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Exploring Facial Gua Sha

Woman receiving spa treatment


There’s an increase in interest in this Asian healing modality. Let’s take a look.

You might have heard of gua sha, which is basically a scraping massage. It’s often used as part of acupuncture therapy, employed to treat acute disease, from fever and migraine to hepatitis. It has been gaining interest as a facial treatment among American beauty junkies, who claim that gua sha can firm muscles, smooth skin and lighten age spots. What is gua sha, and does it work? For this week’s Healthy Habit, I set out to find out.

Is it Effective?

According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, gua sha works by increasing surface circulation of blood—a 400 percent increase, based on the research of Arya Nielsen, Ph.D. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and stimulates the immune system, Nielsen reports, through a breakdown of hemoglobin. However, research is fairly limited and as always, consult with your doctor, especially if you are medications that thin the blood or have skin conditions.

What Do You Need?

Not much. Just a few things:

  • A gua sha tool. This is the scraping implement, handheld and about the size of a credit card. Buffalo horn, jade stone, bian stone, and stainless steel versions are all available. You can even use a large spoon. However, a tool is nice as the notched part is great for using along the jawline.
  • A thick cream or oil. Rub it into your skin to make the tool glide more easily.
  • Some instruction, whether via a video or brochure that comes with the tool, etc.

Some Videos to Try:

How often?

Once to twice a week should provide results, while still allowing skin to recover.

Have you tried gua sha as part of your beauty regimen? Tell us in the comments section below.

About the Author

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle.

Click for more from this author.

This entry is tagged with:
MassageHealingSelf-CareHealthy Living

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