Much Ado about Gua Sha

Alexis Sarandon Wellness Photoshoot

If you’ve recently found your social media feed filled with beautiful gemstone tools in an array of intriguing shapes and enticing colors, you may wonder what the buzz is all about.

You’re not imagining things.

For a few years now, gua sha has been a hot topic in beauty and skincare and shows no signs of stopping. 

The roots of gua sha go back centuries, originating in ancient China.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, gua sha refers to a technique of scraping the body with a wooden or ceramic spoon  to bring stagnant blood to the surface, move qi (energy) and promote healing.

Dark red or even purple marks can and will appear on areas that have been scraped signaling “sha” or stuck blood is rising to the surface. From a Western perspective gua sha is creating trauma in the body to create an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory response to heal. 

Today, Gua sha has found its way into the mainstream and into the world of beauty treatments for the skin. Gua sha has been billed as natural Botox, and with good reason.

In its modern-day iteration, the technique focuses on using gentle stroking motions to naturally lift and sculpt the face (without the dark red marks) making it a fantastic holistic alternative to other more aggressive treatments and procedures. 

“I love introducing gua sha not only as a skin-care tool but also into your daily self-care practice,” shares Alexis Sarandon, New York based Gua Sha Expert. “Once you know how to properly use a gua sha stone, it’s such an incredible way to proactively care for your skin – from the inside out. Which I feel like so many women are looking for.”

What are the benefits of Gua Sha? 

A better question might be, what aren’t the benefits of gua sha?

Because it works to facilitate lymphatic drainage, gua sha essentially helps to naturally detoxify the skin and body by moving stagnant fluids that can sometimes accumulate under the skin’s surface.

It also drastically helps with muscle tension in the face and sinus pressure and headaches, which often stem from face or neck tension. Gua sha helps with many skin concerns, including acne, congested skin, puffiness, wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin, discoloration, dark circles, and dull skin AND physically sculpts the face, neck and jawline. 

The results of a facial massage with gua sha are instant, but the practice also has cumulative benefits. Test it for yourself. 

Gua sha one whole side of your face first- you will see a visible difference in the side that was not massaged.

Over time, consistent training helps to reduce facial tension and creates a kind of muscle memory, meaning the muscles of the face are more likely to stay taut and toned between treatments. 

How to Get Started 

Suppose you’re sold on all the amazing benefits of gua sha and ready to begin.

In that case, all you need is a tool and good facial oil- such as jojoba, squalane, or your favorite botanical blend,  to facilitate gentle glide on the skin.

Another added perk of gua sha is that it helps infuse skincare products deeper into the skin, ensuring those skin-nourishing ingredients can penetrate the epidermis and get to work.

Alexis Sarandon points out,

“It’s so important to remember that when doing facial gua sha, you are working with the lymphatic system, so you always want to bring everything down the neck.  After working upwards to achieve that nice sculpt, ensure you are bringing the fluids down so they can properly drain through the lymphatic system. Nourishing your body with plenty of water, dry brushing, and adding movement into your daily life will also help facilitate lymphatic drainage and enhance your results.”

An easy rule to remember is to always start going down the neck.  Think of the face as having  three sections: the chin and jaw (which holds a ton of tension), the sinus and cheekbone area, and the forehead. 

Always remember to bring each section back down to the neck to facilitate fluid, lymphatic drainage and detoxification. 

As much as possible, try to hold your tool flat to the skin at about a fifteen-degree angle and always use only very gentle pressure so as not to stretch or damage your skin.

Everyone is different, so listen to your own body; it’s time to move to a different section of the face when the skin becomes pink and the “she” or blood is moving to the surface.

Although your gua sha stone needn’t be a luxury purchase, it is a good idea to do a little research before investing. With such a high demand for these trending tools, many companies have produced their own proprietary versions, but not all are created equal.

A brand to consider is @wildlingbeautytool. 

Last, as with all things skincare, consistency is key.

When beginning your gua sha practice, a good goal is to perform your gua sha massage about three to five times per week. Treatments can include just a few tool strokes per section. 

Regardless of how you implement gua sha into your skincare, you will love this quick and easy self-care ritual for happier and healthier skin! 

About Alexis Sarandon:

Alexis Sarandon, M.S. L.Ac., is a New York based Cosmetic Acupuncturist, Gua Sha Expert and Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Alexis specializes in helping women achieve optimal beauty through wellness, with a strong emphasis on mind + body connection. She offers digital courses nationwide and in-person appointments via her Kingston, NY location. 

You can find Alexis at:

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