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Facials are a great way to pamper yourself and give your skin a good little boost of hydration, cleansing, and radiance. But what if you could improve your facial experience by adding a brand new tool to the mix? Enter: gua sha [goo-shah], an age-old technique that works wonders for the face. Gua sha facial benefits include improving the absorption of skincare products, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, deep cleansing pores, blood circulation, exfoliation, skin tone evenness, and radiance1.
We’ve covered gua sha before but in the form of a lymphatic drainage massage. In traditional Chinese medicine, a facial gua sha treatment is used to clear away toxic elements, improve circulation and lymphatic flow, stimulate the skin’s natural oil production, and release toxins from within your body2.
Similar to a jade roller, a gua sha tool is used to massage and stimulate your face. The primary difference is that a tool with rounded edges is used to perform gua sha facial benefits, whereas the jade roller has flat surfaces for massaging and cold-rolling.
During the treatment, facial muscles are stimulated and circulation is improved. This helps to deliver the skincare products you’re using, as well as smooth fine lines and wrinkles and reduce puffiness and dark circles under your eyes. Gua sha facial benefits do not stop there: with lymphatic drainage that occurs during treatment, toxic elements are flushed away from your skin’s surface, resulting in a brighter, more even skin tone3.
Optimal blood flow is essential for healthy, radiant skin. Gua sha facial benefits include increased blood flow throughout your face when done regularly—preparing your skin for better absorption of skincare products.
Related: Got Dry Skin? Here’s a Facial That Should Be a Non-Negotiable in Your Skin Routine
Gua sha has been used in Asia for centuries, but recently it’s starting to gain traction in the west as an alternative treatment that can be added to your wellness routine. We’re all about anything that boosts the benefits of our skincare products, so here are three ways to incorporate gua sha into your next facial for maximum results4.
Gua Sha Facial Benefits
1. Clearer skin
It goes without saying but regular facial treatments create clearer skin. Acne-prone skin benefits from the stimulation of lymphatic drainage and blood circulation when done regularly. Many acne-prone skin types have clogged pores and buildup in their T-zone, so gua sha facial benefits include unclogging these congested areas with a gentle exfoliation5.
2. Reduces the appearance of eye bags
When excess fluid accumulates under the eye area, it results in puffiness and dark circles. Gua sha facial benefits include improved blood circulation to this sensitive area, which increases lymphatic drainage and reduces fluid retention. But gua sha isn’t just used for its beauty benefits—it’s also a key element of your skincare routine6.
3. Reduces the signs of aging
Gua sha facial benefits help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating blood flow to your face. Maintaining healthy blood circulation helps slow down the effects of aging, smoothing away any visible signs. When used regularly, gua sha can stimulate collagen production, leaving you with a more youthful glow7.
4. Improved collagen production
As we age, collagen production slows down and the skin’s firmness is compromised. To combat this, we need to work extra hard in keeping ourselves hydrated and nourished from the inside—the best topical skincare routine won’t do much if you don’t take care of your body.
Gua sha facial benefits also include stimulating collagen production, which helps with maintaining a youthful glow. Skin cells turnover within 28 days, meaning that any toxins or buildup on the surface of your face will be replaced by new cells every month. By incorporating gua sha into your regular routine, you can ensure smoother skin and an improved texture and tone8.
Related: Cancel Your Chemical Peel—This New Facial Treatment Is So Much Better
5. Boosts the immune system
The lymphatic system is crucial for your immune system, helping the body expel harmful toxins. Gua sha facial benefits stimulate lymphatic drainage in your face to release any harmful toxins while also delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout your entire body, which stimulates collagen production for younger-looking skin. Your lymphatic system is important not only for your overall health—it’s also essential for both detoxifying your skin and maintaining an even complexion9.
6. Improves the nervous system
The circulatory system is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Gua sha facial benefits include improved blood circulation, which nourishes your skin cells and is crucial for rejuvenating dry, flaky skin10. Improved lymphatic drainage also stimulates collagen production—your face’s glow is not only about looking healthier, it’s also an indicator of how healthy you are on the inside.
7. Eases sinus pressure and headaches
Gua sha facial benefits are not only skin deep—due to the stimulation of blood circulation, but gua sha can also help ease symptoms of sinus pressure or a headache by clearing up excess fluid in the face. It’s also an effective treatment for pain relief after surgery, due to its anti-inflammatory properties11.
8. Reduces stress
Regular deep tissue massage is known for being an effective way to reduce stress levels, but you look tired all the time? Gua sha facial benefits are great at improving skin’s texture and tone—giving you a brighter, smoother appearance—while also relieving tension in the muscles around the face. That means less visible signs of stress or fatigue, which can be both mentally and physically rejuvenating12.
9. Improved energy
We aren’t just talking physically. In ancient Chinese healing techniques, there is a focus on your life force and energy flow. Traditional body gua sha is used to improve your overall energy and eliminate any toxins that may be stagnating your body’s energy flow.
When stagnant energy becomes trapped in your face, it can leave you feeling fatigued and with a dull complexion. The lymphatic system helps the body expel harmful toxins; when well-nourished, it can also help you stay energized throughout the day13.
Related: Feeling Dull, Unmotivated, or Grumpy? TheseTraditional Chinese Medicine Treatments May Be Able To Help
10. Relieves facial muscle tension
Regular deep tissue massage can help release any facial muscle tension, but it’s not something many of us have the time for. When done correctly, gua sha is a quick and effective way to relieve tension in your face and allow better blood circulation—something that will keep you looking refreshed and well-rested all day long13.
11. Improves skin elasticity
By stimulating collagen production in your face and increasing blood circulation, gua sha facial benefits will keep you looking young and refreshed15.
When combined with a healthy diet and hydration routine, better blood flow ensures healthier skin cells that are naturally more elastic. That means an even complexion and reduced appearance of wrinkles or fine lines—no cream required.
Our favorite gua sha stones
In ancient Chinese medicine, there is a focus on the flow of energy in your body and how it affects everything from pain to your complexion. Deep tissue gua sha can be used to increase the flow of energy, expelling harmful toxins that may be stagnating your flow and making you feel fatigued.
Now that you know all about gua sha facial benefits, it’s time to incorporate the treatment into your daily routine for brighter, smoother skin.
How To Use A Gua Sha Tool On Your Face
The gua sha facial massage technique is easy to learn and perform at home. For best results, invest in a quality gua sha tool—you can find it on any number of websites, both locally and abroad. For the full facial treatment, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Make sure your face is clean and free of any makeup or moisturizer
- Check that your gua sha tool is clean.
- Hold your gua sha stone by its handle, allowing the flat plate to rest against your skin
- Use gentle but firm pressure as you glide the tool over the surface of the skin with upward strokes and always lean into the direction of the curve on the inside of the tool’s blade (i.e., if it curves left, lean right.)
- Be sure not too apple too much pressure especially if you have sensitive skin
- Work from the jawline up, going over each section of your face at least twice—rinsing your tool after every stroke. Paying attention to eye area and brow bone.
- Keep a water bottle by your side so you can rinse the gua sha tool regularly as you work
- When you’ve reached your forehead, work from the sides of your face back towards the jawline.
- Once you’ve reached your jawline, work from the chin up to the bottom of your cheekbones.
- You can perform a second round with longer strokes for even more benefits
- Cleanse your face and apply any facial oils or creams as you normally would.
Watch a gua sha facial tutorial below:
Qua sha benefits are pretty clear: it’s an easy, at-home way to get deeper into your skin for improved tone and texture. Gua sha tools are readily available online and there are many gua sha techniques to give you dozens of benefits with just a few minutes and regular use each day.