If one thing being lockdown has thought us is that we are a rather resilient and resourceful bunch. Although we’ve missed salon-standard facials and hair treatments, some of us have been taking personal grooming & pampering into our own hands with DIY hair cuts and DIY dye jobs.
So you want to have a DIY face massage at home, why not?
When it comes to face massage tools, the gua sha tool, in particular, is becoming popular. Used for over 600 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), gua sha is said to boost micro-circulation, remove toxins and relieve muscle pain. Used on the face, it’s even been touted as an alternative to botulinum toxin injections since the massage technique helps to relax muscle tension.
The biggest reason behind this increased interest in gua sha is social media, says Newby Hands, Net-A-Porter’s Global Beauty Director. “Gua sha has become popular globally and, especially in Europe and the US, from Instagram, and following on from the popularity of jade and rose quartz facial rollers, this was the next big thing.”
Hands adds that its popularity is also thanks to how easy it is to incorporate into your skincare routine. Using it with a facial oil both encourages micro-circulation to get the complexion glowing and nourishes the skin.
What Gua Sha does for your skin
Gua sha involves scraping (gua) your skin with a tool to elicit a healing effect, says Eu Yan Sang’s associate physician, Lin Jiayi, who is based at its Serangoon TCM Clinic. “Similar to acupuncture, gua sha has the same concept of promoting balance and flow of the body’s energy by improving its qi and blood circulation.
“The redness (sha) on the skin that is experienced during the treatment is the body’s healing response, and the amount of sha depends on the individual’s skin type and the severity of the treatment.”
Eu Yan Sang does not offer face gua sha services but Lin says the concept is similar to the body version, although it is performed with a lighter hand, using gentler strokes.
And when done properly, there should be little to no redness or marks left on the face. “Face gua sha improves circulation and lymphatic flow in the face, firms and lifts the skin, reduces water retention and improves the complexion. It also relieves tension in the face muscles – particularly along our jaw and the space between the brows, which tends to get tense when we are stressed – while relaxing both the body and mind.”
How to do your own face gua sha
Lin shares what to look out for:
– Limit your home face gua sha to 2 to 3 times a week, for a start. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can include it in your daily skincare routine to boost skin health.
– Use light to medium pressure – we know you’re probably tempted to exert more pressure because no pain no gain, right? Not in this instance though.
– Use a jade tool because that is what’s traditionally used in TCM. Plus, jade is said to carry healing energy and it also balances the body’s qi. Jade also cools down the skin and soothes it, which aids in healing and detoxification. Lin recommends using a tool that is flat on one side and has rounded knobs or edges on the other. You could also use a facial roller but Lin says it will be less intense on the face. Ultimately, you should choose the tool you’re most comfortable using.
– Go overboard. Each face gua sha session should take 5 to 10 minutes, done once a day. There is no need for repeat sessions throughout the day.
– Rush through the movements. Use slow and mindful strokes, and it’s best done when you’re feeling calm and relaxed. Try either in the morning when you wake up or at night before going to bed.
Other things to remember include avoiding doing face gua sha on inflamed skin, such as acne, rosacea and sunburn. And it’s not recommended for pregnant women as well. If you’ve got sensitive skin, Lin suggests consulting a professional first because gua sha might over-stimulate skin, which can lead to more problems.
Follow these steps to get the most out of your home face gua sha:
1. Start with a clean face. Hydrate and prime the face and neck using a lotion, serum or face oil to allow the gua sha tool to glide easily.
2. Place the gua sha tool flat against the skin and use the flat edge of the tool to gently sweep along the contours of the face. Start with the neck, followed by the jaw line, cheeks, under-eyes, brows and finally the forehead.
3. For each area, stroke only in an upward direction, 3 to 5 times. And use featherlight touch on the undereye area.
4. You can combine gua sha with an acupressure massage to yield better results – use the rounded part of the gua sha tool to apply pressure to different points on your face. It’s similar to getting face acupuncture.
5. Clean your gua sha tool with water after each use.