We know that Gua Sha is an ancient healing art that has been used for centuries, but how did it get where it is today? How did this humble holistic method evolve from Traditional Chinese Medicine used to relieve pain on the body, to one of modern western culture’s most popular beauty accessories?
According to revered spa educator and Gua Sha trainer, Cecily Braden, the facial benefits of gua sha were discovered by mistake. “As acupuncturists used facial pressure points to treat ailments in other parts of the body, they stumbled upon their facial rejuvenation effects as well. They had this ‘aha’ moment when they saw that wrinkles were going away, too,” says Braden.
Originally, Gua Sha was used by dragging a smooth stone in rapid, fluid motions firmly across the skin, in order to alleviate muscle aches and pains, while boosting circulation and increasing blood flowing to the affected region in the hopes this would better facilitate healing. The technique is also heavily ingrained in the concept of Qi, the TCM belief of the interconnectedness of one’s body, mind and spirit, and the energy that intertwines them.
Fast forward to today, and Gua Sha’s popularity can be noted among skin therapists, luxury day spas, and beauty influencers alike. The Gua sha facial of today, however, tailors the original methods to offer a slower, more gentle solution. It is a fusion technique inspired by the ancient Chinese Gua Sha, but isn’t designed to involve bruising – a common occurrence with the original methods.
There are several potential reasons as to why modern Gua Sha has developed today’s cult following. The first of which is that it appeals to a wide audience. On the one hand, many are drawn to Gua Shas because they have an innate spiritual connotation, with its TCM origins, alongside the fact Gua Shas are available in a countless variety of materials. Often made from crystals or stones such as rose quartz or jade, each one of these stone choices can symbolise a certain spiritual connection or property, such as rose quartz’ association with love and open-heartedness, or Jade’s attraction to friendship or good luck. These provide a certain attraction to therapists that take a more spiritual or wellness-based approach. One the other hand, you simply can’t argue with Gua Sha’s effectiveness, even if you are less spiritual and more scientific in your approach. Facial tension can often prove difficult to treat with manual massage, and having a firm physical tool at your disposal can provide treatment in those tricky areas in amongst the jaw that fingertips just can’t address.
Another potential reason behind Gua Sha’s modern popularity could be that we love anything back to basics. As a fast-paced society, and even more so when it comes to the beauty landscape, we are bombarded with new products, ingredients and technologies all the time. We’re hit with the latest complex gadget like electromagnetic infusion product or microcurrent cleansing device so regularly that something as simple as a beautiful stone can be a welcome relief. No batteries required, just the right technique.
A great technique is of course the key to an amazing Gua Sha experience, and the importance of the correct training to achieve your desired result should never be underestimated. We’ve seen countless videos and images on social media of Gua Sha lovers who have been badly bruised by themselves or others. This can be avoided with detailed knowledge of the appropriate pressure, angle, and direction of various stones. There isn’t just one technique either – various methods can be performed by facial experts in order to achieve different outcomes. Some moves are geared towards lymphatic drainage to detoxify and resolve edema, while others are designed to lift, sculpt and define the features for a dramatic anti-ageing result.
When it comes to the final Gua Sha product, there are thousands of options available on the market, each a different type of stone, a different width and size, and vastly different shapes, from smooth to jagged edges. The importance of these elements is so crucial that it spurred Cecily Braden on to design her own exclusively designed line of Gua Shas. Her extensive range, which includes nephrite, quartz, jade and sodalite just to name a few, have all been created with a variety of facial massage techniques (light to deep) in mind, as well as options for lymphatic drainage, brightening, dark circles around the eyes and more. Each curve, corner and jagged edge has been expertly thought out by a seasoned professional to meet as many client needs as possible. Stone quality is also paramount, with many one the market made from synthetic materials. All CB Gua Shas are made with genuine crystals and stone, without the use of dyes or synthetics. It is for these reasons that April Brodie Integrated Facialist exclusively stocks Cecily Braden facial tools, imbibing her ethos for quality as well as her world-renowned Gua Sha techniques.
While beauty trends may come and go, we truly believe Gua Sha will continue to live on as both a timeless accessory to luxury facials, and a staple home tool for skincare enthusiasts. We hope that we can continue to guide you in all things Gua Sha techniques and knowledge, and assist you in meeting your goal of healthier, glowing skin!