How to Use a Gua Sha Like a Pro
To all my fellow skin-thusiasts out there who are fans of keeping up with the latest and greatest skincare products, you might’ve seen a ton of people talking about gua sha tools recently. Y’know – they’re those smooth-edged, curvy-shaped, handheld tools that are usually made out of jade, stainless steel, or rose quartz. You may have thought you can only use them for facial massages or a natural facelift – but it turns out there are a lot more to these ancient tools. (Did you know they can depuff and brighten at the same time?!) If you’re wondering how to use a gua sha and what amazing benefits it can bring you – we’ll cover all the facts you need to know.
What is a Gua Sha Tool?
Gua sha is a natural, alternative therapy that involves gently scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. It’s an ancient Chinese healing technique that’s been around for centuries and can offer a non-pharmaceutical approach to improving your health. Not only has it been used to treat chronic pain, but it can also have amazing effects on your skin. Now that you know how great gua sha is, I bet you’re wondering how to use a gua sha like a pro. Don’t worry – we’ll get to that.
Where to Gua Sha
With a gua sha (you can either use one yourself or have a technician use one on your skin for you), the skin is scraped with short and long strokes to stimulate the circulation of the soft tissue (1). As a result, this increases blood flow. Often, to make the gua sha easier to use on the skin, massage oil or a great non-comedogenic oil can be used on the skin as you scrape in a downward motion. Most commonly, people use gua sha on the face and neck, but you can also use it on the back, arms, and legs.
Benefits on the Body
As told in Chinese tradition, gua sha is meant to address stagnant energy in the body which many practitioners believe to be responsible for inflammation. Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, can be painful and actually be the underlying cause of several conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. Also, it can be helpful for those who experience muscle and joint pain. To treat this inflammation, scraping the skin’s surface will help break up the energy and promote healing.
According to Cecily Braden, a holistic esthetician and spa educator who specializes in traditional Eastern beauty and wellness treatments, the facial benefits of using gua shas were discovered by mistake (2). As acupuncturists used facial pressure points to treat ailments in other parts of the body, they noticed that wrinkles and signs of aging were going away as well. When it comes to how to use a gua sha, Braden advises using outward, upward strokes of a flat S-shaped jade stone to help manually drain sluggish lymph-stagnant fluid that can cause inflammation or skin to look puffy.
Therefore, as Braden puts it, a gua sha can kick our body’s natural cleansing system into gear.
Since the lymph nodes carry all of our toxic waste, using a gua sha is one of the best ways to remove excess toxins from the body. It can help stimulate collagen formulation, decongest the skin, and help get rid of acne (3). Plus, it can tone the muscle in your face for a more defined facial structure.
Gua sha is also believed to help reduce symptoms of other concerns such as:
- Liver inflammation, liver damage, and liver scarring
- Migraine headaches
- Perimenopausal syndrome
- Pain from breastfeeding
Luckily, gua sha is safe and there aren’t any side effects that are cause for concern as it’s a natural healing remedy. It’s not supposed to be painful, but if you add too much pressure – tiny capillaries on the surface of your skin can burst and cause bruising. In other words, don’t put more force on yourself with your gua sha than you can handle.
How to Use a Gua Sha: Step-By-Step Guide
While using a gua sha sounds like it might be for you, you can’t just go rubbing a jade stone all over your face and expecting incredible results. Instead, there are five key steps you need to learn how to use a gua sha properly for the maximum results. If you want to look extra glowy, try adding a gua sha to your skincare ritual in the morning after you’ve cleansed. This is when your face is probably the puffiest. Keep in mind, as we mentioned before, you can also use an oil or serum while you use a gua sha.
- Apply gentle but firm pressure. Use the gua sha with the ridge side down, moving in small circles from the middle of your forehead out towards your temples and hairline.
- Then, put the top corner of the gua sha tool’s groove near the corner of your eye, closest to your nose. Slowly massage it under the eye. Move outwards towards your ear and hairline. Repeat with the bottom corner of the groove at the top of your eye and work the tool – following the line of your eyebrow out towards your hairline. If needed, apply eye cream to avoid pulling when you use a gua sha near your eye.
- Start with the gua sha ridge side down at the edge of the bridge of your nose. Pull it gently across your cheek to your hairline, down the side of your face, and out towards the ears. Work the gua sha from the middle of your chin along the jawline until you reach the bottom of your ear.
- Massage the gua sha from the center of the chin along the jaw, following the bone, to reach your ear. Re-position the tool so the ridges lay on your neck, and bring it down to your collarbone to drain your lymph nodes.
- Glide the gua sha tool up towards the jaw, starting at the base near the collarbone. Move up and work your way around the side of the neck until you reach your shoulder.
Gua Sha Products
Want to put your knowledge to the test and see if you know how to use a gua sha tool? Check out these products below!
Written by Selena Ponton