An Intro to the Gua Sha with Katie Brindle: Q&A
By Katie Brindle - Hayo’u Founder, Chinese-Medicine Practitioner and Thought Leader
For all those who know nothing about gua shas but are curious about it, could you explain what a gua sha is and how they work?
Gua sha is an innovative massage technique that has been used in China and many parts of Asia for thousands of years. ‘Gua’ means to press stroke, while ‘sha’ refers to the temporary flush that results from this.
The practice of gua sha stimulates circulation to the dermis, supporting collagen and elastin production to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, sculpt and contour the skin and release tension from the facial muscles.
A gua sha beauty tool often comes in a myriad of shapes. Our Hayo’u Beauty Restorers are shaped like a half-moon to allow it to follow the contours of the face - the neck, jawline, cheekbones, brow-bones and forehead.
Our Hayo’u Beauty Restorers are artisan made from the highest quality, certified crystals of Jade, Rose Quartz, Clear Quartz and Nephrite - though a gua sha tool can also be made from stainless steel for the body, as well as Woodhorn and Bian Stone for the face.
Gua sha should be done with facial or body oil applied first, to ensure the tool has enough ‘slip’ so it doesn’t pull at the skin.
There are also some people who don’t understand what’s so great about incorporating a gua sha in their daily routines. What are the main benefits of using a gua sha?
Facial gua sha has so many wonderful benefits including:
- Nourishing and restoring the skin
- Supporting circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Improving energy flow
- Lifting, plumping and sculpting the face
Body gua sha goes even deeper, with the following benefits:
- Alleviates tight, tired muscles
- Supports circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Releases deep tension
- Aids against coughs, colds and fevers
But because gua shas have recently become more popular, a lot of people already have a general idea of how to use them. However, what are the common mistakes people make when using the gua sha? What should they do instead?
I think a lot of people don’t try gua sha because they think it's time consuming. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Just one minute of self-care using a gua sha tool can have a beneficial effect. You can really do as much or as little as feels good to you, or depending on how much time you have in the day. I like to do a quick session in the morning with my Rose Quartz Beauty Restorer (this works fantastically in the morning as
this enhances the natural energy patterns of the day), and then I do a longer session before bed with the Clear Quartz Beauty Restorer, the crystal that is known for destressing, and our Hayo’u Beauty Oil.
Some people are still wary of using gua shas, are there any common misconceptions about gua shas that you could debunk?
When it comes to gua sha it’s important to start at your own pace. Some people get put off when they see extreme gua sha and the deep red/ purple that is left behind. You should only do what feels comfortable and pleasurable to you. If you have never gua sha’ed before, start off lightly allowing your skin to adapt and slowly build up the pressure over time.
There are stainless steel gua shas out there for the face, why should we use gua shas made of natural stone like jade and quartz instead? What is the difference between the gua shas made of stainless steel and the ones made of natural stone?
Gua shas made from a metal like stainless steel are too harsh for the delicate skin of the face and, in Chinese Medicine, metal is the element of the body and is therefore suitable for body gua sha. Our Hayo’u Body Restorer is made from medical grade stainless steel so it is perfect for the body.
Instead, for facial gua sha, the best material is crystal. Not only is this softer for the face, neck and decolletage, but crystals also have fantastic properties that support the ancient ritual of gua sha. With our Hayo’u facial tools, I chose to focus on four incredible crystals:
Jade - Known as ‘Earth’s Gift to Mankind’ in Chinese medicine, jade is a great ‘all-rounder’ crystal for gua sha. Slightly more resilient than the other crystals we use, jade is perfect for all skin types, but particularly mature skin which may require deeper pressure to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Rose Quartz - Known as the crystal of love, rose quartz will calm sensitive and inflamed skin, as well as soothing common skin conditions like Rosacea. Due to the arrangement of the crystals in Rose Quartz, it naturally stays cooler for longer making it the ideal tool for the Summer months.
Clear Quartz - Known as the ‘Master Healer’ in Chinese medicine, clear quartz soothes and calms tired skin. It’s energetic frequency makes it particularly beneficial as an evening tool, helping to relax and destress after long and busy days.
Nephrite - Known as the ‘Empress Stone’ or ‘King of Healing Stones’, nephrite has the highest frequency of all the crystals, with detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties to de-stress and soothe skin.
Face rollers have also become quite popular, what’s the difference between the gua sha and a face roller? Why should we use the gua sha instead of the roller?
Traditionally, a facial roller made from Jade was traditionally used after facial gua sha to calm the skin after the real work had been done!
Using a gua sha tool, rather than a roller, allows you to work deeper into the muscles and fascia for maximum tension release. The treatment removes any build up of lactic acid and encourages lymphatic drainage. The end of the gua sha tool can be used to activate specific acupressure points on the face and ensure good Qi flow. It’s the next level of beauty treatment.
Some gua shas are meant to be used in the evening, some are meant to be used in the mornings and some can be used at any time, what are the best times to use each kind of gua sha? Why are certain kinds of gua shas more fit for the morning or the evening?
Jade - According to Chinese medicine, Jade is believed to carry a healing energy to help relax, rebalance and restore a sense of harmony. Jade is a stronger crystal in material than others, making it perfect for lifting and contouring. It is also known as the all-round yin-yang crystal, making Jade the ideal skincare choice for any time of day.
Rose Quartz - Rose quartz, in Chinese medicine, is believed to tonify the heart Qi, which makes it a perfect morning tool. A strong heart helps to maintain healthy blood flow and circulation, which ensures that the skin gets all the nourishment it needs. The morning is the optimal time of day to use this crystal, as it works with the body’s natural energy patterns for the rest of the day.
Clear Quartz - According to Chinese medicine clear quartz removes heat from the body created from the stresses of the day, calms the mind and improves energy flow. Due to its calming qualities, clear quartz is perfect for the evening after a busy, stressful day to soothe both skin and mind.
Nephrite – Nephrite is the highest quality of jade with a much higher vibrational frequency and supports the kidneys - it is also known as the ‘empress stone’ as it was said to have been used by the beauties of the Imperial Court in ancient China. It is strengthening, nurturing and calming.
If someone has sensitive skin, could they still use a gua sha? If so, what’s the best way to use it as a person with sensitive skin?
For facial gua sha, Chinese medicine excels in the treatment of skin conditions, because it tackles the root cause as well as the symptoms. However, there are a few skin issues that render treatment unsuitable over the affected area, such as spider/ thread veins. But although you should not perform gua sha over affected skin, you can still work around it, which will help.
In particular, I would recommend someone with sensitive skin to use our Rose Quartz Beauty Restorer due to its naturally cooling properties.
I recommend starting off slow and steady to see how your skin reacts, and always apply our Beauty Oil beforehand to the face, neck and decolletage. Our Beauty Oil is specifically formulated to work with gua sha as it’s base oil, Camelia, is slightly thicker than most oils on the market and therefore stays on the skin for longer - rather than being easily absorbed - ensuring you can gua sha for longer without ‘pulling’ at the skin.
Are there any downsides or risks of using a gua sha, if so what are they?
Pregnant women should avoid gua sha. This is because some acupressure points on the face and on the body can trigger uterine contraction, which can increase the risks of miscarriage.
For people that are not professional practitioners, you might put yourself into unnecessary risks if you accidentally scrape on those points.
Women during their menstrual cycle should also not use gua sha, as it invigorates blood circulation. During the menstrual cycle, enhancing the circulation of blood may lead to excess bleeding which can be dangerous.