An acupuncture session with Ross Barr is guaranteed to leave you feeling better than when you started, and not just because he’s charming and affable or that my appointment was at the oh-so-beautiful Cloud Twelve. Rather, it is an effective way to feel balanced and restored.
I went along hoping to find out more about facial acupuncture for physical reasons, but Ross reminds me that the ancient Chinese practise of acupuncture is holistic, so he starts with a more through lifestyle assessment and in turn, treatment.
Lots can be told through the pulse in Chinese medicine – how your organs are functioning, how high your energy levels are and so on. Ross quickly and accurately assesses I am quick to anger (he sees this in my inflamed liver), don’t suffer fools gladly and spend much of my time running around fuelled on adrenaline. Ross is a practitioner of 5 Element Chinese acupuncture, meaning he tends to the spiritual and emotional as much as anything else, in the understanding that everything is connected. A key question he asks is, ‘what would you change about how you have been feeling recently?’
Before tending to my face, Ross places acupuncture needles in my feet. It’s not painful – the needles are millimetres thin and although they pinch going in, it’s nothing compared to, say, waxing.
Next, he massages my face through a piece of silk, in order to calm and relax me, which it does. He applies pressure that verges on uncomfortable when near my brow and cheek bones, but it gets the blood circulating around my face and the chi – or energy flow – moving, leaving me looking and feeling much brighter.
Next, Ross uses a Japanese heating device called a Tiger Warmer on points on my face. It feels soothing and warm with a lovely smell. It’s also great for pigmentation, which is a key concern of mine.
Finally, he places acupuncture needles in my hairline, in order to strengthen the organs behind digestion, which has a positive knock-on effect to the skin.
Were wrinkles a concern, Ross tells me, he’d focus more on that, and possibly some microneedling in the jawline to prevent sagging – facial acupuncture is seen by many as a natural treatment to Botox – but it’s not necessary in my case – not only is his treatment holistic, it is utterly bespoke.
I leave looking brighter and glowing. Even the whites of my whites are healthier looking – that’s connected to liver health, Ross says. Facial acupuncture treats what is going on internally with the organs to help the external, rather just focus on the external, so more importantly, I feel much more relaxed and balanced after just 45 minutes, armed with heaps of advice from Ross. The piece we Londoners would all do well to follow is free and simple: take time for yourself, and don’t be afraid to simply do nothing.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.