how to use a gua sha tool

How to Use a Gua Sha Tool

Depuff and brighten at the same time.

By: Hannah Baxter
Photography: Alec Kugler

While we’re all about trying the latest beauty trends for sculpting and brightening your complexion, skin-care practices that date back thousands of years are just as intriguing. When we first heard about gua sha—a practice that stems from traditional Chinese medicine—we were surprised to learn that it originated in China and Southeast Asia as early as 200 CE. Often called “spooning” or “coining” by English speakers, it involves scraping a small tool (often crystal or jade) across the skin. When used on the back, arms, and legs, the goal is to move energy, or your qi, throughout the body along the meridian lines, similar to acupuncture. For skin-care purposes, much less pressure is applied to the face to help promote lymphatic drainage and massage away tension in addition to achieving other aesthetic benefits.

“The lymphs are what carry all of our toxic waste,” explains Dr. Nadia Musavvir, a licensed naturopathic doctor based in California. “It’s part of the circulatory system.” She explains that using a gua sha tool is one of the best methods of draining the lymphs and removing excess toxins from the body. “This is going to help stimulate collagen formulation, decongest the skin, and help get rid of acne. Also, over time, [you’ll get] more defined facial structure and a sharper jawline. Essentially, you’re toning that muscle.”

But Dr. Musavvir stresses that you can’t just go swiping a slab of crystal all over your face without any direction—you need some methodology behind it. To help guide us through our own gua sha routine (with her new bian stone gua sha tool, of course), she laid out the five steps for using these tools properly, for maximum, extra-glowy results. We recommend performing this routine in the morning after cleansing, when your face is likely the puffiest, and make sure to apply an oil or serum for some added slip prior to using any facial tool. Follow the steps on one side of your face, then repeat for the opposite, and be sure to take note of the difference between your left and right—you should see a brighter, more contoured complexion. And remember, practice makes perfect!

 

1. Start by applying gentle but firm pressure to work the gua sha tool—with the ridge side down—moving in small concentric circles from the middle of your forehead out towards your temples, all the way to the hairline.

 

2. Apply extra eye cream so there is no pulling on the delicate eye area. Then position the top corner of the gua sha tool’s groove near the corner of your eye, closest to your nose, and slowly massage it under the eye out towards your ear, all the way to the hairline. Repeat with the bottom corner of the groove at the top of the eye, and work the tool over the eye, following the line of the eyebrow out to the hairline.

 

3. Start with the gua sha (still ridge side down) at the edge of the bridge of your nose, and pull it gently across your cheek to your hairline. Work your way down the side of your face, beginning at the center and moving out towards the ears. End by working the gua sha from the middle of your chin along the jawline until you touch the bottom of your ear.

 

4. Apply slightly firmer pressure and massage the gua sha from the center of the chin along the jaw, following the bone. When you reach your ear, pivot the tool so the ridges lay flush with your neck, and bring it down to your collarbone. This will help drain the toxins from the lymph nodes on either side of your neck.

 

5. To tone the neck, glide the gua sha tool up towards the jaw, starting at the base near the collarbone. Move up from the center, then work your way around the side of the neck until you reach your shoulder, always working the tool upwards. Make sure you still have plenty of oil on the skin so you don’t pull or cause any irritation.

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