What is all the hype with Gua Sha stones? Here, we’ll learn the top 12 Gua Sha facial benefits, why it’s such a popular tool and how to get started.
One of the more recent beauty trends to go viral on TikTok and social media is Gua Sha. Unlike many questionable practices on social media, this trend is based on traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, the technique dates back to the times of the Ming Dynasty and has been used to improve overall health. It can be performed at home or by a professional.
So what are the Gua Sha facial benefits that have so many people swearing by it? Read on to find out. We’ll first look at what Gua Sha is.
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What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha uses a smooth device with rounded edges, such as a Gua Sha stone or a spoon, to perform a muscular pressure scraping technique. It can be used alone or in combination with acupuncture, massage, or heat therapy. It is not just a beauty tool.
Gua Sha is based on traditional Chinese medicine principles of qi (pronounced “chi”) or energy. Qi flows through our bodies to keep us healthy. When it becomes stagnant, health problems can occur.
When a Gua Sha tool is rolled over and scrapes the areas of stagnation, this improves blood flow and circulation to reduce inflammation and promote healing. It also helps improve the movement of lymph fluid through the lymphatic system to rid the body of toxins.
What is a Gua Sha facial massage?
Gua Sha treatments can be performed on the face by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in their offices or at home. The Gua Sha facial begins by using a gentle cleanser to cleanse your face. Next, the practitioner applies oil or serum to the treatment area. You should not use your tool without an oil or serum because it can irritate and pull on the skin. The friction will damage the skin.
Using oil or serum will help the stone glide effortlessly over your skin and not lead to damage. Use an antioxidant oil to help repair damage to your skin or a hydrating oil to moisturize your skin. Gua Sha also helps products penetrate better, so you get more benefits.
Next, the Gua Sha tool is rubbed over the treatment areas in the direction of the muscle or based on the location of the meridian lines. The face is divided in half vertically into halves. It is important to keep the stone flat against the skin and follow the contours of the face.
Start with one half of the face, and with slow, gentle pressure, move the massage tool starting from the chin upwards and outwards towards the jawline in long strokes. Do that 3-5 times before moving on to the cheeks, under the eyes and eye area, and finally the forehead using the same motions. You may increase the pressure as tolerated.
There may be some redness, soreness, or bruising after the procedure, which will fade in a few days. There should be no pain during or after the procedure.
Ideally, Gua Sha massage should be part of your daily routine to reap the full benefits and get the best results. However, you will get good results if you do it three times a week. You can perform this at home after cleansing and moisturizing your face before bedtime. The more you practice your Gua Sha massage technique, the better you will become.
What is the difference between a Gua Sha stone and a Jade roller?
There are similarities and differences between a Gua Sha stone and a jade roller. They both improve lymphatic drainage to reduce facial puffiness and increase blood flow and circulation to improve complexion.
A Gua Sha stone does much more, such as relieving tension or pain in facial muscles, helping with fine lines, and reducing inflammation. It also has a different shape than the rollers to give an intense facial muscle massage. Its unique shape help fit the contours of your face.
They can both be made out the jade which gives a cooling, calming, and soothing effect. Gua Sha stones can also be constructed out of rose quartz stone, amethyst, or tiger’s eye depending on which healing properties you require for your facial treatment.
Quartz can help with fatigue, memory, and arthritis, while Amethyst helps with the immune system, digestive system, and headaches. Tiger’s eye helps with fear, anxiety, and mental clarity. Some tools are made out of plastic, metal, or animal bone. The best Gua Sha tool is the one that works the best for you.
What are the benefits of Gua Sha?
There are many purported benefits of Gua Sha for the face and the body with consistent regular use. Just remember, there are not many large randomized controlled studies, which are the gold standard for determining the benefits of a treatment.
Many of the studies have a small number of participants and some are just anecdotal reports. Always consult with your doctor first. It is not a replacement for medical treatment.
- Relieve tension headaches and migraines – Gua Sha breaks up muscle adhesions to relieve tension and pain
- Reduce puffiness in the face by increasing lymphatic drainage – This helps get rid of toxins from the body
- Loosen tight jaw muscles to help with TMJ
- Help with fine lines, sagging skin, and cellulite by helping collagen production – It does not give dramatic results and is not considered a replacement for Botox, fillers, laser, or surgery
- Alleviate sinus pressure
- Increase blood circulation and flow to improve complexion and skin tone (acne and dermatitis) – This helps bring oxygen and nutrients to the skin
- Relieve musculoskeletal pain to help with acute and chronic neck pain and back pain
- Enhance the immune system
- Alleviate anxiety
- Help combat fatigue
- Reduce insomnia
- Perimenopausal symptoms – Women in one study found it helped with mood changes, sleep issues, and hot flashes
In additional to the Gua Sha facial benefits, benefits have been found when using a Gua Sha stone on other parts of the body as well.
- Hepatitis B – One person reported that it alleviated his liver inflammation which helps reduce damage to the liver.
- Tourette’s syndrome – One patient found it improved his symptoms.
- Breast fullness – Women in one study found it alleviated their symptoms.
Does Gua Sha hurt?
Gua Sha should not cause pain during or after the treatment. If you are experiencing pain during the treatment, let your practitioner know immediately.
You do not want to damage the skin or the muscles of the face by exerting too much pressure. Mild-moderate pressure from the stones is enough to reap the benefits. You can start with light, gentle pressure and increase the intensity as tolerated.
Be sure to avoid scraping the Gua Sha stone over moles and other skin growths. This can damage them and cause problems.
Does Gua Sha have side effects?
The most common side effects include redness and bruising. Some may also experience some soreness.
There are rare cases of infection caused by unclean stones or improperly cleaned stones. It is critical to properly clean your Gua Sha stone after every use. You can clean it with warm water and soap, then wipe it down with isopropyl alcohol.
Make sure to select a quality Gua Sha stone that is smooth and has the correct contours. Sharp edges can damage your skin. In extreme cases, permanent scarring can occur.
You must also inspect the stone before using it to ensure there are no cracks or chips. Any damage to the stone could cut your skin and cause permanent scarring.
If the Gua Sha treatments are too intense, extensive, and cause too much damage to your muscles, it may cause a condition called rhabdomyolysis. In severe cases, this leads to kidney damage and failure.
Irritation or allergic reactions can occur in some patients. This is usually related to the face oil, serum or lotion used. Always try a test spot on your forearm first before applying all over, especially if you have sensitive skin.
If you have acne-prone skin, make sure to use a facial oil or serum that is non-comedogenic. If it is not, then it will clog your pores and cause more breakouts.
Who should not use Gua Sha?
There are patients with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications who may not be able to have Gua Sha and should check with their doctors first.
- Bleeding disorders
- Blood thinners
- Circulatory problems
- Elderly patients with thin skin
- Recent surgery
- Pregnancy or nursing
- Active bacterial or viral infection in the treatment area
- Kidney problems
- Cystic acne
- Skin type prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation
Gua Sha is an ancient Chinese healing technique that helps increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage to aid in healing.
Some reports have shown benefits from this natural healing remedy for various conditions, such as back and neck pain. Just remember, there are not a lot of large studies confirming these benefits.
It is always best to check with your doctor first to see if you are healthy enough for Gua Sha.
If your doctor agrees with Gua Sha for you, start slowly and see how your body reacts to it. Experiment with different gemstones, oils or lotions, and pressures during the massage. You should never have pain during the treatment. If you do, stop doing it.
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