Gua sha offers a wide range of benefits for the skin, but what does the science say about these claims? We will discuss all the benefits this treatment has to offer and explain in scientific detail why each is beneficial for the skin.
The name gua sha is broken into two words: Gua—the tool to scrape the skin, and Sha—the redness that appears from the scraping.
Gua sha has been around for centuries, with its first documented appearance occurring during the Ming Dynasty; tools like horns, stone, and jade have been used throughout history to scrape the skin.
Since then, it has remained a key component of traditional Chinese medicine right up to the present day to improve health because it's a safe, inexpensive, and versatile method of healing.
The ancient treatment is becoming very popular because of the dramatic effects it has on the face, with many professionals and enthusiasts demonstrating that the practice can truly change the shape of one's face.
It is a simple yet effective treatment that can be performed in the comfort of your own home; you need to use a gua sha tool — here are the best gua sha tools to have this 2023 — and follow the correct tips and techniques.
Let's take a look at the 12 benefits that gua sha has to offer the skin.
Here are 12 gua sha benefits for the skin that will convince you to try it:
1. Increases blood flow.
Healthy blood circulation transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and filters out toxins and waste products, aiding in healing and rejuvenation.
According to Chinese medicine, the skin's health is linked to two meridians: Tai Yin (lung and spleen) and Yang Ming (large intestines and stomach). Gua sha stimulates these meridians, sending a signal to your body that this area needs more blood circulation.
With that being said, gua sha consists of a scraping motion that causes a minor irritation which encourages an increase in blood flow in small blood vessels to the area being treated by breaking up fascia adhesions, releasing toxins, and stimulating lymphatic drainage.
And the heat that is produced by the gua sha helps open up the blood vessels, allowing better blood circulation.
A study used laser doppler imaging to measure microcirculation levels in the treatment area before and after gua sha. After a single session of gua sha, there was a four-fold increase in microcirculation at the treated area for the 7.5 minutes following treatment and a significant increase in surface microcirculation during the entire 25-minute period of the study.
2. Improves lymphatic drainage.
The lymphatic system is responsible for helping the body keep healthy and functioning properly by transporting nutrients and white blood cells (infection fighters) throughout the body while filtering out waste products like bacteria, proteins, and excess water through a fluid called lymph fluid.
Unlike the circulatory system, which has its own pumping mechanism, the lymphatic system does not have its own built-in pump. Instead, it relies on muscle movement, respiration, and gravity to move fluids from one area of the body to another so that they can be filtered by the lymph nodes.
Aging causes your body's filtration system to be compromised by lack of sleep, hormonal changes, high blood pressure, and skin issues like acne, eczema, and allergies which result in an inflamed complexion.
The scraping motion and pressure that gua sha consists of activates the lymphatic system and increases circulation through massage-like motions on your skin that stimulate and break up adhesions in the muscles, which in turn improves lymphatic drainage by moving fluids away from swollen areas, which is the body's natural way of getting rid of fluid build-up, toxins, and waste.
3. Reduces puffiness, swelling, and inflammation.
Gua sha supports the circulatory system by stimulating the lymphatic system (lymph, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels), which helps reduce puffiness, swelling, and inflammation by removing excess fluid and proteins from the tissues back into the bloodstream. Once they are released into the bloodstream, the blood then carries these excess fluid and proteins away, enabling them to be excreted from the body.
A study done on laboratory mice looked at how gua sha affected levels of heme oxygenase-15, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant enzyme, before and after gua sha.
The images taken 8, 36, and 120 hours after the treatment revealed that a wave of heme oxygenase moved through the internal organs of the mice, beginning in one area and progressing to another, providing them with a systemic anti-inflammatory effect.
This result implies that gua sha could have a beneficial effect on inflammation in the body.
4. Promotes cell growth and regeneration and collagen and elastin production.
Collagen and elastin are proteins that make up the connective tissue in the skin and help keep it firm and elastic. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen and elastin, which leads to sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Gua sha helps promotes cell growth and regeneration and collagen and elastin production by stimulating fibroblasts and increasing blood circulation and oxygen in your skin, which leads to firmer and smoother skin with a youthful glow.
5. Improves and softens fine lines and wrinkles.
The friction created by gliding gua sha over your skin is thought to help loosen up any adhesions between muscle and connective tissue, relieving tension in muscles which improves and softens visible signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
As a result, gua sha can help reduce tension in your body, especially around areas of the brow and jaw. So, if you suffer from chronic stress-related muscle tension in these locations, using a gua sha tool regularly may help prevent wrinkles, headaches, and jaw pain.
Moreover, thanks to its ability to promote cell growth, regeneration, and collagen production, it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.
Gua sha helps the body eliminate toxins and waste products by boosting circulation and aiding lymphatic drainage.
As the lymphatic system is responsible for transporting and filtering out toxins and waste products from your body, improving its function can help your skin look brighter and clearer.
Toxins and waste products are known to cause inflammation in your body, leading to skin issues such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other chronic skin conditions.
Gua sha also helps increase oxygen flow and helps your cells absorb essential nutrients, which can help nourish and rejuvenate your skin from within.
7. Treats acne.
Due to its ability to detoxify the skin, gua sha is an effective treatment for acne because it improves circulation and moves congestion to help reduce redness, irritation, swelling, inflammation, and flare-ups associated with acne while nourishing your skin with much-needed oxygen.
Not only that, but since it also helps improve circulation to the area where it is used, it aids in healing breakouts faster, and thanks to its relaxing nature and ability to reduce stress levels, it can help prevent acne breakouts caused by hormonal fluctuations.
8. Fights acne scars.
Gua sha promotes a healthy flow of blood to the surface of your skin, which helps renew and regenerate skin cells and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, thus reducing the appearance of acne scars.
9. Gets rid of dark circles and a dull complexion.
Increased blood flow helps bring oxygenated blood and nutrients to your skin and reduce puffiness, swelling, and inflammation, diminishing dark circles and brightening up your complexion.
10. Lifts, tightens, and firms skin.
Gua sha lifts, tightens, and firms your skin to help create a more sculpted chiseled facial appearance by clearing away lymph and other fluids from your face and promoting collagen and elastin production.
Increased blood flow helps to break up and move lymphatic fluids, which reduces puffiness, swelling, and inflammation in the face, giving you a more youthful look.
11. Contours and sculpts jawline and cheekbones.
Gua Sha's lifting technique helps contour and sculpt your jawline and cheekbones by activating and toning muscles just beneath the surface of the skin.
12. Boost the efficacy of skincare products.
Gua sha may enhance the absorption of topical skincare products such as creams, serums, and facial oils by pressing them deeper into your skin and increasing circulation, which could potentially increase the efficacy of your skincare products for better results.
Gua sha is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine because it's an incredibly beneficial tool that can be used to improve the appearance of your skin.
So, if you are looking for a way to achieve healthy, youthful-looking skin, you need to add gua sha as part of your skincare routine; give it a try today and see the results for yourself!
Are you planning on trying gua sha? Let us know about your results in the comments below!