If I had to pick a skincare practice that I would do until the day I die, it would be Gua Sha and that’s because it’s probably one of the most non-self-loathing skincare practices out there.
You’re probably wondering what I mean by that.
When we see the latest skincare trends that people tend to obsess over, there seems to be this chokehold around the narrative of ‘anti-aging’, as if aging is bad, as if we aren’t mortal beings and as if it isn’t inevitable. Whatever happened to aging with grace?
Usually, there’s shame attached to aging as though it’s something we must hide. “Use this cream to stop your wrinkles dead in its tracks”, like there isn’t an interesting story or a life well lived behind our smile lines and crow’s feet.
It’s why Gua Sha, an ancient Chinese self-care practice, is my ritual of choice, because it’s more than just “fixing” your outward appearance. There are benefits for the inside too.
So, what is Gua Sha?
On a broader framework, Gua Sha is a centuries-old practice used to help improve circulation, treat acute conditions such as heat stroke, dizziness, nausea and even fever. It is done by scraping your skin with a massage tool usually made of rose quartz or jade with the aim of relaxing muscle tension and encouraging tissue drainage.
More specifically, as it relates to skincare and facial massaging, the practice of Gua Sha helps to relieve tension in the face, encourage lymphatic drainage which eliminates bloating and according to Dr. Solomon, a Raleigh-based dermatologist, “helps break up fascia, the connective tissue that hugs muscles but can sometimes interfere with optimal circulation.”
According to those that have participated in this latest skincare trend, the skin appears to be smoother, lifted and a lot more sculpted.
I personally do Gua Sha at home and while I can’t say that I’ve seen significant results in my skin appearing more sculpted, I will say that my face does appear less bloated. To some that may be the same but for me, it simply means that my skin appeared less puffy in the mornings when I massaged the heck out of it with my freezing cold jade tools.
I appreciate that may sound horrendous to some, but I live for this part of my routine. It can be quite shocking at first with the cold jade on your face, but it gets better; lovely even. With that being said, it is a very relaxing and now key component of my self-care routine and with the added health benefits, there’s no way I’m stopping now!
How is Gua Sha done?
The key tools here are either a jade roller or jade scraper or you can use the ones made out of rose quartz. If you’re doing Gua Sha at home, these are easily accessible, usually come together in a pack and are fairly inexpensive.
You first want to make sure that you have enough slip on your skin so this is where your favourite facial oil will come into play. This is also why it makes sense to incorporate Gua Sha as part of your daily skincare routine, that way you’re not randomly slathering your face with oil in the middle of the day.
After you’ve completed your skincare routine and you’ve reached the step of applying your oil, you can take the jade/rose quartz scraper and glide the tool as flat as possible over the skin with light pressure. Essentially, you want to move in upwards motions towards the hairline and not tug at or drag the skin down to avoid sagging of the skin. The diagram below gives a quick overview of the direction in which you should be gliding this tool over the skin.
Picture taken from Franklin and Whitman
As the tool approaches the hairline, you want to give it a little wiggle as if releasing whatever fluid you’ve moved. You can repeat this process up to 3 times but please be gentle. The skin on the face is thin and as a result, is quite fragile so it’s easy to break capillaries which can result in bruising.
Suggestions and recommendations
If you’re intrigued by this ancient healing Chinese technique, my suggestion would be to watch as many TikTok or YouTube tutorials as possible and even do your own research to see if it’s even for you. My recommendation though would be to look at it from the perspective of using it as a tool to better your health rather than an anti-aging gimmick.