I’m the worst at self care.

Yes, I am. Truly. Despicably. Awful. If you’re me, doing something related to “treat yo’ self”  looks as appealing as a pile of mud to the most high maintenance of neat freaks. So, if I’m recommending something for self care, specifically skin care, you should probably try it. Because it’s really awesome. I don’t recommend lame things, you guys. Gua Sha. (GWAH-sha) is one of those things no one actually believes in until they see it. Like Alexa. Or spring weather in February (unless you live in Ohio, like me). The effects, however, are definitely worth believing in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

person holding amber glass bottle

 

 

 

 

 What is Gua Sha?

GWAH-sha, or Gua Sha, is an ancient Chinese healing practice involving pressured massage. This practice has many benefits, including pain relief, reduced inflammation, and tension relief. Originally, healers used things like spoons, animal horns, and coins. Today, a mild version can be performed at home with a special tool and some facial oil.

Though touted by some medical experts as harmful or dangerous, this practice is really only as intense as you make it. There is no perfect method, so it’s uniquely customizable to your individual needs. And, in my case, idiot proof! (Which is good, because I’m accident prone!)

 

 

 

 

How To Practice Gua Sha

Like I said above, you only need two ingredients for this: a tool, and some oil. The tools made and marketed today come in a variety of shapes, colors, materials, and sizes. It can be daunting, so let’s explore tool types together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rollers

 

These look different than the other tools, but their function is the same. They do boast some added benefits, like increased absorption of product (helpful for face masks, hydrating serums and moisturizers, etc) and massaging deeper facial tissues.  Gua Sha involves pressured strokes in a uniform direction, and rollers help maintain even pressure and smooth strokes. Note: should you choose a roller, be careful to purchase a well made one! Some are made with cheaper metal which results in your tool breaking. Not fun!

 

 

My Recommendation: This Roller

This tool comes with interchangeable stones for a very universal performance. I like that it is made well to last. Also, it comes with the deep tissue (bumpy stones) massage pieces to really improve circulation and ease tension in the facial muscles.

 

 

 

Image result for gua sha tools

 

Scraping Stones & Tools

 

The scraping pieces are probably what you’re more familiar with. They are the ones that come in different shapes and sizes, some are even made of different materials! Stones are better suited for toning, contouring, and soothing than their bumpy roller counterparts.

This is what I personally use. I bought them at TJ Maxx for pretty cheap, because I was a skeptic. I promise that you’ll want to invest in a nice tool!

I like the traditional jade for its cooling benefits, which can be enhanced by placing your tool in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes before use. Can you imagine the summer relief that’s gonna bring?

 

 

My Recommendation: This Stone

I like this stone because the shape is very forgiving, comfortable in hand and sleek. I also love that it comes with a box for storage, and the free eBook offers extra guidelines and tips for success and benefits with Gua Sha.

 

 

 

Bonus Recommendation: This Stone

Words cannot describe how beautiful this piece is. Honestly, it seems too pretty to use so intensely! Plus, Cordial Organics throws in a little storage pouch, and a free sample of their Nourish facial oil. Score!

 

 

White Petaled Flower on Clear Glass Beside Clear Glass With Liquid on It

 

 

Oils & Benefits

The other tool you need for Gua Sha is a lubricant oil. In this case, I recommend choosing an oil or creating a serum to enhance moisturizing benefits. There are a lot of facial oils out there, but allow me to run through my personal favorites!

  • Jojoba Oil- this is what I use on my own skin, because I love how quickly it absorbs and how it is moisturizing, but not oily, on my sensitive and finicky skin. Jojoba is a good choice for acne sufferers and those with dry skin, combination skin, or anything in between! If you’re new to oils and their different properties, I recommend Jojoba as a starting point.
  • Sweet Almond Oil- known to be super moisturizing and light on the skin, while being mild enough to use on the most sensitive of faces. It has a high antioxidant content, as well as being protective against UV rays. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, or aren’t sure if a heavy oil is for you, go for almond oil!
  • Argan Oil- I wasn’t sure about including this in an oil list because it is a bit pricey, but the results are swoon worthy. No joke, when I use this stuff on my skin, I can tell a massive difference in five minutes. Your skin just, like, glows. Worth the investment, especially if you have acne. This stuff is not at all comedogenic (pore clogging), and boasts a lot of omega fatty acids that are super powerful in fighting acne.
  • Avocado Oil- Okay, now we’re busting out the big guns! If you have a lot of inflammation, dry skin, or need a really powerful moisturizer, avocado oil is your new tool. Not just for toast, avocados are known powerhouses for beneficial fats, and that holds true to avocado oil as well. It is a heavier oil, so be forewarned that you may need to let this one soak in.

 

 How-To Gua Sha

While there aren’t “rules” involved, there is a method or two used to ensure maximum benefit from this tradition.

 

1. Wash your face. While I apply this technique with the Oil Cleansing Method (you can find a great article about that practice here!) to combine my moisturizing and cleansing in one swoop, it is advisable to start with clean skin. We don’t want to add oil on top of dirt and debris that may be present on your face!

* I recommend washing your face with warm, but not scalding, water, to open your pores to allow for maximum absorption of the facial oil.*

2. Apply the oil. No need to break out cotton swabs or anything special, your hands will work fine for this step. I generally pour a dollop of oil into my palm, and use my fingers to swab it over my skin. Don’t worry if it doesn’t soak in right away- the Gua Sha will help with that!

3. Get massaging! There are dozens of guides out there, but the general idea is to massage towards the outer part of your face. You can find great guides for these on my Pinterest board, “Skin Scores!” found here. You don’t have to work any specific area to death, but I find my tension areas (the muscles of my forehead and my cheekbones) benefit from a few extra strokes.

4. Clean the stone. When you’re all finished, just wipe the excess oil off of the stone and return it to its box or case. Every week or so, I clean my stone and tools with very warm but not boiling water, and a mild soap such as castile soap. Let dry, and then spritz lightly with witch hazel, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol, and let air dry. That’s it! No super involved cleaning needed. Stones last quite a long time, but if you find yours is chipping, or has a rough edge, it’s a good idea to replace it.

 

 

Notes For Success!

 

I’ll admit, the first time I slathered my face in oil and rubbed it with a piece of jade, it felt.. weird. Probably because I didn’t really pay attention to how I was going about it, but just gouging my skin. The next couple times grew more and more enjoyable, as I learned what pressure to apply where, what direction to use, and the spots I needed to focus on.

 

 

1. Let your body lead you. It may seem like a no-brainer, but honestly, when you’re trying out something new you may feel pressured to do it “exactly right.” As one of these people, I understand the pull to get it right, but with many things there is no right or wrong, and Gua Sha is a great example of that. Simply follow what feels good to you and that’s it! There’s no simpler instruction book.

2. Be mindful. Mindfulness is one of the surefire ways to enhance stress relief and help relax yourself- mentally and physically. Focusing on the feel of the tool against your skin, your breathing, and even your heart rate can take what is already a soothing practice to a whole other level. I already use Gua Sha in my nightly routine because it leaves me feeling calm and peaceful, but I also find it extremely beneficial in times of high tension or anxiety.

3. Don’t be too rough. This is a slightly different point than the first, in that pressure can make or break this ritual for you. Too much and you want to run away, too little and you won’t notice any differences in muscle tension. If it hurts you, it’s probably too intense and you should lighten your touch. If the oil is sitting on your skin when you are finished, you may have too much, or you may need to increase pressure.

4. Use the right amount of oil! Yes, but how do you know what amount is ‘right’ for you? Trial and error, mostly. Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all measurement, so everyone must calculate for themselves what is appropriate. I started with a penny sized amount and quickly, unsurprisingly, figured out it was too much! But a dime sized portion proved to be just right. In the winter, I need more oil, in the summer, when humidity is higher, I need less. And sometimes I just have to grab a washcloth and wipe away the excess. No judgement!

 

 Bonus Tip: Grab my FREE meditation guide to put yourself in the mindset to heal and relax during Gua Sha! Find it at the bottom of this post. 

 

Final Thoughts & A Sneak Peek!

Whoo! We made it through a whole new practice, start to finish, with product recommendations, tips and tricks, and a tutorial. Give yourself a pat on the back, because you, my friend, just learned a new skill! And learning is always worth celebrating, am I right?

 

Gua Sha hasn’t been in my life for long, but I truly do love it and love the healing it has brought me. I wish you all the same success in your own journey, and hopefully more! Who knew facial massage was so great?

 

Now, as a relatively new blogger, I have a lot of opportunities before me to shape my blogging journey, and I want to include my audience (little though it may be!) in that process.

So, as my attempt to do that, I wanted to share with you the new series I will be starting in hopes that it will reach and persuade others to evaluate their lifestyles.

It’s called the Moment Manifestation series, and it’s going to cover a lot of different topics. The denominator will be learning how to apply simple techniques to enhance and appreciate the beauty of everyday life. Call me a sentimentalist, but moments are important. If we don’t appreciate the here and now, we cannot begin to build a better future for ourselves, or anyone else.

 

Be tuned into my social media pages to see important updates and take part in surveys regarding this thrilling new series!

 

It’s ciao for now! See you on the flip. (Do people still say that? I feel like they should.)

 

— Allison, self care newbie, Gua Sha ambassador, and certified coffee addict.

 

 

Do you practice a skincare routine that you love? Share it with us below in the comments!

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