How Does Gua Sha Work? The History, Science, and Benefits

how does Gua Sha work
This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Everyone can agree that they would love to have a smooth and sculpted face. Recently, an ancient Chinese practice has been trending with this exact goal in mind. The practice is called Gua Sha, known for years to promote health and wellness. Now, Gua Sha is trending in the skincare and beauty world everywhere, with claims that it can tone and sculpt the face by reducing inflammation and reducing wrinkles.

In this article, we will break down the history, tradition, and science of Gua Sha so you can make an informed decision before adding it into your skincare routine!

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is actually one of the oldest known forms of Chinese functional medicine used for circulation and de-inflammation. Between 1368 and 1644 in the Ming Dynasty, the procedure was scientifically computed into major medical records. Gua Sha is actually believed to be even older than that though! 

Gua Sha roughly translates to “scrape away sickness”. The traditional practice involves using a stone or other flat tool the glide across the face/ body in a specific motions. In ancient times they would actually use a buffalo horn as a tool.

The concept of Gua Sha is that the pressure from the stone releases fascial and muscular tension and moves lymph fluid out while also improving blood circulation. By releasing tension and reducing inflammation, it supposedly creates a sculpted/tone appearance with your facial muscles. It also creates minor bruises which either appears as purple or red marks known as “Petechiae” or “sha”. Even though the petechiae are not visually pleasing, the theory is that the bruising generates more blood flow to that area to increase cell regeneration and collagen production. 

What’s the Science?

There is plenty of history and science to back the claim that Gua Sha can reduce inflammation and increase circulation. Draining the excess fluid from your lymph nodes can give your skin a radiant, toned appearance. The petechiae that are created during Gua Sha can revive the skin to reduce the look of wrinkles and aging. 

“This case study investigated the use of gua sha in the treatment of facial expression lines and wrinkles. The results showed improvements in both, especially where there was a higher incidence of these features. There were also improvements in skin texture. These results provided cosmetic benefits and increased self-esteem for the patient. However, further studies are suggested to investigate this method of facial cosmetic treatment.”

“The Use of Gua Sha to Improve Facial Expression Lines and Wrinkles: A Case Study.” The Journal of Chinese Medicine

So the bottom line is, Gua Sha isn’t going to give you a permanent face lift. There is no proof that it will actually change any of the muscles or other aspects of your face. Over time, however, Gua Sha can definitely help you achieve a more glowing complexion and it will temporarily reduce the puffiness in your face. If nothing else, Gua Sha is an effective way to relax your muscles and give nice little facial massage! Who doesn’t love that?!

How to do Gua Sha?

If you are ready to give Gua Sha a try, it would be most effective to have a professional work on you to ensure maximum benefits. Over the past couple years, doing Gua Sha at home has become more popular because it is so much more accessible to everyone. Here are a few tips if you decide to go the DIY route:

  1. Cleanse the skin with your favorite face wash.
  2. Apply a gentle moisturizer or face oil. Anything that will give your face a good texture for the stone to glide across. 
  3. Angle the Gua Sha stone so that it is almost flush with the skin. 
  4. Beginning with the neck, use the inward curved side of the tool to sweep up the side of the neck from the collarbone towards the jawline. When you reach your jaw line, use short and sharp pressing motions. Repeat this sequence a few times before moving to the opposite side.
  5. Use the upper side of the gua sha with light pressure to massage the throat. Starting in between the collarbones, sweep the tool upwards following the curve of the neck. Then, use the two points of the stone to apply pressure to the jawline.
  6. For your jawline, use a sweeping motion with the two points pressing gently in an upward motion.
  7. Next, move up to the cheeks. Use the same motion that you did with your jawline but instead use the longest side of the stone.
  8. For your eyes, use the longer sided point of the stone and use very gentle upward strokes. Be extra gentle for this delicate area.
  9. You can then move up to the brows, using the brow as a guide to place the longer side of the heart end of the stone and glide the stone towards the temples.
  10. Finally, for your forehead, use the longer, less curved side of the stone to do downward strokes on each side of the forehead. 

 Tips and Tricks:

  • Use a good quality Gua Sha Stone- Many people think that they can purchase any Gua Sha tool online and it will work the same. While this can be true, many times cheaper Gua Sha stones have a higher chance of sharp ridges that could scratch the skin, a more abrasive material, or they are very delicate so they break very easily. Your best bet is to buy a good quality flat stone from an Asian-owned small business.
  • Never Gua Sha on dry skin- Any skincare specialists can tell you that performing Gua Sha on dry skin or open wounds is not a good idea. It’s always recommended to use an oil or lotion on the skin to avoid pulling or tugging- this would defeat the purpose of the ritual. Make sure your skin has a layer of something with slickness so that the stone can glide easily over your face.

READ HERE to find some great serums for Gua Sha- Best Facial Serum for Gua Sha

  • Use Light Pressure- One of the main purposes of Gua Sha on the face is to reduce wrinkles and achieve a more radiant complexion. If you press on the skin too hard, however, you could easily cause some damage. While there may be some slight bruising after your first couple of sessions, you really don’t need to press very hard with the stone to achieve results. This is especially true for facial Gua Sha, since the skin and muscles in that area are so delicate. 

I hope this article on Gua Sha was beneficial in teaching you the historical and modern benefits of this practice. No more wondering “how does Gua Sha work?”. Now you know and can incorporate this ritual into your daily routine!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Free Skincare Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions