Facial acupuncture—aka cosmetic acupuncture—has been gaining fast favor among women seeking effective treatments to improve their skin.
By Georgetta Lordi Morque
UPDATED FEB. 8, 2022
What began centuries ago in China to rejuvenate the skin has now become a go-to anti-aging treatment worldwide. Facial acupuncture, or cosmetic acupuncture as it is often called, has been gaining fast favor among celebrities and those seeking more holistic ways to get a glow.
In the UK, The Timesof London likens cosmetic acupuncture to “natural Botox,” and here in the U.S., Refinery29, InStyle and Vogue, among other publications, have published stellar reviews about the practice. In 2018, The New York Times writer Marisa Meltzer reported firmer skin and more defined cheekbones after her first experience, and 88 percent of Real Self followers who tried the treatment said it was well worthwhile.
The practice dates back to 221 BC in the Qin Dynasty when acupuncture and herbal medicines were provided for emperors and empresses to enhance their natural beauty and delay aging. Yet in modern times, cosmetic acupuncture hasn’t always been well-known among the general population. Shellie Goldstein,M.S., L.Ac., considered one of the leading worldwide experts in the field, has been practicing cosmetic acupuncture for 27 years. “When I first began, as a pioneer in the industry, people did not know about this treatment,” says Goldstein, who also teaches post-graduate courses to acupuncture professionals at the TriState College of Acupuncture in the city. “Today, among the acupuncture community, cosmetic acupuncture is one of the top subspecialties in the field and is rapidly becoming a sought-after alternative or adjunct to cosmetic injectables or surgery among consumers.”
Goldstein explains that cosmetic acupuncture uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to address signs of aging. According to TCM, wrinkles, skin discoloration or loss of muscle tone begin from a constitutional imbalance and fundamental weakness of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), the energy that circulates throughout your body within a series of pathways to different organs. The body’s natural energy flow is what provides nourishment, support and vitality to every cell, tissue, muscle and organ.
By inserting thin acupuncture needles into specific sites along the pathways of the face and the body, Goldstein says the Qi can be manipulated to both improve and prevent aging conditions. As a result, she says that cosmetic acupuncture can improve your facial appearance and address underlying body imbalances that may contribute to the aging process. By strengthening and stimulating your body’s energy circulation, especially in your face, cosmetic acupuncture can tighten pores, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, tone sagging muscles and rejuvenate dull skin while enhancing and increasing elasticity. “Cosmetic acupuncture leaves you looking and feeling your best. It’s like taking your face to the gym.”
Dr. Sarah Emily Sajdak, DAOM, L.Ac., founder and originator of Beauty Acupuncture™, started practicing facial acupuncture when she was treating migraines and saw the benefit of acupuncture in relaxing facial muscles. “The more you relax the muscles, the more circulation flows throughout the face and the more the skin will be hydrated naturally. And your face looks younger,” explains Sajdak, who has a doctorate in acupuncture and oriental medicine. She’s observed an increased interest in facial acupuncture over western cosmetic treatments among her patients. “They live a healthy lifestyle, eat natural foods and use natural products, so it makes sense for them to opt for more holistic skin care.” Sajdak sees facial acupuncture as a way to work with your own natural beauty and be the best version of yourself. After a session, patients leave feeling good about themselves, relaxed and healthy. She notes other advantages to the practice, such as the stimulation of collagen from the insertion of the needles and minimal side effects, which could include occasional bruising. In addition, studies show that stress hormones are more balanced after treatments.
Sajdak starts her patients with three initial visits and then assesses the results. “People normally see a happy glow, yet everyone reacts differently.” One of her patients said that friends were asking her what new products she was using since her skin looked so good. Ten sessions are recommended for maximum benefits. Patients typically come once a week in the beginning and later every other week and sometimes once a month, depending upon their needs.
Practitioners specializing in facial acupuncture often combine the sessions with other treatments for additional enhancements. These can include cupping, acupressure, facial massage, micro-stimulation, the gua sha, a Chinese jade tool for facial massage, masks and moisturizing creams. Prices for cosmetic acupuncture can range from $200 per session and up. With add-ons, prices are higher.
Dermatologists and plastic surgeons might argue that their methods are more effective in the long run. Yet consumers can weigh the pros and cons of western and eastern cosmetic treatments, make educated decisions and see what works best for their individual needs. Some might settle on a combination of both methods.
There are many acupuncturists in the city who specialize in cosmetic acupuncture. The Acupuncture Now Foundation has guidelines on selecting acupuncturists. Licensing and certification vary among states so make sure the practitioners you are considering are legally authorized to practice in New York. Just as you would research any professionals, find out their length of experience, training level and ask how they can best help you. All acupuncturists must use needles that are sterilized, disposable and not used before. Let personal recommendations and your instincts help guide you. . . . . . . . . . . . .
SAMPLING OF COSMETIC ACUPUNCTURE PRACTICES
Shellie Goldstein & Associates. Shellie Goldstein, M.S., L.Ac., also known as “acupuncturist to the stars.” Author of Your Best Face Now, a heath, beauty and anti-aging book. Offices in Manhattan and East Hampton offering an extensive menu of services including the signature AcuFacial® FaceLift. In Florida and NYC 631-219-3226. Hamptonsacupuncture.com
Aquarius Acupuncture, PLLC. Dr. Sarah Emily Sajdak, DAOM, MSTOM, L.Ac., founder and originator of Beauty Acupuncture™, a holistic remedy to improve the skin. Works with men, women, actors and models with non-surgical natural beauty solutions. Offers at-home tips so patients can maintain what they’ve gained through their acupuncture sessions. You can book online. 928 Broadway, Suite 703, NYC 917-496-5481. aquariusacupuncture.com
Tree of Life Acupuncture, Mark Moshchinsky, L.Ac. Offers cosmetic acupuncture often combined with other procedures such as LED light therapy and microcurrent facials. You can book online. 32 Union Square East, #804, 212-533-1192. newyorkacupuncturecenter.com
Acupuncture Remedies. Iris Netzer-Greenfield, L.Ac. and Founder, has been practicing acupuncture for over two decades. 201 East 56th Street, 2nd floor, NYC 212-991-8680. aprpc.com