May 13, 2022 4 min read
Gua sha, sometimes known as “jade scraping,” is an ancient Chinese healing technique. It’s used to promote lymphatic circulation and drainage. This can help to create a variety of beneficial effects, including reducing puffiness, encouraging detoxification, tightening the skin, and reducing inflammation. Some gua sha enthusiasts have even found that gua sha can change the shape of your face, by helping to sculpt muscles.
You can go to a studio to get gua sha performed by a professional. However, many people would like to be able to perform this technique at home, in order to take advantage of its many wellness benefits. If you’d like to perform gua sha at home, how can you do this in a safe and effective way?
Gua sha is performed using a smooth-edged hard tool. This can be made of jade, stone, or other materials. The tool is scraped across the skin, using a moderate amount of pressure. This helps to drain lymph and promote circulation in the area. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s also intended to help improve the flow of energy and break up areas where energy is stagnating.
Other techniques, such as dry brushing, are also aimed at helping drain excess fluid back into the lymphatic system. However, with dry brushing, you only use very light pressure. This technique is only aimed at the lymphatic vessels right under the skin. With gua sha, the deeper pressure is able to affect deeper vessels.
In traditional gua sha treatments, very deep pressure is often used. The pressure may rupture blood vessels under the skin, creating bruising or small purple dots known as petechiae. However, most modern practitioners don’t recommend going this deep. Instead, you should only use pressure to the point of creating some mild skin redness. This indicates that you’ve increased the circulation in the area, which is the goal of the treatment. Additional pressure is neither necessary nor beneficial.
Gua sha treatment is believed to have a number of benefits, including:
At home, people generally focus their gua sha treatment on the face, neck, and chest. The first step is to get a gua sha treatment tool. Look for one that’s specifically designed for the face, so that it’s the right size. Before you use it, check that your tool is smooth and undamaged by running your finger along its edge, so you don’t scratch your skin.
To reduce friction, you’ll want to use a small amount of facial oil or lotion to lubricate the skin. Apply this to your skin, and then begin gently gliding the gua sha tool across the treatment area.
Hold the gua sha tool at a slight angle to your skin. Glide it smoothly across, starting with light pressure. You can gradually increase to moderate pressure as desired. Your skin may become slightly red, but it should not become bruised, and you should not feel pain. In each area, the direction of the strokes will go in the same direction as lymphatic drainage in that area, because the goal is to help increase the circulation of fluids. Use about three to seven strokes in each location.
Start your gua sha treatment on the upper part of the chest. Begin each stroke at the midline, and sweep towards your armpits. Next, gently go up the neck, starting on the sides and then moving to the middle. Be very careful not to use too much pressure on the neck, because there are a lot of blood vessels and nerves in this area. The pressure in this area should be light.
Next, treat your lower face, starting at the center of your chin and moving towards your ear. Do the same for the upper lip. Moving up to the cheeks, start each stroke at the side of the nose and continue to sweep towards your ear. When you’re working on the upper cheeks, protect your undereye skin by holding it with one hand while you use the gua sha tool with the other, so that you don’t rip or tear this delicate skin.
For the nose, you can start at the eyebrows and sweep downwards toward the tip of the nose. For the forehead, start at the eyebrows and sweep upwards and outwards, towards the hairline. Some people even choose to use gua sha on the scalp, to help relax tightness that can contribute to the formation of forehead lines. To do this, start at your hairline and sweep backward like you’re combing your hair.
Besides the face, gua sha can also be performed on other parts of the body, including the back, butt, arms, and legs. In these areas, you can’t really perform your own gua sha treatments at home, because you just can’t reach them. If you want to try gua sha for other parts of your body, then you should look for a practitioner in your area who can perform gua sha on you. Many acupuncturists offer it, and may perform it along with an acupuncture treatment. Massage therapists and even physical therapists may also offer gua sha.