What is Face Gua Sha?
What exactly is facial Gua Sha? Pronounced gwa sha, it’s a facial treatment that involves scraping a flat jade stone over the skin in upward strokes to relax stiff muscles and promote tissue drainage. But unlike a traditional Gua Sha massage, it won’t leave bruise-like marks on your face as it’s done with a much lighter hand.
The first written records of Gua Sha date back 700 years, to the era of the Ming Dynasty, though, the practice is thought to be much older than that, perhaps having been discovered in prehistoric times as the simple reflex of rubbing a painful area to make the pain go away.
The term Gua Sha is comprised of two Chinese words: Gua, meaning to rub or scrape, and Sha, a type of stagnant energy that causes excess heat to build within the body. Taken together, the term Gua Sha means the act of rubbing the skin to remove an energy blockage. Gua Sha is used in traditional Chinese medicine theory for bringing heat to the skin surface; the Gua Sha technique will help release any blocked energy and heat. Traditional Chinese medicine includes more than just acupuncture; Facial Gua Sha and cupping have recently become very popular!
Acupuncturists like myself understand the mechanism behind Gua Sha through Chinese Medicine theories like the San Jiao system and the cou li. You see, there is so much more to Gua Sha than it’s simple act of scraping, as traditionally, Gua Sha is applied in accordance with the meridians, or energy channels of the body.
Facial Gua Sha is gentler then the body technique and involves lightly pulling along the skin instead of scraping. The idea here is to facilitate lymph drainage and release facial tension. Our lymph system relies on movement, usually from exercise or massage, to move lymph through the body. Facial Gua Sha can also reduce tension held in the face and neck which may lead to a reduction of headaches, jaw tightness or neck pain.
What’s the process? You should start at the chin area and work your way up to the forehead. This way, you’re creating a clear path for the fluids in your face to drain. You’ll notice the best results if you do it every day as part of your beauty regime.
What kind of results are we talking? Less puffy eyes and sharper cheekbones are two immediate results! However, we strongly recommend seeing a professionally trained practitioner and facialist.
A WORD OF CAUTION. Facial Gua Sha is more than simply dragging a piece of jade across your face, and this isn’t something you can learn from watching an online video (however we love Lashin's self-care videos! See below) . If you are in doubt, always ask your practitioner about their qualifications and experience - remember, this is your face we’re talking about here!
If interested in experiencing a professional Face Gua Sha treatment, we’d be delighted to put you in touch with a Philosophia Botanica Ambassador - currently based in London, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg - a highly trained and experienced practitioner trained. Or else, if you are a professional therapist yourself and wish to train in this traditional technique, please check the link in our bio
Interested in learning the art of Face Gua Sha? If so drop us an email as we have ongoing internationally courses happening every few months. We currently teach in London, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and we are soon coming to Hong Kong and Milano. Please note that training is only open to Level 3 practitioners.
A few self-care workshosp on how to use the facial Gua Sha tool will also be booked soon! In the meantime, we are huge fans of Acupuncturist Sandra from Treatment by Lanshin.