(NEW YORK) — Many beauty trends are born on social media platforms like TikTok, and if you’ve been scrolling lately, you’ve probably noticed some form of gua sha.
Although it may be new to many, gua sha is actually an ancient therapeutic healing technique that has been used in Chinese medicine and throughout Asia for years.
When used on the face, the method can relieve tight muscles, increase blood circulation, promote lymphatic drainage, prevent signs of aging, stimulate circulation and more.
TikTok user Devon Kelley tried a daily gua sha routine for a few weeks and shared a video of her 13-day transformation. This left him with noticeable results that inspired many of his followers to try the technique.
Kelley’s post has been viewed over 16 million times and has over three million likes.
“In Chinese, gua sha is literally translated as ‘scraping sand’, where sha or ‘sand’ refers to small red dots that appear on the skin after scraping,” said Dr. Jenelle Kim, a doctor of traditional medicine chinese and master herbalist. Hello America from ABC News. “In Western medicine, this is called petechiae.”
She added: “Ultimately, this sha is a form of blockage in the body that can be caused by many imbalances, including lack of circulation, stress, tension, and pathogens, such as viruses. “
One of the most common tools used in gua sha today is a hand-held flat tool with rounded edges. However, Dr. Angela Chau Gray, TCM practitioner and co-founder of YINA, told GMA that flat, polished stones, coins, animal horns, ceramic spoons, knobs, and even lids of jars were used for this practice in Chinese culture.
YINA co-founder and TCM practitioner Dr. Ervina Wu also pointed out to GMA that gua sha was used in the Stone Age.
“As the Chinese moved into the Bronze Age, metal tools and needles took precedence over stone tools,” Yu said. “Bian stone tools later became ‘Bian therapy’ with acupuncture, herbal therapies, as documented in “Huang Di Nei Jing”, the most representative Chinese medicine text from 475 to 221 BC.”
She added, “As a medical tool, gua sha became more widely used around the Yuan (1337 CE) and Ming dynasties, spreading to many Asian countries.”
Gua Sha Tools and What to Look For
Experts agree that you should select a tool that you feel most comfortable with and that doesn’t need to be expensive.
“Even a ceramic soup spoon works,” Gray explained.
However, it is recommended to avoid plastic and use something that is made with natural materials.
Kim shared that her favorite stones for gua facial include jade stone, which is known for its cooling, anti-inflammatory and calming properties; rose quartz, as it helps stimulate circulation, facial tension and reduces the appearance of puffiness; and the Bian Stone, which has been used in TCM for thousands of years.
“It’s a stone containing trace minerals that are believed to benefit overall health,” she said.
Gua sha tips for beginners
While it’s always best to consult a skin specialist or doctor first, there are some beginner-friendly tips you can try three to four times a week to get started.
Board-certified acupuncturist Dr. Laurel Liu recommended in a TikTok video to start the facial gua sha at the back of the neck, less than a centimeter from the hairline.
“There are a lot of acupressure points there,” Liu said during the short clip. “We must first activate the lymphatic drainage before practicing the facial gua sha.”
In addition to Liu’s preliminary advice, Gray advises the following steps:
The first step: Apply a face oil to allow the glide of your gua sha ritual.
Second step : Apply light to medium pressure with the gua sha tool, at an angle of approximately 30 to 45 degrees to the skin.
Third step: Start from the middle of the face slightly up and towards the hairline. Use a little more pressure around the hairline area.
Fourth step: Try the gua sha on the jawline towards the earlobe; also do it under the chin area.
Fifth step: On the forehead area, move the gua sha from the forehead upwards, towards the scalp.
Sixth step: Glide over the same area three to four times.
Some results will be immediate, and others will come with consistent practice.
“Make sure you learn the proper techniques from a qualified practitioner,” Wu said. “We love that so many people embrace gua sha and we’re here to share the benefits beyond skincare of this beautiful age-old practice.”
Although there are many skincare and healing benefits associated with gua sha techniques, experts and practitioners have indicated that it is a self-care tool rooted in medicine. Chinese – not a new trend or invention.
Gua sha tips for enjoying or owning, according to TCM experts:
-Recognize and understand that gua sha is derived from Chinese medicine and should not be generalized as “Oriental medicine”.
-Always check with Asian sources, a licensed acupuncturist or TCM practitioner.
-Learn the difference between appreciation and appropriation.
-Avoid describing the practice with terms such as “exotic” or “mystical”.
“For practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, gua sha is a technique that requires sufficient training,” Kim said. “It’s not just about sweeping the tool across the face, it’s about stimulating key meridians and specific acupuncture points.”
She continued, “While gentle at-home use, using appropriate tutorials, is generally safe and produces results, receiving treatment from a professional who has mastered the technique will produce the most noticeable results. A combination of in-clinic/spa and home care is recommended.
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