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Gua Sha: How This Ancient Technique Can Improve Your Skincare Routine

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When you hear "scraping skin," your mind probably associates the phrase with pain and injury. Not exactly something you want to experience. Or maybe you do. At least if it's in the name of gua sha, an ancient Chinese practice that directly translates to "scraping" - and apparently has incredible benefits for your skin and overall health.

Here are the answers to all of your gua sha questions:

First things first: What is gua sha?

The goal of this ancient Chinese healing technique is to target stagnant energy to reduce inflammation and promote healing. To do that, a technician lathers up the back, buttocks, neck, arms or legs with massage oil and then uses a smooth-edge tool to repeatedly scrape the skin with medium to heavy pressure.

What about facial gua sha?

If that sounds a bit rough for your face, don't worry. Technicians use a much lighter hand in facial gua sha. Plus, you can purchase your own gua sha massage tool to perform the practice on yourself, so you'll have full control over the amount of pressure you use. Facial gua sha is similar to jade rollers, but Vogue noted that gua sha gets much deeper into depuffing, toning and increasing skin elasticity.

Why gua sha?

With the goal of reducing inflammation, gua sha can be an alternative treatment for chronic conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines and neck pain, according to Healthline. Facial gua sha, specifically, can help tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines, working anti-aging miracles. Not to mention how meditative the repeated motion is, giving you a few minutes of well-deserved relaxation.

However, Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told InStyle that there's little data to prove how effective gua sha is at enhancing circulation and promoting healthy collagen production. While more research is necessary to support the benefits, the good news is that there are little to no negative side effects because gua sha is a natural remedy.

How does gua sha fit into your skincare routine?

First up is buying your gua sha tool. Next, simply glide it around your face in upward, circular motions. Gua sha expert Anna Lam told InStyle that performing gua sha after cleansing and moisturizing at least a few times a week is key for best results. Helpful tip from Byrdie: Use a product with your gua sha that's creamy enough to work into your skin without excessive pulling or dragging, such as your favorite facial oil or serum.


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