Gua Sha has recently become a cult beauty trend. Model Kendall Jenner and actresses Emilia Clarke and Gwyneth Paltrow have incorporated Gua Sha as part of their skincare regime. We’ve also seen seen a plethora of YouTubers and Instagrammers championing the Gua Sha revolution.
But Gua Sha has in fact existed as an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice for many thousands of years. It dates back to the Warring States dynasty period (475-221 BCE). In the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644, the procedure was scientifically computed into major medical records.
Gua Sha can be used for both face and body (latter has been around longer). The facial version was first mentioned in the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE) and popularised by 1990s practitioners Zhang Ziuqin in China and Shimada Sumiko in Japan. Facial Gua Sha is a much softer, gentler technique. The body version on the other hand can be more vigorous and leave bruises, similar to cupping – check out an earlier article on facial cupping.
Pronounced Gwa Sha, Gua stands for “scrape” and “Sha” translates as redness of the skin. It’s all about rubbing tools in a particular way over the skin to introduce friction and create beneficial results.
The Benefits of Gua Sha
Gua Sha provides a host of benefits, not least of which the following:
- Breaks up energy stagnation in the sub-dermal fascia and promotes healing.
- Releases tension and tightness in the facial muscles and improves muscle recovery.
- Improves skin elasticity and promotes collagen production.
- Enhances skin radiance through stimulating blood flow to the epidermis.
- Reduces puffiness, inflammation and toxins in the skin by dispelling excess lymph fluid and aiding lymphatic flow.
- Can ease out wrinkles.
- Creates more sculpted features.
- Relieves sinus pressure.
- Helps with bruxism (teeth grinding).
- Can relieve headaches, migraines and neck pain.
- Balances the yin and yang energy in the face (those with too much heat/redness in the face have too much yang energy and those with too much yin have a pale or dull skin).
- Sweeps away negative energy.
- Releases pent-up emotions held in the facial tissues.
- Can be very soothing and therapeutic and put you in a meditative state of relaxation. Why not keep a Gua Sha tool near you whilst working at the computer and use this as an excuse to take a breather and relax your face and body? (Remember to apply a massage medium first though – see below).
- As part of an holistic facial treatment it can reduce anxiety, fatigue, stress and insomnia. That’s why the Zone Face Lift treatment I offer my clients (which includes Gua Sha therapy) is very uplifting, not just for the face and body, but for the mind and spirit too.
Gua Sha is not recommended for those suffering from severe acne or rosacea. It’s also contraindicated for sunburn, open wounds on the face, and extremely sensitive skin or areas where there are broken capillaries.
Which Gua Sha Tool to Use?
Traditionally Gua Sha was done with ceramic spoons and blunt coins. Today, Gua Sha tools are flat-shaped stones with a variety of contours or edges, sizes and materials.
The most popular and most widely sold materials are jade green or rose quartz. Although you can use others, such as white jade, green aventurine, amethyst, blue sodalite, bian (obsidian) stone and even stainless steel. Pretty much all have anti-inflammatory properties.
Green or feng jade is noted for its Qi / energy balancing properties, aiding the clearance of negative energy and reducing inflammation. So this stone is good for calming and soothing you.
Rose quartz on the other hand helps to dispel stagnation and awaken the skin. It’s deemed effective for spiritual healing and acne-prone skin.
Here’s a brief note for the other types of stones:
- White jade or Nephrite jade – reduces and prevents fluid retention and puffiness.
- Amethyst – loosens tense muscles, prevents wrinkles, and is anti-inflammatory.
- Green aventurine – eliminates wrinkles, especially frown lines, increases skin turnover.
- Blue sodalite – promotes grounding (elecrically reconnecting to earth) and is harmonising and soothing on an overactive nervous system.
- Bian stone – helps stress management and tension relief. It’s a heavier stone suited for deeper tissue work. Apparently this was the original Gua Sha stone.
- Medical grade stainless steel – prevents bacteria build-up as it’s non-porous, suited as a more eco-friendly, durable option.
However, in my opinion, the type of stone itself is less important than the technique and how often you use the stone.
How to Use the Gua Sha Tool
A Gua Sha tool has both convex and concave edges as well as a V-contour.
I use the convex side to scoop and sweep the contours and muscles in the face. Any scooping or sweeping techniques should always end up on the outside of the face, not moving inwards to the nose or centre of chin or forehead area.
Ziggie Bergman has taught me that you can do a zigzag technique: to go out from the centre-line of the chin or jowl, back in towards the mouth and nose area and then back out towards the temple, scooping up and underneath the zygomatic or cheek bone. With this technique you have to swivel the edge of the tool to maintain the correct angle (see below).
I use the concave side in 2 ways.
One for short, brushing backwards and forwards strokes across narrow areas, such as in the crow’s feet area of the eye and across the frown line (between the inner portions of the eyebrows).
The other as a lymph drainage technique, to stroke down the side of the face from both in front and behind the ear down to the collar bone (but never upwards, only downwards and slightly outwards).
The V-section of the tool is sometimes used to pull from beneath the chin up and along the jawline as well as scooping up under the cheek bone. However, this can cause a little too much friction on the skin and bone, making it uncomfortable. So do this with some caution, if at all.
It’s recommended to repeat the strokes multiple times for each area, either in succession, or perform a sequential routine across multiple areas and repeat the routine several times. The number of times will vary with each individual and their level of sensitivity to friction in the epidermis layer.
The angle at which you hold the edge of the tool to your face should be about 30 to 45 degrees. The pressure should be relatively firm on the fleshy or muscle areas, but lighter across bone areas. Always avoid excess pressure to avoid bruising or breaking capillaries.
It’s always good to put the Gua Sha in a cool place before using (even in a fridge) as this is very soothing on the face, cools down any overheating and reduces redness, puffiness and toxins. It will also help ease any tension headaches and migraines, especially by placing the stone flat onto the forehead
Always apply beforehand a cleanser, moisturiser or facial oil – anything that provides a bit of “slip”, thus preventing excess resistance and friction on the face. I use Ziggie Bergman’s facial reflexology oil or the Zone Face Lift Elixir for my clients. You can purchase these from me as a distributor for her beautiful products.
How often should you practise Gua Sha?
Like any skincare regime, consistency and regularity are key. It’s great to do this daily, am and pm, as you get up and before you go to bed. But if you can’t be that regular, incorporate it into your work breaks or as a wind-down to your working day whenever you feel inclined. Regular Gua Sha can make a significant difference to your complexion, your facial structure and your health, especially if practised daily over a 2-week period. Enjoy!
But best of all is a treatment done by an accomplished facialist, specialised in holistic facials, such as Zone Face Lift. Book your next/first session now to experience the delights of ZFL and Gua Sha.
Find out what our clients are saying about our Facials and Zone Face Lift...
I recently had a zone facial with Esther which included the new ‘cupping’ technique. First of all the facial itself is so calming, I felt like I went on a lovely journey where I was able to leave all my daily worries for a while.
Then the cupping was like cushioned kisses kind of dragging across your face. I’m probably not describing it very well but it’s much better than how I’m making it sound! It’s definitely worth a try.
Overall the treatment is worth it as I felt lovely and relaxed when I left and my skin felt smooth and appeared more radiant somehow.
I’ll be back for more!
Recently had a zone lift facial with Esther.....highly recommend treatment to lift skin and to combat ageing, it was also super relaxing. I found it so much more effective after 1 treatment than a course of CACI! 🙂
Had a wonderful experience with Mind Body Oasis. It turned out to be just what I needed after a stressful couple of months.
Firstly, both and Angela and Esther are absolutely lovely ladies who make you feel very at ease.
Secondly, I loved the treatments I had. I had the Swedish full body massage and a couple of weeks later, I had the age loc mud facial (both with Esther). The massage was fantastic. It was very relaxing and helped to relieve tension I had in my body, especially in my shoulders and in my calves.
The facial was also great and helped to deeply cleanse my problematic skin. Both treatments were great for resetting my mind and preparing me for the next working day.
I can't wait to come back and try more treatments! Thank you, ladies xx
Esther is a talented and knowledgeable therapist, who takes the time to explain your treatment and makes sure you're comfortable throughout. I can particularly recommend the hot stones massage, and face and foot reflexology.
I’ve just had 3 great facial reflexology treatments and found them brilliant. They helped me relax, as well as relieve some sinus pressure I have been suffering with. Highly recommend booking a course of treatments with Esther!
I loved the facial reflexology – it improved my general wellbeing, reduced the frequency of severe migraine and my skin glowed….Ooh and I actually fell asleep during treatment which is unheard of 😊 I need to book my next one for after pay day! 😊 x
Such a talented therapist Esther is among the best. I’ve enjoyed her massage skills and her reflexology treatments are excellent.
I’m pleased to be experiencing the recently introduced Zone Facelift and after just one treatment I can see the difference. Looking forward to completing my package and seeing the results. I can highly recommend Mindbody Oasis.
I had an amazing facial with Esther. Esther used the Galvanic and ageLOC treatment I could see the difference in my skin immediately. She put me at ease and explained everything clearly. My skin still feels great.