All it takes is a quick scroll through Tiktok or Instagram, and you’ll find gua sha videos aplenty. Influencers and skincare enthusiasts all love to advocate their unique routines—complete with oils, stones, and techniques—as the best of the best. But as I learned from skincare expert Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc, the best routine is one you craft for yourself, over time, with patience and kindness toward your skin.
“Guasha is a type of modality and medicine that’s accessible to anyone, and that’s what I really love about it. It’s something that is so traditionally ingrained in Asian culture for such a long time, that we don’t think anything of it. You don’t have to have a medical degree. You don’t have to have ‘experience’ with it. You can just try it,” she says. “Obviously once you start doing it, there are certain techniques and ways to make it work in your favour and what you’re addressing, but the bottom line [many of the stones, rituals, and products] work.”
Now, just because there’s no “perfect” way to do this—doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes. Here are the things that Kung sees the most often that may be messing with your guasha practice.
1. Being too aggressive.
Getting the right stroke and pressure for your skin—and the specific area of the body or face you’re working on, for that matter—will take some practice.
“I think it’s great that social media is spreading the gospel of guasha, but I will say that there are a lot of videos out there that are really only for younger people. When the skin ages, the dermis becomes thinner and more sensitive,” she notes. “There are many videos out there of people under 30 and still have very healthy skin, and they’re really aggressively pressing and pulling their face. That won’t work for more mature skin, as it may cause irritation and damage.”
Learn to practice the right pressure and motion, Kung even recommends practicing on your forearm before moving to the face. The face is very delicate and doesn’t heal as quickly, so you want to be mindful not to be aggressive toward it while you’re learning your way around a stone.
2. Not using face appropriate oil.
You may already know this, but if you don’t: always apply a face oil prior to using your stone. The oil will help lubricate the stone and skin, so it glides across the epidermis effortlessly—that way it can work its magic underneath and on the dermis level. It’s important that you are choosing a very good quality, high vibrational facial oil. So the golden rule is to use oils that are made for the face. For example, don’t use coconut oil as it is not made for the face, it is highly comedogenic, which means it has the tendency to clog up pores and potentially lead to pimples.
This is why, after extensive research into gua sha tools, we at Sabine G Holistics are excited in adding rose quartz gua sha stones to our product range. The rose quartz also derives from our South African soil. We have found enough evidence in guasha massaging to believe these tools assist in deeper absorption of our luxurious serums. When skin and muscles are relaxed, our body tends to eagerly welcome healing and nourishment. A wonderful healing synergy between facial massage and skin nutrient actives.
And ultimately, a holistic approach is what we are all about.
3. Having a stiff wrist.
When you watch someone who has been doing guasha for a while, you’ll notice there’s a certain air to the way they move their stones: It’s with impressive ease.
“This is something that most people, including myself when you first start to learn facial guasha is that you tend to be very stiff with your wrist,” she says. “To have a loose wrist with your guasha means you can twirl your hands so that you can get different angles of the tool while you’re doing the same smooth stroke. You really want to get your arm and wrist into it: Twisting, relaxing, and twirling the stone so you can manipulate the tool to actually work those facial features.”
”Guasha has been around for centuries, and in the East is seen as folk and family medicine—something that is passed down from generation to generation. And the reason it's been around for so long, and it's still around, is because it works,” says skincare expert Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc.
The practice may be focused on the face in the West, but in the East, it has been used on the body for centuries to help improve immunity, stress, and so much more.
Guasha is for everyone—beginners and experts alike. And everyone should feel free to experiment with the modality to find a routine and ritual that works for them.