What is Gua Sha? Everything You Need to Know

We’re sure you’ve seen that little gemstone skincare device on everyone’s Instagram feed and at nearly every beauty store, in multiple shades, in varying stones, and shapes, but what exactly is a Gua Sha? Facial massage and the art of Gua Sha is not new - in fact, it has been around for a while - but the beauty tool has found a new life on social media thanks to YouTube and TikTok videos showing dramatic before and afters of the stone’s ability to contour and sculpt the face. But is it all just lighting and filters, or does a Gua Sha actually work? 

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of this seemingly magical stone and how you can best incorporate it into your skincare routine for major results.

History of Gua Sha

As we mentioned earlier, the practice of Gua Sha (pronounced gwa - shah) is not new by any means. In fact, the skincare benefits of Gua Sha were discovered coincidentally, and it is actually one of the oldest recorded forms of traditional Chinese medicine treatments.

According to China Culture, “gua” means “to scrape or rub'' and “sha is a ​​reddish millet-like petechiae.” Petechiae are tiny red, purple or brown spots that appear on the skin as a result of bleeding, and refers to the bruising that would often occur after a gua sha treatment. Put it together and Gua Sha means to scrape away illness, using tools like jade or ox horn to scrape and rub the skin repeatedly to activate blood circulation. It was often used to treat ailments like heat stroke, colds, viruses, and other seasonal diseases. 

So how did it come to be used for skin care purposes? Completely incidentally. According to Vogue, as healers and acupuncturists used facial pressure points to treat ailments in the body, they realized the gua sha was helping wrinkles disappear and rejuvenating the skin on the face. 

Modern gua sha treatments can be found in many beauty spas and acupuncture studios, but it can also be done at home too. Typically a facial gua sha tool is made of jade or rose quartz, but it can also be created with various materials, including stainless steel or amethyst. 

Skincare Benefits of Gua Sha

Lymphatic Drainage

By following the flow of the lymphatic system, a gua sha facial massage can help flush out the fluid build-up, draining the lymph and depuffing.

Increases Blood Flow and Circulation

The scraping motion of gua sha helps stimulate blood flow and increase circulation to the area, which contributes to the skin looking healthy and plump.

Diminishes the Appearance of Fine Lines and Wrinkles 

A gua sha massage with a hydrating oil can help plump up fine lines and temporarily diminish the appearance of new wrinkles.

Reduce Puffiness

Since a gua sha massage can help drain the lymphatic fluid in the face, it will in turn help reduce any puffiness and give your skin a more sculpted, chiseled appearance. Try keeping your gua sha in the fridge or freezer for a cooling effect.

Relieves Tension

As with any massage, gua sha can help reduce tension in muscles in the face and neck by applying pressure to any knotted areas. Remember to be gentle and not apply too much pressure to avoid causing discomfort. 

How to Gua Sha 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to gua sha, adapted from Real Simple. Be sure to check out our blog post on the benefits of facial massage, and if you’re more of a visual learner, this Gua Sha YouTube tutorial by POOSH is a great place to begin your gua sha journey.

Step One: Cleanse your face, hands, and gua sha tool with your favorite cleanser. Any toners or serums should be applied after cleansing.

Step Two: Apply a generous amount of your favorite facial oil to your face, neck and chest. Not only will it help the gua sha glide easily across your face, but it helps the experience feel more relaxing and spa-like, especially if your oil has a great scent to it! 

Step Three:  Holding the gua sha at a 30 to 45-degree angle, gently scrape the tool across your skin in an upward motion to follow the flow of the lymphatic system. 

Here are the following movements Real Simple suggests following in a Gua Sha routine. Each movement should be repeated three to five times. 

Jawline and Chin: Glide your tool upwards from the center of the chin out to the earlobe to contour the jaw.

Forehead: Start at the center of the forehead - divide your forehead into three sections and glide your tool outwards. Scrape once, then move down a bit and scrape again.

Cheek: Start at the nose and work upwards in a sweeping motion along the cheeks and cheekbones, moving outwards toward your ears. Scrape once, then move down a bit and scrape again, move down a bit more to the center of the chin and scrape again.

Under-Eye: Start in the inner corner of the eye and glide outwards to the temple.

Brows: Glide upwards along the brow bone - going from the inside out.

Lips: Glide over your lips back and forth about five times for a plumping effect.

Neck: Section your neck into four areas and scrape each section from the bottom up.

Step Four: Either wipe away excess oil or carry on with your skincare routine.

Now that you’re basically an expert in gua sha, let us know what your favorite style of facial massage is in the comments below. And be sure to check out our new white jade gua sha tool - it’s super chic and is the perfect addition to your skincare routine.

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