I first became interested in Gua Sha when I heard someone refer to it as the natural botox of the East. As I explored Gua Sha-dedicated Instagram accounts (yes that’s a thing), I scrolled through photos of gently sculpted and glowing skin. It seemed like there was something to this promise of fresh and toned skin, sans injectables.

While the results obviously weren’t as dramatic as what you might get with an injectable, I was amazed that the practice still seemed to make an actual difference.

As I began to research what it’s all about, I was most surprised by the many amazing benefits it boasts beyond cosmetic ones. From lymphatic drainage to reducing brain fog, incorporating the simple practice of Gua Sha into my weekly beauty routine seemed like a no brainer.

Once you know the basics, just a few minutes of Gua Sha action every day can have a major impact on skin’s tone, tautness and clarity. Read on for everything I learned and what you need to know to become a Gua Sha master.

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What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is an ancient Chinese medical therapy used to invite well-being, circulation and remove stagnant toxins build-up in the body. While used on the whole body, facial Gua Sha involves a flat handheld tool, pulled gently across the skin while applying light pressure, in an attempt to increase blood flow and stimulate the lymphatic system.

image: kristen kilpatrick

What are the benefits of Gua Sha?

There are actually soo many (get ready to be impressed by this list below!). The focus of this treatment is on moving the lymph (which carries away toxins) leaving the skin toned and firmed, and you uber relaxed.

Cosmetic benefits:

  • Boosts collagen production
  • Reduces appearance of puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles
  • Eases facial muscle tension
  • Restores firmness and elasticity and prevents sagging skin
  • Promotes a brighter complexion
  • Aids in eliminating dark circles around the eyes
  • Aids in breaking up and releasing the skin from dark spots and hyper-pigmentation
  • Has the ability to heal and relieve rosacea
  • Aids in product penetration
  • Can be an alternative to injections and face-lift surgery (when practiced on a regular basis at home or when receiving treatments from a licensed practitioner).

Non-cosmetic benefits:

  • Relieves jaw tension
  • Promotes lymphatic and inflammation drainage
  • Helps with sinus congestion
  • Helps reduce brain fog and boost mental clarity
  • Carries nutrient-rich and oxygenated blood (food for the cells) to the skin and tissues
  • Can be used to treat TMJ disorder and migraine headaches

image: chillhouse

Picking your tool:

Gua Sha tools come in a myriad of different shapes, sizes and forms. The most commonly used tools are made of jade or rose quartz. Be sure to opt for a tool made from actual rose quartz or jade, rather than an acrylic tool dyed to look like crystal. Those tools can cause skin irritations and you miss out on the amazing benefits that rose quartz and jade can offer. Jade is known for inviting serenity and purity, as well as promoting fertility, balance and deep healing. Rose quartz is known for restoring harmony in the heart and is the stone of universal love, encouraging unconditional loving and compassion. A good facial oil is also a must!

image: korayafay

Basics of Gua Sha:

Gua Sha is often described as very relaxing, especially when the pressure is just right, so be sure to use intentional and gentle strokes. I prefer to do it in the morning since it reduces puffiness, clears brain fog and actually positively affects my appearance! But night works well too, as it’s an incredibly calming ritual.

There are a variety of methods (check out the tutorials below!), but here are some general tips to get you started:

  • Cleanse skin and prep by spritzing on a hydrating toner mist followed by your skin care products (using some kind of facial oil works best!).
  • Anchor your skin where you begin each stroke with your other hand.
  • As a general rule, begin at the center of face and move outwards with gentle but firm pressure. Start by going from under your chin back to your ear, your jawline back to your ear, cheekbone back to hairline etc. Next brush from between your eyebrows to your hairline and follow with that same motion across your forehead, starting at your brows and moving up.
  • Keep your tool almost flat to your skin (about 15 degrees) rather than having the edge of the tool at 90 degrees to your skin.
  • When your tool starts to drag or pull on your skin, add a little more oil for better slip. Pull the tool across your face (like you’re spreading butter), don’t push it.
  • Use long, slow, meditative strokes. You can even turn it into a type of moving meditation by coordinating your breathing with the strokes.
  • Use firm pressure when doing gua sha on your neck, medium/light pressure on your face, and feather light pressure around your eyes.

Note: Avoid Gua Sha if you just received injections as Gua Sha can move botox. Also avoid Gua Sha over cystic acne, pimples and open lesions, as it will only irritate infected areas.

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