Many skincare therapies take time, diligence, and patience to yield significant results, which is why the practice of facial Gua Sha can seem downright magical - one under 5 minute home session can lift and tighten skin, and banish puffiness. Over time, Gua Sha can even help combat acne, dryness, wrinkles, and other signs of aging such as sagging facial muscles. Headache and neck pain relief round out the list of the incredible benefits of facial Gua Sha.
Let’s learn more about this powerful therapy.
Origin and benefits: Gua Sha (刮痧) - translated roughly, means “to scrape wind”. The first records of this practice appear in Chinese Medical texts circa 200 CE. The treatment involves strategically stroking the skin using a flat stone to move lymphatic fluid and stimulate blood flow. The body version of this treatment, often produces startling red stripes/bruise marks where a massage tool has been pulled along skin. These red marks are the result of “Sha” or stagnation/toxins being released. Body Gua Sha is used to address many maladies such as muscle pain, sprains, and asthma. The facial version of Gua Sha is performed with much lighter strokes, and will not leave marks on the skin.
Facial Gua Sha effectively moves lymphatic fluids, and breaks down adhesions in facial muscles, leading to a significant boost of blood and circulation to the skin. The improved flow helps to boost natural moisture levels, while helping the skin to repair and purge itself of acne-causing debris. The increased blood flow also helps to tone and lift facial muscles that have begun to sag over time. Additionally, the drainage of lymphatic fluids means reduced puffiness and instant sharpening of cheekbones and jawlines. The benefits of Gua Sha may seem too good to be true, but numerous studies have supported the benefits of Gua Sha, such as this Harvard University study.
Gua Sha is performed with a scraping tool which comes in many different shapes and materials. I prefer a rounded tool with grooves specially designed to work around eye sockets and the nose area. Pictured below are a few of the recommended shapes for massaging the face. Although bone or shell scrapers are common, I prefer to use tools made from either Jade or Rose Quartz. Both stones feel cool and lovely on the skin and are said to . Rose Quartz tools are popular and widely available, and make a beautiful addition to your Gua Sha kit.
In addition to a scraper, a facial oil is needed to help the stone glide across skin rather than tugging on it. I use Moondrop beauty oil when treating my face- it is formulated with oils that do not clog pores, and is made only with nourishing, plant-based ingredients.
- Wash your face and remove any makeup.
- Using light pressure, sweep the tool at about a 15-degree angle to the skin. This will ensure greater surface coverage and a gentler pull on the skin
- Remember to use gentle pressure- if skin becomes pink or red, the pressure is too firm. Lymph is best moved with light pressure as it lies close to the skin’s surface.
- Use the facial diagram below for the massage motions
- The goal is to physically move lymph fluid from the face down to the lymph nodes located above the middle of our collarbones. Be sure to sweep towards this point constantly during the massage.
- Drink a small glass of warm water after performing Gua Sha. This will help your body detox and flush lymph fluids towards your lymph nodes.
- Gua Sha can be performed 2-3 times a week or daily for best results.
Facial Gua Sha Technique
Start from the right side of the face (follow the illustration above):
- Along the neck - start near your earlobe, at the outer corner or your jaw. Sweep the Gua Sha tool down the neck to the groove right above the middle of your collarbone. Repeat 5x
- Under the chin - glide tool from under the chin (double chin area) to behind the bottom of your ear. Repeat 5x
- Chin - Sweep from the middle of the chin out to behind the bottom of your ear. Repeat 5x
- Cheek - Glide the tool from the corner of your nose behind the bottom of your ear. Repeat 5x
- Under eye - Sweep gently from the under eye area out to the temple/hairline. Repeat 5x
- Under brow - Sweep from under the brow to the temple/hairline. Repeat 5x
- Between brows - Glide from between the eyebrows up to the hairline, where a widow’s peak would be. Repeat 5x.
- Above brows - Stroke along the top of your brow out to the temple/hairline. Repeat 5x.
- The drain - In this step, we will sweep all of the lymph fluid pushed to the side of your face downwards towards the lymph nodes for drainage. Starting at the top center of your forehead, sweep down along the hairline, behind the
Repeat the above steps on the left side of your face