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Gua Sha facial is not exactly the newest thing. Not only in a sense that it is an ancient Chinese technique, but even in the 21st century beauty world, Gua Sha has been a buzz word for a while now.
And of course it has – every time someone mentions firmer looking skin, youthful glow, face sculpting and a relaxing self-care technique, we are all here for it. But, if you are thinking about giving Gua Sha facial a go, you probably have a lot of questions.
What exactly is this Gua Sha massage/scraping thing? What kind of skin issues can it help you treat? Does Gua Sha work, like for real? What kind of tool is best for this technique? What about the oil? How often to do it? And how can you Gua Sha your face at home?
Well, who better to ask all these questions than the Skin Whisperer herself, a Gua Sha expert and facialist at the Hayo’u Method, Katie Blake? Check out down below what she had to say on the benefits of Gua Sha facials and how we can build our own Gua Sha routine at home…
Q: What exactly is Gua Sha facial?
A: I believe it’s the single most effective technique for transforming your skin. Facial Gua Sha really is a game changer and many of my clients tell me how much they love the way it has transformed their skin.
The technique stimulates the dermis to support collagen and elastin production and releases tension to relax your facial muscles. It helps break up fascia, the connective tissue that hugs muscles that can sometimes interfere with optimal circulation.
It has been shown in studies to exponentially increase circulation and aid lymphatic flow, release congestion and soothe sore eyes and skin, to brighten your complexion and leave you with a radiant glow.
Q: What is the difference between Gua Sha and regular facial massage?
A: In facial massage you use your hands to stimulate the blood circulation in the facial muscles, whereas with Gua Sha you use a tool. I believe that using a tool to massage is better than using your hands.
Why? Because your fingertips are among the most sensitive parts of your body. They are densely packed with thousands of nerve endings. And your brain can confuse the signals when it feels sensations in both the skin you are massaging and in your fingers.
Q: What are the benefits of Gua Sha for skin? What can we expect after a session?
A: Gua Sha helps to improve the function of the skin, which helps with lots of conditions. It helps to improve lines and wrinkles, puffiness, sagging skin areas, rosacea, acne, acne scars, pigmentation, dark circles.
It retrains the muscles of the face helping relax and strengthen the muscles whilst also helping to lift and tone. And it stimulates the many acupressure points in the face.
After receiving a facial Gua Sha treatment your facial muscles will appear more lifted, plump and volumized, skin will look toned, brightened, strengthened, sculpted and contours revitalized, fine lines and wrinkles will appear reduced. I always call this the Gua Sha glow!
Q: This technique can be used on other parts of the body, right?
A: Yes, it can be used all over the body. But you need to use a metal Gua Sha tool, such as the Body Restorer, as crystals don’t have a strong enough effect on the body.
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Body Gua Sha exponentially improves micro-circulation, as well as activating the release of beneficial antioxidants and enzymes like HO-1, and it stimulates Qi flow in your body. It has also been shown in studies to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Gua Sha has been used for thousands of years in China to treat a whole range of conditions from pain and fever to chronic cough and migraines.
In addition, Gua Sha stimulates lymphatic drainage and firms the skin by breaking down stagnant fluid, drawing toxins to the surface and bringing fresh blood to the affected area. Gently encouraging the movement of lymphatic fluid (which can’t flow by itself) is great to reduce puffiness and congestion and help the body to clear excess waste and toxins.
You simply press-stroke the skin with the tool – and if there is stagnation to clear, a red rash will appear. This may sound off-putting, but the redness is a positive sign of increased microcirculation to the area. You can work on the same area and if there’s nothing to clear, the skin will not come up red. It’s fantastic to release tight muscles and help you relax before bed.
You can do it anywhere and anytime, either through your clothes during the day, or directly onto the skin, using oil as a lubricant. Always bathe first and Gua Sha after if you are treating in the evening.
Q: Gua Sha can also help improve the appearance of cellulite?
A: Cellulite occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath the skin. In Chinese medicine, cellulite is connected to water metabolism. When our Qi is stagnant, proper fluid management is impeded, which causes cellulite.
Alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise, Gua Sha can help reduce body fat and help to treat the appearance of cellulite. Massage is a great treatment for breaking down fat deposits as it works to improve circulation.
This has a smoothing and firming effect on the skin. The heat generated by Gua Sha causes a breakdown of the fat; the treatment can also stretch the connective tissue vertically.
Q: Back to Gua Sha facial. So, is it possible to do a DIY Gua Sha session at home?
A: Yes, absolutely. In fact Gua Sha was traditionally a home remedy! At Hayo’u, we have designed self-care rituals for people to practice Gua Sha in the comfort of their own home.
Q: There are a lot of Gua Sha tools on the market. Do you have any recommendations regarding the material or shape?
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A: Yes! We are often asked this question, as alternative ‘jade’ tools are available cheaply elsewhere online. However, these Gua Sha tools are almost always composite jade, which contains plastic or glass. You get what you pay for!
If you are considering purchase of a cheap jade tool online, we’d recommend contacting the manufacturer first for proof of authenticity. Jade varies hugely in quality.
The Beauty Restorer is hand carved from 100% Xiuyan Jade. It is a type of jade stone that comes from a region of China renowned for the best quality jade in the world.
100% jade is much rarer than composite. You can tell it’s real because it is really smooth, it will differ slightly in color as it is natural, cold to touch and doesn’t break easily.
There’s an easy rule to follow – if it’s cheap, it’s probably not real jade. Many of the cheaper versions on the market are actually made from glass and infused with dye to match the color of the jade stone.
Research studies show that certified jade crystal radiates far-infrared rays, invisible waves of energy that have the ability to penetrate all layers of tissues, muscles and bone in the human body. These rays are believed to be deeply healing, increasing oxygenation and regeneration of the blood.
This is why the Chinese revered true jade as a healing crystal – and why we use 100% certified jade to make our Gua Sha tools. Our tool has been handcrafted in order to guarantee a smoother and thicker face massager that is comfortable and will not drag the delicate skin of the face.
The Beauty Restorer is carefully curved to ensure optimum Gua Sha treatment.
Q: Is there anything we should pay attention to before doing a DIY Gua Sha treatment? How do we prepare the skin?
A: Yes, there are contraindications when using Gua Sha (check out down below).
You must also always clean the skin before using Gua Sha and apply a product, ideally oil, to give a good slip to skin so that the tool can glide along the skin’s surface.
Q: So, how exactly do we perform Gua Sha on our own? What are the steps?
A: Start with a lymphatic drainage, by working gently down the neck and across the chest. Then move up to the facial muscles starting with the jaw line, followed by the cheeks, then the forehead.
You can add additional moves on to the areas of concern, which we demonstrate on the Hayo’u method site.
Here’s a visual that demonstrates some beginer-friendly Gua Sha swipes:
Just keep in mind to:
- Always clean your skin and apply enough oil so that the tool can glide along the skin’s surface.
- Hold the Gua Sha tool relatively flat against your skin, at a 15 – 45 degree angle, and use light to medium pressure.
- Follow the arrows as indicated in the images and pass over each area at least 5 times.
Q: Are there any common mistakes people should try and avoid when performing this technique?
A: Always start off lightly and get comfortable with the tools and movements. We advise around 6 – 8 strokes as a starter.
Some people go in very hard straight away, and it can put them off as it brings up deep Sha. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a positive sign that you are boosting the microcirculation and clearing toxicity – but it can take a few days to disappear.
Q: What about the after treatment skincare?
A: Gua Sha is a type of massage, so always drink plenty of water after the treatment.
Q: How often should we practice Gua Sha?
A: Ideally daily, but everyone is different, so start a few times a week and build up.
Q: In the end – is there anyone who should avoid Gua Sha facial treatment?
A: If you feel weak, are on medication or have had surgery in the last year, we do recommend just checking with your medical practitioner that they are happy for you to try it.
At no point should treatment feel painful.
Do not Gua Sha over broken skin, broken veins or thread veins, moles, cuts or bruises.