necessary to protect and moisturize your skin, it can result in clogged pores and acne when it's produced in excess. 

When dead skin cells on the skin’s surface mix with sebum, it leads to the formation of blackheads and pimples in the oil glands. 

Unfortunately, we can’t always control the amount of sebum we produce. Genetics, hormonal changes, and stress play a big role in how much oil our skin produces. These factors often increase the frequency of breakouts. 

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria can also get trapped inside your hair follicles and pores and worsen existing acne, leading to more severe breakouts. Infections cause acne to appear more inflamed and may make the skin feel dry and painful to the touch. 

Some severe forms of acne caused by bacterial infections include:

  • Nodules: These are large, hard red bumps that develop beneath the skin.
  • Papules: This refers to blemishes with a pink or red appearance underneath the skin that resemble whiteheads.
  • Pustules: These are spots that contain yellow or white pus and are visible on the surface of the skin. While they are often confused with whiteheads, pustules will be painful to touch.
  • Cysts: This refers to large, painful, pus-filled bumps.

The breakouts listed above often indicate that moderate or severe inflammatory acne is developing on your skin.

What Is Acne Face Mapping?

Face mapping is rooted in ancient Chinese medicine and is a method of diagnosing common skin concerns like acne. 

It considers how problems with organs and other physiological functions create seemingly unrelated symptoms in other parts of the body, which manifest on the face in the form of acne. 

Modern-day face mapping also takes into account how lifestyle choices affect the skin.

Step-By-Step Acne Face Mapping Guide 

Step One

Before you start your assessment, wash your face thoroughly to ensure that you remove any excess makeup and oil. 

This will ensure that you have a clear picture of your skin.

Step Two

Choose an area with good lighting and start assessing your skin for areas where it's breaking out. 

For example, you might have severe forehead acne but only one or two pimples on the chin.

Step Three

Use our acne face mapping guide below to find out what your acne is telling you.

What Your Acne Is Telling You, According to Face Mappers

As previously mentioned, face mappers believe that problems with major organs and poor lifestyle choices may contribute to breakouts and persistent acne.

Remember, if you're worried that your skin concerns are being caused by underlying factors, it’s best to seek professional medical advice.

If You Have Acne on Your Forehead, Eyebrows, and Temples:

Excess oil production may be clogging your pores and leading to the formation of forehead acne. 

Our foreheads, brows, and temples form your T-zone, a common area where excess oil is produced on the skin. This is because the T-zone is the area of the face with the largest number of oil glands. However, oily skin isn’t the only cause of forehead breakouts.

Hair products that contain skin-irritating ingredients can cause hairline acne—blemishes that occur along the hairline and temples.

To minimize the risk of developing hairline acne, it’s recommended to avoid products with the following ingredients:

  • Panthenol.
  • Silicone.
  • Petrolatum.
  • Dimethicone.
  • Cyclopentasiloxane.

Face mapping practitioners also believe that acne above and between the eyebrows is linked to gallbladder and liver issues. 

This may be the result of excessive drinking and smoking, as well as a poor diet that contains too fatty or processed foods. 

Importantly, face mapping –– while popular – doesn't have extensive clinical evidence supporting the "systemic" claims that traditional medicine purports. 

How to Combat Breakouts on the Forehead, Eyebrows, and Temples:

Free radicals generated by nicotine products can cause the skin to sag and age prematurely. 

Similarly, alcohol reduces the number of antioxidants in the skin that are needed to fight damage and inflammation.

Reducing the amount of alcohol and nicotine products you consume will not only decrease acne breakouts but also help keep your skin looking radiant.

It’s also recommended that you replace fatty and processed foods with healthier alternatives like whole fruits, lean proteins, and vegetables.

If You Have Acne on Your Nose:

Face mappers believe that this could be a sign of heart, lung or blood circulation issues. 

However, there’s no reason to panic. A diet that includes overly salty or spicy foods may be at fault. The acne on your nose may also be a result of excess oil production and clogged pores. 

In this case, you may benefit from using acne-fighting skincare ingredients to help clear your skin. We discuss some of these a bit later in the article.

It’s important to pay careful attention to the blemishes on your nose. Thick red bumps in this area may indicate a chronic skin condition called rosacea

Rosacea causes visible blood vessels, swelling, and lesions on your face. Rosacea can be triggered by:

  • Extreme temperatures.
  • Direct sunlight.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Hot drinks.
  • Spicy food.

If you suspect that you may have rosacea, talk to a board-certified dermatologist for help. 

How to Combat Breakouts on the Nose:

People who have nose acne may benefit from cutting back on spicy foods. These foods can make blood vessels swell and make acne lesions seem more apparent.

You can also incorporate more nuts into your diet. Nuts are high in healthy fats, Omegas 3 and 6, and can help fight inflammation and reduce acne breakouts.

Face mappers believe that cardiovascular health can influence nose acne. This is why they recommend improving the body’s blood circulation.

One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate cardio exercises, like walking or running, into your daily routine.

If You Have Acne on Your Cheeks:

If you suffer from acne on the cheeks, you may be transferring dirt and bacteria from your hands or phone to your face. 

As the devices rub against your skin, the dirt on the surfaces can clog pores and cause blemishes. Cheek acne can also be caused by wearing a tight face mask or not washing your bedding frequently enough. 

Face mappers believe that acne on your cheek may indicate problems with the liver or lungs. 

Dietary and lifestyle changes may help promote healthy liver and lung function. This can be improved by reducing your intake of sugary foods and exercising more. 

How to Combat Acne on Your Cheeks:

Make sure your electronic devices are clean by wiping them down with a cloth once or twice a day. 

It’s also recommended to wash your bedding, pillowcases, and masks once a week. 

Another way to reduce the frequency of breakouts on the cheeks is to use an acne-fighting cleanser. 

If You Have Acne on Your Lips and Mouth:

You may be eating too many spicy or oily foods that cause digestive issues, according to face mappers.

Breakouts around your mouth can also be caused by irritation from cosmetic products or toothpaste. This is because these products contain chemicals that can cause redness and swelling in the delicate skin around the mouth. 

These chemicals can damage the skin and clog pores which may lead to painful blemishes.

How to Combat Breakouts around Your Lips and Mouth:

Try to shop for cosmetic products that contain ingredients like rosehip oil, vitamin c, or hyaluronic acid. 

These anti-inflammatory ingredients are great for reducing breakouts and brightening skin.

Reduce spicy and oily foods by replacing them with produce that are high in fiber, like broccoli, beans, and berries.

If You Have Acne on Your Chin and Jawline:

You may be experiencing increased stress or abnormal hormonal levels commonly caused by pregnancy or your menstrual cycle. 

Face mappers believe that problems with your liver may cause blemishes in this area.

Your chin also forms part of your T-zone which produces oil more frequently. This can clog pores and lead to the formation of acne. 

The good news is that chin acne can go away on its own when hormones stabilize. 

However, persistent hormonal acne breakouts on the chin can also indicate a more serious medical condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular or uncommonly long menstrual cycles.
  • Abnormally sharp pains in the lower abdominal area, unlike cramps typically experienced during a period.

If you're experiencing any of those symptoms along with chin or jawline acne, it’s recommended that you seek medical attention.

How to Combat Acne on Your Chin:

If breakouts persist, try incorporating an acne-fighting cleanser into your routine.

Introduce Omega 3 into your diet with supplements or foods like nuts. Omega 3 may help reduce breakouts because it can help your skin regulate excess oil.

What If You Have Breakouts in Multiple Areas?

If you discover that you have breakouts in multiple places or your acne occurs randomly, all is not lost.

Some dermatologists recommend simple lifestyle changes to help keep your skin healthy.

You may also benefit from a skincare routine that’s designed to prevent and reduce breakouts. We’ll discuss this in the next section.

Keep Your Face Clean

Washing your face often is an easy, go-to solution to keeping your face clean and fighting blemishes. However, there are other factors that contribute to dirt and bacteria clogging your pores.

Don’t Touch Your Face Too Much

By touching your face frequently, you risk transferring dirt to your skin. This is why you should try to be conscious of how much you touch your face and do your best to break this potentially "dirty" habit. 

If you find it difficult not to touch your face, make sure that you wash your hands regularly.

Be Mindful of Your Hair and Cosmetic Products

As we’ve mentioned before, the chemicals in cosmetic and hair products can cause skin irritation and breakouts. 

Try to use your shampoo and conditioner before washing your face. This ensures that you can remove any residue from the product with your cleanser afterwards.

It’s important that you wash your face thoroughly with a gentle cleanser or micellar water after wearing makeup. 

A cream or oil-based cleanser is often a good option as they help dissolve and remove your makeup products.

You may also benefit from double-cleansing—a face washing method where you use two different cleansers (usually a balm or an oil cleanser, followed by a foam or gel cleanser) to give your skin a deeper cleanse.

With both cosmetic and hair products, it may help to look for non-irritating ingredients like aloe vera when you shop.

Regulate Sun Exposure

Vitamin D that we get from spending time outside not only gives us that sun-kissed glow, it's also essential for: 

  • Reducing and regulating inflammation.
  • Decreasing the risk of skin cancer.
  • Protecting against environmental damage.

Despite these benefits, long periods of sun exposure can also lead to inflammation and irritation.

Apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher when you plan to spend some time in the sunshine.

Exercise Regularly

Exercising regularly can cure and prevent many of the health conditions modern-day Americans deal with, including acne. While it certainly won’t cure every acne flare-up, working out can reduce factors that commonly cause breakouts, like stress.

Exercise is also good for regulating blood flow that carries oxygen to the skin’s cells to keep them healthy.

If going to the gym doesn’t appeal to you, try hiking, riding a bike, or playing sports.

Invest In a Good Skincare Routine

While lifestyle changes may help you live a healthier life, you’ll need to invest in a good acne-fighting skincare routine to consistently combat breakouts.

Below is a list of great skin-clearing ingredients to look for. 

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is an exfoliating ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties. This is a good ingredient for removing dead skin cells, absorbing excess oil, and clearing the pores.

A product that contains a 2% salicylic acid concentration will effectively fight breakouts and is mild enough to avoid skin irritation.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an acne treatment that kills the bacteria that are responsible for causing acne infections. It also absorbs excess oil to avoid clogging the skin’s pores. 

By killing infectious bacteria, benzoyl peroxide can also help reduce the pain associated with breakouts, while exfoliating dead skin cells. Dermatologists often recommend using a product with a 2.5% concentration of benzoyl peroxide.

This formulation is generally the most effective for fighting acne, without causing adverse reactions.


Niacinamide is a vitamin B derivative which is useful for managing a variety of skin concerns. 

Because niacinamide is non-irritating, it can soothe the redness that often accompanies a breakout. It also helps to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Using a product that contains niacinamide can help regulate oil production to minimize breakouts. 

A 5% concentration of niacinamide is a great option for treating acne and will help manage skin irritation.


Retinoids are popular acne-fighting ingredients. As Vitamin A derivatives, retinoids can reduce the appearance of acne scars and dark spots. 

This is because retinoids work from the skin’s innermost layer to help stimulate the growth of new and healthy cells.

As new cells emerge, they push dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and remove the impurities that can clog pores.

Retinoids can be found in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription skincare products. OTC retinoids typically come in the form of a nighttime moisturizer, serum, or facial oil. Tretinoin—a prescription retinoid for severe inflammatory acne—is typically found in creams.


Clindamycin is a prescription treatment that slows down the growth of acne-causing bacteria by shutting down protein production.  This helps clindamycin to eliminate and remove harmful bacteria from the skin. 

Not only does clindamycin unclog pores, but its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe painful acne.

This ingredient is often available in a 1% gel or lotion. 

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is another anti-inflammatory and exfoliating ingredient that helps slow down bacterial growth and revive your complexion

It works to soothe irritation, decrease the build-up of dead skin cells, and improves the appearance of dark spots.

Dermatologists usually recommend a higher dosage of azelaic acid because it’s a mild and generally well-tolerated ingredient. 

Products with a 15%-20% concentration deliver the best results.

The Nava MD Solution 

At Nava MD, we know how challenging it can be to find the right products to clear your skin. 

We specialize in helping men and women get powerful, prescription acne-fighting formulas with ingredients like azelaic acid, niacinamide, clindamycin, and retinoids. Complete our free online skincare consultation, and if appropriate, our licensed clinicians can prescribe custom, prescription formulas made for your skin’s needs and sensitivities.

Once approved, your skincare formulas is delivered straight to your door with 2-day free shipping. It's affordable, there's no co-pay, and no in-office visits are required. It's like a dermatology visit from the comfort of home.

Start your journey to clearer, more radiant-looking skin today. 

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency