As a beauty editor, I’m lucky to have access to new anti-aging creams and acne potions, but there’s little I’ve tried that works to eliminate my recent bout with hormonal acne. Like clockwork every month, a deep bump or two will appear on my chin. Worse, my brown skin has started to look like a constellation of spots from the hyperpigmentation that these cysts have been leaving behind. So when I heard that acupuncture could help improve the look of acne and wrinkles, I was definitely intrigued enough to give it a try.
I made an appointment to see New York naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist Dr. Gabrielle Francis. In her serene SoHo space, I drank an herbal tea as I filled out a detailed questionnaire asking me about everything from my childhood illnesses to "wellness goals.” Once finished, Dr. Francis explained the treatment to me: Acupuncture involves the use of fine, sterile needles inserted into specific points on the meridians, or energy channels, meant to improve the flow and balance of energies, she said. When I asked how exactly that would help my skin, Dr. Francis said that acupuncture can work to increase blood flow, which carries oxygen and nutrients, and aid in eliminating toxins – all of which could give my complexion a cleansing of sorts.
I was brought back to a dim room, where I reclined face up on a cozy bed. I barely felt any sensation as Dr. Francis inserted super-thin needles into various points over my face. I have a pretty low pain tolerance – I wince whenever I have blood work done – so this was a pleasant surprise. For an hour and a half, I rested on this bed. At first I felt a little antsy and wondered if I should be using the time to check work emails. But eventually my mind drifted off. Before I knew it, I was asleep for over an hour. After the doctor removed the needles, I felt like I’d slept a full night. I was so relaxed, and my overall mood and energy was better – which I had heard was a common side effect of acupuncture. Other colleagues who had done acupuncture reported the same: “It made me feel good in the way that two glasses of red wine does,” one editor told me.
Over the next few days, I waited to find the usual pimples pop up on my chin. I’m not sure if it was a combination of the new moisturizer I was using, or the gluten, dairy, and alcohol-free cleanse I was trying, but my skin did clear up within three days. I’m definitely up for being a human pincushion again. Perhaps I’ll make an appointment – after Fashion Week.