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Facing it with stones: Ancient Chinese healing practice Gua Sha takes the internet by storm

Gua Sha, an ancient Chinese healing practice, has taken beauty care by storm, and has become quite the rage on Instagram and TikTok

Published: 16th May 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2021 01:33 PM   |  A+A-

During a Gua Sha—pronounced gwashah—the practitioner makes scraping motions on your face in upward strokes with a flat piece of jade or rose quartz.

During a Gua Sha—pronounced gwashah—the practitioner makes scraping motions on your face in upward strokes with a flat piece of jade or rose quartz.

Personal care is a tussle between K Beauty and J Beauty. The new cult that has taken social media by storm is C Beauty with Gua Sha, a traditional Chinese healing method. Gua means scraping and Sha means bruises, in the Chinese language. The literal translation is ‘to scrape away the pain.’ During a Gua Sha—pronounced gwashah—the practitioner makes scraping motions on your face in upward strokes with a flat piece of jade or rose quartz.

Applying lotion to the face before a session will prevent marks from appearing on skin. Influencers across the world are swooning over Gua Sha’s power to make the skin glow and remove double chins. The scraping is meant to reduce acne and remove puffiness causing an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response that produces pleasing sensations in the brain. Google search reveals a five-fold climb in public interest in Gua Sha in April compared to February. It has 300,000 posts on Instagram after pop singer Lizzo declared on TikTok, “Y’all, I got me a Gua Sha,” as she stroked her jawline with what looked like a potato chip. 

Gua Sha facials expel toxins by revitalising energy points around the face. Sagging skin is tightened and discolorations fade. An important advantage of facial Gua Sha is that it tones up the facial muscles and reduces pores and fine lines. Gua Sha has existed for thousands of years and is used to take the bite off the symptoms of various diseases. There are modern studies that show that applying Gua Sha on the body could accelerate muscle recovery. It also stimulates the epidermis to relax facial muscles, improve elasticity and speed up tissue drainage. Traditional Gua Sha practitioners used ceramic spoons and blunt coins, which have been replaced by flat pieces in many shapes, sizes, and materials.

Some believe that certain types of stone are more suited to certain people. For example, jade is reputed to possess cooling properties that can balance the skin, while rose quartz is used for spiritual healing and treating acne-prone skin. Some believe any non-sharp object will work, provided the technique and direction is correct. For facial Gua Sha, the scraping must proceed outwards from the centre of the face and in one direction only, instead of moving the stone back and forth. Before using the Gua Sha tool, experts advise the stone to be kept in the fridge overnight. At night, you can use the tool after cleansing your face, but before putting on night cream.

Practitioners advocate caution while using Gua Sha. Patients taking anticoagulants should not use it. This tool should not be used on wounds, sunburnt spots, and on sensitive skin. What is the Chinese principle behind Gua Sha? It is a detox method using the flow of blood and in the right direction so that facial meridians are stimulated by activating the energy channels in the body to remove excess fluid from the face. The renewed blood circulation and lymphatic flow impart a luminous glow to the face. Traditional Chinese medical wisdom says that people who have excess yang energy in their bodies get reddish faces, while those with excess yin energy have pale and dull skin. Gua Sha believes to balance the yin and yang.

The Gua Sha Routine
● Apply moisturiser or oil on skin
●Hold your right hand to the right side of your forehead. With the Gua Sha in your left hand, run the tool’s flat surface starting from the center of the forehead to your hairline. Gently press and hold it under the eye, then over it, keeping the eyelid shut. Sweep it gently over the under eye towards the temple, all the way to the hairline. Repeat three times. Wiggle your hand and repeat on the left side. Always remember to wiggle at the end of each massage. Repeat each rub three times on both sides.
●Hold the tool’s heart-shaped edge to the top of your nose. Massage it along your eyebrow line all the way to your temple. Repeat on the other side.
●Hold your nose in your right hand. With your left hand, rub the tool’s curved edge under your eyes up to the temple. 
●Place your right hand above your mouth. Cover the length of one cheek with the tool and rub upward towards your ear. Repeat on the other side.
●Take a two-pronged tool. Place your right hand in the centre of your cheek. At an angle, press the tool to the centre of your chin so that its curves trap your jawline. Massage along the jaw to the earlobe. 
● After placing your right hand on your collarbone, rub  the long curved side of the Gua Sha upward to the jawline.    

THE TOOLS 

Pencil Gua Sha
The Pencil Gua Sha tool has a point that can be pressed on pressure points in the temples, the corners 
of eyes, and the ends of lips. It promotes blood circulation and tones up facial muscles. It reduces 
discoloration too. 

Body comb Gua Sha 
It is ideal for a head-to-toe rub but not so much for computer-related neck and shoulder tension. Gently run it up and down the neck, shoulders and upper back for immediate relief. 

Multi-purpose Gua Sha
Made of white crystal, it has a variety of uses such as an intensive body and face massage. Apply its pointed edge to pressure points. Rub its curved side along your jaw and neck. Use its circular edge on the sensitive under-eye surface and cheekbones.

THE TECHNIQUE
● Use the tool at an angle of 45 degrees in an upward lifting motion
● Smaller tools are meant for smaller areas and bigger ones for the cheeks, forehead and other body parts
● Small pointed round shapes are effective on pressure points
● Limit scraping to five-10 times. Use on sensitive areas only once in three days.  



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