There is a universe of alternative therapy and healing out there just waiting to be discovered—all treatments may not be equally effective, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few superstars in the mix. Meet one such gem: gua sha.
You can safely count gua sha as a bona fide alternative healing treatment that many people say can reduce pains in your body and may even be a solution for chronic pain (though, as with all treatments for long-term pain, this isn’t a cure and will need to be repeated to experience major pain relief).
What Is A Gua Sha Beauty Treatment?
The ancient Chinese practice involves scraping a stone-like tool on your body. It certainly isn’t going to tickle and we’re just going to come out and say it, but your back–or whichever part of your body receives the treatment–is probably going to look like one big bruised mess for a few days.
But if loyal gua sha practitioners and patients are to be believed, it’s totally worth it. The benefits are immediately felt and continue to be felt long after your treatment. Here’s everything you need to know about the new beauty and health trend gua sha.
All Of The Details You Need To Determine If Gua Sha Is Right For You
What Does A Gua Sha Treatment Feel Like?
What can you expect after making an appointment with a gua sha practitioner? After discussing the source of your aches and pains (whether they are chronic or the result of a too-intense kettlebell session), the technician may begin by providing an ordinary or deep tissue massage. At some point, a gua sha tool will be added to the mix — these tools vary but are often made from jade or rose quartz and have smooth edges. Applying short or long strokes (or a combination of both), the technician will use the tool to scrape over your skin in a downward motion, according to Healthline. A massage oil will likely be applied beforehand to make it easier to scrape skin.
The back is the most common area gua sha will be performed, but it isn’t unusual to ask for the treatment on your neck, arms, legs, and even buttocks. More recently, gua sha is being used on the face in facial treatments, but it isn’t as intense or painful since the desired outcome is generally an anti-aging toning effect, and not the reduction of pain.
It’s completely normal to be left with a series of bruises and nasty red marks after a gua sha treatment. Don’t worry: your skin will heal and could look and feel better than before.
What Are Gua Sha’s Benefits?
Gua sha is used on the body to increase blood flow and circulation and to address the root causes of inflammation, which is usually a culprit behind pain. It is also used to “withdraw cold winds” from the body, explains a writer who wrote about the procedure for HarpersBAZAAR.com after visiting Amy Baker, a licensed massage therapist and registered craniosacral therapist.
Baker explains: ”In Chinese medicine, when you have cold or winds enter the body, things tighten up. This cold wind easily enters the body through the back of the neck, so you'll often get neck pain, like people who wake up after we start turning on the air conditioners [for summer] with a stiff neck. Gua sha can pull that cold out.”
In addition to treating neck pain, gua sha is used to help with migraine headaches, breast engorgement, Hepatits B, Tourette syndrome, and even perimenopausal symptoms.
How Is Gua Sha Used In Skincare?
Not only is gua sha one of the most exciting alternative health therapies for pain, but it is also being used in facial treatments to tone skin and create definition along the jawline and cheekbones. Similar to how gua sha is performed on the body, a technician presses the tool along the skin on your neck and face, though movements are much lighter and less uncomfortable.
“The idea is that light pressure releases fascial and muscular tension and moves sluggish lymph fluid,” one writer who experienced a gua sha facial reports in Allure. And according to the writer’s account of her session, her jawline and neck looked longer, thinner, and had a more defined silhouette — and the effect lasted for an entire two months.
Can You Perform Gua Sha At Home?
If gua sha therapy isn’t something you can easily squeeze into your schedule, or you would rather not spend the money on a session, you can (technically) purchase a jade or rose quartz gua sha scraping massage tool and give yourself a DIY facial in the privacy of your bathroom. As with all at-home procedures that have in-office counterparts, the treatment you give yourself at home won’t be as effective and it could take longer to see results.
With that said, it’s never a bad idea to treat yourself to a little DIY home therapy – use a quality massage oil and be gentle.