Two Truths and a Lie About Gua Sha

Megan Dominion

Gua Sha, for those of you who are new to the technique, is a form of facial massage by using a tool to ‘scrape’ your skin with the use of oil or water. Gua Sha has been slowly gaining interest over the years, but really saw an increase in popularity around Spring 2021. The original concept has its roots in  Ancient China as a medical procedure. Today’s use of Gua Sha as a facial cosmetic technique has only been found to trace back to 21st century Chinese medicine.

With the explosion of popularised Gua Sha tools and jade rollers, most people who are into skincare have tried out this technique by now. If you haven’t, you are not alone! It’s healthy to have a natural scepticism of any trending tool, tip or technique. So, here’s a bit more about this tool & technique, how to use it, and why to use it.

How to (and NOT to) use Gua Sha tools

Gua Sha Tool in hand

Traditionally, Gua Sha tools were first used to vigorously rub and scrape the skin, causing bruising and micro traumas to stimulate healing. This is obviously not recommended as a part of any skincare routine as instead of trying to reduce inflammation, you’re just going to be adding a lot more inflammation to your skin!

Rather, a modernised approach to using these tools has become very popular, which is done by gently moving the Gua Sha tool along your skin in the direction of how your lymph glands would naturally drain, in order to encourage this drainage. A use of an oil is used to help the tool glide gently across the skin.

Can Gua Sha be harmful?

Generally, Gua Sha is a safe practice if done as intended, a 10-minute massage once or twice a day. Never use this tool on dry skin. Using oils that are safe and beneficial for your specific skin type is important and going over active acne is not recommended. Pressing too hard can lead to bruising of the skin so be sure to be gentle when using this tool and avoid any ‘dragging’ of the skin.

How to safely try Gua Sha at home

What are (and aren’t) the benefits of Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is great at stimulating blood flow and circulation, and encourages lymphatic drainage.

What Gua Sha can’t do

As with any trending beauty ‘hack’ there are a LOT of unfounded claims about the practice of Gua Sha in a skincare routine. Some popular claims that are simply not scientifically true are:

  • Make your nose straighter
  • Make your face slimmer
  • Shape your jawbone
  • Remove double chins
  • Reduce wrinkles
  • Increase collagen

What practicing Gua Sha in your skincare routine CAN do1Does Gua Sha Really work – Dr Mchelle Jeffries:

  • Help improve lymphatic drainage & therefore puffiness
  • Boost circulation & therefore skin health
  • Relax the muscles

Are Gua Sha tools worth it?

If these tools are not magical face reshapers or skin rejuvenators, what’s with the popularity of these tools? It’s firstly largely about the experience. If you are someone who loves your skincare routines, like to take their time, create a routine that feels good, then Gua Sha tools are an amazing addition to a skincare routine. They feel wonderfully cool against the skin which can really add to your skincare routine experience.

Secondly, if you are waking up with a puffy face, this tool can really do wonders for helping you to ‘depuff’ before starting up your day. Lymphatic drainage can have a big effect in removing puffiness from the face, as can the cool temperature of the tool.

Thirdly, using this tool can help create an even application of the oil you are using across your face. Personally, I think it’s this area where you can get the most benefit from this step in your skincare routine. By carefully selecting an oil that is geared towards your skin type or skin concern, you can in fact create some of those claims such as reducing wrinkles or rejuvenating your skin. It’s no really the tool doing this, but the oil you are using.

Lastly, these tools can increase blood circulation to your face. By increasing blood flow you’re increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach your skin. Here’s a bit more on the benefits of better circulation for your skin.

When and How often to Gua Sha

Consistent daily use of Gua Sha is when you’re more likely to see results. Gravity will naturally work to drain your lymphatics during the day when you are sitting or standing upright, doing Gua Sha in the mornings is when you’ll see the most benefit in decreasing puffiness from lying down while you sleep.

How to choose a Gua Sha tool

Gua Sha tools have traditionally come in jade or quartz, they come in different shapes and sizes too. Choosing a tool you may never have used before can be a bit confusing, so here are our tips:


What shape Gua Sha is best?

If you have never used a Gua Sha tool before, I’d recommend choosing a smaller, traditionally shaped tool. The bigger or different shaped tools can take a little more practice getting used to, so sticking with traditional to start is a good idea

What is the best stone or material for Gua Sha tools?

This will very likely be up to personal preference, but anecdotally stainless steel is said to be the best material for a Gua Sha tool. Jade and quartz Gua Sha tools are very aesthetic and work well, however they can be more prone to breaking if dropped on a hard floor. Stainless steel is much hardier than stone, and it is also non-porous. No oil absorption that can lead to bacterial growth makes this option more hygienic too.

“I got myself a heart shaped gua sha last year sometime, thinking I’d done enough homework on the different shapes but I must say the bigger, heavier shape is not as beginner friendly as the smaller, traditional heart shaped gua sha.”


Woman using gua sha tool in the bath

Thoughts on Gua Sha

There are many benefits of gua sha, some true and some not so true. It is important to note that it can also be harmful if not done correctly. If you love your skincare routines, or want to minimise a bit of morning puffiness in your face, why not pick up a Gua Sha tool and give it a try!

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.