No doubt you’ve watched at least one Instagram or Tik Tok video of a woman scrapping an odd-shaped stone across her face. Before you hop over to Amazon to grab yourself one of these stones, I want to fill you in on just what the fuss is about.
What we’re talking about here is more than a social media craze. It’s called gua sha, and it’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. And with good reason! Not only can gua sha be used as an anti-aging treatment, but it also works to increase circulation, release fascia, move lymph, and detoxify your system. In other words, it promotes healing.
Chinese medicine focuses on balancing your life energy or chi. In this system, unbalanced chi is what causes dis-ease both in the body and mind. Gua sha is just one of the methods used in this ancient medical system to restore balance or “stir up” stagnant chi that is causing the patient health issues. Gua sha is still widely used in China and all of Southeast Asia.
What is Gua Sha?
As mentioned earlier, you’ve most likely heard about the benefits of gua sha as a way to improve the youthful appearance of facial skin. It provides a lifting effect as it tones facial muscles and tightens skin. Many spas offer this type of massage now as its popularity grows. You can also do it at home. We’ll discuss how to use gua sha correctly to ensure you gain all the benefits later in the post.
Gua sha is a form of massage but uses a tool to brush the skin rather than the therapist’s hands. ‘Gua’ means “scrape,” and ‘Sha’ means “sand.” Traditionally, a flat piece of jade or rose quartz was used. More pressure is applied with continued downward strokes, and the skin is gently scraped with the tool. Gradual increasing pressure is applied until little red bumps start to appear under the skin. The little bumps are called petechiae and are normal during gua sha. The downward motion increases the drainage of sinuses and lymph, promotes rejuvenated, glowing skin, and balances energy in the body.
The Many Benefits of Gua Sha
Gua sha improves health and well-being by increasing blood flow and moving lymph and energy. We are all aware of how inflammation in our bodies leads to major conditions and chronic pain, including:
- Brain fog
- Hormone imbalance
- Chronic pain
- Muscle weakness
The practice of gua sha is thought to reduce inflammation and remove the stagnant energy that causes inflammation.
What Chinese medical practitioners have known for centuries has now been documented by science. Gua sha works!
Increase Circulation – Gentle massaging motions applied repeatedly over the same area can improve circulation in the body. Your body thrives from good circulation! In order to maintain healthy blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, your internal organs such as your lungs, heart, and muscles all need to function correctly and efficiently.
Reduce Headaches – Most studies focus on the benefits of massage for tension headaches rather than migraines. While more research is needed, the outlook is pretty good when it comes to gua sha helping reduce migraines. If you have a tension headache, using your gua sha tool, you can massage all the tension areas of your face. This will promote relaxation and help relieve tense muscles.
Reduce Neck Pain – Chronic neck pain can be debilitating. One minute you are okay, and the next, even breathing is painful. Thankfully, gua sha may be a remedy for this kind of pain. In a study of 48 participants, one group was given heating pads to treat their neck pain. The other group was given gua sha treatments. The results showed that the group who received gua sha reported less neck pain.
Less Painful Breasts after Engorgement – If you have ever breastfed, you might be familiar with an extremely uncomfortable side effect – breast engorgement, which happens when the breasts become overfilled with milk, resulting in intense pain. Frequently, this prevents babies from latching on as well, so feeding becomes a painful cycle.
A study was recently conducted where new moms received gua sha immediately after giving birth. They continued to receive the treatment up until they were released from the hospital. After the doctors followed up with those patients, several weeks later, those women reported experiencing less painful engorgements. This resulted in them being able to breastfeed without discomfort.
Ease Perimenopause Symptoms – As women get older, we get closer to menopause. Before that stage of our life, we will enter perimenopause, which can cause fatigue, mood swings, and hormone imbalance.
A study of 80 women showed results that may be promising. Half of the patients received conventional therapy, while the other half received one 15-minute gua sha treatment per week. At the end of the study, the women who received gua sha reported fewer perimenopausal symptoms than the other group.
Reduce Liver Inflammation – Remarkably, gua sha has shown the potential to reduce liver inflammation. A case study was recently done with one patient who had increased liver enzymes and inflammation. He underwent gua sha therapy, and 48 hours later, he showed signs of improvement. The liver inflammation had reduced significantly. While this is just one study, it leaves the door open for more information to be gathered.
Gua sha is one of my favorite self-care treatments that keep me healthy and vibrant. One of the best aspects of gua sha is that you can use it to target specific areas causing you pain or discomfort…and keep you looking and feeling your best.
Gua Sha also helps to drive skincare deeper into your skin. So I always use mine after I apply my favorite serums! I use my DIY Vitamin C skin serum in combination with gua sha to increase collagen production and promote healthy skin growth where I need it most – my face. If you do not want to make your own serum (admittedly, I stopped making my own once I found one that I love) you can find my favorite Vitamin C Serum HERE. Use coupon code CLEANFORALL20 for 20% off too!
Pro tip: supplement with collagen for even better results in increasing collagens benefits for your skin. Our personal favorite way to get collagen is in liquid form because it is better absorbed and utilized by the body! We love this brand (they offer multiple different kinds of liquid collagen too, if you search the site). Use coupon code: 9613541 for $10 off your purchase. When you buy it as a customer, they will also give you a coupon code to share with friends and family that will earn you $10 in product credit. So if you share with enough people yours will be free!
Gua Sha Tool
With the popularity of gua sha, there are a huge variety of tools to use available online. Many people prefer to use one of the tools made from their favorite healing stones or crystals, such as the traditional jade or rose quartz. You may want to try various tools that are shaped differently to find the perfect fit for the curves of your face. These are the ones that I use.
It’s important to note that the popular jade or rose quartz rollers are not the same as gua sha tools. To get the benefits of gua sha, you need to use a tool similar to the ones used by certified gua sha and Chinese medicine practitioners.
How to Use Gua Sha for Facials
Although light pressure is applied to scrap the skin, gua sha should not be painful. Especially when you use gua sha on your face, you want to gently and smoothly glide the tool against your skin with gradually increased pressure. Here are the basic steps on how to use gua sha correctly at home.
- Wash your hands, face, and neck before starting.
- Apply a few drops of natural, vitamin-rich oil, such as jojoba or grapeseed oil, over the face and neck, starting with the forehead and moving downward to encourage lymph drainage.
- Keeping your tool almost flat to your skin, stroke up your neck on both sides, going very lightly over your Adam’s apple.
- Brush under your chin from the middle of your face out to your earlobe.
- Glide from the middle of your chin over your jawline toward your earlobe. Lightly wiggle your ear to encourage the fluid to drain down your neck to the lymph nodes right above your collarbone.
- Brush underneath your cheekbones towards your hairline.
- Sweep over your cheekbones towards your hairline.
- Very gently, brush under your eyes, beginning at the inner corner of your eye towards your hairline.
- Brush over your eyebrow toward your hairline and then up from the brow bone over your forehead towards the hairline.
- Sweep between your eyebrows up to your hairline.
- Stroke from the middle of your forehead out to your hairline.
- Finish the treatment by sweeping down your neck to your collarbone.
Complete the above steps three to five times, but no more than that. If you overdo it, you can overstimulate your skin, leading to bruising or even broken capillaries. In this case (as in most others), more is not better.
Many people choose to go to a certified gua sha practitioner to get a feel for how it’s done and then continue the process on themselves. But if you prefer, you can simply follow the steps above to achieve the desired results of younger-looking skin.
If you are looking to gain the health benefits of gua sha for chronic pain or illness, it’s recommended that you see a Chinese medical practitioner, at least in the beginning. Once you and your practitioner feel you understand how to do gua sha properly, you may choose to use it on your own.
It’s easy to see why this method has become so popular on social media—the benefits of gua sha are simply amazing! However, to detox your system and increase circulation, it must be done correctly. Use the guide above to give yours a treat and younger-looking skin.
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- Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese “Gua Sha” Therapy in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain
- Effect of Gua Sha Therapy on Perimenopausal Syndrome
- Guasha-Induced Hepatoprotection in Chronic Active Hepatitis B
- An Experience Applying Gua Sha to Help a Parturient Women with Breast Fullness