There’s a new skincare trend blossoming on Instagram—“Gua Sha.” Gua Sha is a curved tool used in traditional Chinese medicine to scrape and massage the skin. Now, it’s being marketed and sold in the West as do-it-yourself jade and rose quartz tools. So, how does it work and is it worth the cost?
Gua Sha is similar to a jade roller or facial massager, intended to make your skin look brighter and healthier by promoting blood circulation and releasing tension. On the one hand, this is true. Many people carry a lot of tension in their facial muscles and jaw, which can give you a pinched, taut, and aged appearance. So, a simple facial massage can work wonders for your health and your appearance. But gua sha can also be used to intentionally scrape the skin, producing transitory “therapeutic” petachiae, a.k.a. bruising. This is supposed to improve circulation and life the skin, while more exaggerated claims include reducing wrinkles and breakouts. We don’t know if it works, but we doubt it—repeatedly bruising your face is not going to do your skin any good.
What’s more, traditional gua sha could be made using buffalo horn or coins. There’s zero therapeutic value to using a piece of jade—other than the psychological thrill of rubbing your face with something that cost a lot of money, like lighting a cigar with a fat wad of twenties or something. So if you want to try gua sha, and we don’t recommend it, keep in mind you don’t need to buy the most expensive version available. You can also get a gua sha treatment at a spa by a professional, rather than trying to do it at home.
If you insist on trying gua sha, bear in mind that you should oil your face and scrape continually upwards from the neck at a 45 degree angle. Definitely don’t use a jade skin-scraper if you have have any cuts, abrasions, sunburns, or medical problems with blood coagulation—as you’ll be “lifting the blood to the surface,” a.ka. hitting your face with a rock.
We suggest starting with a facial massage and seeing if that works.