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What is Gua Sha?

A gua sha tool next to an aloe spear [Salt, Sand & Smoothies]

Last year I was gifted a beautiful “gua sha” tool (shown in the photos above) by one of my closest friends who has always been on top of (and usually ahead of) the holistic health and beauty world. When I opened the small purple pouch that contained the Gua Sha tool, I had no idea how to use it or where to begin. So I went online, did my research, and began experimenting.

So What Exactly Is Gua Sha? 

Coining, also known as gua sha, is a Chinese tradition that can be quite alarming when spotted by the unfamiliar eye. This unique Southeast Asian medical tradition encompasses scraping of the skin, typically lubricated with warm massage oil, with a worn-down coin or Chinese soup spoon to produce transient petechiae and ecchymosis. These hardy objects with smooth edges allow the healer to rub the skin in a linear fashion, creating red striations. The definition of gua is “scraping.” Sha is defined as sand or sharkskin to describe the feeling of the skin after gua sha.

Amelia in a towel using a gua sha tool on her face [Salt, Sand & Smoothies]

Gua sha is intended to address stagnant energy, called chi, in the body that practitioners believe may be responsible for inflammation. Inflammation is the underlying cause of several conditions associated with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to help break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

Facial gua sha is a much more gentle version of the healing technique typically used on the body. Although gua sha on the face is extremely light in comparison, this technique works to release blockages in the skin and restore healthy circulation and vitality — resulting in skin that is clear, lifted, sculpted, soft, and glowing overall!

Gua sha tools come in different shapes and sizes; jade and rose quartz are commonly used. Jade is a stone associated with balance and harmony, while rose quartz is prized for its energizing properties. No matter what stone you choose, make sure to use some oil or moisturizer on your face beforehand. It only takes a few minutes a day, and you should start seeing a noticeable difference in your skin within a week or two. 

Check out the video below for a simple tutorial on how to perform facial gua sha:

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