Everything you wanted to know about Gua Sha
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Gua Sha is a treatment that involves scraping a flat stone over the skin in upward strokes to relax muscles and promote drainage. ‘Gua’ means scraping and ‘sha’ refers to the redness of the skin. Gua Sha has been around since the caveman days and has evolved into the popular facials that you see all over Instagram today. Read on as we dig into the history and benefits of Gua Sha.
Gua Sha in Ancient Chinese medicine
Before Gua Sha became the skincare treatment du jour, it was primarily used for pain relief. Much like the equally popular jade roller, Gua Sha has its roots in East and West Chinese medicine, dating as far back as the Ming Dynasty where it was traditionally used to treat chronic pain caused by inflammation. Medical practitioners used it to ‘scrape away” illnesses.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, “qi” or “chi” is the energy that flows through a person’s body. One’s qi must be balanced and flowing freely for good health. Many believed that blocked qi was the cause of inflammation and any associated pain. The Gua Sha treatment is thought to help unblock stagnant energy, reduce inflammation, and facilitate healing.
We can thank acupuncturists for Gua Sha facials because they uncovered the skincare benefits when they used pressure points on the face to treat other issues.
Gua Sha skincare benefits
Gua Sha facials have been likened to a natural facelift but how is this possible? Upward strokes with the Gua Sha stone help manually drain stagnant lymph nodes (aka the source of puffiness and inflammation in the skin). The treatment also helps break up fascia (the connective tissue around muscles) and facilitates circulation, ensuring that nutrients and oxygen make it to the skin cells. All of this helps sculpt, lift, and tone the face because if you think about it, the muscles in our face don’t get that much workout. Regular use can help combat signs of aging like sagging, dull, and wrinkled skin - et voila: natural facelift!
Gua Sha is something that’s relatively low effort to incorporate into your skincare routine but will yield maximum results. In addition to toning the face, the increased blood flow from doing Gua Sha regularly can result in a naturally dewy, glowing complexion. The treatment will also help improve the efficacy and penetration of your skincare products. And because of reduced inflammation, the treatment is often used to help decongest the skin and clear acne.
Other Gua Sha benefits
In addition to glowing, sculpted skin, other benefits of Gua Sha include:
- Tension relief: Just like the treatment can break up muscle tension in the face, it can also help relieve muscle tension elsewhere on your body, such as furrowed brows, clenched jaws, etc. Because it helps relieve tension, it can also help alleviate pain from TMJ and headaches too.
- Detoxification: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the meridian channels are thought to connect our organs and transport both blood and qi. These channels need to be clear for holistic wellbeing. If there are issues with an organ, it may mean that the channel is blocked. Gua Sha helps drain the lymphatic system, which is our bodies' way of expelling toxins and debris, clearing any blockages.
How to Gua Sha at home
When you use a Gua Sha on your face at home, keep three things in mind. The first is to go in an upward and outward direction. Next is to apply light but firm pressure. Your skin might be a little rosy after but that’s normal. And lastly, use it with a facial oil for maximum glide.
No pain, no gain
We’re not going to lie: Gua Sha can be painful at the beginning because if you think about it, it’s literally breaking down muscular tension, not to mention moving qi - that’s powerful stuff! But the good news is the more you practice, the less painful it gets because you’ll have less and less inflammation, all while reaping top benefits like reducing tension and puffiness.
Gua Sha stones we love
- Ginger Chi Jade Gua Sha Face Comb Face
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- Herbivore Rose Quartz Gua Sha
- Odacité Crystal Contour Gua Sha Blue Sodalite Beauty Tool
- Metange Beauty Black Obsidian Gua Sha Stone
- Kora Organics Rose Quartz Heart Facial Sculptor
- Lanshin Pro Black Nephrite Jade Gua Sha Tool
- Mount Lai Jade Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool
- Wildling Empress Stone
- Pai Skincare Real Rose Quartz Gua Sha