The gua sha technique has recently gained popularity on social media, including TikTok, where users show their facial transformations from using the traditional Chinese medicine technique. We polled two gua sha experts to find out what the craze is all about and where the technique began, plus why you should be offering it in your salon or spa.
Gua sha has been around for thousands of years, and has been popular in traditional Chinese medicine for its many benefits. “It was used to relieve acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain, reduce inflammation and improve circulation; it was also used to help support the immune system and to balance upper respiratory illnesses,” Dr. Jenelle Kim, Doctorate of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist and founder of JBK Wellness Labs, tells American Salon. Kim and her lab were one of the first to introduce the gua sha and jade rolling techniques into the mainstream beauty industry about 20 years ago. When the results started to accumulate, gua sha and jade rolling took the industry by storm, she says, particularly gua sha because it effectively helps the skin to function optimally. By maintaining proper flow and function of the skin, the facial fascia becomes activated and nourished, fluid is invigorated and lymph drains properly, which helps fluids and toxins to pass through. This in turn leads to glowing, nourished, plump and hydrated skin.
A proper technique for facial rejuvenation consists of gently gliding the gua sha tool, commonly made of jade and rose quartz, in upward motions along the skin of the face, neck and décolleté.
First, Kim says to complete a normal skincare routine, consisting of a cleanser, exfoliator (two to three times per week), mask (two to three times per week), toner, serum and a moisturizer. “It is always important to use a serum and/or moisturizer to provide proper glide for the gua sha tool, as pulling of the skin on the face, neck and décolleté should always be avoided,” says Kim.
When used correctly, there are endless benefits, especially for improving circulation in the face, says Sandra Lanshin Chiu, licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and founder of Lanshin. “Facial gua sha stimulates and improves circulation of blood, lymph and energy, or qi, in the skin and underlying tissue,” she adds. “In traditional Chinese medicine, a constant flow of circulation is what makes your body healthy and gives skin its glow.” Improved circulation within skin can help heal acne faster, reduce puffiness, soften lines, smoothen your complexion and reduce sagging skin, she says. Because gua sha can also reduce tension in the face, neck and shoulders, Chiu recommends anyone who suffers from TMJ, headaches and sinus congestion to try the technique because many of the benefits are immediate.
According to Chiu, the most common results individuals see after gua sha is a more sculpted appearance of the jawline and cheeks, less darkness under the eyes, depuffing, better overall complexion and color, and a more relaxed neck and jaw.
While TikTok has become a great advocator for the technique, it’s important that people use it correctly for optimal results—like first receiving treatment from a professional who is trained in gua sha, the specific meridians and acupoints, who can show them the proper technique to maintain at home between facial appointments.