Introducing a facial massage tool into your morning skincare regime holds the promise of achieving even better, brighter, healthier-looking skin.
The beauty industry is constantly coming up with hi-tech gadgets that promise ultimate complexion perfection: sculpted cheekbones, sharper jawlines, reduced wrinkles and maximum luminosity. Big promises which, more often than not, come with a hefty price tag. But there’s one beauty tool that dates back centuries, doesn’t cost a small fortune and is enjoying renewed popularity amongst pro-facialists, celebrities and beauty influencers: the Gua Sha.
What is it?
You may have seen tutorials pop up on your Insta feed showing a flat (often) pink, green or blue quartz crystal tool being ‘scraped’ across the surface of the skin. That’s Gua Sha (pronounced “Gwa-Shah,”) an ancient Chinese massage technique that dates as far back as the Paleolithic Age.
In Chinese, Gua Sha describes the motion of scraping in upward, downward and outward directions using a smooth object until the skin appears red. But don’t let that put you off; the tool comes with curved edges so there’s no pain involved and the redness is subtle. It’s more slide than scrape and what it’s doing is simply stimulating blood flow in the soft tissues of the muscles, boosting circulation, promoting collagen production and reducing water retention by way of lymphatic drainage.
What can it do for your skin?
The top line is that it alleviates tension in overworked muscles, shifts toxins and blockages, sculpts your face, increases your skin’s ability to absorb your facial products and ultimately, leaves you looking refreshed and feeling reinvigorated. Delve a little deeper and the role-call of benefits include diminishing the appearance of under eye puffiness, fine lines, drooping eyelids, dull skin and blemishes. Gua Sha enthusiasts liken their post-scraped skin to getting a natural face lift. Cheekbones appear more sculpted, jawlines sharper, necks tighter and skin oozing radiance. Think of it as look-good feel-good skincare at its finest.
How do you use it?
On cleansed skin, using an oil to create more slip so the tool slides more easily. Happily, Olverum Facial Oil is the perfect choice: a nourishing anti-ageing formula combined with a mood-boosting fragrance. Apply up to five drops in the palm of one hand and rub them both together to warm the oil. Take a moment to cup your hands around your nose and mouth to inhale the heavenly aroma then apply the oil to your skin by sweeping your hands slowly all over your face and neck.
Continue with this two minute self-massage routine holding your Gua Sha tool at an angle.
As you glide it flat against your skin, keep the pressure consistent but not too hard. Unless you have two tools (the ultimate in indulgence) just do one side of your face at a time.
Step 1: Sweep the tool in one long continuous stroke from your chin, along your jawline towards your ear then down your neck. Switch to the other side of your face and repeat the three times.
Step 2: Remembering to breathe deeply throughout, starting from your chin, glide the tool slowly up towards your ear again. Switch sides and repeat three times.
Step 3: Next, sweep the tool across your cheekbone to your ear. Switch to the other side and repeat the process three times.
Step 4: Starting from the centre of your forehead between your eyebrows, glide the tool across until it reaches your temple. Switch directions and repeat three times.
Step 5: Put the tool down and place your thumbs under your cheekbones. Using your index fingers, apply upward pressure at the start, middle and end of each eyebrow. Do this three times.
Step 6: Finishing by placing your fingertips under your eyes and gently tap them, moving from the nose out to the temples. Repeat three times, take one more deep breath and you’re done.
The more often you use the tool, the more lifting results you’ll reap. Aim for 2-3 times a week, scraping for around two minutes. Skin expert and qualified facialist Fiona Brackenbury recommends you perform your Gua Sha practice in the morning. ‘When lying flat in bed, extra fluids tend to accumulate, especially under your eyes and across your cheeks. Your Gua Sha self-massage can help drain this build-up, leaving your skin looking brighter and less puffy. You’ll feel instantly lighter and more revived too.’
So which one?
Jade and rose quartz seem to be the most popular choices, though others are available - amethyst, blue, green, glass and even stainless steel, amongst others. The tools also come in all different shapes too. Many are flat and rounded but some come with wings, some with scalloped edges and some with soft comb-like spikes that work like acupuncture. The good news is that the more you spend on your Gua Sha tool doesn’t necessarily mean the better results you will see, so all you really need to do is pick the colour, shape and price tag which appeals to you most.
If you’re wondering whether your facial roller is suddenly redundant, it’s not. ‘Rollers were a great first step to adding massage tools into your natural skincare regime and still effective at depuffing the skin, especially around the eye area,’ says Fiona. It’s just that using a Gua Sha will take it to the next level. ‘If you noticed slackness and a more sculpted look you want,’ continues Fiona, ‘a Gua Sha tool will fast-track you to smooth, toned, flawless skin.’
One of the positives of post-lockdown life is that many of us are making time to indulge in more self-care. A DIY facial massage offers benefits that are so much more than just skin deep. It’s relaxing, it’s stress-busting and it’s confidence-boosting. After all, looking good has much to do with feeling good.
Fiona Brackenbury is a skin expert and qualified facialst with a career spanning 30 years in the skincare and spa industry. Former global education director at L'Oreal group. She has been driving business growth and transforming performance through her true expertise in her field.