What is gua sha? Chinese Medicine Experts Explain TikTok’s Viral Skin Care Technique


A lot beauty trends were born on social media platforms such as TIC Tac, and if you’ve scrolled recently, you’ve probably noticed some gua sha shape.

While 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, etc.

TikTok user Devon kelley tried a daily gua sha routine for a few weeks and shared a video of his 13-day transformation. This left him with remarkable results which inspired many of his followers to try the technique.

Kelley’s post has been viewed over 16 million times and has over 3 million likes.

“In Chinese, gua sha is literally translated as” sand scraping “, where sha or” sand “refers to small red dots that appear on the skin after scratching”, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and master herbalist Dr Jenelle Kim says “GMA”. “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 portable, flat tool with rounded edges. However, Dr Angela Chau Gray, TCM practitioner and co-founder of YINA, explained to “GMA” that flat and polished stones, coins, animal horns, ceramic spoons, buttons and even jar lids have been 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 during the Stone Age.

“As the Chinese moved towards the Bronze Age, metal tools and needles gained favor from stone tools,” Yu said. “Bian stone tools subsequently became“ Bian therapy ” “Along 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 using, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. “Even a ceramic tablespoon works,” Gray said.

However, it is recommended to avoid plastic and use something that is made of natural material.

Kim shared that her favorite stones for facial gua include jade stone, known for its cooling, anti-inflammatory and calming properties; rose quartz, as it helps stimulate circulation, tension in the face and reduce the appearance of puffiness; and Bian stone, used in TCM for thousands of years. “This is a stone containing trace elements that are believed to be beneficial for overall health,” she said.

Gua Sha Tips for Beginners

While it’s always best to see a skin expert or doctor first, there are some beginner-friendly tips that you can try three to four times a week to get started.

Acupuncturist certified by the board of directors Dr Laurel Liu recommended in a TikTok Video that you need to start the facial gua sha at the back of the neck, within an inch of the hairline.

“There are a lot of acupressure points there,” Liu said during the short clip. “We need to activate lymphatic drainage before performing facial gua sha.”

In addition to Liu’s preliminary advice, Gray advises the following steps:

The first step: Apply face oil to let your gua sha ritual glide.

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 with the middle of the face slightly upwards and towards the hairline. Use a little more pressure around the hairline area.

Fourth step: Try gua sha on the jaw area towards the earlobe; also do it under the chin.

Fifth step: On the forehead area, move the gua sha from the forehead upwards, towards the scalp.

Sixth step: Swipe 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 are adopting gua sha and we are here to share the benefits beyond just healing. skin of this beautiful secular practice. “

While there are many skin care and healing benefits associated with gua sha techniques, experts and practitioners have indicated that it is a self-care tool rooted in Chinese medicine – not a new trend or a new invention.

Gua sha’s Tips for Appreciating vs. Taking Ownership, According to TCM Experts:

-Know 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 ownership.

-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 involves stimulating key meridians and specific acupuncture points.”

She continued, “While gentle home use, using appropriate tutorials, is generally safe and will produce results, receiving treatment from a professional who is proficient in the technique will produce the most noticeable results. A combination of clinic / spa treatment and home treatment is recommended. “


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