Facial Gua Sha

What Is Gua Sha?

Natural stone Gua Sha tools

Gua sha (including facial gua sha) is one of several non-needle techniques we use as treatment in Chinese Medicine.  It is an ancient technique and its simplicity allowed it to be used in the clinic as well as in homes in Asian communities.  “Gua sha” literally translates as “scraping sand” but this is a bit misleading. “Gua” means the technique of scraping the skin and “sha” actually refers to transitory therapeutic petechiae…tiny little red or purple spots of blood that result from broken capillaries.  Thus gua sha is a scraping technique that uses an instrument to bring up the “sha” for therapeutic benefit.

How is Gua Sha Generally Done?

Any smooth, flat-edged tool can be used to perform gua sha. A cheap and readily-available tool that works great for this technique is a Chinese soup spoon.  Jar lids or coins are other handy implements that can be used in a pinch.  A lubricant is first applied to the skin (we recommend our Fire Cupping & Gua Sha Gao for the body and our Facial Serums for use on the face) and then the “scraping” is done in even strokes along one direction.  The depth of pressure applied and the length and direction of the stroke is dependent on the region of the body that is being treated and the depth of the tissue being targeted.  The scraping is repeated over the region until the sha (the petechiae) come up (this will look very much like the rash from “carpet burn”).

Why Do Gua Sha?

In Chinese Medicine we say that gua sha increases the Qi flow to the tissues.  When the Qi (vital energy) is flowing uninhibited, the blood circulation and lymphatic flow will be optimal.  This allows for efficient cell regeneration and tissue repair.  Studies have shown that gua sha can increase blood flow, improve lymphatic drainage, increase immune function and reduce allergic responses.  This results in increased tissue healing, increased cell protection from oxidative damage, reduced inflammation, reduced fever, and reduced pain.  These effects have been measured immediately after treatment and for several days following gua sha treatment.

How Does Facial Gua Sha Differ?

When the technique of gua sha is used on the face, we apply much lighter pressure and we do not intentionally raise the sha (get petechiae to appear).  The skin of the face is very delicate and has more capillaries than elsewhere on the body, so there is a greater risk of bruising and we do not want to induce bruising on the face (especially in cases of rosacea where that damage can be permanent).

When performed correctly, facial gua sha can have wonderful, lasting benefits for the face and complexion:

  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Lift sagging skin such as eye lids, jowls, chin and neck
  • Disperse dark spots and brighten the complexion
  • Reduce redness, inflammation and blemishes
  • Reduce puffy eyes

We provide expert facial gua sha treatments in our Fort Collins clinic. You can learn how to do an effective facial Gua Sha protocol at home…we can teach you!  Attend one of our workshops taught at our Fort Collins clinic (the next one will be held Friday April 28, 2017).  Or stay tuned…we will offer a downloadable eBook and video instructions in the coming months.

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Tags: beauty, Chinese medicine, Facial care, facial gua sha, gua sha, gua sha therapy

Topics: Beauty, Chinese Medicine, Facial Care

Publish Date: April 25, 2017     *Articles may include updates since original publishing.

About the Author ()

Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK.

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