Sure pocket crystals are cool, but have you tried rubbing one on your face?
I assure you there’s an art and method to this rising trend.
Gua sha, which translates from Mandarin meaning “scrape sand” is a traditional Chinese therapy of using a smooth flat stone (typically Jade or Rose Quartz) to scrape lubricated skin. This process can relieve pain, tension, stagnant lymph, and encourage the movement of Qi.
According to TCM, Qi is the energy or life force that flows through the human body and must be flowing freely for radiant health and well-being.
This therapy has been used on the body, with amazing results, however, alarming the effects may be at first. The pressure from scraping can leave a trail of red marks, similar to the bruising left behind from cupping.
More recently, it’s gained popularity as an esthetic treatment in a facial massage for improving the appearance and health of the skin. On the face, Gua sha does not leave the same trail of bruising and redness as it does from a treatment on someone’s back. In fact, quite the opposite, clients are left noticeably lifted and contoured from drained lymph and released muscle tension.
During a Gua sha facial treatment, the practitioner will typically begin on the neck and chest. This opens up the area and allows the energy and lymph to flow.
The pressure used is not hard if the focus is on the lymphatic system which is just below the skin. Unlike the circulatory system which comes with its own in house pump (the heart) the lymphatic system relies on movement and massage to be pumped along to prevent stagnancy and continue filtering our body of cellular waste.
One study found significant improvement in neck and shoulder pain associated with myofascial trigger points from computer use, or what we better know these days as “Tech Neck.” The study showed significant improvement in the range of motion of the cervical spine (the portion of our spinal cord comprising our neck) from those receiving Gua sha therapy.
More recently, Instagram has been flooded with before and after photos from practitioners showing how incredible this non-invasive technique has worked on clients, many opting to incorporate regular use of facial Gua sha in place of more invasive procedures like Botox.
Unlike some other alternative therapeutic techniques, like cupping or acupuncture, Gua Sha can be utilized at home on yourself quite easily.
It’s an inexpensive and accessible form of self-care. Ritual Oils offers a set complete with their antioxidant-filled Blue Lotus infused Moringa Oil to use with gua sha. Utilizing facial Gua sha techniques with a facial oil allows the tool to glide across the skin without irritation, and encourages product penetration into the skin, ensuring that your skin is actually absorbing all of those beautiful ingredients.
How to do Gua sha at Home
To begin your own Gua sha ritual at home, simply apply the Ritual Oil to a clean face. Begin by opening the neck with long gentle upward strokes on the back of the neck, and the sides, with the Gua sha stone. Then move to one side of the face, holding the skin taut and the stone flat, and stroke outwards and upwards, using gentle pressure.
Gua sha is an excellent ritual to practice at night as a way to wind down, to switch your own energy from yang to yin, from doing to being, as you slow down and close out your day.
There is a myriad of DIY videos shared online for you to continue experimenting with and exploring as you grow into the practice.
As with any ritual, be it meditation or exercise, the best results come from regular use.
It’s an investment in your spacesuit, a little bit of daily maintenance while we continue our orbit and manage our symbiotic existence within an ever-changing environment.