What’s Gua Sha?
Gua sha, means to scrape or rub away stagnation. The scraping can be done with stones, horn, wood, metal tools used with a lubricant to scrape or rub a person’s skin repeatedly in one direction. The goal of gua sha according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to activate blood circulation and dissipate blood stasis.
There are historical records that show gua sha going back to the Paleolithic period. Gua sha has been a widely used folk therapy used by ancient Chinese. During the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), gua sha was written into medical records.
The technique has been improved through time and experience applying TCM theory and practices.
What Gua Sha Does.
Gua sha is most commonly used to breakdown tension and increase circulation, which helps to relieve pain and tension, boost immunity, encourage lymphatic drainage, and stimulate healing.
Gua Sha Benefits.
Gua sha has many benefits for your face and body, though the techniques differ a bit, the main goal is to release tension and restore healthy circulation. Facial gua sha uses feather light to medium pressure in slow one way movements. It can brighten your complexion, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, minimize puffiness, improve skin texture and tone, and improve contouring and sculpting of facial features.
Body gua sha utilizes a much more intense pressure and faster movement to release stagnation in the tissues caused by adhesions of tight tissue that constrict healthy blood flow, lymphatic drainage, and qi.
Which Gua Sha Tool is the Best?
We usually tell people to pick the tool they feel the most drawn to. No one shape works best. We choose our tools based on color, rounded curves, and knobs that fit the curves of your face and body. We also looked at the shapes that are easy to use on meridian points. You can find our gua sha tools here.
How to Prep Your Skin for Gua Sha.
For your body we find that Restore or Restore Heat work amazingly well to provide slip for a body gua sha massage. Apply a light layer on the area before you start using your stone on your skin.
How to do a Gua Sha Facial Massage.
Starting with your neck hold the Gua Sha at a 15 to 30-degree angle against the skin. Use light to medium pressure on most areas of your neck and face. When giving yourself a gua sha facial, you want to be sure to pull your skin taut. Take your free hand and hold the skin at the start of the area you are working with your index and middle finger. This will make it easier for you to use smooth motions over your skin and protects the skin from any pulling.
You will repeat 3-5 times on each section with a wiggle when you hit a boney area. If you’re using our rose quartz gua sha it has a notched edge, use that to work around the jawline and eye-bones.
When working on your face work with upward strokes to create a lifting effect.
If you have any inflamed breakouts, avoid using your gua sha on top of them, work below them.
We find that we get good results when we do a gua sha facial tow to three times per week. In the morning gives lasting results, but it can be a relaxing ritual in the evening. It can also give you a glow before going out.
Remember to clean your gua sha. After using your tool, clean it with soap and warm water. Try not to drop it. They maybe stone, but they are fragile. Let it air dry.
Facial Gua Sha Step by Step.
Always begin with the neck to release tension and assist with lymph drainage. Repeat each step 3-5 times. We did a video tutorial here.
- The first step is one of my favorites. Hold the skin at the base of your neck with your hand that isn’t holding the gua sha. Start at the back of your back using the divot in your tool, use upward strokes, and glide up the cervical spine (the middle of your neck) from the base of your neck to the base of the skull and give it a wiggle. If your tool doesn’t have a divot use the short side on one side of your spine and then the other.
- Turn your gua sha to use the long flat edge and gently glide down on the side of the neck next to your shoulder. Hold your skin taut a few inches down from where you are gliding the gua sha.
- Repeat on the other side of the neck.
- Using the divot on your tool glide up from the center of your collarbone to your chin. Use feather light pressure.
- Choose the side of your face you would like to work on first. Use the divot of the tool to go from the middle of the chin towards the ear along the jawline.
- Use the long side of your gua sha and hook the tool under the cheekbone drawing out and up towards the ear.
- Using light pressure, slowly sweep from the side of your nose, under the eye, out towards the temple.
- Next, using lighter pressure, going along the brow bone, use the long side of the tool to sweep from the center of the forehead to the temples.
- Starting at the space between the eyebrows and stroke up to your hairline. Move over to right eyebrow and repeat.
- Finally, the big sweep. You will scrape from the center of your forehead towards the earlobe and down to your collarbone using a downward motion to help flush your lymphatic system.
Remember to breathe deeply and relax. Look at the side you just completed, can you see a difference? A lift? Repeat steps five through ten on to the opposite side.
How to do a Gua Sha Body Massage.
When we perform gua sha on ourselves or our loved ones it’s usually to reduce pain and tension in an area that is experiencing fascia adhesions or muscle pain.
You can experience some bruising when you start to break up fascia adhesions with gua sha. Even though it doesn’t and shouldn’t hurt to do gua sha massage. Red marks and bruising can be normal, but don’t chase them. Slow and restrained will get you to a healing state much quicker than hard and intense.
Start in the area where you have muscle tension. Apply Restore Balm or Ritual Oil to the area. Use the the long side of your gua sha and scrape down with medium pressure. Repeat 15-60 times. Do not move the gua sha back and forth, move in one direction.
It doesn’t take long to do this treatment to your neck, back, legs, ankles, but we sure feel relaxed and happy when we are done.
How to Make Gua Sha a Habit.
Start. It’s one of those things that gives you so much bang for your buck, like sleep, meditation, and exercise it’s easy to forget how good you feel after you’re done.