So, what is Gua Sha? My first introduction to it was back when I was a kid and walking by my mum at home (she's a naturalized citizen, originally born in Taiwan). She was using this comb thing without any teeth and I was like... oh gosh. Another weird thing I cannot tell my friends about. What. Is that!?
Anecdotally, I learned it is a tool to help promote circulation. Circulation of what exactly? I wasn't yet curious enough to find out.
Fast forward to my 35s and I'm all about lymphatic massage, drinking water, and eating healthy. In other words... I am my mother.
Why use Gua Sha?
When you get to be as old as I am kids, you start wanting to make sure you are helping out your body as much as you can. Whether that's preventative, or to help reduce inflammation, or promote relaxation. Gua Sha'ing can help encourage the lymphatic system to drain (do pair it with a good hydration schedule), and over the long term, many folks have shared they have felt and been told they look younger: with their faces appearing more sculpted. If anything, the simple act of this surprisingly firm yet gentle massage is relaxing. That in itself is nothing to just ignore. Whether you have a bit of a locked-jaw due to stress, or simply a desire to release hidden tension and the beginning of frown-lines.
This was a Podcast I enjoyed listening to recently on Gua Sha over in NYC. If it doesn't encourage to even give it a try, then I guess I should learn to close my mind just a little more, but--I just can't not try something that has been practiced by my people for centuries! What's the harm? People still keep being born e'ry day! And it's not really about belief. It's simply about your lymphatic system. It's no big secret, just becoming more well known in America because we are always a bit delayed in our acceptance of ancient practices. A healthy does of skepticism will help you survive. A know-it-all, never curious attitude will keep your face bloated though, ah ha. Ah ha ha ha [slaps knee].
One other Podcast that was a bit hippy but really rather useful in relaying some more traditional info to consider for body Gua Sha massage and was worth a listen is linked below. It was also a bit shorter which was great! Less hip, more technical love from trained practitioners: The Healing Power of Gua Sha. From this podcast they mentioned: "with little micro-traumas... the body tends to... it will bring an anti-inflammatory response to that area, especially in the face, I believe it helps to promote collagen."
What to watch out for in Gua Sha facials
The one thing I came across when doing additional reading into actual Gua Sha, and not just what my relatives back in Taiwan and Japan do was this: if you have had botox done on your face, do not Gua Sha. REPEAT you should not have this done if you had botox work and it is still working within your face. The practice of Gua Sha will move this through your face and that's not ideal for why you had it done. I know some folks who use it preventatively, and others that need it to relax tension they can't seem to control. Either way! Never ever do Gua Sha if you are doing facial injections.
I was delightfully surprised to read this because I was already doing lymphatic massage on my face since last summer. I noticed a difference under my eyes and under my chin because I knew I was holding more in my lymph nodes there. But, my hands would get tired after four minutes. That's when my mind wondered and I realized... oh my gosh. There is a tool for this and my own mother was doing it like... one thousand years ago! So, simply put, the sheer fact you should never do Gua Sha if botoxed, told me it isn't just a perceived difference you see in your face after Gua Sha, it really is moving fluid through your lymph nodes.
Some folks have called it the Botox of the East. Matter of opinion, but it's a point of pride that holistic medicine is gaining popularity over American medicine.
Gua Sha Tools to get started
The best tools to start practicing are your own two hands. Or someone have someone else use their hands!
With a little bit of face oil, a clean face, and gentle pressure from your fingers you can start in the next couple of minutes.
Some folks have heard of jade rollers, or the like. They sound beautiful and look it, too. But, the reality is it's a bit of a porous, germ collection material and doesn't have enough control as a gua sha tool. I would recommend even a jade scraper (gua sha tool) over a roller. But, I would rather folks didn't put a porous stone and use it repeatedly over their face day-to-day. Knowing the gross habits of people and the micro-levels of bacteria that can get to even the cleanest of folks if a material is porous and able to hide bacteria to re-introduce later.
If not ready to commit to a scraping tool like a porcelain gua sha tool. I would definitely recommend trying temporarily a jade or quartz gua sha scraper. They are beautiful and affordable. Though, obviously jade at that price isn't usually pure and quality jade (sorry, gem sourcing jeweler writing over here). It's usually a resin, so still porous (throws hands up in the air)! But, honestly, easily worth it to try out. Just realize you may get the benefits under the skin from the massage, but the material might potentially hold skin infecting bacteria causing (maybe) breakouts. So, I would rather you use your hands or even a spoon!
Traditionally, a porcelain spoon was used way (waaaay) back in the day. Queue the porcelain gua sha tool concept.
Motivation for Facial Gua Sha
From Parisian massagers doing it (I think if I do it, I'll make myself French), to Meghan Markle having it done to get ready before her wedding... Gua Sha'ing: I mean, this is the easiest, lowest bar, holistic approach to relaxation, and lymphatic drainage health. Lymphatic fluid should always be draining naturally since it is your bodies waste system. But sometimes it needs encouragement, usually with just more water. Sometimes with a little bit of massage. If unsure, start with looking into what your lymphatic system is. That's the most basic start to understand the concept behind this massage technique. So, get on it folks. Start the Googling of this if you have never heard of Gua Sha before because you're only 1,000 years behind.
Do you have any experiences with Gua Sha that you want to share? Please let others know in the comments below. It's a small but nice community!