The Benefits of Gua Sha
Stimulates circulation: One pilot study found that gua sha can stimulate circulation in targeted areas. Anecdotal evidence has found that it could also help ease the appearance of cellulite by lowering fluid retention—though there's not quite enough science to back that up.
Helps produce collagen: Anecdotal evidence has found that gua sha can help decrease puffiness and soften fine lines and wrinkles by helping the body produce more collagen—thereby brightening the complexion.
Decreases inflammation: Science has found that gua sha can help temporarily relieve pain and tightness in certain parts of the body—even leading to results that last. Those studies suggest that gua sha has an impact on inflammation (which often leads to pain).
Diminishes dark circles: By helping soften fine lines and stimulating collagen, gua sha can help diminish dark circles (at least, temporarily) and temporarily tighten skin.
Sculpts facial muscles: Used on the jawline and cheekbone area, gua sha can help release tight facial muscles and give the temporary appearance of a more sculpted face. It won't get rid of a double chin (it can't target fat), but it could help ease puffiness in the short term.
How to Use a Gua Sha
"There are so many varieties and shapes of gua sha tools that there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach to how to use gua sha," Tobia explains. That said, there are some fundamentals to the facial gua sha process for all methods. According to Dr. Nazarian, the best method is to use gentle pressure and "apply even strokes against your skin, preferably in the direction of lymphatic flow."
“These benefits are often apparent even after the very first gua sha treatment,” says Tobia.
"I like to use a combination of short and long strokes across the areas that need it," adds Peters. Lymph nodes are located beneath the surface of the skin. "An easy, feather-like stroke of a gentle facial gua sha technique is all it takes to flush the lymph into your body’s drainage system," Tobia says. The process stimulates lymphatic flow and drainage,1 releasing excess fluids that can make the complexion look a little, well, inflated.
Confused? Tobia describes the process of lymphatic drainage for us: "It’s like a garbage disposal. The interstitial fluids that collect beneath your skin need to be flushed into the body’s natural detoxification system. Gua sha works to move those collected fluids into the lymphatic system where they get cleaned and mixed back into your bloodstream."
"Unlike the circulatory system,” she continues, “there is no pump for the lymphatic system… By performing gua sha techniques, you are giving your lymphatic system the boost that it needs to rid yourself of the fluids that are stuck beneath the surface of your skin and causing your face to bloat.”
At home, I apply a 50p-size (or, for our American readers, about the size of a quarter) puddle of facial oil and then use the tool over my entire face, neck, and décolletage. I’ve found it’s brilliant for the days when I want to really ham up the facial massage or need to iron out a cheese board-induced puffy jawline. It isn’t hard to use at all. Whilst on our hunt for gua sha inspiration, I came across queen of holistic skincare Britta Beauty on Instagram. Her gua sha videos are not only great to have on hand if you're unsure how to use a gua sha tool, but they're seriously mesmerizing too.
How Often Should You Gua Sha?
While once a week is recommended for gua sha, the frequency of use will depend on your skin type and your skin’s tolerance for the method. “As you start to familiarize yourself with it and get more comfortable with your techniques, you should aim to use gua sha at least two to three times per week,” recommends Tobia. “Once you get into a routine of performing gua sha on yourself… you’ll achieve the best results doing it daily.”