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What is a Gua Sha Facial and How to Try it at Home
So you’ve heard of microneedling and jade facial rollers, but have you heard about Gua Sha? It’s been having a trending moment on social media and can be found in the bathrooms of many celebrity stars, but what are these pretty pink and green pebble-like tools that people are swearing by? Keep on reading as we break down exactly what the Gua Sha facial and tool is, why it’s the secret to calm, refreshed and healthy skin and how you can try it at home.
What is Gua Sha?
Gua sha, pronounced “gwa shah”, is a healing and massage technique that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since as far back as 220 CE. Translated, gua means to press or scrape and sha refers to the redness of the skin as it is encouraged to heal itself.
Originally, stone items were selected and used to massage parts of the body to alleviate symptoms of pain. The science behind this primitive process might not be fully clear, but Gua Sha has since evolved into a staple technique followed religiously in many beauty regimes across China. In more recent times, interest in Gua Sha has spread all across the Western world, with the Gua Sha facial technique becoming an essential step in skincare routines. The method is simple - beautiful jade and rose quartz Gua Sha tools are used in sweeping, upward motions to promote a clear and rejuvenated complexion.
Traditionally, Gua Sha massages were performed by medical practitioners on any part of the body that needed treating. They worked with a firm hand on the skin, seeking to obtain ‘sha’ - redness and even bruising. It was believed that this redness encouraged the skin to heal itself and could treat those suffering from chronic pain. Gua Sha was thought to be able to scrape the illness away, reduce inflammation and therefore pain. Gua Sha facials require a much gentler force, especially if you’re giving yourself the treatment. You want to cause minimal redness as possible to avoid causing long-term damage.
The reasoning behind it lies in the spiritual energy of chi. Chi or qi is believed to be the life force that runs through each individual. In traditional Chinese culture, chi is an energy current that flows through our body to support our health and vitality. Read more about chi here. However, it’s possible that chi can get blocked and become stagnant. Medical practitioners held the belief that this build up of chi was a possible cause of inflammation. The rubbing or scraping motion of Gua Sha was thought to help break up the chi and encourage it to circulate, and by doing so, reduce pain and promote healing.
What are the benefits of Gua Sha?
The most immediate results of a Gua Sha facial is a sense of cooling from the Gua Sha tool’s natural mineral composition. Pure jade and rose quartz are valued for their healing properties, but whether you believe in their abilities or not, they are undoubtedly refreshing on the skin. The cooling sensation of a Gua Sha tool helps to de-puff and reduce inflammation. The result? Supple, glowing and healthy-looking skin.
With prolonged and consistent use, Gua Sha can help to relieve everyday tension from the face. We experience neck pain, migraines and headaches and even furrowed brows and clenched jaws as symptoms of stress. The gentle pressure and rhythmic strokes of Gua Sha can help to relieve this build up of stress and eradicate its symptoms by relaxing the muscles in the face.
And as well as this, it can also boost blood and oxygen circulation by up to 400%. This increased circulation also supports the flow of lymph fluid. Lymph fluid plays a key role in our bodies’ immune system. It helps to fight infection and by encouraging lymphatic drainage, it reduces the amount of toxins in your body. This process of detoxifying the skin could alleviate breakouts and congestion.
Lastly, Gua Sha encourages repeated upwards and outwards motions, which have been known to create a lifting and firming effect.
What tools do you use for Gua Sha?
In the past, traditional medical practitioners would use smooth stones, coins, spoons or even tin lids to scrape the skin. Anything with a sharp edge. Thankfully, Gua Sha tools have developed from then and we now have a wide range of dedicated tools to choose from. Gua Sha facial tools of today are often crafted from 100% natural jade or rose quartz. These luxe tools are pebble sized to fit naturally in your hand. They feature a curved edge to hug the contours of the face as well as a straighter edge to scrape the skin.
While the Gua Sha tool is a pivotal part in the Gua Sha facial, it’s also important to note that you should never use the tool on bare skin. Always use the tool on wet skin, whether that be with water or a facial oil. These cause the tool to glide gently over the skin, keeping skin and capillary damage to a minimum.
One of our favourite oils to use for a Gua Sha facial is our Organic Rosehip Seed Oil. Packed with vitamins A, E and essential fatty acids, it softens and deeply hydrates the skin without leaving a greasy feel. We also love to use Organic Jojoba or Argan Oil for their anti-aging and scar healing properties. Browse our full range of organic, fresh-pressed oils here, or use our handy oil chart to find out which one is right for your skin.
How to give yourself a Gua Sha facial at home
Due to the nature of Gua Sha, it can be easy to accidentally use too heavy a hand and cause damage to your skin. Many people opt to have a professional Gua Sha facial treatment to ensure they get the full effects of it. However, once you get the hang of the tool and become accustomed to how much pressure to use for your skin, you’ll become much more comfortable giving yourself a Gua Sha facial.
- Firstly, apply a liberal amount of oil to your palm and warm it up between your hands before smoothing it over your face.
- Take your clean Gua Sha tool and start with the curved side. In long, steady movements, gently massage the top of your neck up to your jaw. Repeat the strokes three to five times over. Always move in one direction when doing Gua Sha, never go back and forth over the skin.
- Then move to your chin and work outwards along your jawline towards your ear.
- Work over your cheekbones from nose to ear, remembering to stroke in the same direction on each side of your face.
- Traveling up, use small horizontal strokes over the brow and temple area to relieve tension.
- Sweep upwards from the forehead to the hairline. This is even said to aid hair growth and promote a good night’s sleep!
- When treating your under-eye area, tread extra gently to ensure you don’t tug at the delicate skin there. Swap the curved side of the tool for the flatter edge and simply hold the cool tool under your eyes to soothe and de-puff.
Once you’ve finished, your skin might look a little flushed, like you’ve just finished a physical workout. This is a sign of boosted blood circulation and is the redness that promotes skin rejuvenation.
Since you control the force of the strokes you use, Gua Sha is suitable for most people. Anyone prone to broken capillaries, broken skin or acne breakouts should avoid Gua Sha,however, as it can further aggravate the skin.
How often should you Gua Sha?
As with any other skincare products, practicing Gua Sha regularly will give you the best results. But regularly can mean something different to everyone. If you use a light touch, doing Gua Sha daily can be extremely effective. Practice in the morning to refresh and energise the skin, or make it your last step before bed to relax your facial muscles and relieve the stress of the day.
For those who prefer to use a bit more pressure to firm and contour the skin, or those who have sensitive skin more prone to bruising, you may want to give your skin a few days between treatments to heal.
If you’re new to Gua Sha, start by doing it once a week. Build up to twice or three times a week and see how your skin responds. If you feel like that’s enough, stick to that schedule. Or if you enjoy the feeling, try practicing it every day.
There’s no set limit to how often you should Gua Sha, it’s just however comfortable your skin feels and how often you need to do it for it to be effective. And, realistically, when you can fit it into your schedule.
Interested in trying Gua Sha? Don’t forget to pick up the right facial oil to accompany your treatment. Browse our range of organic, fresh-pressed facial oils here and find the perfect one to suit your skin type and condition.