One day I randomly came across @theroadacupuncture on Instagram. It happened the week I moved to Austin & I was immediately intrigued.
The page had this holistic facial zen vibe, AND I could see they do facial acupuncture. Yes plz.
The second I arrived at The Road, I met Brooke. She is everything you want in a facialist. She is PURE MAGIC.
All over her studio there are sound bowls, crystals, incense, sage & of course, you’ll be greeted by her amazing energy. Her facial focussed on a lot of facial acupuncture. It’s like natural Botox, guys. It’s fucking crazy.
Throughout the facial we got to talking & I learned more about her & her history. I was so intrigued & realized that Brooke had to come on The Skinny Confidential for a series.
Brooke is one of the most interesting people I’ve met & in this post you’ll learn all the places she’s lived, why she’s so passionate about what she does & how to do some of Brooke’s favorite wellness practices ( via TikTok ).
Brooke has introduced me to so many different ‘clean’ products. & I think she’s the absolute best facialist in Austin. My face craves her.
Sidenote: she does sound bath healing classes which are AMAZING. But we’ll talk about that in another post.
Get ready for all things holisitic facials with my Austin facialist, Brooke.
What Is Facial Acupuncture?
♡ Introduce yourself to The Skinny Confidential community.
Brooke Taylor: Hi! I’m Brooke, I’m a licensed acupuncturist & practitioner of Chinese medicine with my own practice here in Austin, Texas, where I focus on Cosmetic Acupuncture for facial rejuvenation, along with heaps of health concerns that can be addressed with this amazing medicine.
I came to Austin to attend AOMA, a top rated school to study Traditional Chinese Medicine, & ended up staying here after I graduated. I’m a Texan at heart. But I’ve lived in a lot of places both in the US & beyond, including Colorado ( I was a fly-fishing guide for many years ), Seattle ( love! ), upstate New York ( where I went to school for esthetics ), the Florida Keys ( hello sun! ), Belize ( I see a theme there ), Australia ( Melbourne ), & Spain, where I had an ice cream shop on the Mediterranean.
While I have a varied background, all paths led in one way or another to pursuing how to take better care of my skin – there’s a lot of outdoor living & ensuing sun damage in my life! I studied esthetics in New York because I wanted to better understand the mechanisms of skin & how ingredients impact the health of the skin. Once I felt I had exhausted how much I could improve my skin with topicals ( definitely helped ), I pursued a more holistic approach to overall health & wellbeing, with a focus on facial rejuvenation through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
♡ Tell everyone how we met.
BT: Lauryn popped in after finding me online – she was searching for someone in Austin who does the specific treatment called Facial Sculpting Technique by Yakov Gershkovich . She had been getting the treatment from her facialist Mo in CA & knew she liked the results, especially in light of the history with her jaw. It takes a lot to re-establish yourself in a new town & find your people! I was glad she thought I was a fit.
I was not on social media much over the years. So I learned more about Lauryn once she was coming in. I will say she is a big gatherer of information! While most people might snooze a bit through parts of a treatment, she is usually full of questions! I can see why her followers appreciate her – she definitely thoroughly vets whatever she decides to share. I was shocked how many people found me because of her – they really trust her recommendations. And I also appreciate that she is open to learning more & seeing things from a different perspective – including a less ‘invasive’ one. She owns whatever she decides to do & is open about it. But of course I’m going to encourage a holistic approach, along with consideration for realistic expectations of the skin & signs of aging.
I struggle with the current beauty standards myself as I am in my fifties. The language around aging, the pressures to look less than your actual age. It can be a real mind-f*ck! She has a huge platform for these conversations, & even a new book. So I appreciate her willingness to explore things that might not be mainstream or on everyone’s radar.
♡ You’re very into Chinese healing (modalities). Can you talk about acupuncture & fascial acupuncture benefits?
BT: I had been in the skin care industry for many years. I started out as an esthetician, then became a global brand manager for a skin care line out of Australia. This experience let me delve more into formulations & ingredients. As well as the rituals around skin care in different cultures.
They had nicknamed me ‘tsunami’ because I was always stirring the pot around ingredients, wanting to know every last detail of their chemistry, sustainability, synergy, safety & so on. Even when I graduated from AOMA, I went right back to Australia, living with a formulator on the Peninsula. I spent time looking more specifically into ingredients used for centuries in Chinese medicine, traveling to Hong Kong & France to look at how these ingredients are becoming more mainstream in skin care.
When I had my own health issues, I noticed how the struggle impacted my skin way beyond the sun damage I had from my outdoor lifestyle. I realized a topical wasn’t going to undo the impact of deeper issues – an illness or life event can have a lasting impact on your appearance that no cream is going to sort!
I had been going to acupuncture myself weekly while living in Australia. And I loved the benefits. When I had a minute to re-evaluate my own life & what I wanted to do, I decided to pursue getting licensed as an acupuncturist, getting my master’s degree in Chinese Medicine. No small undertaking, especially in my forties! It can take about four years to earn this degree. Then pass medical boards in the state of Texas. I think if I had looked more closely at what is involved before diving in, I would have chickened out!
Traditional Chinese Medicine ( TCM ) has many modalities – acupuncture, herbal medicine, tuina, gua sha, moxibustion, nutrition.
As TCM has become more widely accepted in the West, more people have expanded their concepts of health & aging well.
We know from studies the many benefits of acupuncture on the body. From mitigating pain to balancing hormones. And now we see more studies on how cosmetic acupuncture affects the skin.
The needles for the face are quite tiny & are specially made to be gentle. You usually feel them momentarily & remain aware of their presence at times. But they don’t hurt! I place them on energetic points on the face. These are points on meridians that run in lines along the body. As well in strategic spots according to individual needs.
These needles will increase blood flow, work to reduce the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles, stimulate collagen ( yay! ), help release tension ( think jaw, or stubborn 11s ), & reduce inflammation, to name a few.
Results can be long lasting, usually after a series. And can vary according to your own health & the health of your skin. Your age & lifestyle play a big part. But I’ve seen some amazing results in my patients in their 60s & beyond. Starting before things become a challenge works best, & you’ll be healthier overall – sleeping better, digestion improves, & you feel like stress becomes more manageable, all of which contributes to healthier skin.
♡ Facial massage, it’s totally your thing & I’m totally obsessed. What are the benefits?
BT: I’ve studied treatments & lovely rituals from other countries over the years, including Indian Champissage, Balinese Massage, Marma Massage with poultices, so I have always appreciated including care for the body in any approach to skin care or hair care. I learned about Champissage years ago & took a course in Canada. They taught that a haircut in India begins with a thorough, vigorous massage from the back, shoulders, head & scalp to increase circulation, release tension & encourage healthy hair. The treatments I used to teach in spas globally for the face always began with a sensory journey to engage the limbic system & Balinese Body Palming to allow the nervous system to relax. In other words, we were never separating treatment of one part of the body from the other. In the West, we tend to think of a facial as being from the neck up.
I think Yakov Gershkovich, who teaches the Facial Sculpting Technique that I provide, had the same philosophy but from the perspective of a massage therapist – he found they were typically working the whole body, but completely neglecting the face & all of the muscles, tissues, & bones of the head. We carry an immense amount of tension in the face & head/neck. So this resonated with me a lot, I couldn’t wait to learn his technique when he came to the US from Russia.
The technique of buccal massage or intra-oral massage ( inside the mouth ) has been performed by a lovely French woman named Joelle Ciocco for many years. Others have adapted the technique to make it their own over the years.
I use this massage to help return the face to its more relaxed & youthful posture. And I try to teach people to lightly engage the muscle to hold tone, without over tightening. It reminds me of Mountain Pose in yoga – it might look like you’re just standing there, but you learn the proper way to engage muscles without holding tension.
I also use this time to find microspasms & tension related to emotions. Even by our twenties we might have our emotions ‘stuck’ in our face. The massage works differently according to the individual – some will be holding tension in areas we don’t think of often, like the chin, or around the mouth.
As we age, things shift – we can often end up with an elongated face, or even ‘jowls’.
If we go the route of injections, they usually apply filler to the cheeks to pull things back up. My preference would be to work to remove excess fluid from the face that is weighing it down or creating a puffy appearance, then work on the foundation of the structure of your face, before you decide what work you really need in the form of injectables. Even the elevens can be mitigated by addressing stress & hydration in many cases. Awareness also goes a long way! Start becoming aware of when & why you make certain expressions to dissipate them.
Needless to say I love this treatment because it creates a youthful shape shifting by addressing every muscle attachment & insertion from the neck upward – returning us closer to our original structure before stress & lifestyle moved things around. This massage also brings to light all of our habits. Like only chewing on one side, our neck being out of alignment or forward ( text neck ), & sleeping on one side or our stomach. It’s fun to see the shifts happen as we release tension, move fluid, & tone.
My point of difference is that I’m also looking at all of these symptoms through TCM, whether tension, lack of tone, or puffiness, & you’ll probably have a few needles in the body to complement the treatment & hear me talk about your Spleen, or ask about your digestion when looking at certain areas.
♡ In your opinion, what’s a good facial?
BT: I like a holistic facial that is customized for the individual, & has lots of hands on love! In the West, we tended towards a ‘product on product off’ type of approach for a long time – cleanse – check! exfoliate – check! gadget – check! I think so many estheticians have upped the ante in their approach to really heal the skin by knowing their ingredients forwards & backwards, not just a company sales pitch for a product.
The same goes for technology around devices – I want to visit someone who has done their research, not been swayed by hype. I see the effects of early adopters for some procedures as we try to manage the results years later in my sessions, perhaps before techniques advanced. And I feel like there’s a lot of experimentation on the skin these days in the quest for a specific look. And by that I mean we won’t know for many more years the real outcome of some of these interventions.
Lots of facialists are also including massage like the Facial Sculpting. I seriously looked years younger after that class from all the lifting & smoothing – I would fly somewhere to get this done properly, it’s that good.
That being said, I’m definitely into technology as well.
I’m just low key about what I incorporate, like light therapy, vibration, microcurrent. The same applies here, knowing wavelengths, frequencies, intensity, etc – the science behind technology & the device they’ve chosen to work with, credibility is important to me.
I tend to do quasi-regular gentle exfoliation ( bakuchiol, fig seeds ) as I age rather than more drastic one off peels – I am really conscientious about the skin barrier! I’m in the more is not always better camp – rather, being super selective about actives – drilling it down to what you really actually need. I appreciate facialists who share this philosophy – seeing how far you can go by just creating health in the skin, working to protect the barrier function, the microbiome. And there is nothing like the feeling of a good facial by someone who can work magic with their hands!
I’m also definitely a self care device junky ( rollers, gua sha, facial cups, LED, ZIIP ). So I’m always happy to see what others have been incorporating. I know thanks to Lauryn, lots of patients have been asking if the HOT MESS Ice Roller is right for them! I tend to use warming moves early on like gua sha & massage. Then cool any residual heat or redness with the HOT MESS Ice Roller towards the end – magic!
♡ How do you work on someone with anxiety?
BT: It helps to understand what anxiety means to the individual. So we ask more questions to narrow it down. For some, it might be an innervated feeling – all your emotions feel like they are on edge & at the surface. Or like they are running in first gear underneath a facade of calm.
For someone else, they might not be able to shut off their mind & have runaway thoughts, & some escalate to panic. The chest might get tight, breathing shallow, sweat, & for some it might affect digestion or they might clench their jaw & grind their teeth, or have disturbed sleep & dreams. All of these symptoms are a diagnosis in Chinese medicine that we differentiate to a system, like Heart, Liver, or Shen. Then we treat accordingly with acupuncture, herbs, & lifestyle adjustments like breathwork or qigong.
In the clinic, we can look to the tongue diagnosis & pulse if the person is having trouble saying how anxiety affects them.
That is the beauty of this medicine. We can find out a lot by observation & these techniques – people don’t have to relive their crappiest days for us to know how to treat them properly. And in fact, it’s great if they can use this time to let themselves just be, & let the needles do their thing.
In my clinic, I might also apply ear clips with microcurrent to help move them into a ‘rest & digest’ brainwave pattern to optimize the healing of the session. Most find this incredibly relaxing.
I also often place ear seeds for anxiety – these are little tiny seeds that are on a patch of tape the size of a pencil eraser that are placed on strategic points in the ear that you can massage throughout the day – these are highly effective; depending on placement, they can work with the vagus nerve to calm anxiety.
There are heaps of studies about how ear seeds work with people with PTSD & more. Now you’ll see people with blinged out crystals taped in their ears for everything from stress to insomnia to period pain – these have really gone mainstream.
♡ How do you work on someone who runs puffy? ( LOL like me! )
BT: Loads of people have puffiness as a concern – you’re not alone! True to TCM, we look to why are you puffy in the first place? Travel, food choices, stress, & alcohol can contribute. And I see women postpartum as well.
In general, we call excess fluid ‘dampness,’ it tends to hang out as it has not been transformed & transported efficiently by the body, a task we attribute in large part to the Spleen in Chinese medicine. To help the Spleen be more efficient, we focus on things to support this system like less smoothies & raw salads that tend to slow digestion, easing into the day with a digestion friendly congee, being more mindful to reduce multitasking, like focusing on chewing when eating – not watching TV, texting, talking & more. The Spleen likes nourishing foods rather than greasy or fast food. You’ll know when the Spleen is involved when you also have cravings for sweets! Liver Qi Stagnation can also affect the Spleen, & we all pretty much have this to some degree – hello stress & irritability, plus a western diet & lifestyle.
Having this dampness in the face is quite common.
So I encourage everyone to learn simple techniques they can do themselves to move this fluid often so it doesn’t hang around & eventually drag the face downward – we see this in the chin area as well – a lot of ‘double chins’ are often just fluid hanging out. Most are wanting a more sculpted appearance. So learning how to shift this fluid yourself is the best option because once you sleep, it tends to come back in the short term, & more so with age.
In the clinic, I start cosmetic treatments with body acupuncture to move out dampness & tone the Spleen. Then I do thorough gua sha with skin cleansing to open pathways & find areas of tension or congestion. This isn’t lymphatic drainage at this point as much as making sure all the pathways are open for lymph to move.
After facial acupuncture, I might also add microcurrent to assist in moving fluid – there are specific frequencies to assist in moving lymph if I find congestion, usually under the jawline, near the ears, or along the pathway of the neck to collarbone.
I’ll do facial cupping to move any remaining fluid & can teach patients to do this as well. If I find a stubborn spot of congestion, I might recommend you apply a warm compress at home. And do gentle stretches as home care.
One stretch uses a qigong move to help keep the pathways open for draining fluids in the face & neck ( see TikTok for this one! ).
You can eat certain foods to assist in moving fluids, even making a tea from corn silk in the summer helps.
I do sell facial cups – if you buy them from me I’ll make sure you know how to use them properly to avoid any bruising or injury to the skin. Same goes for gua sha tools. Or if you have one & don’t know how to use it – bring it with you to your session.
As I noted before, warmth is good for opening & moving things along. But you can cool post session if you’d like, especially for specific types of inflammation.
♡ Tell us about the coolest thing you’ve learned since starting your business. Something wellnessy?
BT: By far my favorite thing I’ve learned in the last few years is the study of Face Reading & how emotions & even trauma impact the face according to Chinese medicine.
While Face Reading goes back centuries like most Chinese medicine, it was made accessible by Lillian Bridges. Now, in the context of treatment, I can see how a person’s life has impacted their face. From things inherited from their parents, to habits & personality traits. For instance, if we look at crow’s feet, there are many subtle variations of direction & length of these lines. Each variation can indicate joy, grief, mania or even intense sadness & depression.
We can also spot very subtle differences in shading, like gray or dull green, yellow & redness. Depending on the location, we know what is going on in that organ system according to TCM, such as heat in the Lungs, or inflammation in the Spleen, & so on. We might notice life lessons by looking at other lines, or perceptions such as disappointment.
The coolest thing about learning all of this is seeing the impact of acupuncture on its own.
CT teaches that trauma ( which is completely relative person to person ) scatters Qi. & by regathering Qi & treating the impacted system ( Kidney for fear for instance ), we see a shift in the facial features as well. It is THE most fascinating thing to see. I can gently guide someone to have awareness around a certain emotion, they can transmute this with acupuncture & we see their face shift over the course of treatment.
Next up I’m exploring healing frequencies ( something I already do with microcurrent for the body/mind & skin ) across all the things, like aroma ( limbic system, but also relative to individual acupuncture points thanks to the work of Jeffery Yuen ), color therapy ( I use FutureMood glasses when I can ), & soon, adding CT Holman’s latest offering – drumming over the meridians in specific beats to impact with vibration.
The body & cells are basically vibration & frequency – there is health where things are humming along. In Chinese medicine we say blocks in meridians create stagnation. And where there is flow, there is no disease, or dis-ease. This is wildly apparent in cosmetic acupuncture by the way – I am working to ensure you have smooth flow – basically the opposite of Botox, which freezes things in place! To see how one woman went from Botox to cosmetic acupuncture instead, see this blog.
♡ If someone could buy only one product what should it be & why?
BT: Wow that’s a hard one! Everyone’s skin & challenge is different. But there’s no way I could do without a lovely nourishing oil blend that not only my skin loves but that my whole body/mind responds to when I breathe in. This becomes the ritual that signals my body that we’re going to bed, or waking up. I take my time with oils. Working them into my neck & upward ( here’s a TikTok for the massage I like to do ).
Oils can be used to cleanse the skin based on ‘like attracts like’ science, but also nourish deeply. I’ve seen profound changes in people’s skin just from this one shift. Even oily/acne skin can use oil, they just need a lightweight one. I especially like applying them over something ‘wet’ though – they are meant to hold in moisture. So they need that ‘something’ to work at their best, like a hydrosol. I know, that’s two products. ( Link to oil cleanse on TikTok. )
Some of my favorites:
♡ What is something you do to take care of your wellness everyday?
BT: I find it hard to do ALL THE THINGS daily. So I tend to ride these things like a wave, doing what I can & what feels best on that day.
As you know – I regularly burn incense! I have locally made incense cones available in my studio that I’m addicted to. And I start the day by opening the doors, setting intention, & letting a little smoke cleanse the space. I’m very sensitive to things like cleaning chemicals & perfumes. So if I feel like they’ve invaded my space I use smoke & fresh air to move it out. Along with the last person’s energy so I can start fresh for the next person.
I’m finally near getting these into a little packaging so people can enjoy these beyond popping into my space. I’m careful about sustainability & respecting the resources of these types of things. So I’m super happy with these cones. I think this is something that benefits me, but also my patients.
Because I talk a lot about breathwork, I do try to think about my breath throughout the day, & teach a lot of 4-7-8 breathwork by Dr. Weil ( to help tone the vagus nerve for overall health ). I try to notice where I’m holding tension & release it with a stretch. I recommend the book Breath if you’re curious how much the way we breathe affects our overall health, & if you’re a mouth breather, you’ll definitely want to read it.
A friend gifted me a cool journal where you note what you are grateful for daily;
This has been a powerful way to shift mindset, it is a proven antidote for many things like depression to be grateful!
The thing I suck at the absolute most is drinking more water throughout the day, & it is painfully obvious in my face by the end of the day. My treatments are hands on & back to back. I have to put prompts everywhere to remind myself to drink something. In case anyone is wondering – so many things we get away with in our youth have a much bigger impact as we age – hydration can be masked in youth by bountiful collagen & fat placement in the face, but that might not mean your skin/body is healthy. This is a habit I wish I had instilled when I was younger – I know I can look literally years older by the end of the day from dehydration alone!
I do better if I make a cup of tea because it’s more of a ritual to boil the water, see & smell the beautiful loose leaves & flowers, steep, then drink. I prefer Mayde from Australia – I carry these in my studio as well. The founder is a naturopath who created them to heal her own digestion, & they expanded from there. I recommend blends to energize without caffeine, soothe the nerves, improve digestion – people tend to underestimate the power of these plants. It’s a way to encourage myself into having more to drink if I enjoy the process as well.
By the way, if you don’t like the way you feel when you drink water – full, bloated, nauseas, we attribute this to being damp – hello Spleen again! There are herbs for this 🙂
♡ Tell us about your obsession for crystals.
BT: I always liked gemstones, but wanted to be careful about how they were incorporated into my practice. We tend to fight for acupuncture to be seen as the medicine it is, whether one thinks is it ‘woo’ or not, there is much science behind it, & thousands of years of historical application. I was afraid if I introduced crystals, it might impact how people perceived the medicine of acupuncture itself. And certainly colleagues might be dubious about their use.
A few years ago, I had a hard time finding a location for my office when I first started looking. When I finally spotted a room I liked online, the realtor let me poke around; I loved the space, but in the end I thought it was a big risk for me just starting out on my own, so I couldn’t wrap my head around how to make the leap.
A couple of weeks later, my colleague & good friend said she was finally having an open house at her new location. She described it many times, & I kept saying I have no idea what building you’re talking about – I don’t see it! It turns out I was driving by it every day. Not only that, it was the same building with the room I thought would be amazing for me.
I went to her open house; when I was leaving, I got almost to my car & felt a pull to go back in the building & peek in the door of the office I had wanted.
The door was cracked open, I poked my head in. A lady said can I help you? I noted I had looked at this space recently, just peeking at it! She said, are you Brooke? I said, yes? She said, do you know, I had said the day before you came by here, how cool it would be to have a cosmetic acupuncturist in this space?
This woman was Becky, the owner of the building. She took me through the space, explaining that she had taken a course in Chinese feng shui in Hawaii before she remodeled the lower level of the building. Hence, she had put crystals in the walls of this office accordingly, as she was going to use it for herself. She had different elements throughout, from a little Metal in this corner, a significant crystal in this spot, Wood where it belongs. I knew it was meant to be, we struck a deal, & I made the space my own.
Becky was very keen on the use of crystals, learning more, delving into their mysteries. I remained more like a casual admirer.
Fast forward, & I had a shift.
I learned more about them bit by bit, until I found myself really enjoying having them around. I even made my first big purchase of a crystal recently, & will incorporate them more as it makes sense in the future. Sometimes I will place small gemstones on the face with certain people when it seems right, including some very special chakra stones someone gifted me many years ago. The woman had access to many sacred places to collect her stones, so they always feel very healing.
I think the work of knowing the healing potential of crystals is quite in-depth, so I’m doing small bits at a time. There’s so much to them, from their own frequencies, energies, colors, quality & how they apply to the chakras & grids of the body. I feel like if you notice a vibe from them, or just find them beautiful, that’s a good contribution to the space & healing. And like most things now – being careful about resourcing is front of mind.
Becky likes to remind me how in the beginning I was very ‘meh’ about incorporating crystals, & now I’m ready to drag her around the US to hunt for sustainably sourced inspiring pieces! My patients seem to enjoy them, it’s interesting to see what different people notice or are drawn to.
♡ If someone is getting a facial with a new facialist, what do you recommend they ask for?
BT: If it’s a bit of a one off treatment, such as at a resort, I like to try their signature treatment. This should be something they feel very confident in the results & overall experience.
If you are exploring to find a good fit for you ongoing, I would look for alignment in philosophies & extra education & certification they have pursued relative to your main concern. And if it’s your first time with someone, they should do a thorough consultation to listen to your concerns without going down a rabbit hole of all the additional things they can ‘fix.’ If you’ve relayed your main challenges, they should tell you what they have in their toolkit to address those concerns.
If you sign up for something more invasive, make sure you know the full risks, contraindications, recovery time, how to care for your skin ongoing, how long to see results, & how long it should last.
Even acupuncture has risks, including bruising. If someone has a big event the next day, there are plenty of things I can do besides put needles on their face. Your facialist should be able to adapt to your skin & circumstances.
If I feel like someone is not listening, is going through the motions, or wants to ‘fix’ me way beyond my comfort zone, I know it’s not a good fit for me.
♡ Where can everyone find you? Pimp yourself out!
I’m in Austin, my business is called The Road…this is a small studio where I focus on one person at a time by appointment. I carry products that I think will have synergy with my treatments, from skin care to teas to nutritionals & herbs. I am just beginning to collab with a brilliant herbalist a few days a week, so you have an expert at hand to help specifically with issues around your period, like cramps, pms, or optimizing for fertility.
And expansion is underway soon! You’ll be able to pop into another room for a cupping session or a good acu session to support our efforts in skin care, like digestion, sleep & stress. Stay tuned!
If you’d like to book a facial with Brooke, go to her website thisistheroad.com & tell her Lauryn says hi!
Stay tuned becuase Brooke will be back on the blog to talk about sound healing & boob massage. Can’t wait!
+ if you’re into zen you have to try a DIY eucalyptus shower.
++ scope how to create an at-home meditation station here.