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Historical records on gua sha go back to the Paleolithic Age. When people fell sick or became unconscious, hands or stones were used to rub parts of their body to help alleviate the symptoms of disease. Gua sha, meaning to "scrape away illness", involves using tools such as stones, jade, or ox horn with lubricant liniment to scrape and rub parts of the patient's skin repeatedly in one direction. The aim is to "activate blood circulation to dissipate blood stasis".
Chinese Medicine doctors use Gua Sha to remove pathogens and improve circulation in our bodies. Oftentimes this causes redness and bruising as blood is being moved to enhance circulation. For use on the face, the intense scraping method is a milder "gliding" version to help tone and firm the skin.
Similar to body scraping, facial scraping’s goal is to facilitate circulation and lymphatic drainage for a youthful, dewy glow.
As you gently "scrape" your face, fresh oxygenated blood stimulates cell renewal. The blood transfers nutrients that make cell regeneration and repairs efficient, which is vital for healing scars and boosting collagen production.
Lymph circulation or drainage through lymph nodes only happens through muscle contraction or movement or massage. With modern sedentary lifestyles, our lymph systems are susceptible to damage and sluggishness.
A sluggish lymph system can cause:
You can use gua sha on your acne as long as the skin is not broken and always on clean skin. An added benefit of gua sha tools is using it to calm the inflamed breakout. Never gua sha over broken skin or pustules!
People with cystic acne typically have sluggish and congested skin. Gua sha helps to move the congestion and improve circulation to the surface, which reduces flare-ups faster. Gua sha also helps the appearance of acne by reducing redness, size, and scarring of breakouts.
As you gently scrape your skin, you're bringing fresh oxygenated blood to the surface which stimulates cell renewal. The boost of nutrient-rich blood makes tissue repair more efficient and effectively reduces acne scarring.
Puffy skin, or edema, is due to the accumulation of excess fluids under the skin. Fluid retention can be caused by various things and can be as simple as overeating salt in your diet. Gua sha can help move blood and lymph to remove excess fluids from your face.
In addition to improving circulation, gua sha does wonders to release facial tension. By relaxing our facial muscles, we can release wrinkles and lines that are created due to various tension patterns we hold in our face during stress.
As many as 20% of people hold their tension in the jaw and are unaware of grinding their teeth. A gua sha facial massage can relieve tight jaw muscles and bring awareness to our clenching. By building our awareness, we can retrain our jaw muscles to relax.