Pouring a glass of wine at the end of a busy week is one of my greatest pleasures. I also love to sip my wine, wrapped in a plush blanket on the couch with the dogs at my feet. In the evening, it’s typically a bold, dry red with notes of toasted oak and blackberry. It’s also what typically has me waking up with, what I lovingly refer to as, Wine Face.
The actual definition of Gua Sha is a natural, alternative therapy that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. (source.) It originates from East Asian and Chinese cultures that is used to increase circulation and drain any toxin-buildup from the body. Many people actually use this on the more large parts of their bodies (ie. back, arms, or legs) to release inflammation - which can be the underlying causes of several conditions associated with chronic pain (source).
Facial Gua Sha is a gentler version of this practice, and it’s life-changing.
Gua Sha encourages collagen production, releases tension in the muscles, and allows inflammation to drain from the face. It also lifts and tones the face shape, and allows circulation to reach the skin (source). When I practice Gua Sha, my eyes instantly begin to water, I feel the pressure in my sinuses release, and I’m literally glowing (if not a little red immediately following and it fades quickly).
This practice is used by celebrities worldwide, especially before red carpet events. It’s also a trend that is becoming wildly popular with studios like Face Gym and Face Love popping up all over the globe. Meghan Markle has even been known to have this treatment done in London (source).
WORK FROM TOP TO BOTTOM
Logically, toxins release through our urine, right? So, you want to begin massaging at the higher points of the face and work your way down. This also helps me feel the release in my sinuses from the beginning. I always begin my Gua Sha practice on my forehead and I end it down my neck.
When I first tried this technique, it took me about ten minutes to complete it. Despite my skepticism, I remained consistent and now my routine is typically finished in half the time. I also usually massage my face while multitasking, whether that’s waiting for my coffee to brew or listening to a podcast - even facial manipulation can be done efficiently.
Consistency is key
In order to really see results, like with any habit, consistency is key. I’ve been practicing this technique seven days a week for three weeks and I can confidently say that I have never received more compliments on my skin. I’ve also noticed a significant difference in fine lines and the way my makeup and skincare absorbs into my face.
TO SCRAPE, YOU NEED SLIP
Attempting this technique on dry skin is counter-productive and, I would imagine, extremely uncomfortable. I actually don’t love the term “scraping” because of the visual it implies. Due to the dull edges of the stone, it should glide smoothly on the skin, provided it has some slip.
A non-negotiable for any Gua Sha routine is a facial oil. I’ve used this one for years and absolutely love it. Before use, I recommend tying your hair back to avoid oil spreading into your hair. I typically dispense 2-3 pumps into the palms of my hands and rub them together to warm up the oil. Then I press it into my face beginning at my forehead, continuing down the face, and finishing down the neck.
MY PRACTICE: circuit training for the face
I begin from the center of my forehead and, using the curved edge of the stone, lightly press in outward motions towards the edge of my eyebrow. I work on the left side first, then the right. Next, I use the indented side with the more prominent part on the bottom and focus on my cheekbones by sweeping outwards towards the edge of my eye. Afterwards, I use the flat side and begin on the center of my lips and sweep outward towards the ears. I really make sure that the corner of the stone sweeps right under my cheekbone. Afterwards, I use the indented side again (more prominent part on the bottom) and slide from the center of my chin up my jawbone ending right by my ear, again left side first then the right. Finally, I take the curved edge and press it down the neck ending where my neck meets the top of my shoulders.
I do each exercise 25 times in each section before moving onto the next. Once I’ve completed one full pass on the face, I repeat it 20 times. Once I’ve completed the second pass, I repeat it 15 times. Then, if I have the time, I’ll do an extra 10 times down the neck only. Think of it as circuit training, but for your face. Sometimes, I even use the roller and roll in upward motions on the face to press any remaining oil into the skin. Above all, remember to be gentle, especially around the eye area because the skin is thinner there.
Although this can seem like a lot, once you get into the habit of doing it, it doesn’t take a long time. It’s also important to note that this is what works for me and my face each morning - your “reps” might be slightly less or more than mine depending on your level of inflammation. Trial and error is part of the process, so see if this works for you or if it feels like too much. Your skin will tell you.
I also think that if something is important to you, you make the time, and having good skin is extremely important to me. It’s also important to note that you can literally do this with your eyes closed - just wake up the extra five minutes early. Your skin will thank you.
A large reason I make the time for this each morning is for the feeling my skin has after I finish. It feels tighter, more toned, and looks brighter, even radiant.I read recently about the concept that your body is your home, it is where you physically have to live. Your skin is the exterior, the largest organ in the body. If you own a home, you always take care of the outside because you hope it will be a reflection on the beauty and substance that is inside. Your skin is no different. Take care of it, it will thank you.