Gua sha aims to move energy, known as qi or chi, around the body. The treatment involves using a tool to rub the skin in long strokes applying pressure.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, qi or chi is energy that flows through the body. Many people believe that a person’s qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and wellbeing.
People also believe that qi can become blocked, causing pain or tension in the muscles and joints. Gua sha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness.
But what exactly is a gua sha and how can a stone offer so many beauty benefits? We came across an article on NBC which consulted two traditional Chinese medicine practitioners: board-certified acupuncturists and traditional Chinese medicine experts Shaobai Wang, MD, and Sonia Lee, DACM, LAc. They shared the cultural significance of gua sha and the benefits if you’re looking to try out this centuries-old practice.
Gua sha, or 刮痧, directly translates to “scratch” and “sand” (here, the sand refers to the raised redness on the skin instead of actual sand). “‘Sha’ is caused by the bacteria or virus toxins, which break the capillaries and form hyperemia areas, or spots in the skin or mucus, and form sand-like scattered or condensed areas,” said Wang. The sand analogy stemmed from the act of performing gua sha, where technicians gently scrape the skin and see tiny dots under the skin emerge; these little granules resemble pieces of sand, which led to their name, Wang elaborated.
As a treatment in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), gua sha utilises a solution (face oil, vaseline or water) and a smooth material (jade plates, metal plates and even spoons) to stimulate a specific area of the body. Unlike what’s popularised on TikTok, gua sha is not limited to just the face, but can be used on the back and shoulders as well.
BENEFITS OF GUA SHA
- Promote blood circulation.“From a Chinese medicine perspective, the Tai Yin meridians (composed of the lung and spleen) and Yang Ming meridians (composed of the large intestines and the stomach) are responsible for your skin's overall health,” said Lee. “When you gently scrape the skin on your face with your gua sha tool, what you are doing is stimulating your Yang Ming meridians. You are also sending your body a signal that this area needs more blood circulation.”Jessica Panozzo
- Improve fine lines and wrinkles.Gua sha “can temporarily improve the appearance for the newly and very gentle ones,” Wang said. However, she noted that “for long-standing wrinkles, gua sha should not be the first choice.”
Promotes lymphatic drainage. Gua sha can eliminate fluid build-up, which can in turn reduce puffiness, experts said.
The Base Camp Beauty Gua Sha tool not only sculpts and lifts the face, but can also revitalise the skin to reduce puffiness, dark circles, and inflammation, while increasing the absorption of skincare products.
How to Use written by Base Camp Beauty
Preparation: Cleanse and dry your face. Apply your favourite oil or serum onto your skin. Repeat exercises 5-10 times.
Neck: At the base of your neck just above your collarbone, sweep upward toward your jawline.
Jaw: Start from the chin and sweep gently across your jawline toward your ears.
Cheeks: Using the large flat side of the Gua Sha, apply light pressure on the side of your nose and sweep up gently toward your ears.
Brows: Place the forked area on brows between the eyebrows and sweep up toward the forehead.
Forehead: Using the large, flat edge, place on centre of forehead at a 10–20° angle, sweeping out towards temples.