Today, we thought it would be fun to share a video on our favorite, slow and gentle way to do gua sha, the facial massage that has its roots in Chinese medicine.
Facial gua sha is a beauty treatment, but I try to give it more credit than that. The practice has the potential to be meditative, is incredibly relaxing, and yes, a direct route to some simple self-love. To me, it’s all about the meaning we assign to our actions throughout the day – you can gua sha in front of your laptop while immersed in youtube videos, or you can do it while aiming to be totally present in whatever space you are in, aware of the sounds and smells around, noticing to the sensations in your skin. Although practicing the same action, you’ll end up with two totally different experiences. While I do both, I like to remind myself that I’ll get twice the benefits from gua sha as an active meditation, way beyond just toning my skin, de-puffing my face, etc.
Facial gua sha is a massage practice that’s deeply rooted in the ancient traditions of Chinese medicine. A special (and affordable) jade or rose quartz tool is used to perform various, sweeping motions on the face and neck, which increases circulation, helps move lymphatic fluid, sculpts the features, and relaxes facial muscles. Benefits of gua sha include better overall complexion, reduced blemishes, and toned skin. It can help relieve neck pain, jaw tension, puffiness, and even headaches. It’s a direct route to more glowy skin and it’s the most relaxing, anti-aging facial treatment that you can give yourself in the comfort of your own home. It’s also a great practice for showing some love to yourself. Carving out some quiet time to slow down and direct your attention towards yourself and your well-being by practicing any small ritual is already the ultimate act of self-care.
* Gua sha massage is also practiced on the body, with more pressure on the tool, and you will usually need to see an acupuncturist for that. We are only focusing on facial gua sha in this post.
Gua sha tools come in different shapes, most commonly in jade and rose quartz. For this routine, we use a heart-shaped jade tool, but you can use a rose quartz tool with the same results (just choose the kind of stone that you are more drawn to). The shape can vary a bit too. If you have a gua sha tool, chances are you already have one that will work for this routine. Just make sure that the tool has a notch and a flat (or slightly curved) edge. It can be square like this one or heart-shaped like this one.
Our Favorite Routine
The gua sha routine we practice is a little different from some of the ones we’ve seen out there. It was introduced to us by our acupuncturist, and has you work your way from the bottom of your neck and face up to the forehead, since lymph drains down into the terminus, which is the area right above your collarbones. This way, you awaken the tissues and stimulate circulation at the base of your neck, so that there’s an opening for excess fluids from the middle and top of the face to drain into. It’s sort of like a faucet that needs to be opened at the bottom in order to let out the water. This routine is also quite slow, relaxing, and based in light touch.
Also, if you don’t vibe with this particular gua sha routine for any reason, there are many more gua sha videos on Youtube that you might like!
When and How
There’s no right or wrong way to practice this gua sha routine. Do it as often as you like/can and whenever it feels best for you. It’s great in the morning, because it helps move stagnant lymph and de-puff, plus it can seamlessly incorporate into a morning mindfulness routine. It’s also amazing before bed, because the light and slow massage is incredibly relaxing.
I had been hearing about facial gua sha for a while and finally decided that this year would be the year I’ll try it out. I ended up falling in love with the practice, and my gua sha tool is now a permanent fixture on my bedside table (I’ve also tried using a jade roller and although it feels nice, to me there’s no question that gua sha is much more effective). The positive effects of gua sha are not necessarily immediate and tend to build over time, but your face will be visibly more sculpted after one self-massage session, which is always encouraging. To test this out, do all the steps on one side of your face first, and then observe how your features are more sculpted, your eyes are more open, and your eyebrows are more lifted on that side. For me, this is especially noticeable in the eye and eyebrow area.
The number one positive physical change that I’ve noticed from having a regular gua sha practice (I do it about 2-3 days a week) is less puffiness in the morning, which is a big one for me. My favorite time of day to practice facial gua sha is in bed right before I go to sleep. I find it to be incredibly relaxing, and the neck sweeping helps me work out tension in my neck, which I regularly experience after a typical day of work on the computer. Since my skin tends towards puffiness in the mornings, I notice that I don’t wake up looking as puffy if I do gua sha the night before. Sometimes, if I eat a late, salty dinner or simply don’t get enough sleep and wake up extra puffy, I do the routine in the morning. In this case, I love running my gua sha tool under cold water and wiping it dry, so that I have a cool stone to work with. This feels so good and does away with the puffiness in no time.
I truly look forward to the routine and all of its relaxing, beautifying benefits and try to squeeze it in as many times a week as I can. I think you’ll really love it.