Let's face it, you've been hearing about gua sha a lot over the past couple of years and it looks like the ancient practice is here to stay. Search “gua sha” on TikTok and you’ll be flooded with impressive before-and-after videos showing off the transformative results of this tiny tool. A gua sha routine is said to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce inflammation and sculpt the face (hello, cheekbones). It can also help relieve the tension and stiffness that occur from prolonged use of technology (aka "tech neck"). Read on to discover our gua sha guide for the face and neck, and learn from our Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar as she walks you through the proper gua sha technique.
Gua sha delivers impressive sculpting and tension-relieving results at a budget-friendly price point. While it may seem new to many of us, gua sha dates back to the Paleolithic Age and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Now widely recognized for its beauty benefits, the practice of gua sha began as a full body treatment for illness, disease and acupuncture therapy, where a flat stone (or other tool like a coin or spoon) was used to scrape across the skin to relieve pain and inflammation by bringing bloodflow to the area.
Traditionally, the gua sha tool was made from jade or bian stone, but, given the tool's immense popularity, there are now varieties ranging from rose quartz to stainless steel. According to Byrdie, it’s important to consider the shape of the gua sha, as it should be comfortable to grip and complement the natural contours of the face. Look for one with multiple angles and divots to allow for smooth gliding along the neck, jawline, cheekbones and under the eyes.
With all of this history and current viral status, does the gua sha actually live up to the hype? We certainly think so. As well as its skin-smoothing benefits, it is lauded as a holistic practice that encourages relaxation, reduces stress and releases tension in the body. As with most skin care habits, consistency is key to achieving the best results. Experts recommend starting your gua sha routine with two to three days a week and eventually working up to every day.
A study published in the Journal of Science and Healing suggests that gua sha can increase microcirculation in the skin by up to 400%, which results in a healthy, youthful-looking glow. Another clinical trial published by PubMed demonstrated positive causation when combining facial massage and "anti-aging cream." In this trial, 22 women applied a commercial anti-aging cream, followed with the daily use of a massaging device. At the end of the eight-week period, wrinkles appeared visibly smoother and the beneficial effects of the cream were amplified. Dermatologist (and YouTuber) Dr. Dray shares her professional opinion on gua sha and goes into detail about the clinical study mentioned above. As always, it’s important to begin any new skin care practice with realistic expectations!
What are the benefits of gua sha? According to Sandra Lanshin Chiu, an acupuncturist and owner of Lanshin, a holistic healing studio in New York, gua sha is effective for all skin types and concerns, including acne. “Congested skin is stagnated — meaning circulation of fluid and blood is sluggish, causing the skin to be more susceptible to swelling and inflammation. Facial gua sha not only helps lymphatic circulation (and thus drainage), it also improves the quality of blood circulation and energy (‵qi′) circulation.”
Other benefits of gua sha include:
- Sculpting and contouring the face
- Improving product absorption
- Relaxing muscles and releasing tension
- Improving circulation
- Reducing puffiness
According to Lanshin's team of experts, focusing on the neck is essential to any gua sha routine because it acts as a “pathway that shuttles vital nutrients up to feed your head and face, as well as circulates wastes down and out.” The hours spent each day on our phones and computers can contribute to tension that impacts how the neck functions. “Gua sha helps relieve muscle and tissue tension, allowing our bodies to return to optimal function. Increased circulation of blood, vital fluids and life force energy can then be returned to your skin and tissues. When done properly and regularly, this can lessen the appearance of the signs of ‵aging′ so many dread.”
Natalie shares a step-by-step guide on how to gua sha your face and neck for best results:
- Apply 4 –10 drops of your preferred facial oil.
- Starting at the base of your neck, gently glide the tool upwards towards the jawline on both sides.
- Next, sweep outwards working from the middle of your chin towards the ear.
- After this, sweep across the cheeks finishing at the hairline.
- Sweep over your eyebrow and up towards your hairline.
- Sweep from between the eyebrows up to the hairline.
- Finally, sweep upwards from the middle of your forehead to the hairline.
- Repeat on the other side of your face.
- Sweep each area between 3 – 10 times before moving to the next part of the face.
- Finally, sweep the tool from the top of your jaw (under your ear) on each side down to the collarbone. This will allow the lymphatic fluid to drain.
Prep the skin with either a serum, oil or moisturizer that provides enough slip for the gua sha tool to glide easily over the skin. You want to avoid tugging at the skin, as this can cause unwanted redness and irritation. If you find that happening, add a few more drops of your desired product. We recommend our beloved Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil and the Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream For Face & Neck for your gua sha routine.
Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil
The Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil is our ultra-hydrating face oil that works to protect the skin against drying environmental pollutants, improve the appearance of elasticity and smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles. This award-winning product contains skin-loving ingredients like seabuckthorn oil, rosehip oil and jojoba oil to improve the look of dryness and reveal a glowy, youthful-looking appearance. If you do feel the product absorbing too quickly as you work on different areas of the face, try spritzing one of our facial mists to rehydrate the skin.
Rosehip Oil & Gua Sha Gift Set
Surprise a loved one (or pamper yourself) this holiday season with the limited edition Rosehip Oil & Gua Sha Gift Set, which includes a full-size bottle of Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil and a gua sha tool. Made from natural aventurine, each Eminence Organics gua sha tool has its own unique shade, markings and beauty. This duo is designed to deliver a relaxing home facial massage that leaves skin feeling soft, plump and invigorated.
Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream For Face & Neck
The Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream For Face & Neck is one of our richer moisturizing creams. This formula works best for drier skin types given its deeply hydrating ingredients like evening primrose oil, shea butter and our Argan Stem Cell Complex. You can also pair the cream with one of our toners for additional hydration and slip when using your gua sha.
We recommend the Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist, a skin-plumping toner formulated with a Natural Retinol Alternative, swiss green apple and coconut water, perfectly suited for all skin types. This mist has a five-star rating on our website and has even found its way into Olivia Culpo's nighttime skin care routine featured in Harper's Bazaar. Using your gua sha tool after applying the cream and toner will help the products' active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin for maximum line-smoothing results.
Ready to enhance your skin care routine? Our expertly trained estheticians can help you build a routine with products custom suited for your unique skin needs. Book now at your nearest Eminence Organics Spa Partner.