The name gua sha (刮痧)— pronounced gwahshah — comes from the Chinese words for scraping and sand. But you have probably heard of it as "coining" or "spooning" outside of China. According to traditional Chinese medicine, chi is energy that flows through the body, and it must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure health and wellbeing. Chi can sometimes become blocked, causing pain or tension in the muscles and joints; thus, gua sha aims to improve circulation to move this blocked energy to relieve aches, stiffness and to increase blood flow and stimulate the lymphatic system. Practitioners use a stone tool during treatment to rub the skin in long strokes while applying pressure; the pressure may be quite strong for areas of the back but it can also be applied with light pressure for the facial areas. Gua sha has been used as an important, natural therapy for the doctrine of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years.
Gua sha has been a ritual that has been deeply ingrained in my own personal memories. My dad would routinely see practitioners for scraping and for cupping which would result in a very colourful back which was amusing to a younger me. I would wince and was astounded by the bruising, but he said he always felt "better" afterwards. At home, my grandmother and mother used the stone gua sha tools on their faces and neck as part of their skincare routine. I would look at the smooth stones on their dressers and play with them as a child. My grandmother taught me how to use the stones to lightly massage my temples and to scrape my skin. "Feel that gritty feeling of sand underneath your skin?" She used to say as she delicately moved the stone slab up and down on my back. The stone felt cool on my skin, but the strokes tickled. "Those bits of sand are the toxins in your skin. If you are diligent with the gua sha then the sand will become smoothed out and the toxins are scraped away and drained from the body". Later in life, I still abhorred the full body scraping treatment, but the gentle facial massage was a welcome ritual in my skincare routine.
Using natural stone gua sha on the face will help with circulation, lymphatic drainage and skin contouring. It is recommended to use the gua sha with facial oils or moisturizer so that overall absorption of the skincare products into the face and neck is improved. Massaging with the gua sha at home is basically like giving your skin a mini workout. The stone allows you to go deeper into the muscles and fascia than by using fingers alone. Following the facial map while you scrape with the tool activates acupressure points in your face. As with all skincare routines, results are always better when there is consistency. If you use this massage daily it can be a wonderful and therapeutic addition to your self-care routine.
I never use the gua sha on dry, un-moisturized skin because the rubbing of the stones could tug too roughly. For my own skincare routine I wash my face with our Purifying Clay Cleanser then I spray with The Botanical Tonic with 2-3 spritzes. Afterwards, I apply 3-4 drops of The Active Herbal Elixir into the palms of my hands and massage my palms together before I pat my hands all over my face and neck. I make sure the oil is evenly distributed on my face before I take my clean gua sha tool for the massage. I follow the facial map and I do 3 strokes per area; making sure that I scrape in the direction from the inner to the outer edges. I do this massage once a day, usually at night because it helps me relieve tension in my face and it feels relaxing and helps me unwind.
- Make sure to use a light and gentle touch while holding the gua sha tool,
- Use the different curves of the gua sha for different areas of your face: wide flat edge for the forehead, small curve for the eye sockets and nose, round curve for the cheeks and jaw,
- Always use a facial oil or moisturizer before you use the gua sha so that the stone can glide easily across your skin,
- Follow our facial map and always glide the tool gently up and out, starting from the areas at the top of your face to the bottom then to your neck, around three strokes per area,
- Never tug roughly at your skin,
- Always make sure you wash your stone tool between massages!
I've sourced these natural stone gua sha tools directly from my hometown in Guangzhou, China. We value the healing energy found in natural stones, and our gua sha tools come in jade and rose quartz.