This little flat pebble of rose quartz has chiselled out cheekbones I didn’t even know existed...
If you’ve been on Instagram anytime in the past year or two, you’ve likely seen a #beautyflatlay complete with a jade roller in the shoot. Dubbed the millennial’s beauty tool of choice, the facial tool is said to boost circulation and increase product absorption. It feels nice – especially when kept in the fridge – and is an excellent tool for procrastinating with but as for visible results? I didn't see much.
Fast forward to a visit to my local crystal healing shop (don't @ me, this was before lockdown), where, alongside a myriad of crystals, was a different kind of thin, curved tool I’d never seen before: gua sha — "the Botox of the East", the shop assistant excitedly told me. For only €20, I picked up a rose quartz one, because millennial pink, and then did my homework.
Just like the aforementioned roller, gua sha (pronounced gwah-shah) has been a key part of traditional Chinese medicinal methods for many moons. The term gua sha refers to the practice itself - a method of attaining 'sha', which can best be compared to the redness that follows a vigorous cleanse or a quick facial massage - a sure-fire sign that your skin cells are getting an oxygen boost as the blood rushes straight to the rescue. A prime example of the theory that pressure enhances performance (there's nothing like a deadline to enhance our productivity), the Gua Sha puts cells through their paces to kick-start repair and help trigger regeneration.
Deceptively simple, the Gua Sha may look like just a pretty ornament but trust me, it's guilty of serious skin-changing efficacy. Shaped to hug your contours, when it's 'scraped' across your face and neck (not as traumatic as it sounds, promise), this grown-up gadget works to brighten, tone and tighten while defining puffy jawlines and revealing cheekbones you never knew you had.
In an effort to get educated (and, of course, live your wrinkle-free best life), keep scrolling for all you need to know about what gua sha is, how it works and if it's really worth the hype. Plus, the best gua sha stones to load up on for plump, sculpted, youthful skin.
what is gua sha?
'Gua' means scrape, and 'Sha' means sand. It is actually an ancient Chinese practice for energy flow and blood circulation. The technique can be used on the whole body and is traditionally quite vigorous—using a flat tool, the skin is scraped until red.
But this new resurgence of the trend is a gentler form. Using a smaller version of the tool—made out of both body-and chakra-safe crystals such as flat jade or rose quartz—one applies a firm pressure over the face, in upward strokes to relax stiff muscles and promote tissue drainage.
The eventual effect of the practice results in better skin. Blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and skin elasticity are all improved, while things like muscle tensions and wrinkles are reduced.
what does gua sha do?
Done consistently, Gua Sha helps to improve the function of the skin thus helping with many skin conditions; deep lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, rosacea, acne, acne scars, pigmentation, dark circles, puffiness. It retrains the muscles of the face, relaxing them, strengthening, lifting and toning.
does gua sha actually work?
Like all beauty treatments, there is a certain level of scepticism involved with Gua Sha. We mean, why spend minutes every day rubbing a rock on your face if it isn't actually going to help at all?
Luckily, there are studies out there that speak to its results. Most of them agree that consistent use of the tool helps improve microcirculation (some studies suggest an increase of up to 400%), and blood flow to the face.
I know, it sounds too good to be true, I thought the same until I started incorporating gua sha into my routine. My skin looked less puffy following at-home Gua Sha facials, and I dare to say I looked a few years younger. Although the pesky wrinkles around my eyes didn’t disappear completely, I did notice a temporary reduction in their appearance while applying foundation several minutes later.
But don't take my word for it, check out the before and after below, that shows the results of one side of Gua Sha complete: you can see that the left side is significantly lifted and contoured. You can't argue with visible results.
how do I use a gua sha stone?
Although you can do this without, most practitioners recommend using a facial oil beforehand to smooth the skin. Hold the Gua Sha tool with the curved side to your face and glide it gently up and out, starting with the neck, jawline, chin, and around the mouth, between three and five times per area. Then sweep across the cheeks and gently glide under the eyes, across your eyebrows and from your forehead up to your hairline. For maximum results, try doing this every day for about one to three minutes.
However, unlike a crystal roller, your Gua Sha tool shouldn't be cold. The cold tends to constrict blood vessels, which is the opposite of what you want. Skip the fridge.
Do i use a gua sha stone before or after skincare?
Gua Sha is best done after both cleansing the face and applying a moisturizer or facial oil as the Gua Sha massage not only gives your skin a ‘workout,’ but also helps products’ nutrients absorb better into the skin.
I find giving myself a quick Gua Sha facial each night before I go to bed helps me to fall asleep faster. Honestly, the whole practice felt pretty meditative: the counting, repetitive style of motion, and it also really upped my skin’s absorption of the products I use at bedtime, too.
WHERE CAN I BUY a gua sha stone?
In short, everywhere. But to help you on your quest for a sculpted face I've rounded up the absolute best Gua Sha stones, all of which are prepared to shape, soften, and plump the skin.
Renowned as the "Hollywood Glow Girl", Angela Caglia is a leading celebrity aesthetician with over two decades of experience including formal training with renowned French age-defying experts and roles at the most acclaimed spas in New York City and Los Angeles. Her innovative yet eco-luxe natural products are responsible for granting celebrities with covetable luminous and youthful-looking skin that you can now replicate at home. The brand's Rose Quartz Gua Sha was designed as a replica of Angela's hand to help you duplicate the facial massage and sculpting techniques used during her iconic facials.
Rose Quartz Gua Sha, €50, Angela Caglia available at Cult Beauty
Mount Lai's gua sha tool hits all the right notes: curved edges to hug sensitive areas, flat edges for increased pressure, and smooth jade stone for a refreshing touch. Apply a thin layer of your favorite moisturizing serum, then settle in for some serious contouring with this pick.
Most gua sha tools are made with jade or rose quartz. Wildling's take is custom-created with a blend of over 40 trace minerals with purported antioxidant properties. Expect your skin to feel extra-invigorated after 30 minutes with Wildling's gua sha tool.
Empress Stone, €60, Wildling
Inspired by traditional beauty rituals, this Gua Sha Massage tool helps to promote relaxation, relieve tension, and provide a lifting sensation to stimulate the face. This multifunctional tool is made from Green Jade, and will allow you to have a bespoke experience with each use as you experiment with different techniques.
Green Jade Gua Sha Tool, €30, Oliver Bonas
Odacité's curved edges were carved for massaging delicate skin around the eyes. Gentle strokes under and around eyes with this gua sha tool reduces puffiness and under-eye circles.
All the facial contouring you could ever need, all provided in a two-for-one gua sha and facial roller kit. With two tools in your arsenal, get ready for brighter, plumper skin in three...two...
Jade Roller Rose Quartz Gua Sha Stone Kit, €22, Amazon
Main image by @collectionofvials on Instagram