I know a thing or two about stress, and I’m (unfortunately) pretty well acquainted with the toll stress can take on the skin and body: acne, texture, dullness, and so much puffiness. My mom says it’s all the french fries I eat, but I certainly wouldn’t eat (as many of) the fries if I was relaxed!
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So I went on the hunt for products that could both help my skin and help me destress. I tried the spoon in the fridge (OK, TBH, that was painful!), tons of eye creams, and cutting out dairy (didn’t work for me, but it might for you!). My first obvious choice was a jade roller (how could you go wrong!), but the more I researched (AKA stalking all my favorite beauty bloggers on Instagram for hours), I decided to get in on a trend early.
An Amazon Prime delivery and a month or so later, my gua sha stone and I are basically BFFs. Because I’m so obsessed with my nightly gua sha massage ritual, I’m giving you all the details about what it is, what it does, and how you can do it at home.
What is Gua Sha?
Gua sha (pronounced gwa-shah!) is a tool (or tools) used to scrape the skin to promote circulation. Ancient Chinese medicine utilized the gua sha tool thousands of years ago to increase blood circulation and heal the body.
When you give yourself a gua sha massage, you’re essentially scraping all of that water and lymph under your skin to the edges of your face and pulling it down your neck to drain. It’s kind of gross but also super cool, huh? It moves all the blood around under your skin, so after a gua sha session, your face is plump with fresh, new blood to the surface.
In Chinese medicine, gua sha came in the form of soup spoons and other items (which isn’t exactly what all the gua sha stones you see on Instagram look like). Generally, gua sha is made of either jade or rose quartz stones (jade is known for purifying and healing your energy).
Here, I’m discussing gua sha as a facial tool for massage. However, there are larger tools that can be used for gua sha on the body. I’m dying to find an acupuncturist to see all the amazing things gua sha could do for my body now that I’ve seen how it helps my face!
Benefits of Gua Sha
Gua sha is the tool if you want to increase blood flow in your face. Circulation in itself has so many benefits, from decreasing inflammation, adding a glowy look to the skin, anti-aging, and more.
Aids in lymphatic drainage
Suffering from extra fluid in your face? Gua sha can help with that. Lymphatic fluid is basically all the fluid coming from your lymph nodes that hasn’t quite made its way back to the cardiovascular system. Massaging the skin helps drain that fluid from your face (yuck), and gua sha is the best tool to get that all to come out.
Relieves muscle tension
As you scrape the gua sha across your skin, you’ll start to feel your face instantly relax. For years, everyone thought I had TMJ because of my jaw issues, but it turns out, I clench my jaw while I’m sleeping when I’m stressed (so basically all the time). As soon as I started using gua sha, I immediately noticed that my jaw felt less tight, and I was able to relax it more than ever.
The scraping motion you do with a gua sha stone breaks up the muscle tissue, called fascia, which brings circulation and causes the muscles to relax more. If you are dealing with stress and can feel it in your face, gua sha is a super-easy way to bring some relief while adding some awesome self-care to your day.
An added benefit: fewer headaches!
Can help with skin dryness
Stop the presses—gua sha might save all of you dry-skin gals! Yet again, when you push all of those toxins out of your face, your skin begins to plump up with moisture since it isn’t weighed down anymore.
Reduces breakouts and helps with anti-aging
Yep, gua sha is basically a miracle worker. All that lymphatic drainage lurking in your skin is bound to cause some buildup, which is what can lead to acne, texture, and dullness in the skin. The massage, therefore, brings elasticity and brightness to the skin. Using firmer pressure can even help you tackle fine lines and wrinkles.
Adds facial contours
No need for expensive contour powders with your gua sha! As you scrape your gua sha stone across your cheeks, you’ll start to notice facial contours you never knew you had. While this slimming effect is only temporary, over time, getting the blood circulating and moving around all that lymphatic drainage can only help if you’re trying to slim down your face.
How do I do it?
You can do gua sha massages after either the serum, moisturizer, or oil step of your routine. I prefer to do my gua sha after I’ve applied all the products to my skin because it helps the stone glide across the skin effortlessly.
Each gua sha tool is shaped differently, so find the side that works best for the different contours of your face. I first use the side with the divot on mine to fit the contours like under my eyes, on my cheeks, and on my chin, and then I take the curved side for my forehead and down my neck and chest.
Because you’re about to push all these toxins out of your face (sounds amazing, right?), I like to make sure my neck is decongested before I start pushing all the gunk down it. In three different sections (both sides and directly under my chin), I run the tool toward my face for about five to 10 strokes.
Then, in a sweeping motion, I scrape the gua sha tool from the middle of my chin to right under my ear on my jawline and repeat five to 10 times depending on how excited I am to hop into bed. I do the other side and then continue up the face, scraping the gua sha from the corner of my mouth to my ears, under my ears, and just above my eyebrows. It sounds like a lot, but it’s so relaxing that you’ll be wishing you could rub that thing over your face for hours (If you can’t tell, my gua sha and I are in a serious, committed relationship right now).
If you need a visual, the video above is a great tutorial! Once you start gua sha-ing away, you’ll get into your own groove of how you like to do it.
As you’re massaging, don’t be afraid to add some firm pressure. Obviously, we’re not trying to bruise ourselves, but if some redness or little red dots appear, that’s normal. Redness means that the gua sha is bringing blood to the surface, so it’s doing its job!
I already have a jade roller. Do I need both?
Depending on your needs, both a gua sha stone and a jade roller can be beneficial. In my experience, a jade roller is amazing for helping products like serums and oils sink more deeply into the skin. I love using a jade roller to apply my eye creams at night as well as on top of sheet masks to help all that goodness soak in (one of my fave skincare hacks!). Gua sha, on the other hand, is more for massages than products. It helps you pull out all those toxins in your skin at a deeper level than the jade roller.
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