If you're into skincare, chances are you've also heard of gua sha, but what is it and why should you be using it?
A 700 year old practice rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, gua sha involves 'scraping' a rounded, flat tool traditionally made of green jade or feng jade, over the skin to break up tension, inflammation or stagnant 'qi', improving circulation and promoting healing. While gua sha tools can be used all over the body, they're especially beneficial for your face.
What are the benefits of gua sha?
The immediate benefits of gua sha are reduced puffiness, more sculpted cheekbones and jawline, but when used regularly (every day if you can), gua sha has been referred to as 'natural botox'.
Lymphatic drainage - helping to clear away toxins from below the skin surface, promoting blood flow and better circulation. A stagnant qi or slow lymph system can cause puffiness, fatigue and other skin issues. Gua sha is the best way to increase lymph circulation and is only possible through muscle movement or massage.
Reduce puffiness - removing toxins and other fluids from your face to reduce puffiness, leaving your skin visibly tighter and brighter.
Prevent premature aging - Gua sha opens up pathways of communication — clearing blockages, promoting fluid drainage and toxins to support the optimal flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients. Lack of flow, stagnant lymph and buildup of toxins is what leads to premature aging (fine lines, sagging skin). This tool works to relax stiff facial tissue and muscles to soften fine lines and wrinkles (even those pesky '11' lines between your eyebrows) and boosts collagen production.
Contour and sculpt - Consistent use can noticeably lift the face, creating a more sculpted and defined chin and jawline.
Reduce hyperpigmentation + dark circles - Increased blood and lymph circulation also helps lighten hyperpigmentation and lessen dark circles, giving the skin a radiant 'gua sha glow'.
Reduce acne, redness and scarring - Not only does the gua sha tool help to reduce redness and acne by moving congestion and improving circulation. It also works to bring fresh blood to the surface of the skin, which renews skin cells and reduces visibility of acne scarring.
Boosts efficiency of skincare products - Gua sha can also improve the absorption of products by pressing the oil or serums deeper into the skin, boosting their efficiency.
How do you prep your skin and use a gua sha tool?
For a step-by-step video on how to facial gua sha, watch our founder's Beginners Guide to Gua Sha video here.
Make sure to start with a clean tool so you're not spreading any bacteria from the tool to your face in between uses. Next, follow these steps to boost your complexion:
1. Prep your skin with a facial mist and facial oil. Starting with a facial mist will give your skin extra hydration and allow your oil to penetrate deeper into the skin. When choosing an oil, we recommend our Restore Facial Oil.
This oil is great for all skin types as it is ultra hydrating but won't clog pores. Rich in antioxidants, including vitamin A, C, E and F, to help fight free radicals and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Full of linoleum acid to help balance oil production. I don't recommend using a moisturizer, as it can dry faster and cause the tool to tug at your skin, which is a big no no. Using a facial oil allows the gua sha tool to glide smoothly across your skin without pulling at your skin.
2. Start at the neck and work your way upwards (up and out). This way you're creating a path for toxins and fluids to drain. If you're new to gua sha, you may notice a few extra breakouts the first couple times, as you're releasing toxins, which brings all that buildup to the surface of your skin. Repeat strokes 5-10 times for each area.
3. Hold your tool on an angle and use upward and outward strokes on the neck, jawline and chin. Start at your chin and glide up to the ear, gently wiggling the tool at the end to help release any tension and activate the lymph. Use an anchor hand to prevent from too much tugging and sweep the tool across the cheeks, all the way to your eyes.
4. Sweep gently outward under the eyes with a lighter pressure (from the inner corner of the eye and out towards the temple). Move across the eyebrows, ending with upward strokes on the forehead to the hairline.
For a more targeted video on how to de-puff and improve skin texture, watch my technique video here.
How often should you gua sha?
For best results, give yourself a gua sha facial every day. You can even gua sha in the morning for de-puffing and waking up the skin if you're looking to do this twice a day. But, we all know it can be hard to remember every day; so even two to three times a week will have wonderful benefits. If you're new to this practice, start small and work your way up to every day. Gua sha is meant to be done mindfully, so make sure to give yourself the time to slow down and fully indulge in this practice as part of your evening skincare ritual.