Cosmetic acupuncture and the rise of the holistic facial: would you have needles put in your face for wellness?

24 FEBRUARY 2020


Cosmetic acupuncture promises to lift, sculpt, rejuvenate skin and fight blemishes

What do you expect from a facial?

There was a time when it involved a cleanse, some light exfoliation and extraction if you're lucky, but things have changed – there's a new breed of holistic facialists deploying their services in the capital who have taken the concept to new heights offering multiple alternative therapies in one session, including LED light therapy, reflexology, gua sha and the star of the show: cosmetic acupuncture.

A 360-approach to wellness

Facial (or cosmetic) acupuncture is based on the same principles as traditional body acupuncture. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that our energy or "life force" known as the "qi" flows along "meridian" channels in the body and when this flow becomes disrupted or imbalanced it can lead to illness. Inserting needles into certain points in the body, is believed to restore this flow and therefore your overall health and wellbeing.

"Needling certain points in the body can stimulate or calm the qi of internal organs, while boosting the body's metabolism and the supply of blood to the face achieving beauty from within," says Ada Ooi, facialist and founder of 001 Skincare.

The new botox?

The main benefit of facial acupuncture specifically is to stimulate blood circulation and collagen production in the dermis layer of the face, which can have an anti-ageing effect, hence why some are hailing it as the new needling treatment to rival botox.

"Rather than creating stagnancy by paralysing the muscle (like botox), acupuncture encourages movement, boosting circulation, and activating your body’s natural healing responses," explains Van Hagen.

Meanwhile the effects are longer term, argues Ooi, "as ​it trains the body how it should behave in the long run."

Results are typically instant, with many claiming they see a reduction in the appearance of fine lines, a glowier complexion thanks to the circulation boost, and more toned facial muscles, but the full benefits can continue to develop hours - days even - later, and most cosmetic acupuncturists recommend a course of treatments for best results.

"You'll see a healthy post-gym look straight away, with blood and oxygen being pumped through to the acupuncture area," Ooi says. "As excessive fluids start to drain away, after a few hours or the next day you'll see more sculpted contours." She adds that if you don't consume excessive sodium or alcohol the can last for at least five days."

Cosmetic acupuncture for treating acne

Most cosmetic acupuncturists will decide where to insert needles based each each client's needs and problem areas. One area where it has been know to have benefits is in treating hormonal and cystic acne – when Ooi worked her magic on me, blemishes on my chin cleared up almost over night.

"A common cause of cystic acne is hormonal changes triggered by age or stress. In TCM we believe the negative emotions for this are stored in the liver leading to a liver qi deficiency, so I address this by inserting needles along the liver meridian in the face," explains Ada.

"I also apply the 'surround the dragon' method with different lengths and width of the needles depending on the depth and the spread of cystic acne. This is a very effective method as it is intrusive in a gentle way that stimulates blood and oxygen delivery, to help move the stubborn and sluggish cystic acne, while the puncture of the needles also send a neurological signal for repair and regrow of the skin structure."

Auricular (ear) acupuncture for stress, trauma and sleep

As a part of the facial treatment many therapists now also treat the ears, too. Inserting needles into the ear is known as auricular or NADA acupuncture, and it can be used for stress relief, to calm the mind and promote detoxification or sleep and even reduce cravings.

And trust me, you will sleep like a baby afterwards.

ES recommends: Where to get cosmetic acupuncture in London

001 Skincare, Harley Street

Ada Ooi's Pinpoint Wellness Treatments are bespoke and tailored to your skin and wellbeing on the day, but typically involves acupuncture, cryotherapy and gua sha. Facials with Ada start at £309.

For more information visit

Article by Rosie Fitzmaurice - EVENING STANDARD

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