Gua sha can be intimidating to beginners, but with guidance and these 11 tips for using a gua sha stone, it's easy to get started.
Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing practice that has become increasingly popular in the West in recent years.
It's a technique that consists of gently scraping the skin with a smooth flat stone to improve circulation and lymph drainage, which can help reduce inflammation, ease tension and pain, and promote healing.
If you are interested in this technique, this guide about how to incorporate gua sha into your skincare routine along with these 11 tips for using a gua sha stone will help you get started.
Here are 11 best tips for using a gua sha stone:
1. Pick the shape and size of stone that best suits your needs.
Gua sha stones come in different shapes and sizes — there's an overwhelming number of gua sha stones available on the market to choose from — so it's important to pick the one that is best suited for the area you want to treat.
To narrow it down, consider what areas of your body you want to target and what kind of pressure you prefer.
If you're new to gua sha, a smaller stone with rounded edges may be more comfortable to hold, use and maneuver than a larger stone with sharper edges.
After all, the shape and size of the stone will determine how much pressure you can apply, the type of strokes you can make and how precisely you can target specific areas.
Here are some of the most popular gua sha stone shapes:
- Concave Side: The concave side allows you to treat larger and wider areas of your body — such as your neck, shoulder, and spine — with fewer strokes.
- Double Curved Side: Just like the name suggests, the double curved side has two smooth curves that make it ideal to use on smaller areas such as the eyes, cheeks, and cheekbones.
- Cleft: It has a small indentation in the center, known as the cleft, that allows you to target very specific hard-to-reach areas with precision, such as the jaw.
- Teeth Edge: The teeth edge side is perfect to use on areas with lots of tension — such as the chin, forehead, and scalp — and for those who want to target fine lines and wrinkles.
- Pointed Convex Edge: The pointed convex edge is beneficial for scooping the brows.
Once you become more comfortable with the techniques, you can experiment with different shapes and sizes to find the ones that work best for you; here's a list of the best gua sha stones.
2. Check your stone for sharp edges.
Check the quality of your gua sha tool before using it because many affordable gua sha tools on the market have jagged edges that can rip or tear and ultimately damage your skin.
With that said, examine the stone's perimeter by running your fingers around the edges to check for cracks before using it.
3. Start with clean skin.
As with any skincare routine, it's important to start with clean skin before you begin gua sha to ensure that your face is free of dirt, oil, and makeup that can clog pores and cause irritation and damage.
Before you start, you must use a skincare headband to keep your hair out of your face to avoid getting your hair dirty while applying products.
Use a gentle, mild cleanser to wash your face — especially if you have sensitive skin — to avoid stripping your skin off its natural oils and causing further redness and irritation.
Pat dry your skin with a soft towel before moving on to the next step. Follow up with a toner to balance your skin's pH levels, and finally, use a light moisturizer to hydrate and prep your skin for gua sha.
4. Then prep your skin.
After cleansing and toning, it's time to apply a light skincare oil of your choice — ideally, one that has a slippery texture — to reduce friction and help the gua sha stone glide smoothly over the surface without tugging, grabbing, and dragging your skin.
5. Learn how to press your skin.
Now that your skin is clean and prepped, it's time to start gua sha.
To begin, hold the stone with both hands — you can use one hand to hold the stone while the other gently presses down on your skin — and use slow, gentle strokes and light to medium pressure as you glide the stone over your skin in upward motions.
In certain areas tho, you will have to use downward motions because the lymphatic system drains in that direction.
As you become more comfortable with the technique, you can increase the pressure and length of your strokes. But, avoid using too much pressure as it can cause bruising, redness, and irritation.
Stick to small areas at a time, as gua sha can be quite tiring on the hands and wrists; instead, let the weight of the stone do the work for you.
Gua sha should never hurt, so if you feel pain, you're probably pressing too hard; ease up on the pressure and try using shorter strokes.
6. Use different strokes for different purposes.
There are four main types of gua sha strokes — scraping, gliding, pressing, and vibration — that you can use to target specific areas and address different skin concerns such as wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, puffiness, and tension headaches.
Here's a breakdown of each stroke and what it can do for your skin:
- Scraping: Scraping breaks up tension knots, relaxes muscles and releases built-up toxins, making it ideal to use on larger areas such as the neck, back, and shoulders.
- Gliding: Gliding motions increase blood circulation, promote lymphatic drainage, and give you an instant glow, making it perfect for smaller delicate areas such as the face.
- Pressing: Pressing motions release muscle tension and relieve pain, making it beneficial to use on areas with lots of tension, such as the brows and jaw.
- Vibration: Vibration helps stimulate blood circulation and promote lymphatic drainage, making it ideal to use on the entire face.
To get the most out of your gua sha routine, combine different strokes and experiment with different techniques to find the ones that work best for your skin's needs.
7. Don't forget about your neck.
While the face is the most popular area to gua sha, the neck is one of the most important areas to focus on as it tends to hold a lot of tension and is one of the first places to show signs of aging.
To gua sha, start from the base of your neck and use gentle, upward strokes as you move up towards your jawline. Then, use downward strokes along the sides and center of your neck to help with lymphatic drainage and release any knots and tension.
Be extra careful when gua sha-ing your neck, as the skin is thinner and more delicate in this area. Avoid using too much pressure, and always, always, always go slowly.
8. Use a cool or warm stone — depending on your skin's needs.
If you are prone to redness, swelling, irritation, or inflammation or simply have sensitive skin, opt for a cool gua sha stone that constricts blood vessels to soothe and calm the skin; to cool a stone, place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before use.
On the other hand, if you are prone to dull, congested, fatigued, or tense skin, opt for a warm gua sha stone which increases blood circulation and promotes lymphatic drainage to give you a healthy instant glow; to warm a stone, run it under warm water for a few minutes.
Test the temperature of the stone on the inside of your wrist before using it to avoid any discomfort and accidental burns.
9. Take advantage of tutorials.
One of the best things about gua sha is that it's an easy at-home treatment, but if you're a beginner or simply want to learn more about how to execute each technique properly, there are plenty of gua sha tutorials available online that can guide you through each step on how to execute each technique properly.
So, whether you're a gua sha beginner or an experienced user, take advantage of these helpful guides and find the best techniques for your skin.
10. Don't forget to clean and disinfect your stone.
It seems obvious, right? You'd be surprised how many people forget to properly clean and disinfect their gua sha stone in between uses.
To clean your stone, wash it with warm water and soap after each use and allow it to air dry. To disinfect — to give it a deeper clean — soak it in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
Cleaning and disinfecting your gua sha stone removes dirt, oil, and bacteria build-up to prevent breakouts and other skin infections.
11. Be consistent.
Last but not least, for best results, be consistent with your gua sha routine.
For the most part, you can gua sha as often as you'd like — some people do it every day while others do it a few times a week; if you're just starting out, start slow and gradually work your way up.
Listen to your skin and see what works best for you. If your skin is feeling especially sensitive, you can gua sha every other day or every few days until your skin adjusts.
By following the tips above, you can ensure that you're using your gua sha stone properly to get the most out of your gua sha routine and enjoy healthier, more youthful-looking skin.
Which tip or tips have you found to be most helpful? Let us know in the comments below!