A Complete Guide to Gua Sha – How to Do it, Amazing Benefits, and Potential Risks

Gua sha is a skincare routine that is trending right now. Everyone has a routine to share, a before and after gua sha picture, or a step-by-step guide.

person using gua sha
Learn all about this skincare step today – source

Gua sha has been around for a lot longer than social media, as it started as a form of ancient Chinese medicine.

Is there science behind this routine? Or is it all hype and no substance? Let’s find out. Here is your complete guide to gua sha, from benefits, side effects, and science-based studies.

What is Gua Sha

Gua sha, as done in traditional Chinese medicine, involves a smooth half moon-shaped stone made either of rose quartz or jade and gliding the tool across the face. This was to balance chi, which was considered a form of vital energy held in the body.

The stone material is because traditionally, there must be value in the tools you are using to balance chi, so it’s not that the jade or quartz has healing properties.

The act of gliding the stone across the face is said to activate acupuncture points and relieve tension.

Benefits of Gua Sha Massage

The claim of skincare influencers is that gua sha can help sculpt the face. They claim it is good to reduce wrinkles, decrease puffiness, and increase the effect of skincare products.

Some claim that it can help reduce headaches and pain as well.

But is any of this true? Let’s check the science.

Is there Science Behind Gua Sha

One benefit, whether or not there is a physical benefit is mental. Gua sha is usually used as a mindful purposeful practice, meaning you are focusing on the moment and using skincare as a ritual. This can have incredible psychological benefits as seen in this study here. When you relax and unwind, not rushing through skin care, you can see mental benefits almost instantly.

Chronic clenching may also contribute to skin issues, even causing wrinkles to form, so this practice can reduce this as seen with  one study, decreasing tension and may prevent wrinkles.

One study looked at the benefits of facial massage. They recorded facial wrinkles, skin texture, and neck sagging. The study found that massage tools can amplify benefits to the skin, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles.

This other study attributes the increase in skin benefits to an increase in blood flow. More blood flow means the skin is getting more oxygen and nutrients to help it regenerate and stay healthy. This study looked at a roller massager, however, not the gua sha tool.

More studies should look at the development of collagen, as no studies have looked at a direct increase in elasticity and collagen.

How to use Gua Sha

Gua sha is beneficial at night as it can help decrease tension accumulated during the day. This practice will probably not sculpt the face or replace botox, as some claim, but it does have benefits, increasing blood flow, relaxing the muscles, and potentially reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Do it at night, after a long day, at the end of your skincare routine. If possible, add a facial oil to increase the glide of the tool and reduce tugging.

A Quick Gua Sha Routine

Here is a quick and easy routine that hits every point of the face and neck!


Apply facial oil along the face and neck. Use a heart-shaped side along the side of the neck, going up towards the face. Repeat the movement about 5 times.

gua sha on jawline
jawline technique – source


On the jawline, place the heart side of the tool against the skin starting at the chine before gliding upwards. You can place your fingers on your chin for support.


Along the cheek, lay the flat side of the tool against the cheek then swipe upward. Place your fingers on your nose for support if needed.

gua sha on cheeks
Glide in upward motions – source


Place your fingers in the inner corner and gently swipe the tool under your eyes. Be very gentle! You can press the tool to your temple and rub it gently to reduce tension. Place your fingers between the eyebrows and use the heart-shaped part of your tool to go gently swipe across the brow bone.


Keep your fingers between your eyebrows, and using the flat side, slide the tool upwards from the eyebrows to the hairline. Then, keeping your fingers where they are, swipe to either side gently.

Gua Sha Technique

Here are some quick tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your gua sha routine!

Use an Oil

It is very important to use an oil or highly hydrating moisturizer. This allows the tool to gently glide across the skin without causing friction or tugging.

Hold at an Angle

It is very important to use a 45-degree angle when using your tool, as this is gentle and is less likely to damage the skin with bruising or redness.

Do it Before Bed

Doing gua sha before bed can actually help you sleep better! The act of massage can reduce tension built up during the day and taking the time to not rush through skincare is a great form of self-care.

Clean it Regularly

As you should be using gua sha at the end of a skincare routine, the tool itself may gather product and oil. Clean your gua sha tool before and after to prevent build-up and potential bacteria. 

Gua Sha Side Effects

Improper use and bad technique can lead to the following side effects.


Tugging on the skin can create wrinkles and fine lines. If you do not use the proper technique, you may worsen the appearance of these.


Using too much pressure can momentarily cause redness in the face. Even someone prone to rosacea may want to avoid gua sha as this may cause more redness.


Be careful of the angle you use, as a direct 90-degree angle may be harsh enough to cause physical pain.

Who Should Not Use Gua Sha

Anyone on blood thinners or even someone who bruises easily should not be using this tool as the mechanical action may cause bruising.

Anyone with big acne breakouts may also want to avoid gua sha, as it may cause irritation on the skin.

The Takeaway

Gua sha will probably not change the shape of your face, it won’t sculpt and it won’t replace botox.

However, there is a great benefit to massage. This practice may increase blood flow to the skin, allowing it to regenerate and repair better. Some studies have found that it does reduce the appearance of wrinkles, though more research is needed to see if collagen production is affected.

Gua sha itself is a great addition to a skincare routine, as it turns skincare into a ritual, not a chore. Skincare is a time for self-care. Make it a moment of peace and tranquility, make it a treat!

There are many ways to improve mental wellbeing, and gua sha may be one of them. It can reduce tension and decrease clenching, which may promote a calmer mind and decrease the formation of wrinkles. Remember that skincare is about progress, not perfection. Take small steps you need to improve daily and watch wellness flourish!

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