Learn how you can use Gua Sha to support skin health, why a serum is an important part of using a Gua Sha stone and the best facial serum for Gua Sha.
Gua Sha has many benefits, some we will discuss below. In order to reap the benefits from using a Gua Sha stone, you should use with a serum or oil. Below, we’ll break down the best facial serum for Gua Sha – including which oils to look for in the ingredients.
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What is Gua Sha
Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese Medicine treatment that uses a Gua Sha stone to stimulate blood flow and circulation in your skin. Also known as “coining”, the Gua Sha tool has a long history of being used to help remedy skin blemishes and other undesirable conditions.
Putting pressure on the stone as you drag it across your skin can cause minor broken blood vessels, small red spots (called petechiae), redness, and bruising—but this is where the benefits come from. Your body responds to this minor skin damage, effectively repairing and revitalizing your skin.
Benefits of Gua Sha
You may worry about damaging your skin while doing Gua Sha, but the damage is minor and is easily outweighed by the potential benefits as your body heals. The increase in blood flow to the area helps your body correct pre-existing issues like fluid retention and muscle pain. Gua Sha improves your skin by:
- Increasing blood circulation: The biggest benefit of Gua Sha is that it stimulates the flow of blood in your tissues. Increased blood flow helps your body clear out cellular waste products and keep your skin clear and glowing.
- Promoting lymphatic drainage: Your lymphatic system is like your blood vessel system, only there’s no heart to pump the fluid around. Most movement of lymphatic fluid comes from you moving your body. Gua Sha helps move lymphatic fluid, discouraging fluid retention and lymphatic fluid buildup. This can help reduce puffiness, swelling, and pain in your skin.
- Relieving muscle pain: Gua Sha is similar to massage and may help reduce muscle cramps or other muscle-based pains.
- Reducing fluid retention: Your body may retain fluid in and around your skin for a variety of reasons. Gua Sha can help reduce this. The stimulating effect of gentle Gua Sha massage can help clear stored fluid and minimize puffy skin.
- Brightening the skin: The increased blood flow that comes from Gua Sha can help brighten your skin. Promoting blood flow allows your body to clear cellular waste products from your skin and bring in fresh, new nutrients. This helps your skin cells operate as they should, without any buildup of by-products.
- Providing anti-aging effects: Gua Sha can help fight signs of aging by promoting blood flow and encouraging collagen production which in turn can reduce the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Healthy circulation is vital for skin to stay looking young.
- Facial sculpting: Many social media platforms have been flooded with influencers using Gua Sha, claiming it helps them change the shape of their face. Primarily, it’s claimed to help give you a more defined jawline.
For more on Gua Sha facial benefits, check out this article, where Dr. Jennifer Trent (Wellness Trickle’s contributing dermatologist) breaks down all the benefits.
The goal of using an oil for Gua Sha is to reduce the friction between your skin and your Gua Sha stone. By allowing the stone to slide across your skin, you’re avoiding any pulling or stretching of the skin while retaining the beneficial action of Gua Sha.
Serums and oils have long been used to help with skin problems, and it’s been found that the method of extracting the oil is among the most important means of improving the oil’s effectiveness. Cold pressing is believed to be the best way to extract oils when you’re wanting to preserve all the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the oil. This means it’s a good idea to lean towards cold-pressed oils over other extraction methods.
A huge variety of oils and serums are being advertised to help with all sorts of skin issues. This can make it difficult to know which one is best for your skin type or which one is best to use for Gua Sha. It’s important to look for an oil that’s appropriate for your skin specifically. These are some commonly used types of oils and serums based on skin type.
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Dry skin is a problem that many people struggle with. You can use different types of oils to help keep your skin healthy and happy. If you have problems with dry skin, here are some of the most helpful oils and serums you can use:
- Jojoba oil: Obtained from mature seeds of the jojoba flower, jojoba oil is a humectant, meaning it helps to attract water. This is desirable for skin care as a humectant oil can help draw moisture from deep within your skin to the surface. Humectants can also draw moisture from the air to help hydrate your skin.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is natural, safe for skin, and readily accessible. It’s rich in lauric acid, which is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, both of which are ideal traits for a Gua Sha oil. Coconut oil is also an emollient, helping soothe inflamed or upset skin. Emollients help fill in gaps and cracks in your skin, allowing your Gua Sha stone to move more easily over your skin.
- Almond oil / sweet almond oil: This oil, extracted from raw almonds, is rich in vitamin E and vitamin A as well as zinc. These components help hydrate your skin while using your Gua Sha stone and even support healthy skin barrier function. Almond oil is best avoided if you’re allergic to nuts.
- Sunflower seed oil: High in vitamin E and easily absorbed into the skin, sunflower seed oil is a great choice for using with a Gua Sha stone. Sunflower oil is also believed to help maintain a healthy skin barrier without interfering with normal skin oils.
Oily skin is caused by overproduction of sebum, an oily substance secreted from your pores. Despite your skin being oily already, certain oils can help keep your skin happy and healthy and allow you to use your Gua Sha stone at the same time.
- Jojoba oil: Although jojoba oil is recommended for dry skin, it’s also good for dealing with oily skin. It’s a light oil that doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy and won’t clog your pores, a possible worry with other products.
- Aloe vera oil: You’ll likely already know aloe vera as being good for sunburns. But did you know it also has potential benefits for issues arising from oily skin? According to the Mayo Clinic, aloe vera can help reduce flaky skin caused by too much oil. Aloe vera oil can be used with Gua Sha to help lubricate your skin, preventing too much tugging or stretching.
If you have sensitive skin, you already know how difficult, and sometimes stressful, it can be to find an oil that doesn’t cause you problems. You’ll need to use an oil of some sort for Gua Sha to work well, so it’s a good idea to do some reading on what might be best for you.
If you haven’t tried an oil before, test out a small area on your skin to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a gentle, hypoallergenic oil that you can apply to your skin before using your Gua Sha stone. Studies have shown that coconut oil helps reduce skin inflammation and reduce the effects of contact hypersensitivity. If you have sensitive skin, coconut oil is a good place to start for your Gua Sha oil.
- Almond oil: Almond oil is reasonably neutral and can be a good one to use for Gua Sha on sensitive skin. If you are allergic to nuts it’s best you avoid almond oil.
- Essential oils: Despite the fact that that essential oils (EOs) are natural and safe, those with sensitive skin may find EOs aren’t the best choice. Some essential oils are more gentle than others, but you may be hesitant about testing them out to see what works and what doesn’t. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to stick with gentle oils.
Acne-prone skin can be tricky to take care of as some oils or moisturizers clog your pores, making your acne problem worse rather than better.
- Sunflower seed oil: This oil is a great choice for Gua Sha as it lubricates effectively, preserves skin cell integrity, and helps hydrate your skin as you use your Gua Sha stone. Sunflower seed oil is also very high in linoleic acid, which can help stimulate the growth of new skin cells.
Wrinkles and aging skin are normal and expected—but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it as unavoidable. In combination with oils, Gua Sha may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to help you look your best. Below are some of the best oils to use for Gua Sha when you have aging skin.
Apricot oil: Made from apricot seeds, apricot oil has very high levels of vitamin E, which is naturally found in sebum, the oil your skin excretes to keep itself healthy. The amount of sebum your skin releases decreases with age so supplementing it with apricot oil is a good idea.
- Almond oil: Similar to apricot oil, almond oil has high levels of vitamin E. Providing your skin with vitamin E when it can’t do so itself may help avoid skin problems associated with age. Almond oil is also believed to aid with the breakdown of scar tissue.
- Rosehip oil: Rosehip oil contains vitamins E and C, which are antioxidants that help fight free radicals. It’s also rich in essential fatty acids, which help to protect against inflammation and oxidative stress, which can cause aging.
- Grapeseed oil: Rich in phenolic compounds and vitamins, grapeseed oil can be a good choice for Gua Sha on aging skin. Grapeseed oil has even been found to enhance the synthesis of VEGF, a growth factor in your skin that helps promote the creation of blood vessels. In turn, this increased blood flow in your skin can promote healthier skin.
Serums containing hyaluronic acid and argan oil are also great options for all skin types.
- Argan oil: Argan oil is great for moisturizing, for reducing oil in oily skin, can improve elasticity to help with aging, moisturize dry skin, can help treat acne and is generally a good oil for sensitive skin.
- Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is found naturally, in the body’s connective tissue. It’s great for all skin types and works by pulling water to the skin’s surface which moisturizes and plumps the skin. On products, you will see hyaluronic acid in one of these forms: sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid and sodium acetylated hyaluronate.
Best facial serum for Gua Sha: Non-toxic product recommendations
Finding the best face oils and face serums will be dependent on your skin type and what you like best. Here are some of our favorites. Most of these oils do double duty a way to refer to licorice root article as well. Also Hugh and Grace Review article.
- Dry skin: Beautycounter’s Counter + Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm – Okay, technically this is a cleanser, but it’s so moisturizing, it’s also a great face oil. It smells divine and includes ingredients like jojoba seed oil and avocado oil to lock in moisture.
- Oily & acne prone skin: This face serum is technically a cleanser, but it works fantastic as a serum for Gua Sha. With ingredients like jojoba oil and tamanu oil, it’s great for oily skin, aging skin, acne and wrinkles.
- Sensitive skin: The easiest oil for sensitive skin is plain coconut oil. It works great, is cost effective and is easy to find. But if you are looking to add more nutrients, the Restoring Face Serum is formulated to eliminate toxins and calm the skin.
- Aging skin: This Renewing Night Serum includes rosehip oil, grapeseed oil and vitamin E to help with aging, but also includes blue tansy oil, which helps with inflammation. Blue tansy is great if you are also prone to redness and irritation.
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Incorporating a Gua Sha facial massage into your skincare routine is a great way to maintain your skin health, but it’s important to use an appropriate oil for the best results. Choosing the right oil can also help you with managing your skin type. Find an oil that suits your needs specifically and Gua Sha will be a great tool in your kit for keeping your skin glowing and youthful.
You may already have a face serum you love. If so, give it a try with a Gua Sha stone and see how you like it. If you don’t already have a favorite serum, give one our favorites listed above a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Dr. Trent broke down all you need to know about skin cells and how to take care of your skin here for more information and serum recommendations to care for your skin.
We did a review of Hugh and Grace (a plant-based product line with great serums) here, which breaks down their different plant-based serums and what we love (and don’t) about them. Use code JENNIFER10 for 10% off your Hugh and Grace purchase!