Settling into quarantine-mode has created more time to take advantage of the little things that are often neglected: meditation, reading and caring for my skin. I now realize that self-care has become an anchor – a form of taking my power back during these uncertain times to allow the best version of myself unfold. As a skincare enthusiast it is safe to say I know a thing or two about skin treatments and product ingredients. My skin treatment choices are mostly considered by evidence-backed science and visible results. So, when I discovered Gua Sha, the noteworthy facial treatment (also the name of the tool used) that has been all the rave recently, I was intrigued by the beautiful smooth-edged stones – and the reviews that claim to contour, depuff and firm skin.
Although Gua Sha treatments are relatively new to the cosmetics game, the practice dates back centuries. An esteemed technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Gua Sha, also known as “muscle scraping,” was primarily used in body treatments to clear Qi (energy), release muscle tension, and ward off pain and associated inflammation. Everything is cyclical and what was old becomes new again. Clinical evidence found that Gua Sha not only helps with pain and tension in the body, but in the face as well.
You may think, how does muscle-scraping body therapy relate to my face? How does it work?
The restorative treatment is performed by mild pressure massage to stimulate cellular activity. Research studies have shown that in addition to the body, Gua Sha’s therapeutic effects on soft tissue such as the face, neck and shoulders restores cellular mobility to boost the immune system. The soothing strokes loosens tension knots in connective tissue, moves sluggish lymph to purge toxins, and increases microcirculation of oxygen to muscles and tissues. It also will draw out stagnant fluid that can cause puffiness around the eyes. Because of its contouring effect, Gua Sha facials are also called the “Eastern Facelift.”
If you’re not the injectable type, pairing alternative treatments with your modern-day product regimen can prove just as beneficial as the former without the hefty price tag. By contrast, this is a great fix if you’re in-between Botox treatments, and it can be practiced 3-5 days per week.
Gua Sha treatments require two things, a Gua Sha tool – that comes in a variety of flat grooved jade, rose quartz and other skillfully polished stones – and the right technique.
How to Choose a Gua Sha Tool
Gua Sha tools come in a variety of stones and shapes including jade, bian stone, amethyst, rose quartz and tigers eye. Each stone is known for different healing properties-but the technique in which you use it is most important.
I started to experiment with different tools that can range in material and price – some north of $150. As a newbie, I chose a more affordable tool to perfect the technique before moving on to a more expensive one. You don’t have to break the bank, just pick one you feel most drawn to. Here are few of my faves:
1. Mount Lai Gua Sha Rose Quartz – $28
2. White Lotus Jade Gua Sha – $36
4. Wildling Beauty Empress Stone – $65
Gua Sha Technique
Aside from knowing what Gua Sha to buy, it is equally important to know a few tips before practicing Gua Sha at home.
Step 1. Check your stone
Be mindful that stones will have natural grooves. Before applying to your face, run your fingers around the perimeter of the stone to check for any cracks or jagged edges.
Step 2. Hydrate
Drink plenty of water before and after the treatment to help flush out toxins.
Step 3. Prep your skin
After cleansing, apply a product that has slip, like a serum or facial oil. If you don’t have either, leave your skin mildly damp. Apply a light layer of moisturizer on the surface. Try to avoid rubbing it completely in. This will give enough slip for continuous flowing movements across the skin.
Step 4. Use the correct angle
Position the Gua Sha with the curved edge at a 15 to 30-degree angle, with light pressure. You should be able to glide the stone across the skin without rigid interrupted movements. Do not move the stone back and forth, only upward and outward.
Step 5. Start at the chest
Always begin at the mid-line of the chest or, if preferred, at the base of the neck. Glide the tool from the mid-line of the chest with light to medium pressure towards the armpit keeping the movements consistent. This will drain lymph nodes and knead out the tight fascia. Work from the bottom of the chest upward in sets of three before starting the other side.
Step 6. Or start at the neck
Starting above the clavicle bone, hold the skin taut in the opposite direction of the Gua Sha movement. Be sure to change the position where the curved end is closest to the skin. Glide the stone upward to the tip of the jawline.
Step 7. Move within the contours of your face
I start with one side of my face then move to the other. You want to have consistent movements and the same number of passes to each area. From the mid-line at the chin, move the Gua Sha outward towards the jaw joint. Remember to hold the skin taut in the opposite direction of the strokes and do at least three passes.
Next, start at the corner of the mouth, moving laterally towards the ears. Move the tool in sweeping motions from the groove nose, but under the cheekbone always towards the side of the face.
There are a couple ways to approach the under-eye area. Some use the v-hold, placing light pressure on the cheekbone, lightly pulling downward. Others like to place a delicate hold at the temples, pulling the skin upward and taut. With this method, you will glide the Gua Sha in the same direction as you pull.
Use the smaller, curved end of the Gua Sha, starting at the inner corners of the eye, use one sweeping movement towards the outer corner. Lastly, for the forehead, you want to start at the midline moving outward towards the side of face ending at the temple. Repeat three times.
The whole process takes about five minutes on each side of the face. You can also take more time or repeat passes to focus on areas of concern. For an added bonus, you can use the tool behind the neck along the midline going from the nape to the hairline.
Have any questions about Gua Sha? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.