Gua Sha: All Your Top Questions Answered | maison ito
Updated: Oct 6, 2022
Photo credit: Maison Ito
If you’re an avid follower of natural skincare, you must have bumped into gua sha tools a couple of times at least on your Instagram or Pinterest feed. This curious-looking, rounded-edged tool comes in various shapes and sizes and it’s been used in traditional Asian medicine for centuries.
Translated from Chinese, “Gua” means scrape and “Sha” refers to a reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash, which already gives us an idea of what Gua Sha is about. If you’ve landed here attracted by the benefits of Gua Sha and have some additional questions about it, then you’ve come to the right corner of the Internet!
You can find answers to all your top questions about Gua Sha below.
| What is Gua Sha?
Guasha is a massage technique used in traditional Chinese medicine. It treats the face and body inside out with the use of a contoured tool.
The belief in traditional Chinese medicine is that stagnant energy is the underlying cause of inflammation. The aim of Gua Sha is to move energy (also known as qi) across the body, and by doing so, to relieve pain, tension and improve circulation.
| What types of Gua Sha tools are there?
Photo credit: Anthropologie
The tool used for this scraping therapy comes in different shapes and sizes. The most common types are the S-shaped tool, the wing type, the dolphin-shaped, the spoon type, and the fish-shaped tool.
Each of the above tools serve a purpose and are used to heal different parts of the body. Each part of the human anatomy is very unique, which is why there is a Gua Sha tool that can do its magic on different parts of our bodies.
Generally speaking, the various shapes have a different role to play. For example, a curved shape may help with lymph drainage, clearing the skin or releasing tensions. A V shape, on the other hand, it’s a great aid to massage chin, jawline, and eyebrows.
Lastly, if you’re wondering if the tool’s dents have any mission, they definitely do: smoothing fine lines and lifting.
There are types and shapes of Gua Sha tools available other than the above mentioned. Explore more about what to consider when choosing a Gua Sha tool, and opt for the tool that is more suitable for you.
| What materials are Gua Sha tools made of?
Originally, Gua Sha tools were made of animal bone or soup spoon. Today, Gua Sha practitioners trust materials such as bian stone, jade, green aventurine, amethyst, and rose quartz for their tools. You might also find some tools made of steel, resin, porcelain, and plastic.
Stone is one of the best materials you can choose from a hygiene and effectiveness point of view. A material you can use both hot and cold, you can either warm it up by putting it in hot water or cool it down by storing it in the fridge!
| What is the best material for Gua Sha tools?
Photo credit: Maison Ito (Gua Sha Ritual with bian stone guasha tool)
Each material has its own “character”, so the answer is there is not such a thing as the best material for a Gua Sha tool. It would be absolutely impossible for us to choose one over the others - we love all their different personalities!
Nephrite, jade, rose quartz, green aventurine, amethyst, and bian stone are among the materials you can choose from for your Gua Sha tool.
All of these are great materials to create heat in the face and they all have incredible balancing properties. Whereas some of them are a fantastic option if your goal is lifting and skin radiance, others are often used to renew the skin and eliminate old patterns (bye frown lines, hello smooth skin!).
Bian stone is, by far, the most authentic Gua Sha material as it's the material originally used in traditional Chinese medicine.
| What’s the difference between Gua Sha and a roller?
Photo credit: Wix
Gua Sha tools and rollers are besties! There share many similarities and both could be very valuable tools in your skin care regime. They both stimulate blood flow and lymph nodes and help us get rid of puffiness.
The main difference is rollers are a quick way to activate our lymphatic system (you can incorporate them into your busy day as they’re easy to use!), which makes them ideal for a quick boost. On the other hand, Gua Sha involves taking some time to slow down. This mindful approach requires focused attention and concentration on the rhythm of your own breath. Somehow, it’s a form of meditation.
Gua Sha tools and rollers are also very different tools from a visual point of view. They obviously have different shapes, with the roller having a handle so we can use it to roll gently on the skin. In turn, you need to hold Gua Sha tools firmly in your hands.
Our facialist Emilie’s top tip when it comes to learning Gua Sha is to hold tools just as if you were playing cards or holding an ice cream. This is just one of the many tips and tricks you could learn to be able to truly enjoy the benefits of Gua Sha.
Although both tools require consistency in order for results to be noticeable, in our experience Gua Sha shows better results with deeper cystic conditions and the release of deep-set lines and wrinkles.
| What’s the difference between body and facial Gua Sha?
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Both are fantastic tension-relieving techniques! Facial Gua Sha is much more gentle though. As you might know, your facial skin is way more delicate than the rest of your body’s. Therefore, facial Gua Sha requires a more gentle approach and milder pressure.
Body Gua Sha focuses more on pain management. It’s a great massage technique that can help release tension stored in our body and treat conditions such as fever, cough, or migraines.
Facial Gua Sha focuses on both your face and neck and it aims to release tensions on your face and give your skin some extra radiance and glow!
| Is Gua Sha a tool I can have at home or do I need to go to a salon for a treatment?
Photo credit: Maison Ito
You can do both! Gua Sha can be a great form of at-home self-care, if properly done. Visiting a professional for some extra care and maintenance is also advisable, especially when you aim for long-lasting results. On top of that, having it done by a professional practitioner will allow you to be fully relaxed, quiet your mind, and make you feel peaceful and calm.
Learning how to use a Gua Sha tool can be a long-term investment in your skin health, as having the tool at home can help increase the benefits of a professional treatment when it is done with proper gesture, pressure, and the right tools.
| What Gua Sha tool should I buy?
We would highly recommend to opt for a stone-made tool. Unfortunately, the quality of many of the Gua Sha tools you will come across online leaves a lot to be desired. Our facialist Emilie’s favourite is nephrite stone and quartz.
If you’re hesitant about which stone and shape would be more suitable for you, you can get a basic tool with a classic shape to learn the basics. For example, a quartz Gua Sha tool could be a great starting point.
| Why does Gua Sha work?
Gua Sha works because it moves the lymph. Let us make a digression here to explain what lymph is and why it’s important it keeps moving.
The lymph is the element that makes Gua Sha so effective. The lymph is a colourless fluid that builds and transports white blood cells into the bloodstream. These cells are essential for our immune system to work properly. On top of that, the lymph also gets rid of cellular waste that we produce.
In order to transport the above-mentioned cells and remove cellular waste from our bodies (and many other magical benefits still to be discovered), the lymph needs to move. Moving the lymph requires effort from our muscles, organs, and bones. Spending many hours working and sitting down doesn’t sound like we’re helping the lymph move, does it?
However, guess what is an exceptional extra help, with great results? You got it: Gua Sha.
In general, light pressure will help you move the lymph. Medium pressure will release tensions or work as a natural lifting. Strong pressure usually helps to release facial tensions and sculpt the face.
| What does Gua Sha do?
If you would like to obtain a plumped, youthful look but you would prefer to avoid injectable cosmetic procedures, Gua Sha can become your best ally.
Applied with care and knowledge, Gua Sha can help you sculpt your lips and Cupid’s bow; release tensions (get rid of headaches and pain when you’re pregnant, for example); get you looking radiant and with a healthy-looking skin for any special occasion; and reduce signs of aging in general.
| How often is a treatment with Gua Sha recommended?
It will always depend on your lifestyle and what results you want to achieve. In general, we would recommend a biweekly session for the first two months, and then once a month with a professional.