A new, expert-led program is providing acupuncturists with beauty-based needle know-how
Given that it came together during the height of the pandemic, a new professional certificate program for acupuncturists zeroing in on the cosmetic applications of the centuries-old wellness modality is pretty impressive. Dubbed FACE (Facial Applications for Cosmetic Enhancement) and debuting this January, it’s a collaboration between The Academy of Advanced Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture, founded by New York City-based acupuncture savant Shellie Goldstein, and the Pacific College of Health and Science. A hybrid of virtual learning and on-campus, hands-on training in either New York or San Diego, it offers licensed acupuncturists eight college education credits and up to 96 CEUs.
Along with Goldstein, FACE features an expert faculty that’s highly credentialed across a broad range of specialties, including the full spectrum of Traditional Chinese Medicine, sports medicine, gua sha, even cadaver dissection.
Ancient Roots, Modern Applications
Traced all the way back to the Ming Dynasty, acupuncture is, at its base, a technique for balancing the qi, or life force, that flows through meridians in our bodies. Via the insertion of microfine metal needles into these very specific points, energy is unblocked, yin and yang are aligned, pain is alleviated, health is restored.
As an alternative to traditional Western medicine, the practice has its skeptics. But both the WHO and the NIH have come out in support of acupuncture’s efficacy in treating 100+ conditions, ranging from relatively benign stuff like tennis elbow and hay fever to bigger issues such as infertility, osteoarthritis, and heroin dependence.
With such far-reaching applications for overall health, why the focus on the facial rejuvenation? In short, because it’s exploding, says Goldstein, who serves as Chair of the FACE program and has offered acufacial treatments to her clients in Manhattan and the Hamptons for several years. “It really took hold around 2015,” she notes. “And it’s just grown and grown to the point that, within our industry, it’s one of the fastest-growing specialties among acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine professionals.”
Goldstein credits the rise of interest in facial acupuncture to two factors: the increasingly sophisticated high-definition TVs and electronic devices we’re collectively glued to and, more recently, a growing interest in natural beauty treatments sparked by the pandemic. Both haven’t boded especially well for that other needle-based beautifier—Botox.
Both the WHO and the NIH have come out in support of acupuncture’s efficacy in treating over 100 conditions . . .
Coming To A Screen Near You
“In terms of the celebrity industry, as televisions and screens became more high-definition and larger, it was difficult for directors to get actors and actresses to make expressions when their faces were filled with Botox,” Goldstein notes. “But facial acupuncture is also exploding because the criteria for healthcare is changing. People want something that’s more natural, that’s healthier. They want something that addresses not just the surface but the inside as well. And that’s what’s unique to acupuncture. We’re actually treating you from the inside out, to enhance internal health as well as external appearance.”
In addition to a deep dive into facial anatomy, as well as cosmetic acupuncture strategies from both Eastern and Western perspectives, the FACE program touches on numerous other topics, including ancillary treatments like cupping, dermarolling, and microcurrent.
Recognizing that a sector of the population is needle-averse, Goldstein and the FACE team are already planning a second track for the program that will focus on needleless acupressure. Open to licensed specialists in non-acupuncture fields, such as nursing, aesthetics and massage therapy, it’s expected to kick-off in 2023.
For now though, Goldstein has her hands full with the inaugural class of FACE, who will start their in-person learning in April, once they’ve finished their online classwork. And she’s excited to introduce students to the many beauty and wellness benefits of cosmetic acupuncture.
Delivering Both Short- and Long-Term Benefits
“In both the short and long term, you’re going to get improved circulation and lymph drainage and a more natural-looking, healthy-looking glow,” she says. “It looks like you’ve been on vacation.” Over time, and with the type of treatment package a client might sign on for at a local day or medi spa, the benefits can include improved muscle tone, a reduction in wrinkles and fine lines, faster cell turnover leading to a plumping of the dermal layer of the skin, and a boost in collagen and elastin. While that tidy list of upgrades is surely enough to keep lower-maintenance—or younger—clients happy, Goldstein estimates that about 50 percent of her patient roster gets both Botox and cosmetic acupuncture. Some even opt for surgery.
Surprisingly, Goldstein is fully on board with a facial rejuvenation plan of attack that includes virtually everything. That’s because she’s so convinced of acupuncture’s ability to augment and support every other treatment. Although there are timing issues, i.e., facial acupuncture is contraindicated for at least two weeks post-Botox and three weeks after fillers, the treatments complement each other. “[Acupuncturists] can help build integrity of collagen and elastin and relax those muscles so that when the Botox wears off, the creases aren’t as deep.”
Even plastic surgery patients can benefit from a course of facial acupuncture a month or so before going under the knife. By tightening flaccid muscle tone ahead of time, says Goldstein, “it looks like the physician’s done a better job.”
At the end of the day, as with every service, it’s all about client satisfaction. “It just depends on the what the patient wants,” Goldstein notes. “You want them to be happy.”
Dana Wood is the Contributing Beauty Editor at InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She has been writing about beauty and wellness for decades, and no matter how many times she taps the words “hyaluronic acid” or “healing modalities” into her keyboard, it never gets old. Dana spent a total of 20 years at Condé Nast, serving as Beauty Director for W, Cookie, and Brides. A transplanted New Yorker, Dana now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her peak spa experience? Dana says it’s impossible to decide between the Coco-Mango Body Buff at the Driftwood Spa at Jakes in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, The Land of Beautiful Waters Anti-Aging Facial at Four Seasons Nevis, and the 80-minute 5 Senses massage at the Spa by JW in Marco Island, Florida.