Finding time for self care
I've been doing Gua Sha regularly for about a month! I've noticed that finding time to do self care activities was easier when I was quarantining, go figure. But I feel like Gua Sha has been keeping me relaxed now that I'm working in person again. Gua Sha takes a few minutes out of my day, makes me feel like I slept another two hours, and the added facial oil (I think) has been giving me more good skin days. Honestly, with time, I'm growing to do massages more and more frequently, and while I can see no visible changes regarding wrinkles or acne, I can feel a huge improvement in my muscle tension and congestion. This has quickly become what I'm sure will be a lifelong habit.
My immediate favorite thing about Gua Sha is not glamorous, so I'm gonna talk about it first. Gua Sha paired with a steamy shower --and god forbid, tea-- you'll be so decongested and loose. My congestion is a force to be reckoned with, I have seasonal allergies for every season. On my most congested mornings (I'm going to be gross, get excited) the amount of snot that I can feel moving out of my sinuses when I do facial massage is astounding. Seriously, if you struggle with sinus congestion and puffiness please jump in a hot shower with a Gua Sha comb. If you don't then pretend I didn't say that.
Resources helpful in my Gua Sha journey
To start I watched Learn Facial Gua Sha from a Chinese Medical skincare professional
And practiced with the gua sha tool and oil I had. You'll notice the gua sha tool in the video is jade - which is beautiful and wonderful, and porous. I've been using our Gua Sha Tool - Porcelain Comb which is vitrified porcelain. Porcelain is a non-porous material that can be sterilized, and wont harbor bacteria. Per Kimberly's recommendation, I'm using rice bran oil. My skin is pretty sensitive and acne prone, I get too oily just as quickly as I get too dry. This video, best oils for skincare, gives almost too much information about a dozen other plant oils if you don't know what might be right for you. Not all oils are the same so look for cold pressed plant oils. Be aware of the ingredients in your products and remember that compounds in plant oils can degrade overtime and cause irritation. Try doing a patch test of a new oil if you aren't sure! Some oils like coconut and olive oil can make really wonderful body products, but can be irritating and comedogenic on our faces.
I've had a good experience with rice bran oil so far! Rice bran oil is a byproduct of rice milling, the oil is pressed from the hard outer shell of rice - the bran. Rice bran oil is rich in vitamin B and E, and contains squalene which is found naturally in your skin's sebum. The similar composition to your skin's natural oils makes rice bran oil pretty well tolerated by most people.
Gua Sha for contouring and tension release
I think the shower is the perfect time to squeeze in a little massage, even on a busy morning - but If I can't bring myself to jump in the shower I'll do a little Gua Sha after I have washed my face. Honestly my advice to you is to massage wherever or whenever you can get to a peaceful state, and give yourself a moment of relaxation. I'll take a few minutes to massage my cheeks, forehead and around my eyes and nose gently. Massage around the contours of your face, dragging the comb up and out. I like to pull the comb up and away from the center of my face, and when I get to my hairline I'll give the comb a little wiggle for a deeper massage. All of this motion is helping your lymphatic system drain and get blood flowing, decreasing morning puffiness and help you breathe a little clearer. Remember to give extra love to the areas where you hold your tension. I tend to clench my jaw, and Gua Sha has helped ease and release those muscles at the end of the day.
Also, I have been massaging my upper arms and thighs after working out, as well as my neck and shoulders after a long day (of watching the news). One of my roommates has been practicing massage to ease their eye strain from long nights of studying. She's been pulling the comb in outward motions along her eyebrows, forehead and under her eyes. We hold so much tension in our muscles, and especially when times are hard, taking care of your body and mental wellbeing is essential
Be well, and yeah, I’m going to continue with this!