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Do you spend hours a day scrolling through skincare TikTok? Do you religiously follow skincare trends by binge-watching beauty gurus on YouTube? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then there’s no doubt you’ve stumbled upon the technique we’re going to be discussing today—gua sha.
Gua sha is a massage technique that originated in ancient Chinese beauty and medicine. Though it began as a full-body method, it’s been adapted specifically for the face. Gua sha is believed to offer tons of incredible beauty benefits—if you haven’t tried it out yet, now would be the perfect time.
If you’re hoping to get into the gua sha game, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll discuss the different ways you can use gua sha tools, as well as all the background info you need to know about this age-old technique.
What Is Gua Sha?
Due to its popularity on social media, gua sha has become one of the latest must-try skincare trends. To some, it may seem like this craze appeared out of thin air—however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the practice has been around for centuries (just not in the United States).
Gua sha comes from traditional Chinese medicine, and it’s a well-known practice in many Asian cultures. Basically, gua sha is a massage technique that involves scraping the skin with deliberate, upward strokes using a gua sha tool. These tools are usually made from rose quartz or jade.
Traditionally, the gua sha method focuses on the body, not the face. It entails an intense full-body massage with the smooth-edged gua sha tool. This process results in redness and bruising on the skin. Though it can be painful, this technique tends to produce amazing results.
The research on this subject is relatively limited, but some studies have shown that gua sha massages may have impressive benefits. According to certain studies, gua sha may soothe migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, neck pain, perimenopausal symptoms, and breast swelling from breastfeeding.
If you learned about gua sha through social media, you probably didn’t see this full-body technique at play. Rather, it’s likely that you stumbled upon the facial gua sha treatment. According to many avid fans, this method improves the appearance and texture of the skin.
The benefits of facial gua sha include reducing muscle tension, improving blood circulation, and boosting lymphatic drainage (this reduces bloating).
There hasn’t been much scientific research on the benefits of gua sha, but tons of people swear by the technique.
What’s the Deal With Gua Sha Tools?
One of the most compelling things about gua sha is just how affordable it really is. To give yourself a facial massage, all you need is a gua sha tool and a few pumps of your favorite facial moisturizer.
Gua sha tools cost anywhere from $15 to $60. When purchasing a gua sha tool, the two main factors to consider are shape and material.
Gua Sha Shapes
In terms of shape, most gua sha tools come in the “dolphin” shape, like this one. It’s got one long, curved edge and one shorter curved edge. It’s broad and easy to grip and maneuver, which makes it ideal for beginners.
However, there are other shapes available as well. The comb shape, for example, has a single curved edge on one side and a set of comb-like prongs on the opposite side. The smooth edge is perfect for a facial treatment, and the comb side is ideal for a deep scalp massage.
Gua Sha Materials
As you begin your search for a gua sha tool, you’ll find they come in all shapes and sizes. Likewise, they’re available in a range of materials. Each type of stone is said to offer different benefits for the skin.
Here’s a short summary of the various materials and what they mean:
Rose Quartz is known as the stone of love, compassion, and healing. It’s ideal for detoxing, reducing the appearance of fine lines, and draining toxins from the skin. Moreover, some claim it has calming properties, making it well-suited for sensitive skin.
Jade is one of the most popular stones for gua sha, alongside rose quartz. It has a cooling effect, and it’s often used to balance the body’s energies. It’s an excellent choice for reducing bloating and facial puffiness, as it may boost lymphatic function.
Bian Stone is also regarded as a healing material. It may even help regulate blood pressure. Also, in full-body gua sha, bian stone is commonly used for lower back pain.
Amethyst offers a wide range of benefits. Users claim that it has a strong cooling effect and the ability to reduce stress and negative energy. Moreover, it may even fight bacteria in the pores, which makes the stone ideal for acne-prone skin.
Clear Quartz is another popular healing stone—it’s actually known as a “master healer.” It’s often praised for its ability to balance the mind, body, and spirit and instill a sense of calm and clarity in the user.
As you can see, all of these stones have plenty of lore behind them. Again, remember that there isn’t any clinical research to support these claims. However, if you do believe in the more spiritual side of these stones, you may want to consider these properties when picking out a gua sha tool.
Ultimately, there’s only one way to determine if gua sha really works—test it out!
Using Gua Sha Tools on Your Face
Alright, now let’s get to the most important stuff: how to actually use these tools.
Honestly, because gua sha tools come in so many different shapes, sizes, and materials, it’s nearly impossible to provide one single tutorial for this technique. However, we can offer a few tips and tricks for a basic gua sha facial treatment.
Before we begin, though, we should make a few general notes. Firstly, you should never give yourself a gua sha facial with bare skin. Rather, we suggest applying water, oil, or a lightweight moisturizer.
Second, you don’t want to use a gua sha tool on broken skin, acne outbreaks, or any similar skin issues. Even though facial gua sha is relatively gentle, rubbing a stone tool on irritated, broken skin just isn’t a great idea—plus, it’ll probably hurt like hell.
So, with all that being said, let’s get into the actual techniques.
If you’re looking to treat puffy eyes, simply swipe your gua sha tool from the inner corner of the under-eye area outwards, towards your temples. Repeat this movement three or four times on each eye. Then, do the same thing again, but above your eyes. Move from the inner portion of the brow-bone towards your temples and hairline.
To increase lymphatic drainage, you’ll need to begin in the center of the chin and move your tool upwards, along your jawline. Then, continue the stroke by moving behind your earlobe and down your neck. This should leave your jawline looking sharp and defined.
On the other hand, if you’re hoping to treat the neck area, start with your tool near the base of your collarbone, in the center of your neck. Move the tool upwards towards your chin. Continue this motion all over the neck.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can use gua sha tools on your face. Feel free to adjust these techniques to your liking and your skincare needs. Just be sure not to press down too hard—you don’t want to damage your skin.
Finally, if your face looks red and flushed after your gua sha treatment, don’t stress out. That’s supposed to happen. It simply means that the massage is working—you have successfully boosted your blood flow. Congrats!
Using Gua Sha Tools on Your Body
So, what about those full-body massages we were discussing earlier? Can you use your gua sha tools for areas below the neck?
We have to recommend that you don’t try this at home. Firstly, it would be nearly impossible to give yourself a full-body gua sha treatment. However, even if you have a friend to try it out, it can be pretty risky if you’re not a professional.
Gua sha experts are highly trained and well-practiced in their field. Although gua sha can get pretty rough, professionals know exactly what they’re doing. Attempting this treatment without the proper training could be disastrous.
That being said, if your body is craving an intense, transformative massage, go ahead and book yourself a gua sha treatment with an expert. Your body will love you for it!
The mere fact that gua sha has been widely practiced in so many cultures for thousands of years speaks volumes about the benefits of this technique. Clearly, gua sha can be incredibly beneficial to both our skin and our bodies as a whole.
We want to know how you feel about gua sha. If you try out a new gua sha tool or massage technique, don’t forget to drop a review and let us know how it goes.