The practice of gua sha has been flooding our social media feeds for years now. Loved my celebrities and their facialists, it is all the rage in the world of skincare. But this skincare craze is more than just a TikTok trend, dating back hundreds of years in the realm of Chinese medicine. This age old practice has been used throughout history to bring about a variety of benefits, and has risen to prominence on the beauty and wellness scene as a skincare essential. Today, we’ll share some history behind the ‘trend’, as well as a few tips for doing it yourself at home, and what benefits you can enjoy from your trusty gua sha…
GUA SHA: THE RUNDOWN
The History of Gua Sha
Gua Sha is an ancient practice that has existed in Chinese medicine for centuries. In fact, it is one of the oldest recorded Chinese medicinal practices. Though today in the west we know gua sha as a facial skincare technique, it was originally used in Chinese medicine to alleviate muscle soreness and pain in the body, as well as to prevent and treat certain illnesses such as the seasonal flu and heatstroke. The term gua sha, comes from the Chinese word for ‘scraping’, which sounds like a more harsh word for how we treat our skin. However historically, using a gua sha has been more vigorous medicinal method compared to the relaxing method it is used in nowadays. In fact, the gua sha was used in times as far back as the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), to revive farmers who had collapsed from exhaustion due to working in such hot conditions.
Now (spoiler alert!), the traditional gua sha did not look like the beautiful baby pink or green crystal products available to us on the market today… people typically used whatever they had on hand, whether that be an animal horn or bones, a flat stone, a coin, a spoon, you name it! This practice has been passed down through generations, and evolved to be used as a form of skincare ritual. Many of us automatically assume that gua sha has only risen to prominence in the last five years or so, but this is actually not the case. Gua sha has always been popular, the west is only just catching up. Gua sha has been used by everyday people in Asia for a long time, and was brought to America in the 1970s by Asian immigrants, which is when it first became known in the west. Though it was initially stigmatised and seen as a sort of ‘woo-woo’ practice, being sneered at in medical journals, it is now accepted by many facialists and dermatologists as a skincare staple.
Gua Sha Tips
Now that you’re up to speed on the history of gua sha, here are a few tips you can consider when you start doing it yourself!
We all know that having clean tools is important when it comes our makeup brushes and beauty blenders… our skincare tools including our gua shas, are no exception. Different Gua Sha tools are made of different materials. If your gua sha is made of a more porous material, like wood, then you will need to clean it (using soap and water) more often.
Prep Your Skin
Before you start gua sha-ing, skin prep is a must. Use a hydrating mist or toner, then follow up with a facial oil or moisturizer. This will help the tool glide smoothly across your face and help prevent any dragging or grabbing of your skin.
Pull, Don’t Push
When performing a gua sha ritual on your face, it is important to always pull rather than push. This is because pushing requires too much pressure. It is recommended that you hold the muscle you are focusing on with the opposite hand, then gently pull the tool along, up and outward.
Use slow and gentle motions on your face with light pressure around sensitive areas such as your eyes, and medium pressure around less sensitive areas like your jaw.
What are the Benefits of Gua Sha?
Gua sha boasts a variety of benefits to be had for the wellbeing of our skin…. Firstly, it acts as a massage that encourages lymphatic drainage, clearing toxins out of the skin and improving congestion. This can also help to decrease puffiness leaving your face looking contoured and defined. It can also help to release any muscle tension you might have in your face. A further benefit of this practice is that it can increase circulation and blood flow to your skin, giving you a youthful glow!
Not only is gua sha good for your skin, but also your mind. You can take some time to meditate and practice mindfulness while you take care of your skin, to help reduce any stress or anxiety you may be experiencing. Gua shas are often also made from various crystals and stones, such as jade or rose quartz. Some believe that these crystals have various healing properties and can draw out negative energy from the body… it depends on what you believe in, but it can’t hurt to give it a try!