Here is what you need to know about how to use gua sha, where to find the right stone, and how this ancient Chinese technique can help improve your skin, reduce puffiness and relieve muscle tension.
While gua sha as a practice has been around for centuries, it's only recently become more popular here in the United States. I started using gua sha to help reduce jaw tension and puffiness around the same time that I started jade rolling (see here for everything you need to know about using a jade roller). And I've loved the results since I started incorporating gua sha into my daily routine.
I wanted to share what I've learned, how I use gua sha, and how you can find the right stone to get started too!
What is Gua Sha?
Gua sha is a form of ancient Chinese medicine. In fact, the word means “scraping” in Mandarin. In practice, it means to use a specific tool to apply pressure and scrape the skin and muscles. This scraping is meant to relax the muscles, break up any tension or scar tissue, and increase blood flow under the skin.
It's similar to a massage, but you can actually apply more pressure with the tool than you can with your hands. The tool also makes it easier to massage your own face, neck and other body parts. Ultimately, I find that gua sha is a wonderful and easy way to practice self-care and reap some impressive benefits.
Benefits of Gua Sha
There are numerous benefits of gua sha and applying gua sha to your face. Personally, I've experienced the following benefits from regular gua sha:
- Reduce puffiness: sometimes you wake up with extra water and your eyes might look puffy. Gua sha is perfect for this. The stone stays cool, so it reduces inflammation like ice.
- Lymphatic drainage: when you use the gua sha stone to apply pressure towards your lymph nodes (right by your ears), it helps drain your lymph. This can help reduce wrinkles, improve detoxification, and help with skin disorders.
- Reduce wrinkles: gua sha is also great for reducing wrinkles and fine lines in your face. It's certainly not a cure-all, but the gentle massage helps smooth out your skin.
- Helps with jaw tension: If you're like me and carry a lot of tension in your jaw, or clench your teeth at night, gua sha at night can help tremendously. Think of it as a deep tissue massage for your face! You're digging into those facial muscles, loosening them up, and reducing tension.
In Chinese medicine, gua sha is also used to treat the common cold, reduce fevers and reduce overall inflammation in the body. If applied to joints and other muscle groups, it can also reduce pain.
How to use a Gua Sha Stone
If you're new to gua sha, here are the simple steps to start incorporating this healthy practice in your daily life.
STEP ONE: Place the tool in the center of your forehead with the ridged side on your skin. Move toward your hairline, applying light pressure. On the sides of your forehead, slide the stone towards your temple and your ear.
STEP TWO: For your eyes, place the tool under the inner corner of one eye and massage it towards your ear. Do the same on the top of the eye.
STEP THREE: Place the tool on one side of your nose and slowly massage across your cheek towards your ears. Repeat this motion all the way down your face to your jaw.
You can also use gua sha on your neck, starting from the base of your neck up under your chin.
Where to Buy Gua Sha Stones
You can now find gua sha stones at most beauty stores and online. Here are some of my favorites:
What You Need for Gua Sha
In addition to the stone, you'll also need a good oil for your gua sha. You don't want the stone to be pulling on your skin, so it's important that your face is “lubricated” so to speak. A facial oil is a great option and you can pretty much use whichever one works best for your skin. If you're looking for a new facial oil, I really like this facial oil from Wildling Beauty!
How I use Gua Sha
Here's the process that I follow to use gua sha on my face:
- Cheeks & jaw. Place the notched of the gua sha on your chin, apply medium pressure and glide it towards your ear. Repeat in the same spot 5 – 6 times, then move up along your cheek. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Forehead. Next, move up to your forehead. Starting in the middle of your forehead, use the large end to massage towards your ears. Repeat in the same motion 5 – 6 times then switch to the opposite side of your forehead.
- Under eyes. Using the small end/corner of your stone, apply medium pressure and glide from the inner eye towards to outer corner. Repeat 10 – 15 times and switch to the other eye.
- Brows. Follow the same method as the under eyes, just above the eyes!
- Crows feet. Use the small end, apply medium pressure and massage up and down on the corner of your eye. Repeat on the other side.
- Jaw. I always finish off using the notched side of the gua sua to dig deep into the joint of my jaw. I press hard and glide the stone towards along my jawline and pause especially where I feel extra tension.
Have You Used Gua Sha Before?
We'd love to hear about your experience with gua sha if you've tried it before! Let us know in the comments! And if we missed any tips, let us know about that as well ❤️