It’s been called “the natural alternative to Botox and fillers” and celebrities like Margot Robbie, Jessica Alba, and Lizzo are fans of this ancient Chinese practice.
Ancient is right: Gua Sha is one of the oldest forms of traditional Chinese medicine dating back to the Paleolitic Era. Back then, stones, hands, or any manner of flat device was used to gently “scrape away” illness from the afflicted area of the body.
Since then, very little has changed about how the technique works to achieve these therapeutic results – today, we have a better understanding of why it works. And indeed it does according to a growing body of testimonials accompanied with legit “before and after” pics.
Gua Sha is both a tool and a practice. Literally translated as “scraping sand,” Facial Gua Sha therapy uses a gentle massaging technique to get the blood flowing and help drain stagnant lymph from the cheeks, jawline, and neck. It also helps to release muscle tension across the forehead, around the eyes, and along the jaw.
Overall, Facial Gua Sha can improve the appearance of skin, helping to reduce puffiness, improve tone, and minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Any flat object held comfortably in the hand can be used to practice Facial Gua Sha. A coin, the back of a spoon, or even an old CD works. Looking for something a little more refined? Beautiful Gua Sha tools are available in a variety of materials including jade, rose quartz, stainless steel, or other materials.
They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes meant to complement the contours of your face. The most common version resembles the dorsal fin of a dolphin and fits snugly in the palm of your hand without slipping.
Evidence is largely anecdotal, but beauty enthusiasts swear by it, calling it the secret to radiant, youthful skin:
Stimulates circulation: by gently scraping the skin in a specific pattern, Gua Sha helps to increase blood flow to the surface of the skin, providing a brighter, more youthful complexion
Helps produce collagen: the massaging action helps to stimulate collagen production, which results in a firmer, bouncy looking skin
Decreases inflammation: improved circulation and lymphatic drainage removes fluid and lymph buildup and reduces redness associated with inflammation
Diminishes dark circles: as above, improved blood flow and lymph drainage helps to brighten the under eye area
Sculpts facial muscles: Gua Sha helps to release tension and tone face muscles, reducing the appearance of fine lines while alleviating the day’s stressors
However, as with any new beauty trend, it's important to understand how to properly use a Gua Sha stone to get the best results. The key is to be gentle – too much pressure can cause damage to the skin.
Start by using the tool on clean, moisturized skin and use light, upward motions, paying special attention to areas that tend to accumulate tension, such as the jawline, under-eye area, and neck.
Afterwards, apply a facial serum or moisturizer to help nourish and protect your skin. Finish your practice by thoroughly cleansing your tool with warm, soapy water. Gua Sha’s made of jade, rose quartz, or other stones are a fragile, so store them in a low-traffic, dry place like your medicine cabinet.
Do this practice three to four times a week, and you may start to see results almost immediately, around the two-week mark.
Start by cleansing your skin and applying a facial oil or moisturizer to help the Gua Sha glide smoothly over your skin.
Hold the curved side of the Gua Sha against your skin and use gentle but firm pressure to glide the tool in long, smooth strokes.
Move the Gua Sha in the direction of your lymphatic drainage, which is typically upwards and outwards. Use a light touch for the delicate under-eye area, and a firmer pressure for areas like the cheeks and forehead.
Avoid using the Gua Sha on irritated or damaged skin, and be careful not to apply too much pressure to prevent bruising.
In the beginning, practice Gua Sha for a few minutes each day, and gradually increase the time as your skin gets used to the tool.
Afterwards, apply your favorite facial serum or moisturizer to help nourish and protect your skin. Wash your Gua Sha in warm, soapy water, and store in a safe, low-traffic place such as your medicine cabinet.
💡Good to know: Gua Sha is not for everyone. If you are taking anticoagulants or have skin conditions such as acne or rosacea, consult your physician before starting a Facial Gua Sha routine.