Healthy Living, Natural Beauty

What is a Facial Gua Sha Treatment?

By Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

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How it works and what to expect in a treatment

If you’ve heard of Gua Sha, you probably know it as the Traditional Chinese Medicine ‘skin scraping’ therapy that quickly relieves muscle aches and typically leaves (temporary) red marks on the body.

So, what is Facial Gua Sha – and how is it a completely different approach to skin care? Here is a brief overview of this gentle, non-irritating treatment: how it works and how it can benefit almost any skin type and issue.

What are the benefits of Facial Gua Sha?

The way this massage is used on the face is a very different approach to how it is used traditionally on the skin of the body. On the body, we use firm strokes of the traditional ceramic, metal or stone tool – in order to relieve muscle congestion and release toxins.

On the face, we use much gentler, flatter strokes – in order to move the lymphatic fluid and increase the natural circulation of blood and energy to the complexion. The aim of Facial Gua sha is to “gently move” and to never press hard enough to leave a mark on the skin.

Gua Sha Tools Comparison

We also use slightly different tools, usually made from beneficial minerals such as jade or rose quartz.  Each has their own property that is said to enhance the healing effects. 

Rose quartz tools tend to stay cooler longer and are great for temporarily de-puffing skin.  Certain specialty tools such as bloodstone are said to most enhance blood circulation and eliminate toxins through the lymphatic system.

Tools have different shapes, such a spoon or mushroom shape in order to best treat specific areas of the head, face and neck.

How the treatment actually works

Facial Gua Sha works to help move the fluid of the face. While this may sometimes mean moving congestion (ie. acne) or visible puffiness, lymphatic fluid is also the naturally occurring body fluid that helps detoxify and clarify the skin. Lymphatic fluid is only ever moved gently, it is very superficial on the skin and does not respond to deep, harsh manipulation of the skin.

To get the best effect it is important to use the correct tool, at the right pressure and only with gentle strokes. Correct Facial Gua Sha techniques can safely bring a rosy, natural glow to the skin while also helping to naturally refine skin texture.

This traditional massage is often combined with Facial Acupuncture as part of a comprehensive professional treatment, but it can also have a noticeable effect if used on its own. Traditional Gua Sha tools are made of cooling jade, and usually have smooth flat edges as well as gently rounded corners. Skin is smoothed with the flat surface and acupuncture points can be gently stimulated with the rounded corners – like an acupressure massage. This can help to increase blood circulation, and the method is easy enough to use at home on a daily basis.

What to Expect in a Professional Treatment

  • Skin should be clean prior to massage. If coming in for a treatment it is best to avoid makeup, although eye makeup is not disturbed during the treatment. Use a hairband or clips to keep hair away from the face.
  • A light oil or gel will be used on the skin – this is in order to provide glide, so that skin does not tug during the treatment.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! It is important to arrive well hydrated, as well as replenish fluid after treatment.
  • Lymphatic fluid of the face “drains” into the area right above each collarbone. We always start the gua sha massage by “opening up” these areas with gentle massage. This helps the lymphatic fluid drain more efficiently from areas around the face where it may be more stagnant.
  • Strokes are done starting from the centre of the face, working along the contours of the jaw and cheekbones. Long sweeps towards the hairline help encourage puffiness and congestion to move towards the lymph pathways.
  • An acupressure massage is often added to the face and head – gently activating points along the scalp, jaw and brow bone.
  • Expect to have fresher, smoother looking skin after even one treatment.
  • For most people it is recommended to have a number of professional visits to see more lasting results.

Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac

Hi, I'm Barbara

I'm a Registered Acupuncturist and founder of Vital Bloom Wellness clinic.  My focus is on 100% natural solutions for reproductive, digestive and emotional health.

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