When I first read about the ancient Chinese art of gua sha, I was intrigued but dubious. Then I tried it…and I’ve never looked back. The practice of gua sha, which involves “scraping” or gently massaging the face, neck, and body with a stone tool, is said to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and lessen puffiness and inflammation, and it’s become an unapologetically integral part of my midlife skincare routine, AM and PM.
Does gua sha reduce wrinkles and help midlife skin look its best?
There’s a significant amount of research indicating that gua sha lives up to the hype, creating calmer, smoother, firmer skin by increasing circulation and encouraging lymphatic drainage. While I can’t say with certainty that praticing gua sha regularly has made me look any different, it feels so good while I’m doing it – and my skin definitely feels softer and firmer when I’m done. What’s not to love?
What you need for gua sha facial massage
Gua sha massage requires two things: something to make your skin slippery, like my homemade facial oil blend, and a massaging tool.
Where can I get a facial massage tool?
Gua sha tools are typically made of a smooth, polished stone and are about the size of your palm, with rounded and textured edges each having a special purpose. I’ve had great luck finding inexpensive and quality gua sha scrapers at drugstores, TJ Maxx, and on Amazon. Since I keep gua sha tools in my nightstand, bathroom, overnight bag and computer bag, I own quite a few, including each of these:
- Simple and inexpensive Jade stone and Rose quartz tools. These are inexpensive, easy to use and get the job done!
- Bian stone. This is a bit of a “fancier” model. It’s larger than most and comes in a matte black stone with a variety of textures you can use for different purposes, like relieving tension points.
All three of these come in nice little boxes with cleaning cloths, which makes them a great gift (why not include a DIY facial oil too?)
- Or, if you are looking for a really luxe gua sha experience, OSEA offers a very nice Gua Sha Glow Duo set. It comes with their Dayglow Face Oil and a jade gua sha sculptor tool. Use code MEAGAN for 10% off your first order!
How to use gua sha, or facial massage, in your midlife skincare routine
First, you’ll want to get your skin nice and slippery! I usually use 5-6 drops of a facial oil. You can also layer the oil over your more expensive, high-quality skincare products – the massaging action of gua sha will help them absorb better.
Hold the stone almost flat against your skin and work in gentle, light, outward strokes. Don’t drag the tool back and forth: start at the center, move outward and upward, and then lift the tool and return to center. It can help to use your other hand to hold the skin taut.
It took me a while to get the hang of gua sha, and I still sometimes have to consult a tutorial when doing my neck and chest. But I admit I’m now totally hooked – I even carry extra “scrapers” with me in my purse, computer bag, and overnight kit.
I found this video to be super helpful when getting started (and sometimes watch it again just to make sure I’m massaging in the right direction!)
To recap, here’s how to perform gua sha, step by step:
- Cleanse your face and apply a facial oil or moisturizer to help the gua sha tool glide smoothly over your skin. (Check out my DIY facial oil recipe!)
- Work outward in a circular motion using light-to-medium pressure. Use the flat side of the gua sha tool on your cheeks and forehead, the pointed end of the gua sha tool to massage along the under-eye area and around the eyebrows, and the notch to “cup” the jawline (that part feels so good!)
- Finish by using long, sweeping strokes down the neck.
- Follow with your usual skincare routine. In the morning, I typically rinse with warm water and apply moisturizer, like the Advanced Protection Cream from OSEA. After my P.M. session, I give my now-glowing and highly-moisturized face a few spritzes of Sea Vitamin Boost, gently pat with a reusable cotton pad and call it a night.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to start with a light pressure and gradually increase the pressure, and be especially careful if you’re using a new skincare product. Don’t perform gua sha on broken skin or if your skin is rashy or irritated. And, in case it wasn’t obvious: gua sha shouldn’t hurt! If you’re experiencing discomfort, reduce your pressure and make sure you’re holding the tool almost flat. If it still hurts or causes itching, a rash, or discomfort afterward, talk to a dermatologist.
Adding gua sha facial massage to your skincare routine is an easy self-care practice that feels great and may lead to firmer, healthier-looking skin – all “wins” in my book.