INTRODUCING THE TCM 12 HR MERIDIAN CYCLE
One effective and simple way is to form a clear skin routine according to our natural body clock. The Chinese Medicine principles of the 24 hour body clock or the 12 hr Meridian cycle is an age old principle that describes the relationship of our body functions relating to the time of the day.
Skin's 24 hour cycle
We all know that drinking more water, regular sleep, eating well and exercising is good for the skin, but how exactly can we go about doing that? When’s the best time to sleep? What kind of food is best for healthier skin? What type of exercise should I do and when should I do it?
A great way to begin is to form a simple daily routine!
In order to get healthier skin, we need to think about the timing and repetition of our actions, but we need to be able to do it regularly and at the right time for it to be truly effective.
Our bodies have a definite internal clock, which predetermines the best time to do work, eat meals and sleep. And for most of the time, we’ve learnt to understand and respect the same. Unfortunately, we forget that our skin is also a biological entity that has a similar internal clock. This internal clock determines the best time to moisturise, shave, wax or apply a treatment. There is also a time when skin will be most vulnerable, most oily or most sensitive. Often, we ignore this skin clock, which may well explain why all those creams, gels and serums are not delivering their promises. So don’t ignore your skin’s daily schedule, as that’s what decides the ultimate effectiveness of any product or treatment. Here you have it in a nutshell.
In short, the meridian cycle provides a general guideline the best time to eat our meals, exercise, sleep, poop, work and so on to prepare our body for optimal performance.
3:00am to 5:00am – Lung time – need oxygen
This is the cleansing time of the lungs. Respiratory related problems e.g. cough or asthma is more likely to occur at this hour. It’s also a good time (if we can) to get more fresh oxygen, open your windows, even just with a tiny little gap to allow fresh air in throughout the night.
5:00am to 7:00am – Large Intestine time – the golden detox time
This is arguable the best time to drink more fluids, exercise to aid blood circulation and bowel movement, and to poop. A healthy person should be experiencing their first bowel movement of the day between these hours.
7:00am to 9:00am – Stomach time – breakfast
Once we get rid of the waste, it’s time to replenish our bodies with fresh nutrients and energy in preparation for the day. This is when our stomach is actively looking for things to digest – we need to keep our digestive system happy and healthy for our skin. So eat up!
This is the prime time for puffiness and creases, as lymphatic fluid pools while you sleep, especially under the eyes. So try a cold compress, apply an eye mask or opt for an eye gel that’s enriched with refreshing botanicals like briar rose, cucumber and chamomile.
Skin is at its most sensitive right now, so save the deep cleansing, exfoliating, spot-squeezing and massaging for later; instead keep your morning skin routine simple – cold water, mild cleanser and toner.
9:00am to 11:00am – Spleen time – more water
Once we finish our breakfast our Spleen starts to get busy making sure our blood is of high quality for distribution. Keeping our spleen healthy also helps with digestion, absorption and excretion. If all’s good our lips should feel moisturized and appear red. It’s a good time to drink more water and to aid the digestion. Also avoid sugary foods during morning tea!
11:00am to 1:00pm – Heart time – a quick break and a nap
We’ve now reach midday! Our heart is at its busiest promoting blood circulation. It’s best to avoid intense exercise at this hour – instead have a quick 15 mins nap to nourish the heart. This will serve as a quick energy boost better than any caffeine or sugary treats (which isn’t very good for our skin). Try not to nap for more than 30 mins otherwise we risk insomnia and restless sleep at night.
Going in for fillers or Botox? Try it during these hours – it’s advisable not to lie down or rub your face for several hours as this could make the serum leak into adjoining areas, causing unevenness and droopin
During this period, our levels of adrenaline (which fight stress) and endorphins (natural painkillers) are highest, making it the perfect time for ouch!-inducing treatments like electrolysis or waxing.
1:00pm to 3:00pm – Small Intestine time – absorption
Again, our body gets busy digesting food after lunch. Small intestine is working hard to absorb nutrients and sending things along to the large intestine for waste disposal. The digestive system begins to rest after this hour (3 ish), so try not to eat heavy lunches after 1pm. Again it’s a good time to drink more water to aid digestion.
These are the hours when the skin is at its best and the natural barriers are functioning optimally, making it the best time of the day for exfoliating treatment, including DIY peels and clinical microdermabrasion.
However, this also the time when you face peak sun damage. Twenty minutes in the midday sun can cause more skin damage than two hours in the early morning, so reapply the sunscreen.
3:00pm to 5:00pm – Bladder time – 2nd detox
Did you manage to drink enough water during the small intestine time? Because now’s the time for 2nd part of detox – release of waste fluids (by urination and or sweating). Don’t try to hold anything in during this hour! It’s a great time to do some exercise such as Yoga, qiao-da and gentle pressure point massages to improve blood circulation and aid detoxification. Remember to wipe dry after you sweat!
There is a reason behind the dreaded afternoon oil slick: oil producing glands pump out twice as much at this time, compared to the rest of the day. That’s because androgens (male hormones) increase mid-afternoon, making sebum levels rise to peak-production. To foil the shine, soak up the grease with blotting papers, then apply a thin layer of matte translucent powder.
These are the most polluted hours of the day, stepping up risk of free radical damage, which can gradually disintegrate skin cells and accelerate the ageing process. Make sure you wear moisturiser that’s spiked with the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E.
A study from Manchester Metropolitan University shows that this is the best time to hit the gym: your energy levels are high and muscles and joints are at their warmest, lessening chances of injury. However, avoid having a beauty treatment for at least two hours after the workout, as the rise in body temperature adversely affects the skin’s natural protective barriers, making it extremely sensitive.
5:00pm to 7:00pm – Kidney time – happy hour
We’ve now reached happy hour – ‘chill time’ of the day! It’s time to slow down; this will improve efficiency of kidney function, letting our kidney focus on removing the waste products of metabolism. In Eastern philosophy, bad metabolism or digestion is not good for our skin. So nurture our kidneys when we can! Great time to let your hair down and spend some quality time with friends and family.
7:00pm to 9:00pm – Pericardium time – avoid heavy dinner
It’s not a good idea to eat too much or have heavy dinners as it reduces metabolic efficiency and could cause nausea and insomnia. If you can, try to eat around 6pm or even earlier. Aim to relax after dinner e.g. leisurely stroll, shower, put on facial masks, watch some TV, go on the internet or read a book in, anything to prepare for your beauty sleep!
Blood vessels are at their most dilated now, making us go red most easily. So make sure you use some concealer to spare the blushes.
As blood flow to the skin increases and endorphin levels drop considerably, you will also become more aware of pain and irritations such as allergies, insect bites or eczema, so keep some calming lotion at hand.
Your face is more receptive in the evening, when skin temperature is higher and the surface layer more porous, allowing for greater penetration of active ingredients. Start by washing away makeup and grime to prevent clogged pores, blackheads, breakouts and lackluster skin, along with providing a clean canvas for treatment products, helping them penetrate faster and work better. Now is the best time to have a warm, relaxing bath and a cleansing facial massage, followed by the heavy-weight treatments.
9:00pm to 11:00pm – Triple Warmer time – beauty sleep!
The root cause of skin problems begin here – not getting our beauty sleep. The body at this hour needs all the rest it can get. Drinking too much water around these hours can cause puffiness (puffy eyes) and broken sleep during the night.
Aim to do all your relaxation BEFORE 9pm – this will aid the process of falling asleep.
TIP: For Clear & glowing skin sleep no later than 11pm!
That old adage ‘an hour before midnight is worth three afterwards’ is true; the hormone that triggers sleep – melatonin – peaks at around this time, making 11 pm the hour we should go to bed for maximum skin benefits. But more on this later as it’s a chapter in itself!
11:00 pm– 1:00am Gallbladder time – Deep sleep
The gallbladder is a small pouch that store bile just underneath our liver. Bile is a fluid secreted by the liver that aids the digestion of fat in the small intestine. We need to be fast asleep to allow digestion of fat. If you’re still awake by now, you’re most susceptible to insomnia, headaches, and can easily be trapped in negative thoughts.
1:00am – 3:00am Liver time – Happily asleep
If we are not asleep by now then no skincare products out there can save our skin. This is when our liver begins to detox. Liver is the body’s 2nd largest organ after skin. Our liver works together with our gallbladder, pancreas and intestines to digest, absorb, and process food. Our liver performs many vital functions related metabolism, digestions, immunity, and the storage of nutrients in our body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs.
When we don’t rest and let our liver focus on its job, our metabolism, detoxification, digestion, and immunity will all be affected and may cause premature aging, hormone imbalance, mood imbalance, stress/depression, and headaches.
1. Regular sleep between the hours of 9pm – 5am will allow time for organs such as liver to efficiently process toxins and chemicals!
2. Cleanse your body by drink enough water, exercise and detox all before 7am! This will prepare your day, and help make sure there’s no nasty toxins left over from the day before causing trouble for your skin.
3. Eat a smaller dinner at night and start winding down early so that you can get quality sleep and wake up early to maximize the 5am-7am detox period for healthy, clear skin!
Have you noticed your skin responding to an invisible clock? Interested in learning more?
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