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I Got To The Bottom of The Whole Gua Sha Obsession

With a face that wears the effects of last night's ramen supper like a badge of dishonour, I was the perfect candidate to put this Chinese beauty tradition to the test.

Oh, Asians. We’ve given so many gifts to the beauty world. First, came the cushions. Then, the cupping. Then, the gua sha. While hardly new at all in our part of the world, gua sha has hit mainstream status thanks to the rise of jade and rose quartz face roller from indie beauty labels. Remove the handles, flatten the stones and you get gua sha, a Chinese treatment that dates back thousands of years.

Traditionally in Chinese medicine, gua sha involves the scraping of one’s skin with a tool of sorts, most commonly with a ceramic spoon, to promote circulation, lymphatic drainage and hence, healing. If it sounds painful, it is because it is. You could Google images, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

While the traditional version is pretty intense, the one we’re talking about is a much, much lighter version that has you running a piece of flat jade or rose quartz across the different parts of your face to deal with fine lines, tired skin and puffiness.

Life has dealt me with a face that retains water like a sponge. If I eat ramen or McDonald’s the night before, I pay for it the next morning. So, naturally, when something claims to de-puff my face in a non-invasive way, I am down.

Prior to my gua sha adventures – I used a rose quartz one for this particular one-week experiment – I had been using Laneige’s Time Freeze Face-Fit Roller. Now, I love this roller. It was going to take a lot to convince me to hop on board another train.

It wasn’t a good start. While the stone felt cool against the skin, it was also, well, really hard. You really feel it at the less meaty parts of the face such as the forehead, cheekbone and jawbone. Simply put, it wasn’t the most comfortable thing . The temptation to return to my go-to face roller was high, but I persisted.

On the cheeks and under-eye area, though? Different story. Because the stone is curved and so wide, you get the whole cheek in one swipe. The curve edge also means it fits right into the nook under the eye.

Did it do its job of de-puffing my face? After one week of sticking with it, I think so. It might be all be in my head, but I think my face looked reasonably smaller and lifted, too.

However, I do have some qualms about it. First, the comfort factor. Face rollers like those from Laneige and ReFa are designed to fit into and with the different angles and curves of the face. The gua sha stone is less versatile. I also find that it is less effective when I need to relieve tension in my face after a long day. Second, because it quite literally involves the scraping of the skin, you have to go in armoured with serums or light oils. Particularly so if you have dry skin. Else, you might end up scraping your skin raw.

Truth be told, I think I’ll be sticking to my Laneige face roller. But, if I need a more pocket-friendly option or serious work on my cheeks – thanks, monosodium glutamate – I’ll go for my rose quartz gua sha.

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