When Julie was developing Vis Clair Suprême, she sought to create one antiaging eye product that checked all the boxes: tightening, brightening, depuffing. As we explored what different eye-related symptoms like wrinkles and fine lines, puffiness, or dark circles might mean from a holistic perspective, we tapped a few experts to gain a deeper level of understanding about eye health in the name of beauty.
Enter Stefanie DiLibero L.Ac, owner of Gotham Wellness in New York City. Having worked in the wellness space for almost two decades, Stefanie landed on acupuncture ten years ago and has since developed a coveted and deeply therapeutic practice with a focus on cosmetic acupuncture. Last weekend she shed some light on what the state of your eyes could be saying about your health, and she was such a wealth of knowledge that we decided to give you more. If you've been curious about cosmetic acupuncture (we sure were) here's everything you need to know.
You’ll look like the calmest, most radiant version of yourself.
What draws you to cosmetic acupuncture?
Most of the conditions that happen in our bodies show up on our face. Poor sleep can affect the brightness of your complexion. If your digestion is out of balance, it can manifest as acne or puffy eyes. Lines may show up between your brows if you regularly feel and express anger. Hormones that are out of balance can show up as acne around the chin and jawline. According to Chinese medicine, if the spleen is weak, the facial muscles begin or continue to sag. You have to treat the root causes of the facial concerns that arise in order to make any lasting change.
What’s the difference between cosmetic acupuncture and facial acupuncture?
Facial acupuncture can refer to acupuncture that is done on the face but is not cosmetic in nature. Cosmetic acupuncture is a therapeutic treatment that is based in Chinese medicine and works by addressing the root causes of aging (like poor sleep, compromised digestion, and emotional and hormonal imbalances) which can show up as symptoms on the face (in the form of premature wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles, and acne). Cosmetic acupuncture aims to treat the imbalance of physiological conditions that may affect how you present yourself to the world using body and facial acupuncture points to enhance the production of collagen via micro injury to the skin, increase blood flow, stimulate immune responses that reduce inflammation, and activate any number of functional points and their various responses. It can help improve sleep, lessen anxiety, give you better digestion, fewer headaches, less jaw tension, improved menstrual cycles, and allergy relief.
Can you tell us a little about Aculectrics and your specific treatment approach?
Aculectrics℠ combines the best of ancient medicine and modern technology to enhance health from the inside out, and from the outside in. A treatment with me is two hours long. We begin with a Chinese medical intake and look at all aspects of your life and health, including digestion, menstruation, sleep, energy, and diet, which helps me understand how your inner state might be reflecting on your face. I use that information to create an acupuncture treatment plan using both body and facial points. Then I place acupuncture needles from the neck to the feet to address imbalances. Before we start the facial needling, I use microcurrent—a therapeutic electrical stimulation of the muscles and meridians of the face—to boost Qi, drain fluids, and exercise the facial muscles. It lends a sculpted effect and stimulating the Qi in this way helps the facial needles work more efficiently.
You have to treat the root causes of the facial concerns that arise in order to make any lasting change.
Next, I place very thin acupuncture needles into various acupuncture points on the face, scalp, ears, and neck. These needles not only address internal imbalances but, depending on their location, may also relax certain muscles that create wrinkles when contracted, and treat wrinkles themselves by stimulating the growth of new collagen.
After I’ve inserted the needles, I use LED light therapy, which is another form of therapeutic, electrical stimulation, over the face. This allows you to absorb Qi in the form of light energy, which increases the effectiveness of the acupuncture, and it also kills acne bacteria and speeds up wound healing. I use facial cupping to reduce excess fluid accumulation in the face—it shouldn't leave any marks, but it can reveal hidden bone structure. I’ll also include other manual techniques like gua sha, lymphatic drainage, and connective tissue face lift massage.
Then, as you rest, I play a guided mediation to relax the mind if you’re into that kind of thing.
What kind of results can one expect to see?
Greater radiance and lifted, sculpted facial muscles with less sagging. (But note: it’s not a face lift!) You’ll look like the calmest, most radiant version of yourself. For days (sometimes weeks) after, you might find that your sleep, digestion, energy, anxiety, or menstrual cycles are improved.
And how many sessions does it take to see results?
It depends on the person, their lifestyle, and their state of health. Usually, cosmetic acupuncture treatments are offered in a group of ten, because the effects are cumulative. Monthly treatments are required for maintenance. So some will do a series of ten weekly or biweekly treatments, and then move to monthly maintenance. Others come before a special event. Some come for weekly acupuncture and LED in between full Aculectrics treatments. Everyone benefits from from regular acupuncture tune ups in between their cosmetic sessions.
Can cosmetic acupuncture get rid of the dreaded 11s?
If you have the 11’s or a single vertical crease between the eyebrows, it could be due to the habitual expression of frustration and anger. Acupuncture Point Liver 3 (on the top of the foot below between the first and second toes) helps move Qi in a way that relieves frustration and anger. The less often you experience these particular emotions, the less often you make their related expression and the less pronounced those lines will be.
So how do you think cosmetic acupuncture stacks up against Botox?
Botox is like bedrest for your face. Certain muscles can’t move, so they can’t contract, which is what muscles do. So, the facial muscles can actually lose their health and function over time. Facial acupuncture brings blood circulation and nerve stimulation to the muscle tissues to improve their health and function. Many of the women who come to see me are looking for a natural alternative to invasive treatments as they get older. You can do both, but you should wait about a month after getting Botox to get cosmetic acupuncture. You might find that you don’t need Botox anymore after doing a series of facial acupuncture sessions, or that you can put it off longer.
Can you get cosmetic acupuncture if you’re pregnant?
I wouldn’t advise it if you’re pregnant (the belief is that the mother’s energy should be directed towards her growing baby and not away from the baby towards her face). It’s great for postnatal and breastfeeding mamas, once you have medical clearance, if you want to avoid facial treatments that could be potentially harmful if passed on to the baby through breast milk.
Beyond acupuncture, what are some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself?
Lots of sleep, a nightly skin care routine, Pilates, Gyrotonics, meditation, eating healthy most of the time, and spending time with people I care about.
What’s your favorite ritual?
Massaging my face with a pre-cleansing oil for minutes on end, the moment I get home.
Driving through the eucalyptus trees on a windy coastal road in Marin.
Do you have any tips for long-haul flights?
Mandarin oranges, Yamuna balls, compression tights, and Tylenol PM.
What’s your favorite beauty food?
What’s your vice?
Normally gummy bears. But after last weekend—French fries.
Do you have any charms or talismans?
No but I’m very superstitious and I always knock on wood.