As a child, I faintly remember seeing this tool on my grandma's beauty table. Looking like an oddly-shaped jade crystal, she would religiously spend 10 minutes every morning rubbing away. Fast forward 10 years, and it's safe to say the gua sha hashtag on Instagram is heavily trafficked. A skim through several posts promises a smooth, poreless, and contoured visage — which is strange, seeing how when translated, gua means press or stroke while sha refers to a rash or redness. And yet, this nifty tool is said to help relax the muscles, get the energy and blood moving, as well as eradicate puffiness. Best described as an curious amalgmation of massage and workout, it is designed to leave skin looking instantly more supple, glowing and healthy-looking. Have we piqued your interest yet? Here's everything else you got to know.
What is a gua sha?
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, the practice involves scraping a flat, rounded tool, usually made of jade, over the skin. Gua sha stones vary significantly in appearance, ranging from something resembling a dinosaur's foot to an antique looking jade stone.
As with face rollers, there is a variety of materials to choose from. Jade is known for its balancing effects and ability to cool, so it helps de-puff features while clearing inflammation. Rose quartz relates to the heart, so it’s especially good to use on the neck and chest — but not at night, as it can be too stimulating. And while amethyst is associated with evenings and winter, citrine is good for summer and mornings. We're not too sure about the truth of these associations, but since you're at it, you might as well go all out.
Here are some of our top picks to get you started.
Can anyone use a gua sha?
Although gua sha is done relatively gently (you’re in control of the pressure and the shape of tool you use), it’s not for you if you are prone to broken capillaries. It should also be avoided over broken skin or acne breakouts. Since there will be pressure and friction involved, experts recommend that you lather up your face — or keep it wet — before you start using the tool on your face, head and neck. Here's some handy face oil picks to help with that.
How to use a gua sha
1. Hold curved end of the gua sha to your face and glide it gently up and out, starting with the neck. Then, move to the jawline, chin and around the mouth between three and five times per area. Always take short strokes in just one direction, not back and forth.
2. Next, press the tool flat to the skin, under the eyes or over any redness to soothe and de-puff.
3. Work the tool in small horizontal strokes over the brow bone to lift, or hold and press upwards between the brows to release tension.
4. Stroke down the neck to drain fluid and water build-up.
5. If you want to reduce puffiness, work lightly, then more firmly, to relax your facial muscles.
Your skin may look flushed after, but not to worry. Like a post-workout redness, this just shows a boost in circulation and it means that your skin is busy repairing by making new collagen. Just find a pocket of time each day — in the morning when you're getting ready for the day, just before you go to bed — and scrape awya as you enjoy your favourite show on Netflix.