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Gua Sha Benefits for Your Face: Techniques You Need to Know

The traditional Chinese healing method gua sha benefits your skin in many ways. Here are some techniques for your face that you can do at home.

Closeup pic of Asian woman enjoying gua sha benefits on face, isolated against pink background

Facial gua sha is quickly gaining popularity amongst beauty aficionados. It helps stimulate blood flow to your face and decreases wrinkles and lines. Just like regular gua sha, it involves scraping the skin with a smooth object. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), gua sha is believed to stimulate the flow of qi, relieve pain and tension, boost immunity, and promote overall wellness. Studies have shown it can help with musculoskeletal pain, colds, flu, fever, digestive issues, perimenopausal syndrome, and skin problems.

Face and Body Gua Sha

Therapist doing gua sha scraping on bare back/shoulder for pain relief and activating blood circulation
Traditional body gua sha involves scraping the skin with pressure to elicit the body’s repair response.

While gua sha for the face and body both involve the use of a smooth tool to gently scrape the skin in a specific pattern, there are differences between the two: 

  • Purpose: Facial gua sha is typically performed to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Traditional gua sha works on the body to address specific health concerns, such as pain, stiffness, and tension in the muscles and joints. 
  • Tool: Smaller, more delicate tools that conform to facial contours are used in facial gua sha. Body tools are usually larger and heavier, applying more pressure to the thicker skin of the body. 
  • Technique: The technique used for facial gua sha is gentler and involves lighter pressure, while body gua sha may involve stronger scraping. 

Facial Gua Sha Benefits

Therapist performs facial gua sha on Asian woman in clinic using two hands
Facial gua sha benefits include improving skin texture and elasticity, promoting lymphatic drainage, and reducing signs of ageing.

Today, gua sha is a popular non-invasive alternative to cosmetic procedures. “Facial gua sha involves scraping a flat tool over the skin in upward strokes to relax stiff muscles and promote tissue drainage,” explains TCM Physician Kelvin Goh. It offers the following benefits:  

Gives you clearer skin

It increases blood flow to the face to help improve your skin’s overall appearance for a clearer, more radiant look. 

Improves collagen production to enhance skin elasticity and firmness

By promoting blood flow and circulation, it’s believed to help stimulate the production of new skin cells, including collagen. 

Relieves facial muscle tension

Massaging motions help relieve tension in the facial muscles. This can help smoothen the look of skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and enhancing your complexion.

A 2020 case study published in The Journal of Chinese Medicine found improvements in both facial expression lines and wrinkles as well as skin texture after the use of facial gua sha

Reduces the appearance of eye bags

Gua sha‘s gentle therapeutic motions help promote lymphatic drainage to remove toxins and waste—including excess fluid from under the eyes. 

Decreases puffiness

It also helps get rid of water retention to reduce the look of bloating or swelling. 

Eases sinus pressure and headaches

By promoting lymphatic drainage, it can also help ease sinus pressure and relieve congestion that causes headaches. 

Reduces stress

Its massaging motion helps relieve facial muscle tension and makes you feel more relaxed. 

Boosts skin immunity

A 2021 study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that gua sha‘s scraping motion stimulates your skin’s immune function. 

Choosing Your Gua Sha Tool

Photo of a rose quartz gua sha tool and tropical leaf on table
Nowadays, gua sha tools are available in a variety of materials including steel, jade and rose quartz.

This ancient beauty secret typically uses flat, smooth gua sha tools. “There are a huge variety of gua sha tools ranging from stainless steel, bian stone, jade, and rose quartz,” says Physician Goh.

“Rose quartz is rose pink and is very well-loved by women. This semi-precious stone suits sensitive and reactive skin well. Tools made of this stone open the heart chakra and will strengthen and improve relationships.  

“Rose quartz is also widely used for the treatment of rosacea and acne. Choose a gua sha tool in a size that suits your grip since you’ll be using it three to four times per week.” 

TCM Physician Kelvin Goh

At-Home Gua Sha Techniques 

Asian woman looking in mirror, applying oil onto face
Applying a facial oil or mist can help your gua sha tool glide over the skin more smoothly.

To start your own facial gua sha routine at home, Physician Goh suggests the following steps: 

  • Cleanse your skin. Before you start, make sure your face is clean and free of dirt, makeup, and other impurities. 
  • “Prep your face with a facial mist or essential oil,” says Physician Goh. Applying a facial oil will help the tool glide smoothly over your skin, reducing friction and preventing any irritation. 
  • Use light pressure. Unlike the traditional body gua sha massage, facial gua sha shouldn’t leave bruise-like marks on the skin. “This is because it uses gentle strokes instead,” says Physician Goh.  
  • “Start from the neck and work the way up to the forehead,” he adds, stressing that you should “always use upward and outward strokes for the neck, jawline, chin and mouth area.”  
  • Focus on one area before moving to the next. “For every area, eight to 10 strokes should be performed,” advises Physician Goh. 
  • “When performing below the eyes, gently sweep across the cheeks.” This can help drain excess fluids and reduce puffiness. 
  • “Lastly, end it with upward strokes on the forehead to the hairline.” Stroking the face with your tool should always feel relaxing. There should be no pain throughout the entire gua sha session, he cautions.  

Whether you’re looking to address specific skin concerns or simply want a relaxing, rejuvenating self-care practice, facial gua sha is worth considering for your skincare routine. However, it’s always best to consult with a licensed practitioner to ensure the treatment is performed correctly and safely. 

Do you want to try facial gua sha? Bookmark this article so you can start incorporating it into your beauty regimen.

References

  1. The Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2020. The Use of Gua Sha to Improve Facial Expression Lines and Wrinkles: A Case Study. [Online] Available at: <https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA629150186&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=01438042&p=HRCA&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7Efa9b6fb7> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  2. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2021. Exploring scraping therapy: Contemporary views on an ancient healing – A review. [Online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8483130/> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  3. Brazilian Journal of Pain. 2019. Gua-sha: application and therapeutic results in musculoskeletal pain situations. Systematic review. [Online] Available at: <https://doi.org/10.5935/2595-0118.20190050> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  4. Complementary Therapies in Med 2017. The effects of Gua sha on symptoms and inflammatory biomarkers associated with chronic low back pain: A randomized active-controlled crossover pilot study in elderly. [Online] Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28619301/> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  5. Archives of Allied Health Sciences. 2014. Immediate effects of Gua Sha therapy for reducing neck and shoulder pain associated with myofascial trigger point in computer users. [Online] Available at: <https://he01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/ams/article/view/66337> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  6. Pain Medicine. 2011. Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese “Gua Sha” Therapy in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Pain Medicine. [Online] Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01053.x> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  7. Menopause. 2017. Effect of Gua sha therapy on perimenopausal syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. [Online] Available at: <https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2017/03000/Effect_of_Gua_sha_therapy_on_perimenopausal.10.aspx> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  8. EXPLORE. 2007. The Effect of Gua Sha Treatment on the Microcirculation of Surface Tissue: A Pilot Study in Healthy Subjects. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S155083070700177> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]
  9. PeerJ. 2016. Gua Sha, a press-stroke treatment of the skin, boosts the immune response to intradermal vaccination. [Online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028785/> [Accessed on 7 February 2023]

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