Reading Your Clients: Face Mapping

by Annet King (as seen in Dermascope Magazine)

As skin therapists, Face Mapping® is our bread and butter. While most clients turn to us to help them offset the evidence of aging, skin in fact records and reveals much more than the mere passage of time. Our skin reflects every facet of the client’s health, habits and lifestyle.

In order to accurately perceive and interpret the myriad of messages delivered via this most dynamic asset, it is helpful to visualize the face as a series of zones as well as a collective whole. Imagine the face divided into zones via invisible dotted lines. This will allow you to map and examine every millimeter of landscape, while also serving as an invaluable resource to you and your client. In fact, for optimum accuracy, create a literal numbered “map” of the client’s face and note the condition or anomalies found in each zone on your dated record.

Ask questions and verbally share with your client throughout the process, as this provides her with critical “Aha!” moments. This process builds respect for your expertise, the professional-to-client relationship, and ultimately your overall business.

Under magnification, note blocked follicles and other surface cues. For instance, microcomedones and under-surface congestion around the hairline, eyebrow and lip line may suggest incomplete removal of shampoo, cleansers, cosmetics or hair styling products. Also feel and inspect the cheeks closely for hot spots, erythema, and broken capillaries that could be evidence of overly aggressive exfoliation or lung stress from environmental pollution. Puffy, swollen and irritated eyes could be symptomatic of how a client removes their eye makeup, an incorrect product choice or applying too much of a rich eye cream. With ungloved hands, always “read” the tactile messages being sent by the skin, noting areas of tension, oiliness, roughness, dryness and irritability. Chart it all as this becomes the basis for designing your personalized protocol, product prescription and comparison tool for future treatments.

An illuminating modality for reading the face comes to us from ancient China. In the 10,000 year-old Taoist tradition, each zone of the face corresponds to an internal organ — the space between the brows corresponds to liver, and the cheeks corresponding to the lungs, for instance. Not coincidentally, a client who places high stress on his or her liver (truffle-butter and too much Merlot late at night, for example) will present as skin flaking, redness and puffiness between the brows in this “wine and dine” area of the face. Smokers often present deep lip lines and naso-labial marionette lines, suggesting not only the collagen degradation from the constant attack from Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), but from the repeated muscular action of dragging off a cigarette.

Make special note of areas of distress and communicate skin solutions and tips via your findings. Coach and partner with your client to achieve zone-specific improvement and overall optimum skin health. 

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Reading Your Clients: Face Mapping