Gua Sha: Everything You Need To Know About The Ancient Face Sculpting Method

Experts believe it is the single most effective technique for transforming your skin

gua sha

by Sameeha Shaikh |
Updated on

By now we know just how important beauty is in the Love Island villa. The dressing room segments have become a key part of the show and then there's the fact that Boots is Love Island's official beauty partner of the series - islanders have access to the best of beauty on tap. If it's the drama as well as the beauty notes that keep you hooked, you may have caught the girls indulging in many a self-care ritual during their time in the villa, but the most popular? Gua sha.

In season nine, we saw Samie Elishi massaging a Gua Sha tool all over her face and down her neck in the evening. The tool in question is the Botanics Rose Quartz Gua Sha, £11.25, a hand crafted gadget that fits perfectly into the contours of your face and - when used properly - aids lymphatic drainage and helps to de-puff. Similarly, in the latest season of the show, Molly Marsh gave Zach Noble the ultimate at-home spa experience with, you guessed it, the same Botanics tool right after a sheet mask treatment.

Of course, it's a skincare tool that resonates way beyond the walls of the villa. While it may have become popularised in recent years, this traditional Chinese medicine practice has been around for centuries and founder of The Hayo’u Method, Katie Brindle believes it is the single most effective technique for transforming your skin.


What Is Gua Sha?

You may have heard about the benefits of facial massaging, but what exactly is Gua Sha? Facialist and Gua Sha expert Donna Ryan explains, 'It is a technique used as part of traditional Chinese medicine. Originally it was used to help with the Cholera outbreak to reduce high temperatures in the body. They would use a tool to scrape the skin until redness came to the surface. "Gua" means to scrape and "Sha" is the redness that comes to the surface.'

'By using a Gua Sha tool we are clearing obstructions in the tissue (the fascia), this helps to release tension or stress, and it means fluids can move freely again giving us a healthy glow,' Donna explains. Routinely making time for a Gua Sha session can pay dividends.

What Are The Benefits Of Gua Sha?

It is the sheer amount of benefits and accessibility of the treatment that makes it a fan favourite. Katie says, 'the technique stimulates the dermis to support collagen and elastin production and releases tension to relax your facial muscles. It has been shown in studies to exponentially increase circulation and aid lymphatic flow; release congestion and soothe sore eyes and skin; brighten your complexion and leave you with a radiant glow.'

Using a gua sha tool really allows you to work deeply into the muscles and fascia for tension release, removing build-up of lactic acid and encouraging lymphatic drainage.  The curved points are used to activate specific acupressure points on the face to promote the smooth flow of qi and blood, Katie explains.

How To Use Gua Sha At Home

Donna advises that the best way to use a Gua Sha tool is with an oil or balm, 'always start at the neck because this is where most tension is held, if the neck is tight the muscles can start to pull our facial muscles down too,' she notes. You can work upwards or downwards, it works both ways in Chinese medicine, but always treat yourself from the middle of your face and work outwards, for example start at the centre of your chin and scrape towards your ears.

Donna finishes off the sessions by working downwards, doing light movements around the ears and down the neck into the collarbones. Aim to give yourself the treatment three times a week for around five to 10 minutes each time, and don't worry about when because it can be done at anytime of the day.

While there are different methods, Katie adds, 'the lovely thing about gua sha is that it is such a holistic treatment. There’s really no wrong way to do it.' And that is possibly what we love about it most.

What Are The Best Tools To Use?

The material that the tool is made up of will play a role in the treatment. Chinese medicine has a rich tradition of using crystals for medical purposes, Katie explains. 'The philosophy is that gemstones can support our jing Qi (life essence), blood (circulation) and fluids (lymphatic drainage). Traditionally, different crystals had different purposes.'

'Jade, often referred to as “Earth’s gift to mankind”, is a perfect all-rounder, can be used at any time of the day or night, and is suitable for all skin types.  It cools the skin, so helps to reduce heat and inflammation, and is ideal in supporting aging skin and promoting a healthy glow.'

Rose Quartz is our morning glow crystal. Katie adds, 'rose quartz supports the heart energy in particular, so is perfect to use in the morning when it is said that the heart energy is ascendant.  This gentle and nurturing crystal is ideal to use on inflamed and sensitive skin, such as rosacea. It also helps to generate skin cell renewal, increase blood flow, and improve uneven or dull complexions.'

Finally, clear quartz is known as the ‘Master Healer’ crystal and is best used in the evenings. 'It helps to remove heat from the skin, releases facial tension, depuffs and promotes skin elasticity and helps to rebalance and hydrate.  On an energetic level is said that clear quartz will help to clear the mind and body of the stresses that haveaccumulated during the day – perfect for restorative sleep,' Katie says.

Shop: The Best Gua Sha Tools


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