Gua Sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice which uses a flat, handheld tool, often made of jade or rose quartz, to apply pressure while scraping the skin in order to relieve muscle tension and promote healing. The ancient technique is purported to break down scar tissue, reduce inflammation, flush fresh blood flow to the skin and muscles, relieve pain, and improve joint flexibility. When used as a facial technique, gua sha may help even out skin tone, reduce puffiness via lymphatic drainage, clear up acne and rosacea, and even reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Pronounced gwah shah, and derived from the Chinese word for scraping, gua sha is also called skin spooning or coining. Gua sha treatments involve pulling the treatment tool along the skin to stimulate circulation and boost recovery. While total body gua sha treatments often result in light, albeit super bright red, bruising called petechiae — or the sha in gua sha — treatments on the face are much gentler, and should never result in bruising or blood vessel damage.
The gua sha craze is due, in part, to the fact that it’s a very effective treatment, yet totally DIY-friendly — though you can absolutely get treatments at a spa if you want to. And some holistic estheticians recommend that you get some training or exposure to the treatment before trying it at home. That said, gua sha kits are easy to find on Amazon and elsewhere, and aren’t super expensive, either — you can also check out a simple, at-home gua sha routine here.
Sometimes called the Eastern botox, or Eastern facelift for good reason, gua sha devotees claim some pretty dramatic effects, including a reduction in under eye circles and puffiness, a marked softening of fine lines and wrinkles, improved skin clarity and radiance, and an overall firming of sagging facial muscles — all while evening out skin tone to boot.
With facial gua sha, the skin is gently stimulated via a gentle scraping motion as puffiness-inducing stagnant lymph is flushed out, and toxins are released resulting in clearer skin. Holistic proponents also emphasize that the treatment method stimulates chi, or prana — the body’s intrinsic energy system, or “life force” — in order to resolve energetic obstructions that may be blocking the body’s innate healing processes. And according to myriad reports, treatments feel really good and promote optimum relaxation, too.
While there aren’t a lot of scientific studies examining the potential benefits and effects of gua sha treatments, the anecdotal evidence is definitely compelling — and it’s no small thing that the ancient practice has been in use for some thousands of years now. So, if you’d like to try adding this method to your daily skin care regimen, try getting a couple of treatments with a holistic esthetician first. This way you get the hang of what a good gua sha facial treatment looks and feels like, and you can pin down the best routine, technique, and treatment schedule for you.
Written by Carolyn de Lorenzo
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