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Gua Sha is a healing technique that has been around for centuries. But, only recently has it become a raving trend in the beauty world. As it turns out, it not only helps with relieving pain and tension, but also benefits the skin in many ways – fewer wrinkles, clear complexion, and an overall youthful and sculpted appearance.
As you might have already noticed on TikTok and YouTube, many celebrities and influencers use a weirdly shaped tool as a part of their skincare routine. Yes, that's Gua Sha. And, if you're impatient to jump on that bandwagon too, you're at the right place!
In this article, you'll have a chance to find out more about this ancient healing technique, its benefits for the skin, and how to use the tool at home.
Gua Sha for Face: How It Works?
Gua Sha, pronounced gwa-shah, is a traditional Chinese healing technique. It involves using a smooth-edged tool for stroking and pressing the skin to relieve tension and pain. This type of massage induces small red dots (mild bruising) under the skin, which indicate increased blood circulation and energy flow in the body that decreases inflammation processes.
In fact, Gua in Chinese means to press, scrape, or stroke, while Sha refers to redness caused by skin scraping. According to ancient Chinese practitioners, this redness, in the form of small red dot clusters, encourages the skin to regenerate and heal itself.
Although you can do this type of massage on different body parts, Gua Sha face massage has recently become a hit. However, Gua Sha for face is much gentler, leaving no bruises or rash-like marks on the skin. Nevertheless, it's just as effective as it increases blood circulation and stimulates lymphatic flow. And just like face yoga, it can give you that natural facelift effect.
Gua Sha Benefits for Skin
According to research, Gua Sha massage increases local microcirculation to a treated skin area, supporting the transport of vitamins and nutrients to the skin cells. This, in turn, leads to the faster regeneration of the cells and an improved overall appearance and tone of the skin.
After regular use of Gua Sha, you can expect the following benefits:
#1: Sculpted Face: Thanks to the deep Gua Sha lymphatic drainage and muscle massage, the face muscles become stronger and more toned, leading to a more lifted appearance with defined cheekbones and jawline;
#2: Reduced Puffiness and Dark Circles: Since Gua Sha increases lymphatic function and microcirculation, it reduces the build-up of fluids, the main culprit for fatigue, puffiness, and swollen skin. With regular massage, your skin will tighten and look less fatigued;
#3: Less Acne and Acne Scars: Unless you have pustules and broken skin, you can use Gua Sha on acne-prone skin. By improving circulation and removing congestion, Gua Sha will allow fresh blood and nutrients to reach the skin surface more easily, stimulating cell renewal. As a result, your acne and flare-ups will be decreased. Furthermore, the size and visibility of your acne scars will be reduced;
#4: Softened Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Deep muscle massage tightens sagging skin and improves its elasticity. Additionally, Gua Sha tools allow serums and nourishing creams to penetrate more deeply into the skin. All of this results in fewer fine lines and softened facial wrinkles;
#5: Glowing and Clear Complexion: Gua Sha facial massage stimulates lymphatic drainage and blood flow to the skin, accelerating the transport of lymphatic fluids and getting rid of toxins. As a result, the complexion is clearer and healthier.
How to Use a Gua Sha Tool
Gua Sha tools come in a variety of shapes and materials – each of these having distinct benefits and uses. The most common materials used for Gua Sha tools are semiprecious stones or crystals, such as rose quartz, jade, black obsidian, and amethyst.
According to ancient cultures, like ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and India, these crystals have unique spiritual meaning and healing powers. The ancients would often make amulets out of these stones to ensure the health and well-being of the person wearing them. And so, besides being breathtakingly stunning, these gems are associated with an array of hidden properties:
- Rose Quartz: The gentle and soft pink shade of rose quartz is associated with love and passion. It's believed it has powers to eliminate toxins and get rid of negativity;
- Jade: With its calming green shade, jade can bring peace and harmony. It's considered to be a powerful stone with the ability to soothe the mind and remedy all the imbalances;
- Black Obsidian: Combining the elements of fire, earth, water, and wind, black obsidian is believed to be able to clear negative energy, as well as repair and strengthen the body;
- Amethyst: As a natural sedative, amethyst relieves stress and fears. Some believe it can also improve the immune system and rejuvenate the skin.
What Type of Gua Sha Tool to Choose?
Besides choosing the material that best suits your mood, picking the right shape of your Gua Sha tool plays an essential role in reaching your skin goals. And so, we have:
This type of tool has three small arches on one side, resembling a bird's wing. Its curves are meant for massaging the lymphatic system and promoting drainage. Therefore, pick this one to reduce puffiness. It's also suitable for massaging along your brows, forehead, and down your neck.
When flipped on its side, this one loosely resembles a dolphin leaping through the air, hence the name. The dolphin Gua Sha tool type is the most popular and widely used due to its versatility. It's also slightly bigger than the others and easy to grip. Therefore, the dolphin shape, also called concave, could be ideal for your jawline, neck, and shoulders.
Also called a double-curved massager, this Gua Sha tool resembles the letter S. Usually, it comes in a medium-size, suitable for both body and face massage. Its ergonomic design allows you to hold one end firmly while applying pressure with the other end. It's perfect for massaging and stimulating blood circulation around your cheeks and cheekbones as well as under the eyes.
Unlike other Gua Sha tools, the square tool has more linear edges, and two very prominent notches on the side, creating a narrow gap between them. For this reason, this tool is sometimes referred to as cleft. Due to its distinctly shaped notches and small size, the square Gua Sha tool is optimized for different face areas, including the brow bone, jawline, forehead, and under-eyes.
Teeth Edge Tool
Much like the previous type, the teeth edge tool has a linear square shape with two notches on its shorter side and teeth-like curves along its longer edge. This one is best for the forehead and temples, stimulating blood flow and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
This lovely-looking tool resembling a heart is usually smaller in size and perfect for Gua Sha facials. The heart-shaped curve perfectly hugs the contours of the face, while the pointy end serves as a grip. The heart-shaped tool is excellent for lifting and sculpting cheekbones, tightening the jawline, and stimulating brow and forehead muscles.
How to Use Gua Sha?
Before you get started, you should thoroughly cleanse your face and neck and apply a massaging face oil of your choice. This will allow your Gua Sha tool to glide smoothly across your face without pulling and tugging. To make it even more slippery, you can spritz your massager with some rose water or thermal water.
Also, throughout the massage, apply only light to medium pressure. It would be best if you repeated each movement at least five times on both sides of your face.
Wrinkles on the neck are among the first signs of aging. Still, most of the time, many of us forget about the extra care of this body part. So, let's start our Gua Sha massage with the neck.
Massaging the neck will take a bit more time, as it needs to be sectioned into six parts: the back, the two sides, and the front left, right, and center.
Step #1: Start from the back by using the notched edge of your Gua Sha tool. Apply mild pressure to the backside of your neck where it meets the back. Then, slowly scrape the tool upward along your spine until you meet the bone in your hairline.
Step #2: Next, move onto the sides of your neck. Use a flat edge of your Gua Sha tool, start from your shoulder, and move upward until you meet the bone. Repeat the same on the other side.
Step #3: Now it's time to do the front of your neck. Place your left hand under your left collarbone and move your Gua Sha tool with the other hand. Again, use the flat side of the tool, and scrape slowly from the collarbone up to your jawline. Then, repeat the process on the right side of your neck.
Step #4: The final part of your neck massage is the front center of your neck. Place one hand between your collarbones on your sternum. Use the notched side of your Gua Sha tool, and move it slowly from the sternum up, until you meet your chin. Here, it's essential to apply the lightest pressure possible.
Jaw and Chin
Place your index and middle finger on your chin and hold firmly for support. Use the notched side of your tool so that the notches hug your jaw. Then, slowly massage, starting from your chin upward. Follow the angle of your jaw all the way to your ear. Repeat the same on the other side of your face.
Start by placing your middle finger next to your nose and press for support. Then, use the flat side of your tool, start from your nose, and move upward following your cheekbone. Once your tool meets the area between your ear and the temple, wiggle it a bit to get an extra massage. Then, repeat the same on the other cheek.
For this area, it's essential to be extremely gentle and apply the slightest pressure possible because the skin here is the most delicate. First, place your ring finger under the inner corner of your eye, and press lightly to give some resistance. Then, place your tool flat against your skin and drag it slowly and gently from your finger outward and across your temple. Once you reach your hairline, give the tool a little wiggle and massage your skin and muscles underneath. Repeat the same on the other side.
Over time, the skin that carries your eyebrows relaxes, leading to hooded eyelids and an overall tired and sad look. You can remedy this with a Gua Sha brow massage.
Place your ring finger and middle finger between your brows to hold your skin in place. Use the notched edge of your massager and place the notches so that they hug your brow bone. Scrape the massager along the bone from the inner corner, where your fingers are, to the outer corner toward your temple. Once your reach the outer corner of your brow, make a slight upward angle with your tool and go all the way up to your hairline. Repeat the same on the other brow.
Section your forehead into three vertical parts and massage each separately – the two sections above the eyebrows and the middle.
Step #1: Start with one of the eyebrows sections. Place your three middle fingers on your eyeball and apply feather pressure. Use the flat side of your Gua Sha tool and drag it from your fingers, across the brow bone and forehead upward until you reach your hairline. Repeat the same on the other side.
Step #2: Now it's time to do the middle part of your forehead. Place your ring and middle finger between your brows and hold your skin down gently. Use the shorter flat side of your tool, place it almost flat against the skin, and with light pressure, move it from your fingers across your forehead until your hairline.
You can do Gua Sha for fuller and plumper lips and fewer smile and smoker's lines.
Step #1: Place your middle finger close to the one corner of your lips and press to hold your skin firmly into place. Then use the smaller flat side of your tool and drag it from your finger toward the opposite corner of your lips. Do the upper lip first, then the lower lip. Then repeat the same in reverse, from the opposite corner of your lips. Remember always to drag your tool away from your fingers and apply medium to light pressure.
Step #2: Next, do the full lip massage. The process is similar to the previous step, only this time, you'll do the full lip sliding with your mouth closed. Again, place your finger close to the corner of your lips and press. Use a wider flat edge of your tool, and always slide it from your finger toward to opposite corner of your mouth.
Step #3: Now it's time to massage the area between your nose and upper lip for a lip-lifting effect and smoothing the smoker's lines. First, pout your lips slightly and drag your tool from your nose toward your upper lip, using the wider flat edge of the tool. Then, wrap your upper lip around your teeth, and do the whole process in reverse, sliding your tool from your lip toward your nose.
How Often to Use Gua Sha?
You can do your Gua Sha massage every day, three times a week, or once a week. There really are no rules, and it will depend on what effects you want to achieve and how much time you have to dedicate to skin care.
If you decide to start with your Gua Sha routine, it would be best to do it either in the morning after getting up or in the evening before going to bed. Your a.m. Gua Sha routine will help kickstart your lymphatic system and blood flow, reducing puffiness. On the other hand, a p.m. massage will relax your facial muscles and prepare you for a good night's rest.
To Wrap Up
Gua Sha facial massage should be performed gently with very light pressure, so try not to be rough. Roughness in pressure and movements won't yield better results; it can only induce bruising and bursting of capillaries.
All in all, this ancient technique isn't just a current craze, but it really works. Some of the results will be visible immediately after one massage session, like lifted appearance, reduced puffiness, and chiseled cheekbones. However, to see any improvement in wrinkles or acne, you won't have that instant gratification – but be patient and persistent, and the results will happen before long.
Is using gua sha good for the face?
Massaging your face with the Gua Sha tool has many benefits for your skin because it increases blood circulation and flow to the skin and supports lymphatic drainage. As a result, the skin on your face is more nourished, refreshed, and sculpted.
Can a gua sha change your face?
Gua Sha can improve the appearance of your skin because it reduces dark circles and puffiness, softens facial lines and wrinkles, sculpts the face, and makes the complexion brighter and clear.
How often should you gua sha your face?
You can use Gua Sha on your face daily or several times a week. It would be best to do it right after getting up to decrease puffiness or before going to bed as a part of your nighttime skincare routine.
Can gua sha sculpt your face?
Using a Gua Sha tool along your jawline and cheekbones can decrease puffiness and give your face a more sculpted look. In addition, regular use of Gua Sha on your face will help break down the build-up of fluids and trigger your lymphatic system, giving you a more lifted appearance.
Can I use gua sha without oil?
It would be best to use Gua Sha with face oil. However, if you already have oily skin and can't find a face oil that suits your skin needs, you can use a face serum instead. But always make sure to apply something on your face before Gua Sha to make the tool glide easier over your skin and prevent tugging and pulling.