We’re all stuck at home looking for ways to occupy our days, so what better time to give ourselves a little extra TLC? If you’re an avid blog reader or follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a firm believer in the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine. One TCM practice that’s gained popularity in the beauty world recently is Gua Sha facial massage and for good reason.
I recently shared an Instagram Live video with my friend Jess from Hand & Land in Kansas City where she walked us through an at-home lymphatic drainage and gua sha facial. Afterwards, I received many requests for more information on the topic. So, let’s dive on in!
What is Gua Sha?
Gua sha is an ancient Chinese tradition intended to address stagnant energy, called qi (“chi”), in the body in order to restore balance. It’s believed that this stagnant energy is responsible for inflammation and chronic pain. Thus, rubbing the skin’s surface via gua sha helps break up this energy, reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Gua sha uses a stone tool on the skin typically along with some sort of oil, though this isn’t required. The pushing motions increase circulation, therefore carrying nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to the skin and tissues. Gua sha can be performed on many parts of the body including the back, buttocks, neck, arms and legs. While those areas can handle more intense pressure, a gentle version used on the face has become more mainstream thanks to its incredible beautifiying benefits.
Many holistic technicians and facialists offer this as a service, but it’s also easy and effective to practice right at home!
Benefits of Gua Sha
In addition to this technique being incredibly relaxing, there are many impressive health benefits of regular gua sha. These include:
- Lymphatic drainage (pushing fluid filled with toxins and waste out of the cells)
- Reduced visibility of wrinkles
- Tightening and lifting of the skin
- Improvement of dark circles around the eyes
- Better penetration of beauty products (and boosting their effectiveness)
- Reduced nasal congestion
- Brightening of the complexion
- Breaking up of darks spots and hyperpigmentation
- Speeding up of healing time for pimples and breakouts
Gua Sha Tool
You might have noticed that gua sha tools come in a variety of shapes, sizes and stones. Rose quartz, jade, black obsidian and green aventurine are common stones you might find, and deciding which one is best for you is as simple as choosing the stone that speaks to you most.
Crystals and gemstones have specific healing properties we’re energetically attracted to, so those that catch our eye are meant for us.
Click to shop a few options below!
Tips for Maximizing Your Facial Massage
- Consistency is key in order to achieve maximum benefit from this practice.
- Try to incorporate gua sha into your self care routine as often as possible, daily if possible.
- Take your time! It’s recommended that each sweeping action (below) be repeated 5-10 times.
- Keep your tool almost flat to your skin rather than having the edge of the tool at 90 degrees.
- As the pressure applied to the skin can cause redness, follow it up by using a face roller (above) that’s been left in the freezer to soothe and calm everything back down.
How to Perform Gua Sha
While there are many different gua sha facial routines people suggest, I’ve found this step-by-step guide from The Chalkboard Mag easy & effective:
Cleanse face and hands. After drying the face with a clean washcloth, generously mist your face.
Apply facial oil, covering the face and neck (optional, but recommended). Apply oil starting on the forehead and moving down in the direction of draining lymph fluid. This activates movement in skin and tissues, and it’s a nice prep before the gua sha.
Warm your gua sha tool by slightly by rubbing it between your hands. This also greases the tool up a bit so it doesn’t pull on your skin in the areas that didn’t receive as much oil.
Sweep up your neck on both sides.
Sweep under your chin from the middle of your face out to your earlobe, keeping your tool flat. If you’d like, hold the skin under your chin with your other thumb as you glide the tool back to your earlobe in the opposite direction.
Sweep from the middle of your chin over your jawline back toward your earlobe. You can gently jiggle at your ear to encourage the fluid to drain down the neck to the lymph nodes at the base, just above your collarbone.
Sweep underneath your cheekbones, really picking up a lot of fluid that tends to be stored here, and direct it toward your hairline. You can lightly and gently jiggle your tool at your hairline.
Sweep over your cheekbones, finishing at the hairline.
Gently sweep under your eyes. Sweep from the inner corner of the eye to the hairline.
Sweep over the eyebrow out toward the hairline and up from the brow bone (up the forehead) finishing at the hairline. When you sweep up, do it in tiny sections, moving along the eyebrow in three to five sections.
Sweep from between the eyebrows over the third eye and up to the hairline. Notice if your clairvoyance feels more activated after this stroke!
Sweep from the middle of the forehead out to the hairline.
Now repeat on the other side of your face, starting again with your neck and working through the steps.
Slide down the side. When you’ve finished the other side of your face, finish the treatment by sweeping down the neck to assist with lasting drainage. Keep your tool very flat and hug underneath your jawbone. Sweep down the neck to the collarbone.
For more home beauty hacks to add to your arsenol, be sure to check out my 4 DIY Face Masks Using Kitchen Staples post!