Gua sha is an ancient practice evolved from Traditional Chinese Medicine healing modality which has been used for thousands of years. Only in the last 10 years has it gained traction within the beauty community. But is it really worth the hype? Today we’re chatting all things gua sha, jade rolling, the difference between the two and if they actually work!
What is Gua Sha?
So first things first, what is gua sha and does gua sha actually work? As mentioned, gua sha is not a new practice but has been used for thousands of years as one of the many tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is similar to massage and sometimes referred to as “stroking” (gua sha literally translates to stroking). It is used by TCM practitioners to help stimulate blood flow and movement of “qi” or energy by using small strokes throughout the body. Its uses are vast but traditionally it has been used to decrease pain and tension in tissues and muscles as well as break up scar tissue.
In the last few years the beauty community has jumped onto the gua sha tool train and has started seeing its own benefits, specifically for facial work. There are many benefits of gua sha for skincare.
So what are the benefits of facial gua sha treatment?
-increased facial lymphatic drainage (improved blood circulation)
-decreased inflammation, acne scarring
-facial muscle tension relief
-decreased fine lines and wrinkles
I learned about gua sha through my incredible esthetician Katie from Ritual Skincare. The first time she gave me a gua sha facial I honestly had no idea what was going on but when I walked out I immediately saw the results. I had never left a facial before without my face looking puffy and red. I normally had to book off 48 hours to let my face recover. My face looked firmer with less puffiness and redness.
Does Gua Sha actually work?
Anecdotally, yes. Having a practitioner use a gua sha tool (or hands) on your face will help reduce inflammation and redness by stimulating the lymphatic system and helping your skin heal itself. As to whether or not its the new natural botox? Jury is still out. People swear it has helped reduce their fine lines and wrinkles and prevent signs of aging. I’m personally not 100% convinced that this is true but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I have found that it does help relieve jaw tension and can feel nice if you have a headache, but no, gua sha will not solve all your skincare woes.
What About Jade Rolling?
Okay so now that we understand gua sha, what’s the deal with jade rolling? Put simply: jade rolling is a type of gua sha. It is a specific tool that makes doing gua on yourself easier. The nifty tool allows for easier rolling and stimulation of the lymphatic system without having to stare into your mirror while you do it.
Does jade rolling work?
Like gua sha, the benefits of jade rolling include reduced redness and scarring, muscle pain relief and potentially reducing signs of aging. From my personal perspective, jade rolling is not as effective as gua sha tools BUT it is much easier to do, making my practice more consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to either jade rolling or gua sha so at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what tool you are using so long as you are actually using it!
The Best Gua Sha Tools
While nothing compares to having a professional perform gua sha on you (what I would do to have Katie do this to my face everyday!), you can absolutely practice gua sha at home. You just need the right tools. You also need to understand how to use them.
There are TONS of different types of tools out there. Some have dents and combs, some are rollers, some are made from jade and others from rose quartz or amethyst or other types of crystals (learn more about the benefit of crystals). It’s less important that you have the perfect tool and more important that you have the technique down.
Before I show you how to use your gua sha tools (including a jade roller!) below, I want to quickly mention a few things about the best gua sha facial tools:
-Don’t stress too much about what your tool is made of – jade is perfectly fine – just make sure it is made from a smooth stone or porcelain that can easily glide across your skin.
-Everyone and their mom will tell you their gua sha tool is the best. Just order one from Amazon. You do NOT need to be spending an arm and a leg on your tools.
How to use a Gua Sha Tool
–THIS is the gua sha tool I use.
Some key points you need to know about how to gua sha:
1) Always move in the direction of your lymph nodes:
- scrape from the inside of your face to the outsides
- scrape down the neck
- scrape to the outsides of the forehead
2) Make sure skin is well moisturized. Go about your normal skincare routine (cleanse, tone, serum, oil) and once the oil is on your face begin your gua sha routine for at least 5 minutes or longer.
3) Apply light pressure but do not overexert. The lymphatic system is stimulated through light stroking so you do not need to push the tool with too much pressure into the face. If you push too hard you may cause bruising or exacerbate inflammation. If your tool has a divet use this side to scrape alongside the chin.
4) Store your tool in the fridge or freezer, if desired. The cool touch of the stone can help decrease redness.
5) Your face may be red for a little bit after using your tools. This is normal as blood flow is being increased to these areas. I like to do it at night so in the morning my face is back to normal.
6) Clean your tools after use to prevent bacteria build-up -pretty self explanatory.
How to use a Jade Roller
–THIS is the jade roller I have.
Now let’s chat about how to jade roll:
1) Always move in the direction of your lymph nodes:
- roll from the inside of your face to the outsides
- roll down the neck
- roll to the outsides of the forehead
4) Go about your normal skincare routine (cleanse, tone, serum, oil) and once the oil is on your face begin jade rolling for at least 5 minutes or longer.
3) Apply light pressure but no need to overexert. The lymphatic system is stimulated through light stroking so you do not need to push the jade roller into the face.
4) Store your jade roller in the fridge or freezer, if desired. The cool touch of the stone can help decrease redness.
5) Your face may be red for a little bit after using your jade roller. This is normal as blood flow is being increased to these areas. I like to do it at night so in the morning my face is back to normal.
6) Clean your jade roller after use to prevent bacteria build-up
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That’s it! Are you convinced to try gua sha or jade rolling? I encourage you to try it out for a week and see how you feel or visit a holistic esthetician who practices gua sha or lymphatic facial drainage. The main things I’ve noticed are smoother and less redness on my skin and drastic improvement in my acne scarring. Have fun!
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TamarJune 15, 2021 at 12:26 pm
Thanks for the info! I have been curious about this world of face massage.
I think your links to [email protected] or wrong, I clicked to find out who this skincare guru was and it took me to a Japanese page 😛
Davida LederleJune 16, 2021 at 11:38 am
Looks like she updated her url so I made the updates here. Thanks for the heads up 🙂
SheenaNovember 11, 2019 at 4:40 am
Hi Maven, great post! I regularly use gua Sha with jade stone in our acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments for facial rejuvenation. It is not a miracle cure for years of mistreatment of your skin, but it can help boost circulation and give you a great glow. I love it!
Davida LederleNovember 11, 2019 at 10:40 am
I so agree! Thanks, Sheena! -Davida