Facial gua sha is not new, but it is quickly gaining in popularity, and for good reason. With every passing year, we seem to be drifting closer and closer to clean holistic beauty. Like other traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practices, gua sha is an ancient healing technique used to align the chi and promote well-being.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about these techniques, their effectiveness, and their safety. If you search the web for details on gua sha you may see a wide range of anecdotal claims and opinions. However, medical researchers are finding that the principles of gua sha are sound and the practice has a healing effect on the body.
Available medical research focused on the gua sha for the body and found that gua sha helped to:
- improve circulation
- release muscle tension
- reduce pain
- get rid of headaches
- reduce swelling
There is no research available to evaluate TCM’s claims of life energy flow improvement and more overarching long-term healing effects because Western medical research doesn’t operate with the same concepts as TCM. In this sense, it is similar to massage, which also doesn’t easily lend itself to the methods of traditional medical research. So, we are left to rely on our personal experience when it comes to these modalities.
Facial gua sha is a gentler practice that does not require the same intensity as the classic version to achieve the desired soft tissue rejuvenating effect. If you are worried about the bruising and red marks that you see in your web searches, rest assured that doesn’t happen with facial gua sha, if done correctly.
If you are concerned, check out our facial Gua sha tutorials to see just what this technique is and how it works. Meanwhile, read on to learn about the foundations of this ancient Chinese practice and its more recent applications in aesthetics.
What is Gua Sha?
Gua sha loosely translates to “to scrape sand,” and it is an ancient Chinese massage technique used to restore the flow of chi to the body, specifically the treatment area. Although modern facial Gua sha utilizes tools made of gemstones, Asians of the past also used coins and tin objects to massage parts of the body to scrape away disease.
This healing technique was first used in medicine, but the Chinese have been using facial gua sha effectively for cosmetic purposes since the dawn of the common era. The primary purpose is to reduce inflammation and promote healing by restoring the balance of chi into the body. The therapeutic massage combined with the energetic properties of the stones used to manufacture the facial Gua sha tools has been proven to improve aesthetics while also restoring balance to the body and mind.
Gua sha is a centuries-old practice
Gua sha didn’t enter the medical records of Asians until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but evidence of the practice can be found as far back as the Paleolithic Era. Originally a purely medical practice, facial Gua sha first made the scene of cosmetics in China sometime in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Modern facial gua sha is based on these very early and well-built foundations, but it didn’t really become popular until the 1990s to 2000s. That two decades brought many traditional Chinese medicine techniques to the forefront of Western medicine, and Gua sha was pulled along with it. Using facial Gua sha was first purported to be an effective, natural aesthetic treatment by well known Asian proponents like Zhang Xiugin and Shimada Sumiko.
Like so many other things in life, our global connectivity has further increased interest in facial gua sha and made it even more popular. Today men and women alike are looking for healthier, holistic ways to improve aesthetics and health in general, making facial gua sha a very attractive practice.
Benefits of Facial Gua Sha
Why is facial gua sha so popular? Gua sha is a holistic alternative to the traditional cosmetology methods that tend to treat the outward symptoms of soft tissue deterioration. Holistic beauty modalities focus more on the causes.
Of course, when we talk about causes, we have to realize that it’s a rather long chain of causation that goes much deeper than soft tissue to systemic level. Like most holistic practices, gua sha offers the ability to treat the mind, body, and spirit as one cohesive unit. It doesn’t just improve the appearance of your skin – it actually has benefits for physical, cognitive, and mental health.
The basics of aesthetic improvements through Gua Sha
Facial gua sha does several things to improve the appearance of your skin both immediately and over time. Like most massage techniques, facial gua sha reduces inflammation by moving lymphatic fluids and breaking down tension in the muscles. This can immediately reduce puffiness and swelling. It also gives the face a youthful glow by increasing circulation and helping repair the net of capillaries in the skin.
You will see even more cosmetic benefits of facial gua sha when you continue the practice faithfully for a longer period of time. In particular, facial gua sha can reduce wrinkles and tighten sagging skin by improving the daily nourishment of the soft tissue. These techniques are also highly effective for ridding yourself of the stubborn baggage and dark circles that can occur under the eyes. This alone can make you appear years younger, while also reducing the occurrence of dry eye.
Other health benefits of facial gua sha
Remember that gua sha is first and foremost a medical treatment. As such, it makes sense that there would be physical health benefits of the practice. In particular, you can use facial gua sha massage to relieve tension headaches caused by the contracting of the face, neck and scalp. You can also use these methods to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pressure in the sinuses that can be caused by illness or allergies.
Facial gua sha helps reduce stress
Gua sha can reduce anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia, and can alleviate stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system that allows us to go into a state of rest and repair. Using gua sha as a self-soothing beauty practice can be immensely relaxing and having the magic of rejuvenation and relaxation in your own hands is a superpower.
Choosing the right stones for facial gua sha tools
As mentioned, there are various gemstones that can be used to create facial gua sha tools. Choosing the stones wisely is important because each has its own energetic properties. Green jade and rose quartz are by far the most popular. Here are a few options and how they can help you.
Green jade is the traditional stone for use with the Gua sha massage technique. It is cool to the touch, which can be very soothing if you have inflamed skin. The stone itself promotes calmness, balance, and positivity while clearing away negative thoughts and energy.
White jade is similar, but in addition to being cool on the skin it also feels more slippery, making it easier to use a lighter touch. This is important if you are massaging severely swollen or irritated skin. It is also best for reducing fluid retention and puffiness. White jade is calming, grounding, and brings peace and harmony.
Clear quartz is a great place to start. It is inexpensive and easily found, and its polished surface is very smooth for a light touch. Clear quartz doesn’t have a lot of energetic properties of its own, but rather is “programmable” with the energies you want to be emitted while you practice your facial gua sha.
With its ever-popular qualities of self-love, rose quartz is by far the most popular. Rose quartz is known to emit soothing vibrations that can calm sensitive skin and reduce tension. This stone also restores harmony between mind, body, and spirit while promoting self-care.
If you have been eyeing pretty purple facial gua sha tools with envy, amethyst is your stone of choice. Amethyst isn’t as expensive as it once was, making it a practical material for such items. Its very makeup consists of negative ions that are good for reducing inflammation. As such, it can be very effective for reducing redness and acne breakouts while also easing the inflamed skin for a modicum of comfort.
Amethyst is often called the stone of meditation. Using it for your morning Gua sha session can improve focus, cognitive clarity, and intuition for the day.
Aventurine, called the stone of opportunity, has amazingly soothing properties that make it the perfect option for your nightly ritual. It warms quickly to the skin, offering some relief from the pain and discomfort of acne, eczema, and rosacea. Its use with facial gua sha can also reduce the appearance of these conditions, making your skin look and feel healthier.
Meanwhile, aventurine heals emotional imbalances, calms irritability and anger, and can reduce stress that causes distractions.
Which Gua sha techniques and tools are right for you?
There are just as many different types and shapes of gua sha facial tools as there are different gemstones from which they can be made. Which tools are right for you depend on the current condition of your skin and your goals for improvement. Many people incorporate gua sha into their daily rituals, using different tools for morning, mid-day, and evening rituals. It is a fun practice to pick a tool based on which one calls on you at that particular time.
Not sure where to start? Visit Youth Recipes on Instagram for tutorials and details of the best gua sha facial tools.