“The face can be viewed as a mosaic of many small pieces joined together to create a whole, which can then be divided back into component parts for analysis. The whole, however, is always more than just the parts and is held together by the glue of the individual spirit that resides within. The face is both our mask to the outside world and the access to our inner selves, with clues that are readily apparent if we just start noticing them.”  ~Lillian Bridges, Face Reading in Chinese Medicine

Face reading, also known as facial diagnosis, is an enlightening modality that provides insight into clients’ life and health journeys via observation of facial features, showing clues that aid in achieving optimal mind-body-spirit wellness. When I discovered the art of face reading in my multi-passionate journey as an artist and wellness practitioner, I knew I had found the missing link I had been craving to better serve my clients.

Face Reading as a Sole or Integrated Modality

The beauty of face reading is that it can either be incorporated with other modalities or worked with as a sole modality. In my wellness practice, I provide devoted face reading sessions in person or online with clients worldwide. I also integrate face reading within my Craniosacral sessions by utilizing my observations in conversations and work with clients. The point of all healing modalities is to provide the most optimal healing experience. Face reading is another tool in the healing modality toolbelt that can be helpful in initial and return intakes, during treatments, and ultimately in helping the client better understand themselves. In my experience, self-understanding is an integral part of achieving lasting healing.

In an initial face reading, I begin by looking at the client’s face through the lens of Chinese Medicine, working with the elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water to contextualize a patient's face and health story. However, it is important to note that non-Chinese Medicine practitioners can easily integrate this modality into their practices, as well, by studying and learning from appropriate resources and mentors. There is an endless supply of intriguing observations that can be explored through a single face reading. I view initial sessions as a starting point that we explore and expand upon in further sessions. Understanding how one’s face transforms through life is an enlightening experience that assists a person in living more fully into their authenticity, life path, and holistic health.


Focus on What is Working

During a face reading, clients may feel both anticipation and vulnerability, so I read faces only when invited with careful and kind observation skills, holding most importantly the intention of gentleness and compassion. I go by the adage, “less is more”. It takes only a few observations for a client to experience a revelation opening up a world of insightful conversation. I keep in mind a lesson my art professor Chris Watts taught me in graduate school, “Focus on what is working, and the rest will fall away!” When we shift toward building health rather than always honing in on more startling signs, the dis-ease begins to soften. More so, just by being seen with compassionate energy, a client will feel at ease and begin to embrace their healing journey in an empowered way.

Face Reading as a Catalyst

When we can glimpse into each person’s facial features, we can create a unique health plan for each individual client based on who they are now, who they have been, and who they will become. The face holds signs and hints of life’s biggest moments past, present, and future. These signify the challenges, catalysts, seasons of uncertainty, wins, losses, and celebrations which are indicated via a mark, a color, a shape, or a way that a feature is built. I see clues into these moments and health histories often before clients have shared, opening up opportunities for inquiry and deeper trust. From birth to death, there are signs that, when observed, hold the potential to lead to grand transformations.

My own fascination with face reading began when my Chinese Medicine practitioner C.T. Holman noted during an acupuncture treatment that my forehead shape signaled that it was significant for my health to develop a strong ancestral connection. I began considering details of my ancestors’ lives and how I could connect my passions with theirs. This gave me the inner strength to step further into my purpose and aligned health. This is the power of face reading. One observation inspired an immediate life change. I often witness the same in my clients throughout and after their sessions. You may question regarding the forehead observation, is it not important for everyone to maintain connectivity to their ancestry? Yes, however, it is not as integral to everyone’s health in the same way as it was for me as my forehead shape indicated. As trained face readers, we begin to see significant facial observations, knowing what to emphasize and allowing us to aid a client in healing shifts. I once helped a client see her innate fertility based on the shape of her philtrum in a season when she was trying to conceive. With this observation, I witnessed her entire being relax into an aligned state.

It is also possible to see a facial feature change from the beginning of a session to the end. Eyebrows, for example, have a way of moving around. When eyebrows are pointing upward as if they are reaching up toward the sky we call this having “wind beneath your wings,” a wonderful sign, and when a client during a session begins to feel more in touch with who they are, the eyebrows can naturally begin to reach upward from the start of a session to the end, demonstrating a positive treatment or session. I inquire into various aspects of clients' health based on what I see in their faces, including physical, mental, and emotional health, and by offering one or two lifestyle recommendations, a profound change can occur in their lives. It can be that simple, and that is the wonder of this modality!


Compassion for your Face

An exercise: have a kind look at your face and find one line. While you may not know the origin of that mark, note that this line is a symbol of uniqueness, a sign of your resilience, or something you have weathered that will ultimately serve you in life. Marks, lines, and colors may indicate a good or challenging memory, hope, a passion, a trait, or a clue into what is necessary to achieve optimal health and happiness. I often ask clients in their initial intake to tell me one thing they love about their face and one thing they are working to love about their face. By sending compassion to all of these parts of our faces that create our character, we open up a world of healing.

If a patient isn’t in love with the shape of their nose, for example, it is one of my favorite things to help them understand what natural strengths their nose shape alludes to, and I often see upon receiving my observation a softened approach and more genuine adoration for who they are. When a client dislikes their wrinkles, I share with them two things. First, certain lines or attributes on the face can change or diminish over time as we step into our healthy aligned lives, and second, these attributes as they are now can be appreciated as a powerful map of our stories. When I point out the strength of that particular line, clients create room for grace and affection for themselves.

What we see in our faces is an opportunity to reflect on our lives, and within these realizations lies empowerment that can liberate us into truer freedom. Even one observation can be enough to realign and set a client’s life on fire in the best of ways. This process is not about what I as the face reader do, but rather, it is about alerting the client to their inner capacity to heal and empowering them to take the necessary steps to live into their potential and wellness. Our faces are windows into the incredible beings that we are. By providing a welcoming space to simply notice, we invite lasting transformation. 

I dedicate this writing to the late Lillian Bridges who passed away in September 2021 and carried her family lineage in her practice and teaching, and to C.T. Holman, my current mentor who was also a dear friend and mentee of Lillian. C.T. continues to work closely with this modality in his Chinese Medicine practice and his face-reading teaching to his mentees.

Recommended resources:

Bridges, L.,  August 2003, Face Reading in Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingstone

Holman, C.T., November 2017, Treating Emotional Trauma in Chinese Medicine, Singing Dragon

To learn more about Meghan Hedley and her Santa Fe, NM practice, check her contributor bio.