I am realllllly excited about today’s post. If you have not heard of facial gua sha, I hope you will keep reading as it’s something REALLY awesome that you can do for your skin without spending a lot of money or time! I first learned about gua sha this past September while on that yoga retreat in Sweden. I pulled out my jade roller and my (new) friend Viv pulled out her gua sha tool and was like, “this is even better.” I’d never seen the flat, angled tool before and was immediately so curious! She proceeded to tell me all about Treatment by Lanshin (which is right down the street from me in Williamsburg!) and her gua sha facials and how I had to go, etc etc. I got back home to the US and promptly forgot everything she told me.
Then, at Christmas, Tata Harper included a gua sha tool in her holiday gift to editors/bloggers, and I immediately remembered everything Viv had told me and started to do some research. I fell down a very deep Youtube rabbit hole! I began practicing gua sha on my skin a few nights a week after cleansing (before bed!) and took a workshop this past weekend with Sandra Lanshin. (I tried to find a link to her workshops, they’re usually linked on her site but I highly recommend it!!)
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is an ancient traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) massage therapy technique. One of the fundamental principles of TCM is that movement and circulation support the skin’s health. They have a saying that where there is movement there’s no pain/disorder/disease (and where there is pain/disorder, there is no movement). Facial gua sha is all about bringing movement and circulation to the skin to reduce inflammation, clear congestion, improve fine lines, sculpt, and more!
Facial Gua Sha Benefits
It sculpts, contours, and lifts.
This is my favorite of the benefits. Immediately after performing gua sha on myself I will notice a more sculpted jawline and a lifted brow. It’s actually pretty crazy. I posted a side by side on my instagram story this weekend – if you do one side before the other you will be shocked at how different the other side looks!
Reduced puffiness and inflammation.
I noticed this in particular with my under eye area. The massage really stimulates your blood flow, immediately de-puffing and de-bloating your face!
Besides the sculpted, lifted look, performing gua sha is also incredibly relaxing. The best time to do it is as you are unwinding before bed, but you can also do it in the tub, while watching TV, etc!
How to Give yourself a Gua Sha Facial
I am embedding Lanshin’s video. I thought about attempting to film one for my Youtube, but thought better of it as I’m still perfecting my technique. Hers is perfect. Watch and learn! It’s hard to describe actually how to do it, so in this case the video really does help. I like to do one side at a time; as it allows you to really see how lifted and sculpted the first side is vs. the second side!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
This is really important as you need a bit of slip to properly perform gua sha. The method of hydration that Sandra (Lanshin) prefers is to start with a hydrating facial mist. I used Tata’s hydrating floral essence. You don’t want to spritz your face just a little, you want to get it good and wet. Mist your face + neck (front and back of the neck). From there, press the essence into your skin until it’s just damp. Then, apply a face oil. I’m really into Beautycounter’s brightening oil right now. She stressed that most people use too much oil and not enough mist. Mist the heck out of your skin, but then you really only need 4-5 drops of oil for both your face and neck.
The whole thing takes me 5-10 minutes. It’s important to stick to the order outlined below as this encourages circulation and drainage, so you want to start from the bottom and work your way up!
Start with your side neck and back of the neck.
Hold the tool as flat against your skin as youc an (again, watch the video!). Start with the back of the neck. Hold the tool at the base of your neck and stroke upward to the base of your skull. When you get to the base of your skull, massage side to side. Repeat 3-5x. Repeat this along the left and right sides of the neck, beginning at the upper shoulder and sliding the tool to just behind your ear. When you get to the hard area behind your ear, massage side to side. Repeat this 3-5x as well.
Then, do the front of the neck!
Use your hand to hold just below your clavicle. With the other hand, drag the tool up from the clavicle to the underside of your jawbone. When you get to the underside of the jaw, massage/wiggle the tool back and forth. Repeat 3-5x!
My favorite part – the jaw.
Use one hand to hold the skin at the center of your chin. Take the other hand and use the sculpting (contoured) side of the tool to stroke from the chin up until you touch your ear. When you get to your ear, massage. Repeat 3-5x. This is really great if you clench your jaw (I do.)
Hit your cheeks!
Hold down the skin just outside your nostril. With the other hand, take the tool and stroke 3-5x from the edge of your nose under the cheekbone, and up to your ear. I like to pay attention to the area under my cheekbone in particular here, as I get little knots under there!
Eye and brow.
Be sure to use just a featherlight touch here. Start with the inner eyes. Hold the skin at the outer corner of the eye and slowly drag the tool across, toward the nose. (Note: this is different from the video, but Sandra has updated the technique.) Repeat 3-5x, Then, do the outer eye/temple. Drag the tool up from the corner of the eye to the temple. Repeat 3-5x.
Then, do the brow bone. With one hand, hold the center between your brows. Stroke along the brown bone, through the temple and up to the hairline. Repeat 3-5x on each side!
Gently hold your eyelid under the browbone with one hand. With the other hand, stroke up at a diagonal toward the hairline. Massage and then repeat 3-5x on each side! Then, get the center of your forehead by dragging the tool up from between your brows along the center of the forehead until you get to the hairline. Massage, and repeat 3-5x!
You might also like: how to give yourself an at-home facial… and my guide to performing a facial pressure points massage. Bring on the at-home pampering!!!
photography by Carter Fish.
Ooh, finally, I was looking forward to your review of gua sha! I might actually try it. My face is always bloated in the morning (so annoying!) and this could really help. As long as I wake my 5-10 minutes earlier to make time for it (not easy, lol)! 😀 Thanks, Grace! 🙂
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
that’s what I did this morning! So worth it! Let me know how it goes for you!!!
Okay I need to try this!
x Lisa | lisaautumn.com
It’s seriously the best!
This is so cool! I love learning about new skincare that doesn’t involve a bunch of new chemicals (I’m not against them per se, but rather think they aren’t the only answer). Looks like a have a new routine to add to my nightly bubble bath!
Thank you for sharing!
right!!! It’s such a nice little ritual and it really works!!! xo
Yes, LOVE gua sha! My aesthetician here in Sarasota offers it and actually referred me to the Lanshin video so I could do it at home (that tutorial is so good). So jealous that you’re right up the street from Lanshin’s spa!
So glad you agree! I’m obsessed!
I asked for a jade roller, ice roller, and gua sha tool for Christmas this year 🙂 I got them all in my stocking and I was giddy with excitement. #thisisforty Thank you for the note about the mist and oil as I have been struggling with that – super helpful! I can’t wait to try it extra misty tonight!!
YAY – happy gua sha-ing!!!!! XO
Love your lost on Gua Sha! I’m an holistic esthetician in San Francisco and am
Certified in Gua Sha. It truly is amazing!! Glad the word os getting out about this ancient skin care modality. Can I repost this link on my website/ IG?
Hi Sarah! Feel free, just please credit me!
This looks awesome. Is it possible to do this with plain water mist and oil? I have very sensitive skin and some skin issues, so I am very hesitant to try new products, but would love to try this!
Yeah definitely!!! You just need to have some slip so that the tool glides without any friction.
I love this post! Just wanted to add that the stone tools are ‘permeable’ and may not be able to be High Level disinfected. They should only be used on one person – and not reused in multiple people. Otherwise, there is a risk of spreading blood born pathogens. I solved this problem using stainless steel tools of appropriate shape. I found very good stainless gua sha tools by the brand Valeofm. And I also love that some of them have a grippy surface which saves your fingers. One day I will write a post reviewing these tools.
I’ve never heard of this, I want to try it…thank you for sharing…
It’s amazing, hope you give it a try!!
Hi Grace, do you still use this? Thanks!
I haven’t done gua sha in a while – not because it isn’t great (it’s wonderful!!!) but more because I have been so obsessed with my NuFace! Still highly recommend doing gua sha though!
Hello! I love this post, thank you! Question: in what order do you use your SK-II essence and an oil to make the Gua Sha move smoothly? For nighttime, I’ve heard you’re supposed to put the SK-II essence on newly cleansed skin, so would you do that first and then do the oil for the Gua Sha, and then your serum and moisturizer? I’m all confused about the right order since I thought oil should be last but then how do you make the Gua Sha move smoothly without using oil? Thanks so much!!
Hey! I recommend doing your whole skincare routine and ending with the gua sha (and the oil!) Don’t overthink it!
I don’t know remember how I stumbled onto this post lol but what would be the difference between this and the ice roller. I’ve been debating getting the ice roller next time I splurge on myself but now I’m confused what the difference is between the two in what they do for the face/skin.
they’re pretty different! think it’s a matter of personal preference!