A highly revered healing practice, Gua Sha has been passed down for generations in East Asian culture and is an effective tool in multiple healing modalities throughout Asia. Still used today by Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, Gua Sha is now gaining popularity in the beauty industry.
Promoting circulation, lymphatic drainage and cellular regeneration, improving skin elasticity and quality, whilst sculpting and toning the face, Gua Sha can help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Although a much more gentle practice, as there is less tissue in the face, less pressure is required to promote the circulation of lymphatic fluid, and rather than a ‘scraping’ action, think of it as more of a gentle massage, involving methodical strokes that promote regeneration and healing.
Facial Gua Sha was supposedly ‘discovered’ when acupuncturists would work on pressure points in the face during treatment, eventually noticing the rejuvenating benefits that arose when that pressure was applied.
To dive deeper into the rich history and culture, read our article 'The Ancient Healing Practice of Gua Sha: Tradition, History & Intention' to learn more.
Beginner's Tips To Gua Sha
- Relax, take deep breaths, and move slowly with intention.
- Always lubricate the skin with an oil or serum, the Gua Sha tool should glide across the skin, which prevents unintentional pulling or tugging of the skin.
- To promote the ‘lifting’ action of Gua Sha, always work your way upwards when performing facial Gua Sha. When performing Gua Sha on the body, the same rules apply, however you are always moving towards the heart.
- Angle the tool anywhere between 15-45 degrees and the skin. This ensures a greater surface area of the skin is in contact with the stone which enhances the movement of lymph.
- When practising facial Gua Sha, apply medium pressure (it should not hurt) and ensure you use a light pressure around the eyes where the skin is more delicate. Focus on ‘pulling’ rather than pushing.
- Practice slow strokes, repeating up to 3-30 times over one area before moving to the next (generally 3-5 strokes is recommended for Gua Sha performed on the face).
- Aim to use your other hand to hold your skin in place, as you glide the tool in the opposite direction.
- Use firm pressure when performing body Gua Sha, it should feel like a deep tissue massage but if you are in pain or experiencing discomfort beyond what feels right for you, consult a trained practitioner for further guidance. If you wish to avoid any type of ‘bruising’, reduce the pressure that you use, and less repeated strokes in the same area.
- At the end of a stroke, especially along the hairline, you can apply a firmer pressure to stimulate acupressure points, massaging the Gua Sha into the skin to relieve tension
- Always drain excess fluid. Once you’ve completed a set of strokes and have swept over an area, make sure you move the excess Fluid towards a drainage point. These points, known as lymph nodes clusters, are located all over the body, including ears, jawline, neck, collarbone, armpits and the groin region.
- The practice of Gua Sha should be avoided when you are sunburnt, have an active breakout, open wounds, or an inflammatory skin condition. Be careful to avoid any moles or scars and Gua Sha around them.
Step by Step Guide To Gua Sha: The Face
Following your usual skin care routine, apply a generous amount of facial oil or serum to your face and neck, gently massaging into the skin. Take a deep breath and drop into your practice, remember that this is a self loving and self nourishing practice that cultivates benefits far beyond one’s physical beauty
Start your practice at the base of the neck, and beginning at the back, using the comb edge, perform upward strokes at a 35 degree angle and work around to the front. Place the tool just above the collarbone and gently sweep upwards.
Move your way up, under the chin and continue to glide the tool outward towards the bottom of the jawline. You can secure the skin at the front of your neck and tilt your head upwards to help you glide the Gua Sha upwards until you reach the base of your chin.
Using the U-shaped end of the Gua Sha tool (pointy end down), begin at the centre of the chin. Using your free hand, secure the skin next to the tool and begin to glide the stone from the chin, up along the jawline towards the jaw muscle. Then at the end of that stroke, follow the jawline to under the ear and twist the Gua Sha so you can use the smooth edge to stroke downwards from the bone below the ear, behind the angle of the jaw.
Moving up to your cheek, starting from the centre of your face near the edge of your mouth/nose area, using the smooth side, glide the Gua Sha up along your cheek and cheekbone, and out towards your hairline. You can use your free hand again to secure the skin along the edge of your mouth and nose while you pull the stone in the opposite direction.
Align the pointed edge of the Gua Sha with the corner of your eye, and with gentle pressure, slowly glide the stone under your eye and outwards until you reach your hairline. Remember the under-eye skin is delicate and you don’t want to be pulling the skin.
Focusing on the upper eye and eyebrow, use the U-shaped end of the Gua Sha to cover your eyebrow area (it should fit perfectly in the ridge) and with your free hand, secure the skin between your eyebrows. Glide the Gua Sha over your eyebrow and towards the hairline. Then using the smooth edge of the Gua Sha, glide over the top of the eyebrow and towards the hairline again.
Using the smooth edge of the stone, begin at the centre of your forehead (once again using your free hand to secure the skin in place) and gently glide across towards the hairline. Now moving upwards, hold your eyebrow in place and perform upward strokes towards your hairline at the top of your face. We usually do this in three sections, left, middle and right side of the forehead.
Using the u-shaped end of the Gua Sha, place the stone at the top of your nose bridge, applying a slightly firmer pressure, press into this acupressure point, wiggling the Gua Sha. This can help to stimulate the nervous system, reducing tension and anxiety.