Does Facial Gua Sha Really Work?

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modality that works on the meridians of the body to improve circulation, reduce the appearance of swelling, and promote the feeling of general relaxation. According to TCM theory, the body has energy that flows in various directions. When that energy, or Qi (pronounced Chi), is stagnant, it increases the possibility of disorders and certain medical conditions occurring. A practitioner or acupuncturist can use Gua Sha tools to move the Qi along the meridians with light pressure to get the energy flowing again.

Who should get Gua Sha? 

Gua Sha can help improve the appearance of puffiness, the feeling of tension in facial muscles, and visible inflammation. It can also help you feel relaxed. Anyone can receive Gua Sha unless they have contraindications for it. A few examples include: some circulatory or nerve conditions, or skin rashes. Discuss any pre-existing conditions with your provider before your service. 

How is Gua Sha done?

Gua Sha is a gentle massage that uses flat smooth tools with rounded edges to gently scrape, rub, and push on the surface of the skin in long slow movements. For facial Gua Sha, the tool glides along clean dry skin or using facial oils. Following specific patterns on the face, neck, and scalp, the practitioner moves the tool from a midline point of the face – usually the center of the chin or each side of the nose outward. Movements also go from the base of the neck to the bottom of the scalp on the back of the neck, or down the sides of the neck to the collar bone. 

Is Gua Sha the same as Lymphatic Drainage or regular facial massage?

No, Gua Sha is different from lymphatic drainage or regular facial massage. Gua Sha uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine that focuses on energy flow. If you visit a Gua Sha practitioner, they will likely follow the TCM theory model and apply it to your treatment. 

A lymphatic facial specialist uses allopathic anatomy and physiology to address the circulatory and lymphatic systems to reduce visible swelling, puffiness, and sallow looking skin. They may also incorporate a Gua Sha tool in their practice, but not necessarily follow the same philosophies as an acupuncturist or TCM practitioner. 

A facial specialist, esthetician, and/or massage therapist will likely have completed conventional anatomy and physiology education within their scope of practice but may do continuing education to include both lymphatic and/or Gua Sha modalities. 

Do I have to go to a Gua Sha practitioner?

Visiting a practitioner who offers Gua Sha in their services can be a relaxing part of your self-care routine and helpful for many skincare needs. Trained professionals can introduce you to Gua Sha and provide you with valuable information about its benefits. Whether you receive a Gua Sha treatment, lymphatic drainage, or traditional facial massage, all three facial manipulations are helpful to achieve the look of glowing skin. However, Gua Sha is a convenient facial treatment that can easily be done at home yourself with a Gua Sha tool and a facial oil like Epicuren’s Bulgarian Rose Otto for dry and sensitive skin types or Defy Age Corrective Facial Oil for visibly dehydrated and sun-damaged skin. 

Does Gua Sha Really Work?

The popularity surrounding this modality is apparent if you follow social media. Many people discuss the benefits of doing this treatment professionally or at home. With regular practice, you will see a visibly less puffy face, a brighter looking complexion, and feel good about doing something for yourself. A basic understanding of your facial features and landmarks along with the right tool and a good facial oil are all it takes to begin your personal Gua Sha journey. 


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