The idea of tiny needles going into your skin for the sake of warding off the signs of aging sounds less than inviting, kind of like a tea party with…a dictator. You’ll be surprised to know that cosmetic acupuncture, (or as it is often referred to, the natural facelift alternative), an age-old anti-aging treatment traced back to ancient China that uses multiple needles, is nowhere as painful as it looks.
Even in the modern world, with the technological anti-aging advances of the likes of chemical peels and lasers, it actually is a leading anti-aging treatment. In fact, it can be claimed that cosmetic acupuncture as an anti-aging treatment has actually found increasing popularity as time goes by. Why you ask? Well, the answer is simple. There is nothing wrong with a balanced approach to anti-aging, as is our philosophy here at The Youthist, but many people tend to go overboard with cosmetic enhancements. The over-taut look from too much Botox or ‘chipmunk face’ from filler abuse has led to people seeking out natural alternatives that won’t leave you looking like a wax replica of your former self.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING?
For those of us who question things that are a little bit more hippy-dippy, there are studies that back up the anti-aging benefits of cosmetic acupuncture, from increasing collagen and strengthening elastin, to ultimately, decreasing the signs of aging. Further research also supports cosmetic acupuncture’s holistic benefits, including decreasing levels of stress and anxiety as well as calming of the mind in general – all of which help prevent aging!
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The theory behind cosmetic acupuncture is that by pricking needles into pressure points of the skin, energy channels become unblocked, allowing your facial muscles to relax and blood circulation to improve. Unblocking specific pressure points may also improve the way your internal organs work, including your liver and kidney, while also releasing endorphins into your system.
WHERE DO THE NEEDLES GO?
When focusing on facial rejuvenation, the typical cosmetic acupuncture treatment involves about 30 to 50 needles being inserted on spots all over the body. The majority of needles are placed around the face, with others put onto the body, including the legs, feet, arms and hands.
FOR AGING CONCERNS
Cosmetic acupuncture takes a multi-target approach to anti-aging, dealing with a number of concerns at the same time.
FINE LINES & WRINKLES
Frequent users of acupuncture report smoothed out lines around the forehead, making creases, stress lines, and fine lines around the face less visible. (In contrast, for those interested in a modern anti-aging treatment for wrinkles, check out how lasers can have a great impact on improving these lines.)
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a skincare solution for fine lines and wrinkles, we recommend trying products that contain vitamin A, often called retinoids, which are available over the counter as retinol, or tretinoin (Retin-A Renova) by prescription in most countries in the West.
These anti-aging ingredients not only help diminish fine lines and wrinkles but also help even out skin tone as well as boost collagen production. Check out our guide if you’re looking to explore more of the anti-aging benefits of retinol as well as the advanced results you can get from Retin-A.
Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum $42.00
Formulated with a medium strength of retinol (0.1%) and supported with just the right amount of vitamin C, this fragrance-free serum brings effective anti-aging results. Other notable ingredients include oat and kelp extracts that help calm down irritation and vitamin E and squalane to help boost hydration levels.
We all know dark circles and bags under the eyes can make us look older than we really are. Cosmetic acupuncture can help to minimize these aging concerns by increasing oxygen and blood levels to the areas around the trouble spots, and as a by-product, stimulate collagen to firm up skin. For another more natural treatment, take a look at carboxytherapy for treating under-eye circles and bags, as well as one modern anti-aging take on the problem, fillers for targeting lost facial volume.
In order to brighten the skin under the eyes through a skincare solution look for antioxidant ingredients like licorice extract and vitamins C and E, as they not only brighten but they also help target excess melanin production, one of the causes of dark circles in the first place. It should be noted, though, that eye creams do not produce the same level of results as cosmetic procedures, so expectations should be realistic. Check out our guide to discover more about the antioxidants you should be applying to your skin.
Alpha Skincare Nourishing Eye Cream $13.65
Best for normal to combination skin
This cost-effective anti-aging eye cream provides a powerful punch through a combination of grape seed and jojoba oils to nourish, vitamin C and E to treat, and sodium hyaluronate to hydrate. This lightweight formula is not only fragrance-free but works well under makeup.
If you’re interested in discovering more about what to look for in an eye cream, make sure to check out our guide.
As a holistic approach, acupuncture targets much more than just the surface aging issues. Lack of sleep effects not only your ability to think clearly throughout the day and your energy levels in general, but it is also a contributing factor to the signs of aging. A good night’s rest is absolutely key for your body’s regenerative processes. By helping you relax and calming your body, acupuncture has shown to help those who can’t sleep due to certain forms of anxiety. For a deeper exploration into the anti-aging benefits of beauty sleep and how to maximize it, check out our guide.
We’ve had many a restless night tossing and turning so we know what it’s like, but if you prefer to avoid medication, look into a natural solution like sleeping teas. Before drinking, make sure to do your research and consult with a medical practitioner, as there are side effects such as allergies that are associated with consumption of certain kinds.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Herbal Tea $2.16
One of the more popular natural sleep aids on the market, this Celestial Seasonings blend combines herbs including Valerian, Chamomile and Tilia flowers (from the linden tree) to calm the body and help battle insomnia. Although obvious, not only is the tea caffeine-free, it also contains zero calories.
As we mentioned earlier, by stimulating collagen fibers, acupuncture helps boost firmness and lift the skin. A modern treatment for sagging skin that we recommend is Ultherapy, which offers impressive tightening through concentrated energy.
If you’re looking to treat the loss of firmness through an anti-aging skincare product, one of the best ingredients to consider looking into is niacinamide (vitamin B3). Not only does it help to strengthen elasticity and skin structure that weakens as we age but it also helps fight the aging process by reducing collagen breakdown and increasing fibroblast cells.
Mary Kay TimeWise Even Complexion Essence ($36.99)
This anti-aging serum targets pigmentation issues including dark spots and sun damage leading to a more even tone and brightened complexion. Notable ingredients including Niacinamide, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine and Ascorbyl Glucoside (a form of Vitamin C) are key to the formula’s brightening abilities, while amino acids and peptides help with the skin’s regeneration and a variety of plant extracts like green tea help soothe.
Stress is one of the leading factors of the visible signs of aging, contributing to white hairs, redness and fine lines and wrinkles. Although science hasn’t fully understood the reason why and how acupuncture reduces stress, research indicates that it does help balance hormone levels.
Not only does exercise and lifestyle contribute to managing stress levels but also proper diet. Unfortunately, one of the greatest modern-day conundrums is how to “do it all” – we have a tendency to set many goals that keep us busy and moving fast, including financial and social goals, making eating healthy more challenging. It’s near impossible to do it all, all the time, of course, hence the importance of balancing your diet of Chinese takeout with some much-needed vitamins. Look into our in-depth guide, if you’re looking into learning more about the benefits of anti-aging supplements.
Perricone MD Skin & Total Body Dietary Supplements $155
Although this anti-aging supplement may be expensive, it contains a range of powerful anti-aging ingredients including Omega 3s, coenzyme Q10, as well as licorice root extract. For stress relief and enhancing mood in specific, the formula has vitamin B complex, magnesium, and zinc.
Read our article if you’re interested in learning more about other types of facial treatments as well as facials.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A COSMETIC ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?
The needles used in facial acupuncture are microneedles and they produce only a slight tingling sensation.
There are two types of needles that are used: The smaller needles are very fine and hardly visible, while the larger ones have the thickness of whiskers. Any pain at all is likely to be very minimal.
Fatty tissue areas are really resilient when it comes to pinpricks, in which you may probably feeling nothing. Areas with thin skin are more sensitive, especially around bone, so you may briefly feel a slight pinprick.
Everyone responds differently to facial acupuncture at first, but in the end, you will be able to ease into it and reap its anti-aging benefits. Once the facial muscles learn to relax, the experience can become surprisingly soothing.
In fact, before starting this anti-aging treatment, therapists usually conduct an extensive consultation with the client to determine lifestyle habits, diet, and medical history. This is done because each treatment area done with cosmetic acupuncture impacts a different part of the internal body. Being this is true, it’s important for the therapist to know their clients’ habits before starting any cosmetic acupuncture treatment.
So how exactly does cosmetic acupuncture work as an anti-aging treatment? Similar to the principles of laser resurfacing, the microneedles used in facial acupuncture prick and “injure” the epidermis, prompting your skin to rejuvenate by producing more collagen and elastin.
Once the smaller microneedles are placed into the skin, aimed at repairing fine lines as well as other smaller signs of aging, your facial muscles start to relax so larger needles are able to be placed to target deeper wrinkles.
LENGTH OF TREATMENT
Needles are kept in the skin for about 45-60 minutes, depending on your required level of treatment.
It would be wrong to assume that facial acupuncture is in any way a quick fix. Results are cumulative and dependent on recurring treatments.
Results can be seen in as few as 3 treatments, but the immediate physical feeling is definitely noticeable after the first. Although your body may need a day or two to adjust, cosmetic acupuncture is a great way to feel rejuvenated almost instantly.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?
Typically about 10 to 20 sessions may be required, and regulars are encouraged to visit their therapist at least every other week.
HOW LONG DO RESULTS LAST?
When it comes to lasting results, there are many factors at play including genetics, habits and the general aging process. Results can last anywhere from 6 months to a few years depending on maintenance treatments and your general lifestyle choices.
Since cosmetic acupuncture releases a lot of energy in our bodies, a few common side effects may take place:
- bruising, soreness and muscle tenderness
- emotional sensitivity
- muscle twitching
Most side effects will fade within the first two days, but stay in touch with your therapist to keep an eye on any unusual side effects that you may notice.
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS TO EXPLORE
If you’re looking into incorporating more natural anti-aging treatments into your skincare routine take a look at our guides on how to pick clay masks by skin type, the many benefits of anti-aging facial oils, and finally, how body oils can help with the signs of aging.
A more natural, holistic approach is certainly a great way to encourage your body to mend itself from the inside out. Keep in mind though it takes a combination of effective skincare products as well as treatment to see ongoing benefits with preventative anti-aging.