In my 23 years of being an esthetician, one of the biggest challenges I have seen in the skincare space is the commodification of traditional healing and medical practices flipped into fad techniques to sell products, supplements, and even tools. No gua sha didn't start as a skincare practice and no the tools used weren't pretty polished gem stones. It was used as a means of helping people deal with circulatory upsets and fainting. It was also used as a way to handle congestion in the body from viruses and colds. The skincare aspect was discovered long after these traditional methods were devised.
In eastern healing practices, stagnation within the body and cells is what is believed to lead to maladies. Within the skin we have layers of cells, intercellular glue, lymph fluid, and blood and as the body's largest respiratory organ, the skin is a major player of transporting oxygen and waste. When our body is sluggish, our skin doesn't do a good enough job of ridding that waste because lymph fluid doesn't have its own pulse. It only moves when we do or when we are massaged. To help the lymph filtration system along, gua sha helps in several important functions.
- The physical compression of the stone against the layers of skin drives blood to the area of impact, bringing along oxygen and nutrients vital to the health of the skin cells.
- The sweeping movement helps move fluids within the skin tissues to the lymph ports to be processed and released through the body's detoxification systems.
- The gentle pressure helps relieve tension in the muscles of the face and neck, which tends to be a problem area for many people suffering from the effects of anxiety and stress.
- Gua sha also aids in increased penetration of serums and oils, leading to greater outcomes in shorter time frames.
Nearly every one can benefit from the use of gua sha in their weekly skincare routines. Unless you have issues with distended capillaries or extremely thin skin due to overuse of retinols, gua sha is an excellent addition to quality skincare products.
Something to note: the beauty and wellness worlds love to take something and turn it into a mythical-like practice to try and beef up it's perceived value in the marketplace. Many people touted gua sha as an "ancient Chinese" practice for beautiful skin and that's just simply not true. Be wary of companies that commodify cultures to try and sell stuff. Having been trained in Ayurvedic integrative skincare, the gua sha tool aligns perfectly for me to get my clients over their skincare plateaus. And I use it because it provides an excellent result when used correctly.