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6 Major Benefits of Gua Sha According to an Esthetician

Photo by Alexandr Kolesnikov/Getty Images

If you’ve been on TikTok in the past few years, chances are you’ve seen facial gua sha at work. The practice comes from traditional Chinese medicine and involves using a gua sha tool to stimulate ‌blood circulation and encourage a healthy exchange of fluids in the tissues. Basically, it’s a massage technique that got seriously upgraded with little side effects.

You can do a gua sha treatment anywhere on your body, but it’s especially beneficial on the face. “When used on the face, the pressure is usually quite light, which can affect the superficial lymph residing just below the surface of the skin,” says Britta McCrae (Plug), a licensed esthetician, holistic health coach, and co-founder of Wildling. “When following the directions of lymphatic pathways, the tool can help steer stagnant lymph out of the tissue and accelerate drainage.” 

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of this lymphatic drainage, increased blood flow, and all the other benefits of gua sha.

About the Expert:

Britta McCrae (Plug) is a licensed esthetician, holistic health coach, and co-founder of Wildling. 

1. Reduce Face ‌Puffiness

Ever wake up after a night of salty foods and too much Netflix to see your face looking a bit puffy? A gua sha facial massage can help. “For best results, start by lightly stimulating the drainage areas above the collarbones, and then glide gently down the front sides of the neck, from earlobe to collarbone, and repeat several times,” McCrae says. “Then sweep from the center of the face outwards, and finish with sweeping down the neck again a few times.” And don’t forget to drink plenty of water when stimulating the lymphatic system! 

Gua sha isn’t going to take your wrinkles away, but the massage technique can lessen the look of fine lines. “[Gua sha releases] tension in the facial muscles of expression, which helps the surrounding tissues to relax as well, having a Botox-like effect,” McCrae says. (But be careful never to use a massage tool over any injection sites!) Gua sha treatment also increases microcirculation, plumping fine lines. 

Add moisturizing and hydrating face oils to your skincare and you’ll see even better line-reducing effects. “[Work] high-quality facial oils into the skin with gua sha, leaving skin more nourished,” McCrae adds. 

Add gua sha therapy to your skincare routine and you’ll see those pesky dark circles look less noticeable over time. How does gua sha do that, too? “For some, dark circles are more hereditary, but I have seen gua sha lessen the severity,” McCrae says. “Of course, lack of sleep, low iron, and other internal health issues can be displayed around the eye area.” Check with your dermatologist if the under-eye darkness is especially pronounced to rule out other causes. 

Dealing with neck pain? Gua sha can help! After you rule out any more serious causes with your doctor, start practicing your at-home massage technique. “Deeper pressure is welcome on the back of the neck and shoulders, helping to release tension, stagnation, and pain,” McCrae says. Either way, it can be a much-needed moment of self-care.

5. Help Your Migraines 

Migraines have numerous causes (always see a doctor!) and one of them is muscle tension. “If they are tension based, tending to the neck, jawline, and scalp with gua sha has been an absolute game changer for many,” McCrae says. She recommends her WILDING Empress Wand specifically for jaw tension and TMJ, which can help lessen migraine pain. 

6. Increase Hair Thickness

It might sound a little far-fetched, but studies have shown scalp massage can increase hair thickness. How cool is that? “When using a gua sha scalp comb, you are increasing the circulation to the hair follicles,” McCrae adds. “This is very invigorating and uplifting, creating a feeling of relaxed alertness.” This will also help your overall wellness. Keep up the routine and see your ‌hairline start to fill in thicker. 

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About the author
Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated September 14, 2023 12:00 AM