We are totally hooked on gua sha! This super trendy but ancient skincare modality has an effect that is just WOW for anti-aging, contouring, toning, flushing out toxins, and so much more. We’ve been doing it regularly for about 6 months now, but we are also lucky enough to have an in-house master practitioner at our spa, Being in LA, who has been so kind to share her tricks and tips on how to get the hang of it and do it like a pro. So here’s your little starter guide on how to use a gua sha tool!
What is a Gua Sha?
Gua sha is a traditional architectural stone that has been used in Chinese medicine to gently massage the skin and dramatically improve its appearance. Experts who study this modality date it to the Ming Dynasty circa 700 years ago. It might even be older! Some claim that it has been used since the Paleolithic Age to manipulate the flow of chi (energy) to cure illness and alleviate pain.
Recently it’s made its way into the hands of the beauty-obsessed who love the simplicity of a natural, handheld device that has such a dramatic effect on their appearance. The first time we had it done we tried it on one side of our face first to better see the difference, and — wow — we felt a little bit like Cubist Picasso painting, with one side visibly more lifted, smooth, and line-free!
Gua sha translates to “raking sand” and, in a way, you gently “rake” the skin to manipulate lymph, muscles, and fascia. Traditional tools were made from Bian stone, also known as the “Empress Stone” in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is said to possess infrared properties that can improve oxygen absorption, balance pH, remove toxins and heat, and improve circulation. It also emits negative ions (like the ocean!) and contains over 40 health-boosting minerals.
Other stones often employed in this modality are jade, rose quartz, agate, and black obsidian. Some people like stainless steel, but we love the crystals and stones that have special properties encouraging our overall health and well-being.
Gua Sha Skin Care Benefits
Gua Sha is a very gentle but super effective, non-invasive technique that almost works like a mini facelift. It can improve skin tone, texture, elasticity, and hydration. By eliminating excess toxins, fluids, and build-up, gua sha allows for improved microcirculation, which improves overall skin health and its ability to repair itself. Its effects are both instantly visible as well as long-term.
It's ideal for draining excess lymph fluid that has accumulated due to factors such as stress. Amazingly, 33 percent of the lymph system is found from our neck up! So if you ever wake up looking puffy in the morning, gua sha is excellent at cleaning out stagnation. Gua sha also works on the muscles of the face and the fascia.
The fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that holds our organs, blood vessels, bones, nerve fibers, and muscles in place. When stressed, it tightens up. Also, as we get older or due to several stressors, fascia can thicken and get sticky, ultimately drying out, beginning to fray and stiffen. The result? Wrinkles! Gua sha can release stuck fascia and deeply held wrinkles to significantly smooth and even lines.
How to Use a Gua Sha
When you first start implementing gua sha, you should know the most common areas you can “manipulate" such as the eyes, forehead, cheeks, labial fold, jawline, and neck. We love the treatment for alleviating under-eye puffiness and erasing the little 11s (vertical lines) between the eyebrows. It also eases the appearance of labial folds and provides a stunning neck and chin lift.
Prep for your DYI session by cleansing your face (perhaps do a very mild exfoliation or mist some Be Clean – Detoxifying Toner to kill bacteria), then apply your favorite face oil to your face and your stone. It’s crucial to use a quality oil so that your stone can glide (rather than “scrape”) without damaging the delicate skin of the face. We recommend our anti-aging Divine Balance — Luxury Face and Body Oil with wrinkle-defense peptides and our Be Clean — Detoxifying Elixir — which is ideal if you are red, sensitive or experiencing breakouts.
Ground yourself with some deep breaths and get your circulation going. Be sure to apply firm but very light pressure (less is more), never “dig in,” and hold your stone at an angle that is flat (almost parallel) against your skin. Apply five strokes each per area and finish with a little wiggle of the stone to release tension. It’s about quality, not quantity!
Each section of the face requires a slightly different movement of the tool. A comprehensive how-to guide here would get way too lengthy, so here are three areas where you can test your new knowledge:
Smooth out the 11s on the forehead:
Hold down the skin between the eyebrows with our free hand. Hold the stone as flat as possible and use its long side to gently move towards your hairline.
Reduce puffiness under the eyes:
Hold down the inner corner of your eye and use just one delicate and light notch of a stroke up towards the temple, all while keeping the tool as flat as possible. Always shake off in hairline.
Release, lift and sculpt the jaw:
Hold your chin with your free hand, then sandwich the jawline with the notched edges of the stone and follow your jawline to the ear, all while holding the tool as flat as possible.
Remember to apply VERY light pressure. The skin on the face is just a delicate 0.02 mm, after all! After your treatment, your face might look a tad red from all that beautiful increased blood flow, but that’s only temporary. We recommend you drink plenty of water to help flush out the toxins you have released.
To cleanse off the oil, mist the face with Be Clean – Detoxifying Toner or delicately wipe it off with a warm face towel. Next, you can apply your favorite serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen (if it’s daytime), or administer your evening skincare routine (if you are doing gua sha before bed). Once you see the astounding results you will be as hooked on this amazing SKIN RITUAL as we are!
For visual guidance and an even deeper dive into the fundamentals of gua sha, check out our Live IG TV with our in-house expert and lead aesthy, Andrea Wallace and our alchemist, Jenette Serrins!
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