I Tried Facial Acupuncture and My Skin Has Never Been Happier

The ancient Chinese treatment is being touted as the natural alternative to Botox, and for good reason.

Madelyn Chung facial acupuncturePhoto Credit: Madelyn Chung

Real talk — I’m terrified of Botox and fillers.

Perhaps I’ve watched one too many episodes of Botched or I’m just scared of putting stuff in my face (a relative once told me it was bad luck to inject fillers in your face), but it’s just something I don’t foresee myself ever trying.

However, as I inch near my 30s and begin to notice some signs of aging — sagging skin, a few wrinkles and less of a glow — I’m longing for a natural, but ultra-effective way to keep myself looking as young and fresh-faced as possible. (Fun fact: Some experts believe facial wrinkles reveal clues about your health.)

Enter facial acupuncture (aka cosmetic acupuncture), a treatment based off of ancient Chinese medicine which involves placing ultra-fine needles at specific acu-points on the body to balance the flow of the body’s vital energy. Currently, it’s gaining traction in the beauty world and is being touted as the holistic alternative to Botox for its ability to slow down signs of aging in a more natural way.

What is facial acupuncture?

“It’s a growing movement,” says Amrit Singh, R.Ac, a Toronto-based registered acupuncturist and founder of 6BabeBeauty, says of the treatment which counts Kim Kardashian West, Bar Refaeli and Gwyneth Paltrow as fans. “I feel like people are looking for natural alternatives to look and feel better. There was a movement where Botox was the only thing and now slowly and slowly the word is getting out that there are other options.”

So how does it work? According to Singh, it’s all about getting your body to produce more collagen, that is, the layer of skin that makes your complexion appear firm, plump and youthful.

“Facial acupuncture helps to bring collagen to your face, so it’s really a natural anti-aging treatment,” explains Sing. “When we insert the needles, it breaks the skin’s barrier and triggers the body’s natural healing response. With all the little microtrauma, the body needs to repair the so-called ‘damage,’ and the only way you can do that is with protein, and that protein is collagen.”

What to expect during a treatment

Despite my fear of needles and having never tried any type of acupuncture, I decided to book an appointment with Singh. I mean, if it could slow down my body’s aging process without freezing my face, I was game.

Singh’s 6BabeBeauty “Glow Up” cosmetic acupuncture treatment ($125) is one hour long and starts off with a discussion of your health history. Singh asked me questions regarding my menstrual cycle, sleep patterns, digestion, skin concerns, etc. before doing a Japanese abdominal diagnosis (Singh is trained in Japanese-style acupuncture). At first the overall body evaluation seemed bizarre to me… wasn’t this meant to be a treatment for my face? But Singh explained that the abdominal diagnosis and initial health assessment would give her an idea of any imbalances in my system to help her target the points of my body which would also receive acupuncture in conjunction with my face.

“The body has to be in balance as what’s going on inside is what’s causing the aging; we need to support it that way first,” Singh explains. “Once that’s cleared, then we can look at the face.”

After cleansing my face and assessing my skin came the needle insertion, which, to be honest, wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It didn’t exactly inflict pain, it was moreso a pinch that is uncomfortable, but bearable. In terms of needle placement on the face, Singh uses a general treatment plan, but individual concerns, such as frown lines or elevens (those pesky vertical lines in between your brows), can be targeted with additional needles.

Once the needles were set in place, I was left to relax for roughly 25 minutes to let them do their work. After that, Singh removed the needles, cleansed again, applied a rosehip oil and gave me a combination of facial rolling, facial cupping and facial gua sha to enhance circulation and bring fresh blood to the area.

Photo Credit: Madelyn Chung

While there is no downtime following the treatment, you can’t put on makeup, especially foundation, up to four hours afterwards as your skin will be more likely to absorb anything you put onto it.

Benefits of facial acupuncture

Though the full effects of a facial acupuncture treatment take 24 hours, I did see a noticeable glow shortly after (seriously, I didn’t even need foundation, my skin looked so good). And when I woke up the next day, my skin looked better than ever — we’re talking the glowiest skin of my life.

before after acupuncturePhoto Credit: Madelyn Chung

Singh says for the full acupuncture face lift experience, you should go for treatments twice a week for five weeks. Results should last about a year, but if you need an extra boost for a special event, you can add in a few back-to-back sessions. And the more you do facial acupuncture, the faster your body will respond to the treatment.

Overall, it is a bit pricey, but if you, like me, are looking for a natural alternative to anti-aging treatments, it’s well worth it. And, if you have extended benefits through your employer, you may even be eligible for some coverage. I would 100 percent go again, fear of needles be damned!

Next, check out these 20 things your skin can reveal about your health. Plus, when you can expect your hormonal acne to finally clear up.