What is Gua Sha Facial?

Why this at-home facial good for your skin. Learn about gua sha massage benefits.

by Linda Robison

What is gua sha and how do you pronounce it?

Gua sha pronunciation: (gwah-shah) -  is the method of scraping, pressing, or stroking the skin to encourage healing, increase blood circulation, collagen production and bring a healthy glow to the skin. 

Picture of different gua sha stones. What is gua sha used for?

What does gua sha actually do?

A gua sha facial helsp firm up facial muscles, stimulate oxygen and blood flow, and help with cellular repair, regeneration and collagen production.

It was originally performed on the body (with much intensity) to help heal a variety of aliments.

Gua sha neck massage

 But, do not worry!

Unlike a full and vigorous body massage, you can do an at-home Gua Sha facial without bruises just by using a lighter touch as described below.

This facial is based on ancient Chinese practice that involves using a rounded, thin, smooth stone with specific curves to hug the contours of the face comfortably.

Gua Sha facial benefits: what does gua sha do for your skin?

A gua sha facial massage helps stimulate circulation, flushes excess fluid, and relaxes tense facial muscles. In doing so, it provides a temporary lift to your whole face. 

It can also define your cheeks and help reduce puffiness around the eyes and lower jowls. This results in a more sculpted and toned face and amazingly healthy looking skin.

Some also believe the massaging action helps stimulate meridian lines, which activate the body’s natural healing process.

How to use Gua Sha on your face

Using gua sha on the jowls.

Gua sha movements for the face

Gua sha movements for face are pretty simple.  Directions on how to use a gua sha will vary slightly depending on whom you ask.

But, basically, you must start out with a clean face and then apply moisturizer or face oil.

Gua sha directions.

Then you begin by holding the gua sha tool at an angle parallel to your skin.

Using medium pressure (make sure not to dig the edges too hard into your skin) scrape the device in one direction (always upward and outward) across your skin.

Follow the arrows in the diagram above. Then you can repeat this on your neck too.

Gua Sha scraping - various techniques

Here are some different Gua Sha scraping techniques you add to your basic facial. 

Resistance - Some people like to create more resistance and tension by using the other hand to pull the skin taut. Place your fingers next to the tool’s edge at the starting point, then hold the skin while scraping the tool outward. Think of it like ironing a wrinkled shirt; you want to create a smooth surface.

Different Strokes - Others like to use a combination of short and long strokes, claiming this technique helps areas that need an extra lift.

Jiggle It – If you suffer from facial tension around the temples, give that area a little jiggle. At the end of a stroke, press the tool into the skin and give it a wiggle. I’ve tried this, and it helps with tension in jaw joint in front of the ears.

Learning the right tension and resistance for your skin type may take practice.

Remember, you want to scrape the skin enough to increase blood flow, and stimulate underlying muscles and tissues. You do not want to create discomfort and bruising.

Best Gua Sha tools

Spoons and Coins - In the past, some women used the edges of spoons or even coins to manually stimulate their skin in an attempt to enhance blood circulation.

While this practice is less common today, it's important to note that unless you're skilled at performing gua sha facials, it's not recommended.

Using spoons or coins in this manner has been associated with uncomfortable side effects such as bruising, redness, irritation, and broken capillaries.

These side effects have raised concerns among women about the potential for harm to the skin. Leaving some wondering if gua sha can cause long term damage to the face?

Stones - Traditional tools were made from some type of semiprecious stones such as jade or crystal.

These smooth stone tools are much safer and easier to use than spoons or coins. However, the jade gua sha seems to be the most popular one.

Electric Gua Sha – New! This tool is a combo of a gua sha, red light therapy with a heated, vibrating steel edge. The infrared heat and vibrating function helps increases micro-circulation more than the standard jade.

Check out the video below to see how it works or visit CFF Gua Sha for more information. Keep in mind, the woman in this video (Carolyn) is over 73 years young!!

Best cream or oil to use with Gua Sha treatment

Any cream or oil will do for most tools. But if you use the new heated, vibrating Gua Sha device mentioned above, keep in mind that the heat and vibrating motion will help activate and increase absorption of the topical cream or oil.

So make sure to choose a clean, organic, fragrance-free product.  I use pure organic based cream moisturizer. 

Learn why certain CBD skincare products are superior to hemp oil products.

Gua Sha side effects

Side effects of a facial are minimal for most people. An increase in skin flushing and pinkish hue is the most you’ll see on healthy skin if you’re using a smooth tool with light pressure. 

However, if you’re too aggressive or using a spoon or coin, you might experience redness or bruising, especially around thinner skin like near the eyes and neck.

If you have rosacea or any inflammatory skin conditions, check with your dermatologist before using any Gua Sha facial tool. 

What is gua sha: FAQ's

Got questions about what a gua sha is? Send them to me here.

Q: How often should you gua sha your face?

A: You can do a gua sha facial about 3-4 times a week. It's so easy, you can do it while watching TV.

Q: How long does it take to see results from gua sha?

A: Depending on how tense your facial muscles are or how bloated your face is, some people see results after the first massage.

Carolyn Cleaves from Carolyn's Facial Fitness says she's seen a reduction in fine lines and crepey skin after using her electric gua sha daily for several months.

Her electric gua sha heats up and vibrates, so it helps distribute anti-aging creams better. You can see her before and after pictures here...

Q: Are you supposed to gua sha up or down?

A: If you are referring to the different gua sha techniques, it depends on what you're looking to do. If you want a basic facial massage, you would stroke your face upward and outward, as shown in diagram above.

If you have pain (like around the temples or jaw) you can use a jiggle movement. That's where you place the gua sha stone against the tight muscle and then jiggle it to release the tension. See the technique tips here.

Q: Is gua sha the same as scraping?

A: Gua sha is a tool or instrument used for massaging. Scraping is a type of massage.

For gua sha facial massage, you use your fingers to hold one part of your face taut, then you "scrape" the gua sha over the skin in the opposite direction. Sort of the way you would use a spoon to scrape the fruit out of a melon.

Q: Can a gua sha change your face?

A: Yes, gua sha can change the firmness and contours of your face if it's bloated and/or your facial muscles are tense.

When facial muscles are tense, they get tight and this can pull the skin down. Causing your face to look saggy and define all of those tiny lines and wrinkles.

A gua sha facial massage relaxes the muscles and reduces fluid build up so your face looks lifted, firmer and relaxed.

Q: Is gua sha good for face fat?

A: Gua sha is good for any face shape or size. It won't reduce facial fat but will help reduce bloating and excess fluid.

Q: Does gua sha make your jawline sharper?

A: The gua sha tool can help relive bloating and encourage lymphatic drainage. If you're hold excess fluid in the lower part of your face, it might help your jawline look more defined. But it won't change your bone structure.

Q: Does gua sha work better than a roller?

A: In my personal opinion, the gua sha works better than a roller. It's simple and sleek curved shape helps you get around the small curves of the face, eyes, and jawline/neck.

Q: What is the most effective type of gua sha?

A: The electric, heated, vibrating gua sha seems to offer the best results for me. Because it offers more than just the ability to scrape and massage the face. The heat and vibration helps improve product absorption and feels wonderful if you have a tense headache or neck ache.

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