Ahead of Ireland's first ever Beauty Festival, we're shining a light on the various types of beauty treatments available in Ireland today. Here, acupuncturist Amanda Nordell explains how ancient Chinese treatments can help us to feel better about ourselves (both inside and out).
When it comes to beauty treatments, one often envisions luxury facials, fillers or Botox.
But did you know facial cupping is a beauty treatment too? What about facial motor-point acupuncture? Or facial gua sha? Each of these ancient Chinese treatments is said to slow down the ageing process and rejuvenate the skin, but little is known about them in Ireland so far.
"All of these treatments are gaining popularity," says Amanda Nordell, acupuncturist and herbalist at the Dublin Wellness Centre. "I think one of the challenges is people don’t know about the treatments or their benefits; and they associate acupuncture with pain, rather than health, balance and beauty."
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IMAGE Beauty Festival
To gain a better understanding of these beauty treatments, we asked Amanda to talk us through each one; what the treatments are and how they might work for us.
What is acupuncture?
Dating back over 3,000 years, acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine. "As a complete medical system, it centres on the idea of homeostasis (or balance); health as a result of the body being balanced, both as a unit and within its surroundings," Amanda says.
"The system incorporates various organs and tissues of the body; as well as the elemental, emotional and mental factors associated with them," she explains.
"If you feel good and your body is in balance, you will look good..."
The process involves stimulating specific points on the body using filiform needles (which are "much thinner than normal hospital needles") to help the body maintain or attain its natural balance. "The treatment itself is a relaxing experience which will leave you invigorated," she says.
There's a common misconception that acupuncture is painful. While there can be some mild discomfort, it's mostly a calming experience. What's more, it's said to benefit our overall health, including that of our skin.
In Ireland, acupuncture is used to address dermatological imbalances, digestive issues and gynaecological issues. It's also used to ease insomnia and dizziness, as well as relieving sinus congestion and headaches.
Acupuncture for beauty
"In terms of beauty, traditional acupuncture works on the premise that if you feel good and your body is in balance, you will look good," Amanda explains. "If you are sleeping well; if you have good energy and are feeling positive about life – of course, you will look good too. There will be less strain on your system which causes wrinkles, acne, and rosacea etc.
"Regular, full-body tune-ups with acupuncture promote whole body wellness. I usually recommend once-a-week treatment for the first four weeks, and then a maintenance (fine-tuning) treatment once every four-to-six weeks after that.
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"I also teach my clients to use acupressure on certain acupuncture points so they can support their own health and wellbeing at home, in between sessions.
"This approach is becoming more and more popular. I think people are beginning to understand that life is getting faster and faster with more demands and if they want to keep up, regular acupuncture tune-ups can take the edge off and help with general mind-body balance," she says.
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Facial motor point acupuncture
"Facial acupuncture is a painless, non-surgical method of reducing the signs of the ageing process," Amanda tells us. "It treats underlying factors that contribute to the ageing process, while simultaneously treating the face.
"Fine lines may be eliminated, deeper wrinkles diminished, under-eye bags can be reduced, jowls firmed, puffiness eliminated, double chins minimized and eyes brightened; bringing out the innate beauty and radiance of an individual.
How it works
"I needle the motor points of the facial muscles (the same muscles that doctors use for Botox injections)," Amanda explains.
"These points are the most 'electrically excitable' area of each muscle, and the needling brings the muscle back to its normal state. For a muscle that is tight, a 'normal state' would be more relaxed; while the normal state of a weak or sagging muscle would be activated and lifted. The insertion of the needles also creates microscopic holes in the skin, which stimulates collagen production," she says.
"Again, a course of treatment is recommended to start, and then maintenance. I also encourage clients to use jade rolling and gua sha (explained below) at home in between treatments."
Acupuncture versus botox
"Facial motor point acupuncture is getting more popular by the day, particularly for people who don’t want to use botox and fillers. One of the main benefits of these treatments versus botox and fillers is there are no side effects, and the face does not look fake or frozen; just a very good, fresh and bright version of itself," Amanda says.
For more targeted treatment for ageing or acne, Amanda combines this ancient Chinese practice with Western techniques. "With the Synergy Facial, I add in Celluma Pro Light Therapy for ageing and/or acne, and microcurrent therapy – so combining Eastern and Western modalities," she says. This gives the client optimal results; the best of both worlds.
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Facial cupping is a technique whereby small glass (or silicone) cups with rounded edges provide a gentle suction to the skin, around the face and its underlying musculature. These special facial cups allow for a smooth, sliding motion across the face without irritating the skin.
According to Amanda, its benefits include increased circulation to the skin, which draws nutrients to the surface and enhances the absorption of lotions or serums.
Not only that, facial cupping increases blood flow to the skin, bringing collagen to the surface. It also drains stagnant fluids and eases puffiness; reduces fine lines and dark circles; soothes the skin and brightens faded skin.
"I combine facial cupping with facial gua sha," she explains.
Facial gua sha
Facial gua sha is a technique in which specially crafted, hand-held pieces of smooth jade (a type of stone made from the minerals jadeite or nephrite) are used to invigorate the skin, smooth out wrinkles and increase blood supply.
"Facial gua sha can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions," Amanda tells us, "such as acne, rosacea, melasma and dark circles. Other benefits include detoxifying the face and moving stagnant blood and inflammation; reducing sagginess in the neck and promoting smoother skin.
While Amanda says facial cupping and gua sha can be done at home, her in-house treatments are combined with traditional acupuncture, which puts your overall wellbeing at the fore.
IMAGE Beauty Festival
Join us for an unforgettable weekend of beauty in the heart of the Irish capital! Tickets for IMAGE Beauty Festival are available now. We look forward to seeing you there on May 25-26.
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