Gua Sha: Inside the Ancient Self-Care Remedy

The minute a gua sha session is complete, you experience a calm.
The minute a gua sha session is complete, you experience a calm.

We have been hearing the term gua sha bandied about quite a bit lately. Gua sha is a Chinese self-care remedy used by some to reportedly relieve colds, migraines, TMJ, stress and anxiety.

Traditionally practiced using a thin stone—jade, quartz or otherwise—the tool glides across the skin tissue in specific patterns to help encourage lymphatic flow, reportedly resulting in less inflammation, stress, puffiness and tension in the face, neck and decollate.  

The minute a gua sha session is complete, you experience a calm. Don’t be surprised to feel flow in other body parts as it’s being done to your face.

Although gua sha is a healing home remedy, it has gained attention in the beauty industry because it lifts, sculpts, softens fine lines and wrinkles and so much more. The scraping and rubbing can result in a reddish rash when you release energy.  

Your face gets a little red and then looks great because gua sha activates circulation, stimulates collagen and minimizes wrinkles and puffiness. It also reportedly helps with acne, dark circles and tension.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting  Laura Heravi, a licensed esthetician and founder of the Brightly Balanced Skin and Wellness Studio in Sherman Oaks, California. She is certified in many holistic disciplines, including gua sha, Vodder manual lymphatic drainage, reiki, cranial sacral therapy and intra oral buccal massage and has been an esthetician in Los Angeles for 12 years. Her philosophy is to focus on lymphatic flow to support skin conditions and overall wellness from within.    

The practitioner moves the tools with light pressure up, out and down first along the chest, décolleté, neck and face. It also can be done on the scalp. In fact, you can do it all over your body to release tension and inflammation, help with cellulite and overall circulation. It is beneficial and grounding to breathe deeply during the treatment. 

Heravi said, “Do gua sha as often as you can because it’s cumulative—you see an instant result as well, but there is also a long term effect that’s amazing. It includes at-home and professional treatments."

She believes gua sha is a trifecta of self-care practice as it connects you to yourself, has instant and long-term results esthetically and internally and it is recommended before injections to help purify the lymph fluid before being taxed with any bio toxins or fillers.  

Gua sha can also help dissipate fluid and inflammation so it can be quite helpful before plastic surgery especially around the eye area.  

Using the right amount of a good quality facial oil is paramount in a gua sha practice.  

Heravi said, “You want a gentle glide. No tugging or slip sliding.” 

Anchoring the tissue as you draw the skin up and out toward the hairline will help support the skin and give a beautifully sculpted result.  

Heravi’s approach to skin care is balancing facials to treat the whole mind and body.   

She said,, “Our nervous system effects everything and gua sha helps to connect us to our parasympathetic nervous system to cultivate calmness and balance throughout the body-thus aiding in many skin and health conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, puffiness, stress, inflammation, TMJ, migraines and acne.”

The lymphatic system and skin develop simultaneously in utero, working together from the beginning. Heravi focuses deeply on her clients lymphatic flow with manual lymphatic drainage techniques, massage and gua sha to address their skin and wellness concerns, curate deeply relaxing facials and cultivate truly glowing skin for the inside out.  

Heravi offers gua sha workshops in which she teaches intimate groups of gua sha rituals to do at home.  

She said, “That is where the magic really happens. When you are in your own space, with your own body, intuitively giving yourself love and attention. We have to touch our bodies with more intention so you can become your own healer.”  

Heravi explained that your face has every organ represented so we can access these points to address things that are going on internally. She loves supporting plant-based skin care lines and carries Osea Malibu, Priya Apotheca and Arconca in her studio because they make consumers feel beautiful, are local, woman-founded and have integrity.  

Heravi’s skin care advice may not sound typical, but it’s universal. 

She said, “It’s important to physically touch your face with intention and connect deep within yourself…we can be so removed and in our heads. Turn inward…be intentional and, above all, be kind to yourself.  Positivity, gratitude and the way we speak to ourselves has such a true impact on our skin health and overall well-being.”

Here is a gua sha technique anyone can practice right now. Keep the pressure light and go slow.

    1. Start with your stone at a 15-degree angle at the top of your spine and draw the stone up toward the base of the skull. Do at least three strokes and feel free to do more. The pressure is medium/light. It should feel nice.   
    2. Next move to the outside of your shoulders and draw the stone up along the side of the neck behind the ear. Three strokes at least, medium pressure, 15-degree angle. You can be a little firmer on the up strokes here because you are breaking through the fascia. Next, angle your stone on a downward stroke, still at a 15 degree angle, almost lying flat against the skin, in a light pressure to encourage lymph flow down to right above the collarbones. Three to five strokes down, but again do what feels good and don’t get lost in counting strokes.
    3. Anchor at the jaw and move along the jawline outward toward the ear, maybe give a little wiggle at the end of the stroke to encourage flow. Make as many passes as you wish or have time for, remembering to have a light/medium pressure and being kind to the tender tightness that exists in most people’s jaws.
    4. Move across the face and up toward the ear and hairline at a 15-degree angle, light/medium pressure. You can take the stroke down in front of the ear and back behind the ear and down the side of the neck to drain above the clavicle.
    5. Gently stroke over the eyebrow to lift and sculpt the forehead and brown-bone. Three to five strokes, light pressure.
    6. End by draining the fluid, out and down in front of the ear, behind the ear and down the neck in front of the clavicle. Do at least three strokes, I usually do eight or more.



More in Skin Care