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How to Gua Sha At Home Like a Total Skincare Pro

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Photo by Getty Images/Ayo Banton

Good news: Wherever you are, you can find a way to pamper yourself. A gua sha routine is a massage-and-facial-in-one that will leave you glowing and radiant, and most importantly, relaxed. Like jade rollers, Gua sha stones have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and once you try one, you’ll immediately understand why they’ve become self-care staples. 

Ready to get in on the gua sha wellness practice for the first time? Continue reading below to learn about the practice’s benefits, regardless of your skin type. You’ll also see a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it, and learn everything else there is to know. Spoiler alert: Face oil is about to become your new bestie (if it isn’t already).


About the Experts:

Inge Theron is the founder of FaceGym.
Britta Plug is a licensed esthetician and holistic beauty educator.
Valérie Grandury is the founder of French luxury skincare brand Odacité. She just launched the innovative Cryo-Tech Facial Tool, an elevated way to complete the gua sha ritual. 

What Is Gua Sha?

Pronounced gwah-shah, this daily ritual “is a centuries-old facial massage that involves lightly scraping a flat, rounded tool, made of jade or rose quartz or other healing stone over the skin,” explains FaceGym founder Inge Theron, adding that different sides of the tool can be used on different areas of the face and body. “This promotes lymphatic drainage, relieves tension in the muscles of the face, and boosts blood circulation. It also helps iron out fine lines and break up fascia, the connective tissue surrounding the muscles which can get tight and prevent optimal circulation.” In fact, Odacité’s Cryo-Tech Facial Tool founder Valérie Grandury calls it “yoga for the face,” explaining that you can “do it anytime and anywhere, even from the comfort of your couch.”

But despite some obvious pointers, Grandury wants people to understand the importance of making this routine your own. “I’m a strong believer in the individuality of gua sha massage, so I don’t like to tell anyone that they are doing it ‘wrong’ because it’s an intimate self-care ritual that is unique to everyone,” she says. “But, I do like to remind people that in order to get the full benefits of your massage, you should definitely bring it down your neck—don’t just stop at the face. Gliding the tool behind the ear and down the neck is when lymphatic drainage really comes into play. It won’t permanently transform your face shape like some people might like to claim, but it will definitely help visibly lift, firm, and sculpt the facial contour—especially if you consistently incorporate it into your skin routine.”

Close-up image of a woman using a pink quartz gua sha stone on her face
Photo by Getty Images/Ayo Banton

Benefits of a Gua Sha Facial

Promotes lymphatic drainage

Goodbye puffiness. “Practicing Gua Sha stimulates the lymphatic system to eliminate water retention by releasing fluid and toxins through the lymph system leaving skin contoured and glowing,” says Theron.

Increases circulation

Simply put, more circulation = more blood flow = more glowing skin.

Relieves tension

The facial tool gently massages the often overlooked muscles in the jaw, cheeks, and forehead, and can also be used elsewhere on the body.

Anti-aging

Regular Gua Sha practice stimulates collagen production, and may diminish the appearance of fine lines over time. Explains Grandury, “When utilized on the face with lighter, gliding strokes, this effective treatment helps smooth out the look of wrinkles, improve skin tone and texture, firm the face contour, and brighten complexion while detoxifying.”

How to Give Yourself a Gua Sha Facial

Let licensed esthetician Britta Plug walk you through this amazingly easy technique (her soft, soothing voice is an added bonus!). 

1. Prep skin: You’ll want to start with a clean face, so remove all makeup, skincare, and SPF. Then, apply your favorite facial oil or balm to clean skin, as well as your neck and shoulders. Grandury starts with patting a mist in the skin, and then she recommends implementing her brand’s best-selling Le Blue Balm. But ultimately, she says, “Any good facial oil will do the trick.”

2. Neck and shoulders: Starting at the back of the neck, gently glide the tool up and down using the curved side of the gua sha stone. Then, moving in downward strokes, drag the stone across the top of the shoulders. You can usually use a little more pressure here, since the neck and shoulders tend to hold a lot of tension. However, when you move to the front of the neck, use significantly lighter strokes.

3. Jawline: Using the curved side again, draw the stone in slow strokes, massaging from the chin up to the ear.

4. Cheeks: Turn the stone to the flat side, and glide it in outward strokes across the cheek, holding it at an angle to maximize surface area. Then, turn it back to the curved end to move over the cheekbones.

5. Under-eyes: Very gently glide the stone out underneath the eyes, toward the temples.

6. Forehead: Glide the flat end of the stone from the brow up to the hairline. Do the third eye area last, starting just below the brow line and moving up to the hairline.

7. Clean your gua sha tool: This often overlooked step should be applied the way you clean your makeup brushes, sponges, or other skin tools. A dirty gua sha tool can attract bacteria, so it’s important to tend to accordingly. While there are a number of ways to do this, the easiest is by spritzing some alcohol on it and placing the tool in a Ziplock bag to block it from attracting bacteria and debris.

8. Hydrate: Drink a glass of water and enjoy your new glow!

DIY vs. In-Office Gua Sha

In-office gua sha lets you enjoy the full relaxation experience at the hands of a skilled skin expert. It’s also often done as an add-on with another service—such as a facial, acupuncture, or even massage—meaning you get double the benefits. “Obviously when you get it done professionally, the results can be staggering, as the tool is combined with our face sculpting massage techniques and technology,” Theron says. “We recommend booking an in-studio ‘workout’ at least a couple of times a month, where our master trainers will use our Multi-Sculpt Gua Sha,” explains Theron. (At FaceGym, treatments are called “workouts” because they’re designed to tone and sculpt—and they can be intense.) 

Price is also dependent on the total treatment too. Expect gua sha to cost around $25 on top of your base treatment. So whether you’re between appointments or just want to try it yourself, DIY is always a great option. “For maintenance in between studio sessions, we recommend using the tool daily, both are beneficial for boosting circulation, releasing tension and leaving skin supple and glowing,” says Theron.

Close-up image of a woman using a pink quartz gua sha stone on her face
Photo by Getty Images/Ayo Banton

Products to Use for Gua Sha

HERBIVORE Gua Sha: This gorgeous rose quartz gua sha stone has three little nodes to help massage and sculpt.

BIOSSANCE 100% Squalane Oil: “Gua sha should always be practiced with a facial oil to allow the stone to glide over the skin, never tugging or pulling,” says Theron. This cult-favorite, vegan oil has just one ingredient—sugarcane-derived squalane—to help moisturize skin without weighing it down.

KITSCH Eco-Friendly Spa Headband: Two-in-one alert! Made from cotton and bamboo, this headband keeps hair out of your face throughout your gua sha practice (and your entire skincare routine), and can also act as a hair tie.

ODACITÉ Cryo-Tech Facial Tool: While Grandury’s innovative new product can be used for more than just gua sha, it can certainly be applied as such. “It fuses those traditional acupressure and gua sha facial massage techniques with the cooling benefits of cryotherapy—powered by Terahertz—to instantly refresh and revitalize the skin,” she says. “The multiple benefits of this tool are incredible, from depuffing the eye contour to soothing the appearance of redness and pimple inflammation, to firming the facial contour to relieving facial tension. We’re discovering more ways to use it every single day.” 

People often put their gua sha tools in the fridge for a cooling benefit, but ODACITÉ’s tool can provide these results in 10 seconds with just a glass of ice water. “Terahertz has the unique ability to conduct and maintain cold temperatures,” Grandury says. “We like to call it the future of face icing. You’ll never ice your face—or gua sha—the same ever again!”

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About the author
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Lindy Segal
Lindy is a contributor at IPSY, a beauty and lifestyle writer, and Real Housewives aficionado. She was an editor at People and Glamour, and her freelance work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Who What Wear, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated March 3, 2023 12:00 AM