How to perform gua sha

One for the long weekend?

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

Between the shiny, millennial-centric brands delivering fresh drops through your letter box, the more established, cult buys and the indie outfits selling a fine line in ‘natural and organic’ products, the beauty landscape has never felt more cluttered.

To help you to navigate this brave new world of retinol, AHAs, jade rollers and double cleansing, WH beauty editor, Perdita Nouril, is here to try and test the new drops that are making their way into her (very full) bathroom, via her new column, Beauty Dispatch.

Every month, she’ll share the freshly released heroes that she loves, ready to let you know where to spend your skin and hair care cash.

This month: Why coronavirus lock-down – and, especially, the four day weekend – is the perfect time try facial Gua Sha, the Chinese massage technique said to boost your glow.

Already know about Gua Sha? Scroll on for your 6 step guide to trying it at home

Gua Sha for your face: why it’s time to try it

‘The ability to control time’. It’s always my stock answer when anyone asks me what superpower I dream of having most. Whilst I haven’t quite been blessed with said superpower yet (I live in hope), coronavirus lockdown has meant I’ve acquired bags of time in relation to my life just a mere three weeks ago. One teeny silver lining? I’ve been mastering the glow-giving art of facial Gua Sha.

What is Gua Sha?

Not that long ago Gua Sha hung on the wellness periphery. But Chinese medicine-based skincare has been gaining traction thanks its natural approach with the added oomph of thousands of years of practice behind it.

Pronounced ‘gwa sha’, it translates to ‘scrape wind, as the treatment involves scraping or pulling a flat jade or rose quartz stone along oiled skin. You’d be forgiven for thinking the tool looks a little bit like the footprint of a baby dinosaur.

‘The technique was predominantly used on the body to release toxins and chi stagnation, which in turn relieves pain in tired, sore, or injured muscles. It stimulates new blood flow to generate metabolic cell repair and healing’ explains Celebrity Facialist Su-Man.

‘According to traditional Chinese medicine, chi is energy that flows through the body. People believe that a person’s chi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and wellbeing. When the chi is blocked, one might experience pain or tension in the muscles and joints and Gua Sha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness’ she explains.

A quick Google of the treatment throughs up all sorts of images of bruised skin, which can be little off-putting. Fret not because the Gua Sha technique carried out on your face – what I am going to demonstrate here – is more gentle.

In Chinese medicine, gua sha is an ancient technique that can be used to relieve acute or chronic musculoskeletal pain, improve circulation and reduce inflammation, support the immune system and address upper respiratory illnesses, and release tension in areas where there is restricted movement. It can even be used for beautifying techniques like de-puffing and lifting skin. Western sports medicine therapists have adopted gua sha with their own scraping version, called the Graston Technique .

We use a smooth, hand-held tool to press and stroke on skin lubricated with oil, almost like a “scraping” technique. These tools are commonly flat stones or a roller, usually made from jade or other semi-precious stones like rose quartz. Jade is considered a Yin stone for its cooling nature to alleviate inflammation. You can also use a rounded ceramic soup spoon or a metal baby jar cap with a thick lip.

How to perform gua sha Various Gua Sha Tools

Gua means “to rub” and sha refers to the reddened marks indicating where blood stagnation or heat is trapped in the body. The quality, color, and location of the sha are part of our Chinese pattern diagnosis. Gua sha is done in one direction and in even strokes to create the sha that is raised from repeated scraping. These marks represent superficial broken capillaries, which promote an anti-inflammatory and immune response to improve circulation. Here is a video from our IGTV which shows gua sha being performed by Yinova practitioner, Dara Barr.

*Before performing gua sha on yourself, we recommend meeting with one of our practitioners to receive guidance and see if this technique will be beneficial for you.

You May Also Like

Anxiety, Depression & Emotional Support

A Deeper Look at Grief from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

How Chinese Medicine Can Help You Prepare for the COVID-19 Vaccine

For musculoskeletal pain

  • Especially helpful for stiff necks, shoulder pain, back pain
  • Palpate the local area to feel for any muscle tightness, achiness, or knots.
  • Lubricate the area with a massage oil or muscle-relief balm. If you don’t have access to either, you can also use an oil like olive, coconut, or avocado.
  • Press and scrape in one direction with even strokes until the sha appears.
  • Stay on flesh and muscle, do not scrape over the spine or boney areas.

How to perform gua sha

For respiratory illnesses

  • Especially helpful for common colds with achy upper body, fever, or coughs
  • Focus on the upper back between the spine and shoulder blades. Use an aromatic oil or balm on the skin. Again, if you are at home and using your own oil, you can consider adding some fresh ginger to your oil.

For coughs

Gua sha the upper and outer chest over the pec muscles, located just below the outer end of the collarbones and in front of the shoulders. (This is exemplified in the aforementioned IGTV video .)

How to perform gua sha

Facial gua sha has become a popular beautifying technique to naturally stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic drainage for tired or congested skin. It can be used for lifting and sculpting, relaxing tight muscles that contribute to fine lines (like brows furrows), and for de-puffing under-eyes and cheeks. It’s also helpful for jaw tension, seasonal allergies, and sinus congestion. When performing facial gua sha, make sure you use much less pressure on the face – no sha should arise. The most popular gua sha tools for the face are a jade roller or rose quartz stone. Here is some general advice for facial gua sha:

  • Moisten the skin with a gentle facial oil, like rosehips.
  • With gentle pressure, move in upward lifting motions from the center of the face and out towards the hairline.
  • Stop and lightly press the tool in the hairline in front of and behind the ears to stimulate lymphatic drainage. Also follow the jawline and sides of the neck, where there are more drainage sites.
  • Do not roll over moles and avoid acne

How to perform gua sha

For under eyes

  • Use the small end of the jade roller to roll very gently under the eyes and up towards the temples. Or, simply hold a flat stone under the eyes and allow the coolness to firm and depuff.

For sinus relief

  • Follow the natural curve of the cheekbone, moving the tool from the side of the nose and up towards the hairline. Also roll over the brow bone, moving from inner to outer brow.

Although the marks may look intense, they will fade after a few days. Gua sha is not painful and patients quickly feel relief with decreased tension and increased mobility. Until then:

  • Keep the area covered to protect from cold weather, wind, sunlight, and water.
  • get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
  • Do not shower immediately after.
  • Avoid exercise and sweating.
  • Clean your tool after each use with soap and water, do not share your tool with others.

If you would like to explore Gua Sha further, head to our store to get your own stone and/or roller!

How to perform gua sha

Gua Sha Lymphatic Massage at Home

Skin health is closely related to the functionality of your lymphatic system as it plays a major role in detoxification, and it can cause fluid retention and puffiness if it is stagnant from facial procedures, acne, and congestion. Sometimes our lymphatic system needs a little extra love to get going. Since it doesn’t have a pump of its own, our lymphatic system counts on us to manually stimulate it. Lymphatic massage helps your lymph nodes unclog to get your skin glowing and reduce swelling – especially after facial surgery. Gua Sha is recommended particularly after procedures such as jaw contouring , facelift , and EmbraceRF .

The 3 most common methods of lymphatic massage include manual manipulation, Gua Sha, and use of a jade roller. While all are beneficial, Gua Sha stand outs because it provides even pressure over a large surface area. The jade gua sha tools come in multiple shapes which are all fairly simple, making them easy to clean, while also being able to maneuver through through all the contours and crevices of the face and neck.

Gua Sha tips
  • Find a light oil or cream as gua sha always needs a carrier oil or a slippery lotion to move across the skin. If you have acneic skin you can use a hyaluronic acid serum instead.
  • Hold your tool at a 15-30 degree angle slanted
  • The trick to using your tools at home is to go upwards and outwards, away from the midline (center) of the face. This will help encourage for the lymph to flow freely.
  • Don’t forget to go down the sides of the neck!
  • It’s ok to use two gua sha blades for the sake of time, and you can also feel the difference on each side of the face and what needs more work.
  • A small wiggle at the end of your pass with help push lymph out.
  • Lastly, the right pressure is whatever feels good to you. Follow your intuition, maybe it’s more or less in some areas.

There are numerous tutorial videos online to help you as you learn more advanced techniques. You can also find Gua Sha tools of various materials and shapes to fit your budget and lifestyle. Using these tools in your beauty ritual is a part of caring for yourself and connecting to your needs!

Do you want us to treat you to a relaxing Gua Sha Lymphatic Facial in the office? Schedule an appointment today!

How to perform gua sha

Gua sha is a technique used in traditional East Asian medicine. It is often used to treat muscle pain and tension, but there has been limited research into how well it works. We find out more about whether gua sha is effective, and if it has any side effects.

Gua sha aims to move energy, known as qi or chi, around the body. The treatment involves using a tool to rub the skin in long strokes, applying enough pressure to create minor bruising.

Gua sha may help to break down scar tissue and connective tissue, improving movement in the joints. The treatment does not have any serious side effects but is not suitable for those with certain medical conditions.

How to perform gua sha

Share on Pinterest Gua sha may be used to treat muscle pain and can break down scar tissue.

Gua sha is the practice of using a tool to apply pressure and scrape the skin to relieve pain and tension. This action causes light bruising, which often appears as purple or red spots known as petechiae or sha.

The name gua sha — pronounced gwahshah — comes from the Chinese word for scraping. It may also be called skin scraping, spooning, or coining.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, qi or chi is energy that flows through the body. Many people believe that a person’s qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and wellbeing.

People also believe that qi can become blocked, causing pain or tension in the muscles and joints. Gua sha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness.

Traditional East Asian medicine also views blood stasis or stagnation as a cause of pain and illness. Another aim of gua sha is to move pooled or stagnated blood to relieve symptoms.

Some physiotherapists use a version of the technique known as instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). Using a tool instead of the hands during a massage allows a physiotherapist to apply more pressure.

Gua sha is most often used to relieve muscle and joint pain. Conditions of the muscles and bones are known as musculoskeletal disorders. Some examples include back pain, tendon strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Practitioners claim that gua sha can also benefit the immune system and reduce inflammation. Sometimes, gua sha is used to treat a cold, fever, or problems with the lungs.

Small injuries to the body, such as the bruises caused by gua sha, are sometimes known as microtrauma. These create a response in the body that may help to break up scar tissue.

Microtrauma may also help with fibrosis, which is a buildup of too much connective tissue when the body heals.

Physiotherapists may use IASTM on connective tissue that is not working to move joints as it should. This problem may be due to a repetitive strain injury or another condition. Gua sha is used alongside other treatments, such as stretching and strengthening exercises.

Researchers have carried out small studies on the following groups of people to see if gua sha works:

  • women near menopause
  • people with neck and shoulder pain from computer use
  • male weightlifters, to help with recovery after training
  • older adults with back pain

Women found that perimenopause symptoms, such as sweating, insomnia, and headaches , were reduced after gua sha.

A 2014 study found that gua sha improved the range of movement and reduced pain in people who used computers frequently compared with a control group that had no treatment.

In a 2017 study, weightlifters who had gua sha felt that lifting weights took less effort after treatment. This could suggest that the treatment speeds up muscle recovery.

Older adults with back pain were treated with either gua sha or a hot pack. Both treatments relieved symptoms equally well, but the effects of gua sha lasted longer .

After a week, those who had received gua sha treatment reported greater flexibility and less back pain than the other group.

Gua sha causes tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin called capillaries to burst. This creates the distinctive red or purple bruises, known as sha.

The bruises usually take a few days or a week to heal and can be tender while healing. People can take an over-the-counter painkiller, such as ibuprofen, to help with pain and reduce swelling.

A person should protect the bruised area and take care not to bump it. Applying an ice pack can help to reduce inflammation and ease any pain.

Gua sha practitioners should not break the skin during the treatment, but there is a risk it could happen. Broken skin increases the possibility of infection, so a gua sha practitioner should always sterilize their tools between treatments.

Gua sha is not suitable for everybody. People who should not have gua sha include those:

  • who have medical conditions affecting the skin or veins
  • who bleed easily
  • who take medication to thin their blood
  • who have deep vein thrombosis
  • who have an infection, tumor, or wound that has not healed fully
  • who have an implant, such as a pacemaker or internal defibrillator

Is gua sha painful?

Treatment is not supposed to be painful, but gua sha deliberately causes bruising, which may cause discomfort for some people. These bruises should heal within a few days.

One for the long weekend?

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

Between the shiny, millennial-centric brands delivering fresh drops through your letter box, the more established, cult buys and the indie outfits selling a fine line in ‘natural and organic’ products, the beauty landscape has never felt more cluttered.

To help you to navigate this brave new world of retinol, AHAs, jade rollers and double cleansing, WH beauty editor, Perdita Nouril, is here to try and test the new drops that are making their way into her (very full) bathroom, via her new column, Beauty Dispatch.

Every month, she’ll share the freshly released heroes that she loves, ready to let you know where to spend your skin and hair care cash.

This month: Why coronavirus lock-down – and, especially, the four day weekend – is the perfect time try facial Gua Sha, the Chinese massage technique said to boost your glow.

Already know about Gua Sha? Scroll on for your 6 step guide to trying it at home

Gua Sha for your face: why it’s time to try it

‘The ability to control time’. It’s always my stock answer when anyone asks me what superpower I dream of having most. Whilst I haven’t quite been blessed with said superpower yet (I live in hope), coronavirus lockdown has meant I’ve acquired bags of time in relation to my life just a mere three weeks ago. One teeny silver lining? I’ve been mastering the glow-giving art of facial Gua Sha.

What is Gua Sha?

Not that long ago Gua Sha hung on the wellness periphery. But Chinese medicine-based skincare has been gaining traction thanks its natural approach with the added oomph of thousands of years of practice behind it.

Pronounced ‘gwa sha’, it translates to ‘scrape wind, as the treatment involves scraping or pulling a flat jade or rose quartz stone along oiled skin. You’d be forgiven for thinking the tool looks a little bit like the footprint of a baby dinosaur.

‘The technique was predominantly used on the body to release toxins and chi stagnation, which in turn relieves pain in tired, sore, or injured muscles. It stimulates new blood flow to generate metabolic cell repair and healing’ explains Celebrity Facialist Su-Man.

‘According to traditional Chinese medicine, chi is energy that flows through the body. People believe that a person’s chi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and wellbeing. When the chi is blocked, one might experience pain or tension in the muscles and joints and Gua Sha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness’ she explains.

A quick Google of the treatment throughs up all sorts of images of bruised skin, which can be little off-putting. Fret not because the Gua Sha technique carried out on your face – what I am going to demonstrate here – is more gentle.

Nowadays, every spa salon adds gua sha treatments to its beauty routine. However, if you do not want to spend your time in expensive salons, then you may practice this type of self-care in your own home. What matters is that you follow the right safe practices so that there are as few side effects as possible. Here is a short guide that will teach you the basics.

Before you begin scraping with your guasha tool, you must apply pre/post treatment moisturizing. Gua sha tools have sharp edges – and if you do not moisturize the skin properly, you risk injuring it. The gua sha will simply get stuck on your skin and scrape more of the skin than you need to – causing excessive bruising.

Still, when the skin is moisturized, each stroke will go smoothly over the skin – not getting stuck on any of the dry areas. This way, the massage will start encouraging lymphatic drainage as well as the other benefits, without actually adding to the redness of the skin.

Pressing randomly is not recommended when it comes to gua sha. Instead, certain areas will require different pressure. For example, areas such as your neck will require gentle pressure, as you have more arteries and veins there. Make sure to always remain in lateral with the movements, as it should help you improve your blood circulation much better.

After each stroke with the gua sha board, you should always end with a small wiggle. This will aid in moving the lymph and promoting drainage. For better effect, you should always repeat the strokes 3-7 times. Don’t freak if you hear crunchy sounds now and again. That’s your gua sha tool breaking down the fascia so that it promotes proper blood circulation.

Gua sha tools have a natural ability to keep cool. However, to reap the stone’s benefits to the fullest, you might want to ensure proper storage. Keep it in a dark place – or if possible, in the fridge. This will add to its de-puffing properties.

Before you use your gua sha, make sure there aren’t any cracks or sharp edges that might hurt the skin. Your technique might be good, but if you end up adding too much pressure and cutting your skin, it might lead up to infection. This is why you should always check that there aren’t any defects.

This should be particularly done if you just bought a cheap guasha. If it’s fake, it may have cracks or jagged edges that can make tears in the skin. This will add to the redness, in which case your potential bruises will not heal as fast anymore.

Like with every DIY routine, you have to be very careful. If not done properly, gua sha can leave some nasty marks that could have otherwise been avoided. Hopefully, our tips proved to be of good use to you.

An ancient practice with modern benefits

How to perform gua sha

First came the crystal revival, with all its holistic healing promises. Bolstered by a wave of approving A-listers (Victoria Beckham reportedly carries a quartz in her bag), the allure of these precious gemstones quickly penetrated the mainstream to become part of our self-care lexicon.

Jade rollers soon followed, purporting skin de-puffing benefits as well as therapeutic appeal. Now, we’ve graduated onto gua sha: an ancient Chinese therapy that’s hard to pronounce (phonetically, it’s gwa-sa), yet surprisingly simple to understand.

So, is gua sha the first form of crystal healing that wellness sceptics can get behind? Here, we speak to the experts to reveal exactly what gua sha is – and how you can reap the benefits.

What is gua sha?

“Gua sha can be literally translated as ‘scraping sand’,” explains Ada Ooi, facialist and founder of 001 Skincare. The technique originates from ancient China, and involves scraping the muscles along the different meridians of the face, using a small, smooth-edged stone.

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

The intense traditional body treatment, which leaves bold red marks all over the skin, has now evolved into a gentler, therapeutic facial therapy, which is fast gaining traction in the UK for its purported contour-sculpting benefits.

How does it work?

According to Ooi, the firm, sweeping movements used in a gua sha therapy work to boost circulation, which can have multiple benefits for the face.

“When combined with other techniques such as lymphatic drainage, gua sha can also lift the contours of your face, or break down blockages and correct facial asymmetry caused by bad habits and irregular alignment of the body,” she says.

So far, so appealing – but can a gua sha facial massage really live up to such big claims?

Despite the therapy’s ancient origins, modern research does provide plentiful support for its benefits – notably when it comes to muscle recovery, pain management and skin microcirculation.

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

A recent study revealed that gua-sha therapy increased microcirculation in the skin’s surface fourfold, decreasing muscle tightness and pain. Increased blood flow in the face means a heightened update of nutrients and oxygen, which ultimately shifts toxins and leads to healthier skin.

David Petrusich, head of education at skincare brand Herbivore Botanicals, suggests that myriad skin conditions can be traced back to a stagnant lymphatic flow, because toxins trapped in blocked passageways will move out of the body in other ways. This can result in skin infections and breakouts. “When you can get your lymphatic system moving again, you are allowing potential excess waste lingering in those passageways to flush out.”

So, while claims that gua sha can reduce wrinkles long-term should be met with apprehension, it seems these smooth stones can indeed help to boost blood flow, kick-start a sluggish lymph system – potentially leading to clearer skin – and ease a clenched jaw.

Gua sha or jade roller – which is best?

Of course, if there’s already a jade (or amethyst/rose quartz etc) roller nestled on your skincare shelf, you might be wondering if you really need to invest in a gua sha tool.

According to Petrusich, which one you opt for is simply down to a matter of preference in modality. “The facial roller can be a much more convenient and quick option for stimulating blood flow and draining puffiness, while the gua sha can help the user bring some intuitive flow to their routine, working on a deeper level while spending more time really indulging in the ritual of skincare.”

So, a jade roller makes for a speedy de-puffing tool – especially when fresh from the fridge – but a gua-sha allows for more precision, firmer pressure, and deeper benefits.

How to perform gua sha

How to perform gua sha

Chinese traditional massage – Gua Sha.

The natural skincare brand ESPA has launched a collection of four beauty tools right in time for the holidays, and one of which is the rose quartz gua sha. Making use of traditional massage and acupressure techniques, the tools helps to stimulate circulation as well as lymphatic drainage, reducing puffiness, and defining facial features such as the cheekbones and the jawline. The experts at ESPA tell us about this age-old tool, and offer a handy step-by-step guide to help us make the most of it.

How to perform gua sha

Rose Quartz Gua Sha

Gua sha, pronounced “gwa sha” is an ancient massage technique developed by traditional Chinese medicine. It began as a treatment mainly on the body to improve blood circulation, move lymphatic stagnation and release muscle tension. A much gentler version, the facial gua sha, was created for the face that involves a light gliding motion to tone, lift, and smooth the skin.

How to perform gua sha

Rose Quartz Gua Sha

Designed to soften tense muscles, encourage lymphatic drainage and boost circulation bringing fresh blood and nutrients to the skin for a healthy glow that allows the skin to function better. The rose quartz material used in the stone is believed to promote unconditional love and peace.

The Zero Downtime, Non-Surgical Facelift Everyone Is Talking About

The Decorative Objet D’Art Edit For The Home

Skinny Jeans Are Out: Wear These 6 Trending Styles Instead

Follow these steps to make the most of the gua sha tool.

1. Apply your favourite ESPA Treatment Oil, Serum or Moisturiser to cleanse skin. Make sure you include the neck and décolleté as well as the face.

2. Start at the shoulder and using a medium pressure pull the long edge of the gua sha upwards from the slope of your shoulder, up the back of the neck to the base of the skull (occipital) and rotate. This will help to release tension. Repeat to the other side.

3. Support your chin with one hand. Hold the pointed end of the gua sha in the other hand and use the double curved end to contour the jawbone. Slide with medium pressure out towards the ear and rotate. Repeat five times.

4. Starting at the side of the nose, use the long side of the gua sha to slide out towards the ear, pause and rotate. Repeat five times.

5. Contour under the cheek bone sweeping out to the temple and rotate. Repeat five times.

6. Gently support the eye area with one hand and holding the gua sha in the other hand, carefully use the circular edge to sweep outwards underneath the eye. Repeat five times.

7. Using the long edge of the gua sha pull up from the right eyebrow to the hairline and rotate. Repeat five times.

8. Repeat steps two-seven to the other side of the face.