What to Know About the Ancient Facial Therapy You’ve Seen on Instagram

Plus, where to buy your own gua sha crystal.

gua sha facial therapy massage techniquephoto credit: shutterstock

You may have noticed a few fancy new beauty tools at retailers and on social lately. There are the techie tools like red light therapy devices and then there are back-to-basics tools like dry brushes and jade rollers. But there’s a new tool popping up in our feeds: the gua sha crystal. (Although, as we’ll explain, it’s actually not a new tool after all.) A quick search on Instagram results in more than 40K posts with the hashtag #guasha. So what is it?

Gua sha is an ancient facial therapy that provides a gentle stimulating massage for the face. While facial massage has become a popular beauty treatment for its plumping and contouring results, gua sha also has therapeutic benefits. The technique has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years, says Seychelle Bradley, Director of Sales for Odacité Skincare. Using flat crystals, the gua sha technique helps remove lymphatic fluid from the face, which in turn smoothes fine lines and wrinkles, and reduces puffiness. (Try these other tricks to reduce puffy eyes and dark circles.)

Gua sha vs. jade roller: What’s the difference?

Since a gua sha crystal is hand-held and hand carved with small rounded edges, you naturally have more control over it. (As opposed to the jade roller, which only allows for a straight line of movement.) “With the gua sha, you don’t want to go back and forth [like you do with a jade roller] because what you’re doing [with gua sha] is taking the toxins out of your face and then pushing them down into the lymph, says Bradley. “You never want to go backwards into your face because then you’re just pushing the toxins back in.” Previously, gua sha was primarily done by technicians in a spa setting, but it’s now available as an at-home treatment thanks to new gua sha tools that are popping up at beauty retailers. (Our growing infatuation with all things crystal might have something to do with its increase in popularity. Learn more with our beginner’s guide to crystal healing.)

Try Odacité Crystal Contour Gua Sha, $67 at thedetoxmarket.ca.

Odacite Gua Sha Crystalphoto credit: the detox market

Here’s how to DIY the gua sha technique at home

1. Prep the skin

One of the most important things for your gua sha massage is prepping the skin, says Bradley. Start with a clean face. Then, apply 5-10 drops of serum to your hands, rub them together to warm the serum and then press to apply to your face and neck.

2. Angle the crystal

Bradley recommends holding the gua sha crystal at an angle, almost flat to your skin. Then, ever so slightly, pull the skin with each stroke. The pressure should be very light and soft. Think of a sweeping or scraping motion. And whatever you do on one side of your face, make sure you do on the other side.

3. Use gentle pressure

Be gentle! Especially around the eye area.

Try this gua sha technique to contour around the eyes for a mini face lift:
• Lightly sweep over the undereye area and out to the temple, all the way to the hairline. Repeat three times on each eye.
• Next, sweep from the inside corner of the brow bone out to the temple. Repeat three times over each eyebrow.
• Stroke from the centre of the eyebrows up to the hairline. Repeat three times.
• From the centre of the forehead, sweep just above the eyebrow, towards the ear. Lift your gua sha stone and starting at the centre of the upper forehead, sweep down the hairline, over the temple, behind the ear and down the side of the neck. Repeat each sweep three times. This last section is where you’re basically sweeping the toxins from your face into the lymph glands. (Click to the second post below for a handy how-to map of the face.)

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Many gua sha crystals are made using rose quartz, which is known as a healing gemstone that attracts love and positive energy – the perfect complement to its detox benefits. There are also some gua sha tools made using jade, like Skin Gym’s Jade Gua Sha ($46 at well.ca), which is said to encourage prosperity and growth. After each use, wash your stone with mild, natural soap and warm water. If you’re into crystal cleansing (who isn’t?), you can set your stone out under the moonlight to recharge and re-energize the crystal.

Next, discover what your zodiac sign says about your health.