What happens when you do the filial thing and pop by your Grandpa’s for dinner? Why, if he’s anything like my Big Pop, you’ll get a brusque, “Boy, I can tell your zits are from drinking coffee”, that’s what.

Okay, explain. If you’re a born-and-bred Singaporean, odds are you would have heard of Mien Shiang, or face mapping in Mandarin.

What is it? Chinese face mapping is an ancient Ayurvedic approach that treats the bumps on your face as signposts for what’s ailing other parts of the body. Translation: Pimple on Facial Point X equals Problem Y somewhere else.

Warning! Your zits could mean ill-health says traditional medicine B.png

Image illustration: Showbit/Bernice Lam

Amusing, right? Some crucial caveats to note, the first being that face mapping is much like your daily horoscope; that is, it’s far from an exact science. Also, this story should never be a substitute for regular tune-ups at your go-to skin doctor.

Now that we’ve got the tedious T&Cs out of the way, here’s a handy roadmap for cracking the zit code:

ZONE #1. FOREHEAD

This was where I was breaking out that fateful night I visited Grandpa. If he and generations of TCM practitioners are right, pimples on your forehead might point to problems in your gut. More specifically, your blemishes are besmirching your bladder and you’re probably inundating your body with too much caffeine. Solution? Try cutting back on your daily java quota and see if that helps.

ZONE #2. BETWEEN BROWS

Blemishes between your brows? Booze may be to blame. Spots in this hotspot are said to be symptomatic of a stressed liver. Try abstaining from absinthe shots at the club, and hydrate with lots of (non-alcoholic) fluids.

ZONE #3. NOSE

Zits on your honker may be a sign of stress-induced high blood pressure. Do all the usual calming stuff, like meditating, power walking and yoga; a firmer bod will be an entirely welcome beauty bonus.

ZONE #4.  RIGHT CHEEK

TCM is huge on left-right dichotomies; in this instance, acne clusters on your right cheek might indicate lung-related woes. In the vaguely mystical vein of this story, try “training” your lungs by signing up for evening tai chi lessons at the nearest reservoir park.

ZONE #5. LEFT CHEEK

Ladies, lumps on the left cheek probably means you’re hot, and not in a good way. Try “cooling” down by downing cucumber juice, winter melon broth and the like.

ZONE #6. CHIN

I tend to get cluster-bombed by painful pimples on my chin, so this is of personal interest to me. According to my Grandpa-slash-TCM aficionado, chin cysts are caused by hormonal imbalances. (Make of that what you will.) If you find yourself breaking out during your period, this might just explain things.

And we’re done! Bookmark this page and do me a favour by sharing this story with your fellow beauty buddies. Have fun memorising this roadmap to Mien Shiang; I’ll send advance thanks to Grandpa Quek on your behalf. Cheers!