Gua sha facials have become the latest viral at-home beauty treatment. Though it’s been trending in recent years, the benefits of gua sha have been observed for centuries. Often done with face oils, one of the benefits of the ritual is that it helps the nourishing ingredients absorb deeper into the skin, creating the look of a smooth, glowing and sculpted complexion. Read on as we explain the function of facial oils and suggest some options that you can incorporate to get the best out of your gua sha facial.
What Is Gua Sha And What Does It Do For The Face?
Gua sha is a traditional Chinese practice with numerous health benefits. And while it’s been around for centuries, the ancient, low-tech practice has never been more popular than it is today thanks to social media.
Let’s backtrack a little to exactly what the gua sha practice is. Gua sha first appeared in 22 CE in a Chinese medical text called the Shan Han Lun. It is a technique that, at the time, used the edge of a coin or a spoon to vigorously “scrape” parts of the body, inciting redness (blood flow) to the area. This stimulation of acupressure points encourages the healing flow of “chi” or energy.
Gua sha facials done using modern techniques are much gentler than the traditional approach. They are performed using a flat, contoured stone like rose quartz or jade, which is swept comfortably across your nicely oiled face and neck to boost the skin’s blood circulation. This is the secret behind the gua sha glow!
The treatment also helps flush out toxins by improving lymphatic drainage, temporarily diminishing any puffiness. Licensed esthetician Ali Tobia says, “Gua sha works to move those collected fluids into the lymphatic system where they get cleaned and mixed back into your bloodstream. Unlike the circulatory system, there is no pump for the lymphatic system … By performing gua sha techniques, you are giving your lymphatic system the boost that it needs to rid yourself of the fluids that are stuck beneath the surface of your skin and causing your face to bloat.”
Gua sha may have other benefits too. It appears to relax the fibrous, collagen-rich connective tissue called fascia, which covers the facial muscles. This helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and may even encourage collagen and elastin formation. Facialist and acupuncturist Ada Ooi says, “[Gua sha] has significant brightening, lifting and sculpting improvements for your face. It stops the face from holding tension and softens the look of any fine lines that may have occurred as a result.” Regular gua sha facials can help define the contouring of cheekbone and jawline, thanks to the upward sweeping motion “lifting” the face and neck.
What is undisputed is that gua sha facials are incredible de-stressors. The action of stroking a rounded stone over lightly oiled skin lifts your mood and reduces anxiety. Studies show that gua sha facials relieve sinus pressure, headaches and tension in the jaw. Easy to perform, gua sha facials come with many potential benefits.
Why Do We Need Oil For Gua Sha?
Facial oils give the skin some slickness, which allows your gua sha tool to glide over your skin with minimal friction. Shiri Sarfati, a Miami-based beauty expert and licensed esthetician, explains, “It’s important to have something that provides enough slip so that you can truly move the [tool] along the facial contours. For the job, oils tend to work better than serums.” The treatment also infuses the nourishing ingredients in facial oils deeper into your skin where they can work their magic — which is why choosing the right oil for your skin’s needs is important.
Which Oils Work Best For Gua Sha?
Not sure how to choose the right oil for you? Read on to learn more about some of the oils we recommend and how they can enhance the benefits of your gua sha facial.
Rosehip Oil: Rich in Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and essential fatty acids, rosehip oil is a major multitasker. It improves your skin’s moisture, tone and texture, and is ideal for contouring.
Jojoba Oil: This “oil” is actually a wax ester, and wax esters are the main component in human sebum. Jojoba oil mimics the natural sebum in our skin, sealing moisture without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.
Seabuckthorn Oil: A super-nourishing oil packed full of powerful antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids, seabuckthorn oil is another great gua sha facial oil because the treatment sends the oil’s benefits deep into the skin.
Camellia Oil: This dense, highly moisturizing ingredient revitalizes and rejuvenates the look of skin. A gua sha facial done with this oil gives your skin an incredible glow, leaving it feeling soft and supple.
Marula Oil: Rich in fatty acids, this super hydrator works in perfect tandem with camellia oil for soft, smooth, radiant skin. Marula oil also effectively combats visible signs of aging from environmental stressors.
Clary Sage Oil: Calming clary sage oil is a great choice for oily skin types as it balances your skin’s oil production.
Olive Oil: Not just for salads, olive oil soothes the look of dry skin by deeply hydrating it, giving it the appearance of plumpness.
Our intensely hydrating and skin-protecting Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil boasts three of gua sha’s favorite oils: jojoba, rosehip and seabuckthorn. Rich in essential fatty acids that help problem skin and promote hydration and elasticity, Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil not only feels good, it’s good for your skin. And if you're thinking about trying the oil, now is a great time. The limited edition Rosehip Oil & Gua Sha Gift Set includes a full size Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil, plus a gua sha tool. Made from natural aventurine, each Eminence Organics gua sha tool has its own unique shade, markings and beauty. Makes a great gift for your beauty-obsessed friends or yourself this holiday season!
Find camellia and marula oils in our ultra-sensuous Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil. Just a little of this skin-softening, super-hydrating floral concentrate goes a long way to a supremely relaxing and beneficial gua sha facial. Warm a quarter-sized dollop in the palm of your hands before applying to face, neck and décolletage. Customer Delena says in an online review, “I've been using this solid face oil for the past year and I am obsessed. It is amazing. I live in a very dry climate and it provides excellent hydration and a beautiful glow to my skin. A little goes a long way.”
Facial Recovery Oil fuses olive oil, precious herbs and clary sage oil in a luxurious formula that thoroughly tones and hydrates your skin.
Watch as our Lead Skin Care Trainer, Natalie Pergar, goes into detail about which oils work best for gua sha and why, and gives a 5-minute demonstration that you can follow at home.
Have you tried gua sha? Visit an Eminence Organics Spa Partner for a treatment and to find out more about gua sha techniques and oils.