A Guide to Gua Sha: Cue the Dewy Look

Who has heard of gua sha before? What about lymphatic drainage? Chances are many of you have. There is a lot of interest in (and mystery around) the practice of both of these health crazes that have been known to help with acne scars, tighten fine lines and wrinkles, and enhance overall glow. In recent months, I’ve seen more and more influencers in the beauty space talk about gua sha, but as someone who has been practicing this delicate form of lymphatic drainage for some time, I cringe every time a new YouTube video or IGTV is posted by someone who is not classically trained in the massage. Education around proper gua sha and lymphatic drainage is incredibly important, especially if you are looking for specific results. 

We asked some gua sha experts, Mo Tresize the founder of Heal Thy Goddess and Jill Munson, Gianna De La Torre, and Britta Plug the founders of Wildling Beauty to share their knowledge and some of their tips on the best gua sha tools, oils, and where it all originated…

What exactly is gua sha, and where does it come from?

Munson, De La Torre, and Plug: Gua sha is an ancient practice, originating in China over 4,000 years ago. Considered a “folk technique” it was used by people in their own homes for healing. Gua sha translates to “scraping” (which is not what we do with facial gua sha, to be clear) but when done on the rest of the body it can create quite intense markings. It brings stagnant blood to the surface of the skin to be cleared or flushed out by the rest of the body.  

For someone interested in practicing gua sha, where should they start?

Tresize: Start by picking out a gua sha crystal tool that you resonate with. Figure out what kind of crystal you like and what kind of shape seems most appealing to you. All movements should be light, in an upward and outward motion (think: going against gravity). Be gentle with yourself as you begin to implement this practice into your beauty ritual. Always begin with open movements on your neck and chest and then move towards your face. (If you use gua sha solely on your face it won’t be nearly as effective or beneficial.) 

What should someone look for in a gua sha tool?

Munson, De La Torre, and Plug: First, you want to make sure you’re using a healing stone. Many cheaper stones on the market are made with fake or dyed jade stones, and some are even plastic! Second, the shape is what really gets results so make sure your tool fits well in your hand. Wildling’s Empress Stone was custom designed to have an edge and angle for every part of the face, as well as an activating comb edge for extra circulation.

What oils are best for gua sha?

Munson, De La Torre, and Plug: Wildling’s Empress Oil of course — we actually call it gua sha in a bottle! It’s the only oil on the market formulated specifically for gua sha. We researched ancient herbal texts to find plants that have been used in beauty elixirs for eons, with Balm of Gilead coming out as our star ingredient. These plump sticky buds from the balsam poplar tree are infused for two months to create an oil that plumps and tones the skin, and are then combined with a resin nutrient complex of fresh harvested tree resins that activates circulation and detoxifies impurities. Lastly, we infuse the Empress Oil with sunstone under the light of the full moon to boost self esteem and self love. 

Why is education so important for a proper practice?

Tresize: If gua sha is done wrong you can accidentally activate a trigger point or trap lymphatic fluid in your face by not draining it, which can cause a tension headache and/or migraine. Also, repetitive dragging on a muscle in the wrong direction could cause it to slowly sag over time.

What are the immediate and long term benefits?

Tresize: Immediate benefits include improved circulation, relieved muscle tension, and help with lymphatic drainage as the lymph carries away toxins. Sometimes the lymph can get slow, stuck, or built up because of muscle tension, lack of exercise, or immune disorders. Gua sha can help break up any buildup in the lymphatic system and also improve the flow of lymph with regular encouragement. More immediate benefits include better absorption of products, because without any blockages or adhesions products penetrate deeper into the skin causing them to be that much more effective. 

Long term benefits include reduced tension headaches or chronic migraines due to muscle tension, a more contoured and shaped face (goodbye bloat!), and the ironing out of any fine lines as increased amounts of circulation have been clinically proven to boost the body’s collagen production.

By day, Lily Comba works in business development for an online marketplace. By night, she lives an entrepreneurial life. After working as a career consultant at her alma mater, Lily developed a passion for helping women in their careers. She embodies the mantra, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” in her work as a writer and business strategist for fellow entrepreneurs. Catch her running around Los Angeles or at lilycomba.com.

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One response to A Guide to Gua Sha: Cue the Dewy Look

I love that you’re recommending products and advising appropriately with warnings and best practices, but there is no direction on how to get started correctly. I’m walking away from this article with a distinct feeling that this is a process not to be fancied about with… no acting like a drunk girl at her first frat party here. There are real consequences for doing it wrong. But, I don’t know where to go to learn. No resources have been recommended to help me educate myself and get started safely. Why would I buy a $129 kit I don’t know how to use it and could give me migraines if done incorrectly?

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