A traditional medicine technique which has been used for thousands of years, gua sha continues to gain popularity in the world of modern beauty and skin care.
Both a noun and a verb, gua sha involves the scraping of a small, flat, solid hand-held tool, usually stone or metal, over the skin. A love for this unusual practice is being shared by holistic wellness therapists and modern beauty junkies alike, but what exactly does it do and how does it truly benefit the skin?
Then vs Now
Traditionally, gua sha was used to alleviate pain in both a muscular sense and a spiritual one. On a physical level, sliding a gua sha stone over the skin would massage stiff muscles and soothe tension. Gua sha was also a method of harnessing qi, promoting improved flow of energy in order to address all kinds of ailments. The original gua sha movements in traditional chinese medicine are extremely different to the ones used today. Centuries ago, gua sha was very vigorous, with deep and intense pressure that left bruises on the skin. Modern beauty routines encourage slow and gentle gua sha movements, which focus on improving circulation and lymph flow.
Gua Sha Skin Health Benefits
While the traditions of gua sha have evolved, today’s practice of the art offers a number of benefits to the overall look, health, and function of the skin.
Here are the top benefits of using a Gua Sha:
Massaging the face and body with a gua sha significantly improves blood flow to the area. Improved circulation can be of great benefit to the skin, feeding the region with oxygen and nutrient supply. This allows for better cellular function, including our natural healing abilities and the production of skin cells, collagen, and elastin. Circulation declines naturally as we age, so using manual massage techniques can help to improve the skin’s health and create a brighter, more luminous complexion.
Our circulatory system comes with its own natural pump; our heart, which is responsible for pushing blood around the body. Our lymphatic system, which transports and eliminates waste fluid and toxins, does not have its own pump, and instead relies on muscle movements. Unfortunately, the face does not receive nearly as much of this as the body. Fluid can easily build up causing puffiness, and toxins can become trapped. Gua sha movements follow our body’s lymphatic pathways to push fluid along, helping to eliminate waste and drain fluid retention.
Gua sha can be used to effectively massage anywhere on the body, but is highly favoured for its ability to reduce facial tension. Clenching, teeth grinding, and TMJ can result in stiff and sore jaw muscles, which can be tricky to alleviate with hands alone. Gua sha allows for easier, more effective access to jaw and facial muscles, breaking up stiff muscle fibres and relieving soreness.
A unique and often polarising face and body tool, gua sha may not be beloved by everyone. But used consistently, gua sha can provide significant improvements to the skin (both face and body) and offer brighter, smoother, softer, healthier-functioning, and energised results.