Everything You Need to Know About Gua Sha—Straight from an Expert

07.27.2021 — The Frenshe Editors
You’ve likely seen Gua Sha stones all over your Instagram feed, or you know tons of friends who swear by the practice. But, what exactly are the benefits of Gua Sha and implementing this into your daily routine? We spoke to Sandra Chiu, L.Ac. and founder of Lanshin, to break down everything you need to know about using Gua Sha stones.

What is gua sha?

“Gua Sha is an ancient Chinese Medicine practice that goes back centuries, (some records suggest it dates back to the Paleolithic era),” says Chiu. “Historically, tools were made from various types of materials like stones, coins, horns.” Gua Sha was used for treating pain and illnesses as serious as cholera. “Today, Gua Sha remains an important modality that TCM practitioners use to treat pain, boost immune function and help resolve other internal disorders,” she adds.

“Facial Gua Sha is a relatively new “cosmetic” treatment derived from traditional Gua Sha (practiced on the body), which is an important technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine,” she explains.

Facial Gua Sha uses a smooth tool, often jade or quartz, to slowly stroke the face and neck, improving circulation and releasing tension.

“While Gua Sha is traditionally more aggressive, facial Gua Sha uses a much slower speed and softer touch.” Pressure varies, but Chiu recommends light to medium pressure and feather-light around the eyes. A less is more approach should be used on the face.

The Benefits

“Facial Gua Sha stimulates and improves circulation of blood, fluids (lymph), and energy (qi) in the skin and underlying tissue,” Chiu says. “In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a constant flow of circulation is what makes your body healthy and gives skin its glow.”

Gua Sha is used for treating the below skin conditions:

  • Soften lines and wrinkles
  • Improve complexion and skin tone
  • Reduce excess puffiness
  • Smooth out rough texture
  • Sculpt jawline and chin
  • Create a lifted and refreshed appearance

“I also love to use facial Gua Sha to assist the healing process for acne, but I recommend following an experienced TCM practitioner with dermatology experience for this,” she says.

“Because facial Gua Sha is first a health improvement technique, it can also be very helpful for relieving tension of the jaw and neck and relieving congestion and headaches.”

Gua Sha Stones

Yes, there are different types of Gua Sha stones, but in Chiu’s opinion, the type of stone is less important than learning a good technique. “If you can’t decide on a stone, I recommend picking the one that resonates with you,” she says.

“That said, I chose to create the Lanshin Pro in Nephrite because of Nephrite’s density/strength and its natural superpower.”

“When warmed, Nephrite is scientifically proven to transmit FIR heat energy, which is beneficial for skin and overall health,” she adds.

Courtesy of Lanshin

How-To Gua Sha at Home 

“I recommend practicing facial Gua Sha as often as every day (or at least 3 times a week) to maintain results,” she explains.

  1. The best time to practice facial Gua Sha is whenever works for you! Some people prefer to do it in the morning, others enjoy it before going to sleep. “A quick facial Gua Sha session is my favorite way to prep skin before putting on makeup,” she says.
  2. Use slow strokes and light to medium pressure. Practicing too fast or hard may result in some “Sha,” or red marks (similar to a hickey). It’s not permanent, but it’s not what you’re going for.
  3. For those who feel intimidated or don’t know where to start, check out Chiu’s free tutorial videos.
  4. If you follow along 2-3 times it‘ll take 20-25 minutes to learn Chiu’s technique and basic routine. Once you know the steps it only takes 8-10 minutes. You can refer back to the videos for touch-ups, or follow Chiu on Instagram if you have specific questions.

“I recommend using a hydrating mist, or alcohol-free toner, followed by a facial oil or another moisturizer to prep your skin and get the necessary glide,” she says. “Otherwise practicing facial Gua Sha on skin that isn’t well-moisturized may cause dry friction, which is uncomfortable.”

The Results

Because of improved circulation, you’ll see a variety of different physical changes including reduced puffiness, a smoother complexion, softened lines, reduced sagging, volume to sunken features and it can even help acne heal faster. Chiu notes it’s important to avoid Gua Sha on inflamed or open/picked skin or cover with hydrocolloid sticker aka a pimple patch.

“Facial Gua Sha is also wonderful for releasing built-up tension and knots in the face, neck, and shoulders,” she explains. “Many of the benefits are immediate so it’s an ideal technique for relief from headaches, sinus congestion, or a tight/painful jaw (TMJ).”

The Frenshe Editors