For rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation

Racking up a staggering 3.3 billion views on TikTok, gua sha is an ancient tool with a modern fandom. Traditionally made of stones such as jade or quartz, the tool is used to scrape across the skin, commonly seen used on the face, although it can be used on the body as well.

According to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the first recorded use of a gua sha dates back to the Stone Age, when it was used as a folk remedy to ‘scrape away illness’. Even today, gua sha is performed by a variety of practitioners including acupuncturists, massage therapists, and chiropractors.

The primary appeal to using gua sha is that it’s thought to promote blood flow to the area that is being scraped, which can help with aches, pains, and tight muscles. In the case of facial gua sha, it’s believed that the practice can help relieve tension, puffiness, and inflammation.

It’s important to keep in mind that gua sha is a traditional medicine technique and, while many feel the benefits of its use, it is not supported by clinical evidence – and you should always be wary of ‘miracle cure’ claims that are spread on social media, such as its ability to reshape your face or anti-ageing factors.

That said, gua sha can be an incredibly soothing practice to add to your self-care routine. Taking some time to tune-in to your body, address areas of tension, and turn your attention to yourself, are all beneficial things to do.

Ready to give it a go? Follow these steps for three relaxing gua sha routines.

Soothing facial routine

1. Gua sha works best when you have some kind of lubricant on your skin for it to gently glide over. What you use is up to you, but a facial toner, moisturiser, or facial mist are all great options. Choose what works best for you and apply it to your skin.

2. Hold the gua sha with the curved side to your face. Start by gently gliding it across your jawline, starting from the centre and moving outwards, five times on each side.

3. Next, move up to your cheeks, and repeat the gliding motion five times on each side.

4. Very softly, slowly glide the gua sha under your eyes, being careful not to get any of the product that you are using in your eyes.

5. Finish with your forehead, starting from the centre and moving outwards on each side.

Rejuvenating chest routine

1. Apply body lotion or oil to the chest area.

2. Begin with the shoulders. Place your gua sha in the nape of your neck and move it steadily outwards. Repeat this five times on each shoulder.

3. Next, bring your gua sha in line with your collarbone. From the centre, follow your collarbone outwards, applying only gentle pressure. Repeat this five times on each side.

4. Finish by repeating the pattern under your collarbone.

Are there any risks I should be aware of?

Generally, gua sha is safe for most people, as long as you don’t apply too much pressure. It is, however, advised that people who take blood thinners or have a history of blood clots should speak to their doctor before trying gua sha. 

If you are using oils, ensure that they are skin-safe, don’t use them over inflamed or open skin, and stop immediately if the oils begin to irritate your skin. 

Partnered back routine

1. Apply body lotion or oil across the back.

2. Begin by gently moving the gua sha outwards, starting from the spine, and repeat this five times on each side.

3. Repeat this motion as you slowly move down the back. Communicate with the person you are working on, to watch out for any particularly tender areas where you may wish to apply lighter pressure, or spend more time on.

4. Once you have reached the bottom of the back, it’s time to turn your attention to the spine. If your gua sha has an indent, you may wish to place it over the spine, so the gua sha applies tension on either side of the spine. If it is a flat gua sha, you may instead wish to stick to one side of the spine at a time. Slowly move the gua sha up the spine, once again making sure to check in about the pressure. Repeat this five times overall if your gua sha touches both sides of the spine, or five times on each side if you do one at a time.

Gua sha should leave you feeling soothed and relaxed, and could become a staple of your self-care routine. So, try out these routines, or follow your intuition, and let the stress of the day fade away