What if there is an easy-to-use and affordable tool that can make your skin look healthy, alive, and even years younger? You would probably be skeptical about it and besides, there are already a ton of skincare products that do just that — so what’s the catch? Actually, nothing! Meet the Gua Sha facial treatment.
These are smooth, half-moon-shaped stones that massage your face, which has been lowkey been blowing up on Instagram since 2018 as an aesthetic treatment to improve your skin and help you feel like you’re ready to face any challenge!
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha (pronounced gwah-shah), also known as “coining”, is a thousand old technique derived from traditional Chinese medicine customarily used in East Asian and Chinese medicine. Gua Sha translated is “scraping the pain away” coming from ‘Gua’ which means scrape and ‘Sha’ meaning sand.
According to Dr. Sheel Desai Solomon, a board-certified Raleigh-Durham North Carolina dermatologist, the process involves scraping a flat jade or rose quartz stone over the skin in upward strokes. This is mainly to relax stiff muscles and promote tissue drainage.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed by many to help balance an individual’s energy flow, more commonly called as qi or ch’i, by letting it flow freely through the body and ensuring a person’s good health and wellbeing.
Practitioners believe that qi can be blocked which induces inflammation. Inflammation is commonly associated as a cause of several conditions which exhibit chronic pain as a symptom. By rubbing the skin’s surface, this energy is thought to break up the blocked qi (or at the very least, help the process), reduce inflammation and promote healing.
This natural alternative therapy is generally performed on a person’s back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs. The results are not as pretty as one would expect as it, as the skin can end up with mild redness and bruising as you heal. Nevertheless, many who have tried it have noted its dramatic results and some have even gone as far to call it the best massage of their life!
How does Gua Sha Facial Treatment work?
Just last year, a gentler version of the technique adapted from the full body detoxifying treatment trended over Instagram as the new “it” facial technique. This beautifying and relaxing ritual for the face which can also extend to the neck and decolletage uses gentle short or long strokes to stimulate microcirculation of the soft tissue which helps increase blood flow.
First, the technician applies massage oil to the skin and then uses a smooth-edged instrument made from healing crystal stones like flat jade or rose quartz, often shaped as half-moons, to repeatedly scrape and stroke the skin. Mild pressure is initially applied and may gradually increase intensity depending upon how much force you can handle.
There are also many DIY tutorials that take you to a step-by-step process on how to do Gua Sha at the comfort of your own home.
For context, Gua Sha predates acupuncture. According to Chinese medicine expert and founder of Hayo’u Method, Katie Brindle, “Using a gua sha tool allows you to work deeper into the muscles and fascia than by using fingers alone, so you can consciously release where you are tight. Facial gua sha activates acupressure points along the 12 major meridian lines in your face.”
You can learn the whole Gua Sha facial treatment from a Chinese skincare professional here.
What are the benefits of Gua Sha Facial Treatment?
Gua Sha benefits have not yet been clinically studied but here are some of the benefits that people experienced from using the Gua Sha facial treatment.
First on the list is tension relief. After a long day at work (especially sitting on a chair in front of a computer), many experience tension along the neck and also in the face. Using deep pressure with a Gua Sha, you can gently stroke these areas relieving them of muscular tension. Aside from that, it can also help relieve migraines and TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder which causes pain in jaw point and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Also, relaxing the facial muscles regularly can also prevent and fade light expression lines.
Second is detoxification. As mentioned earlier, gua sha activates acupressure points which help clear any blockage in meridian channels which connects organs together and also transport both blood and chi. The stroking patterns help stimulate the lymphatic system which breaks up stagnation, flowing debris, and toxins within the body helping organs to function optimally.
Third is the natural facelift. This is the most common and also the most advertised benefit of Gua Sha. Using the unique edges of the stone and the upward stroke motion, it can work to perfectly lift, sculpt, and also tighten skin preventing signs of aging (i.e. wrinkles, dark circles, deep lines). And since Gua Sha also helps stimulate circulation, it helps oxygenate and carry nutrients to skin cells and this increased healthy blood flow contributes to a healthy and youthful appearance of the skin.
Last but definitely not the least is glowing skin. The natural dewy and glowing complexion is attained by gently scraping the Gua Sha across the skin aiding in moisturizer penetration into the layers of the skin providing more hydration. It can also be used to prevent and clear acne buildup by decongesting the skin and reducing inflammation.
But of course, these results can not be easily attained by using the technique once or twice. You have to adhere to a regular schedule which can be every day (if you can consistently do it) or at least two to three times per week. The time of the day at which you do it also matters according to Katie Brindle. “In the morning, it’s about treating puffiness and energizing the skin, while at night you work more on relaxing the muscles and releasing tight connective tissue,” Brindle said.
Although there are still no conclusive studies that prove the effectiveness of Gua Sha, there are undeniable and tangible benefits that one can experience and see while using this facial technique. Besides, putting it into your daily routine will provide a very calming and grounding experience which can help you get into your best mood everyday…so why not try it, right?