It’s easy to get caught up in new technology, new skin care products, new science and ingredients when it comes to anti-aging. But looking to the past can also offer powerful natural ways to combat fine lines, wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation. I sit down with acupuncturist Maria Vallella and co-founder of Elysia Life Care to discuss Traditional Chinese Medicine and the anti-aging benefits of facial acupuncture. (And what she does to keep her skin looking so darn youthful!)
“If you’re looking for that perfect, flawless, completely smooth look, then facial acupuncture isn’t for you; what you want is Botox. But, it’s a neurotoxin at the end of the day. If you want a natural way to diminish wrinkles and slow down the aging process – then acupuncture is what you want.
“With acupuncture we are dealing with relaxing muscles that tend to be tense and cause wrinkles in the skin. For wrinkles on the forehead, I work on points in the scalp where muscles constrict the forehead or I put points in the eyebrows. The needles also stimulate collagen production in the skin, but we really take a holistic approach to treating the skin, not just using needles.
“What you see happening on the skin is a symptom – even aging. Part of it is totally natural; it happens to all of us. However, some of us start to age prematurely and that is related to diet and stress, or it could be another imbalance in the body.”
“Typically, what we do after someone makes an appointment is conduct a one hour consultation. They fill out detailed health history paperwork ahead of time and we look over the paperwork before we sit down and meet with them. We are looking it over to understand what is their health history. Sometimes, if they are in really good health and only need facial acupuncture, then we just recommend our package of 10 acupuncture treatments. But for most people I like to do some blood work. We look at things like their B Vitamin levels, iron levels, and check to see if they have proper thyroid function. It helps us understand what is going on in the body and thus, the skin.
“In Western culture we are used to having everything separate. There’s a doctor for different parts of the body, but with Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture we are looking at everything because we recognize that it all works together. Everything is interconnected; the skin is a reflection of other symptoms in the body. The skin is connected to the lungs and large intestine. It’s where we detox. Because of this sleep, diet, and stress levels are incredibly important. If those aren’t in order, your whole system will be off.
“When we do our facial acupuncture we use all essential oils, depending on the client’s skin. We apply these oils on the skin while we put needles in the body. Some people have sensitive skin so we use something like jojoba oil. For other clients with normal or combination skin, we may use rose oils and sandalwood. We blend different oils to make a custom formula based on the person’s skin type.”
“I get acupuncture every week and sometimes I’ll put face points in myself at home. I use organic oils on my face and another cream – oxicell glutathione. It’s the strongest antioxidant. I use that all over my face and neck daily. And I like to go to Korean spas: Olympic Spa, WiSpa or Tikkun because it’s so close to the office. I’ve been to Natura, as well. I like doing the hydrotherapy; going into the hot and cold and the infrared saunas. I eat really well. I stay away from grains and sugars; no gluten. I’m low on sugars including fruits. I limit myself to one piece of fruit a day. I try to get good sleep and I practice yoga daily. Yoga is really good for the system. It detoxes the body. You sweat a lot. But what it does for the mind and stress reduction is the biggest benefit. We live in a really stressed out culture. The pace of life is so fast you have to take extra measure to bring yourself back into balance.”
-as told to BOND EN AVANT
Photographed by Amy Chang