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Hold Up! Here’s Why You Should Rethink DIY Gua Sha Facials

Is the jade roller sitting pretty on your vanity better off as an item of decor than as a facial massage tool? A veteran aesthetician weighs in.

“I think I bruised my face a little from this morning’s attempt to gua sha away the regret from last night’s bowl of ramen,” OG Kulala club member Candice lamented midway through Sunday brunch. An at home gua sha facial enthusiast for more than two years now, she swears by it as remedy for depuffing in the mornings. If you’d expect anyone to know a thing or two about the facial massage technique, it’d be her. Except that years into she is still accidentally breaking blood vessels. “I overdid it with the pressure this time,” she continued.

For the unacquainted, gua sha is a scraping technique that finds its roots in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In its early days, the massage was executed with antlers and horns – archaic tools which in the later years were replaced with porcelain spoons and jade stones. The version of facial gua sha we’re talking about is a far more gentle adaptation of the ancient technique. In the past few years, beauty aficionados have taken to gua sha techniques like fishes to water. Jade rollers, ReFa Carat face massager and tools of its kind rose to acclaim as the thing to add to one’s beauty arsenal.

Routine gua sha facials are lauded for enhancing ones facial features by depuffing, slimming and diminishing the appearance of fine lines – all by repeatedly massaging the face with the massaging tool of your choice. It all sounds a little far too simple to be true, if you ask me. The skeptical Virgo that I am, I dutifully launched into investigation – how did we all become overnight experts in an ancient technique which demands years of practice to master?

In a nutshell, the sobering revelation cautions against self administered at-home gua sha facials. And certainly, not without reason. Tell us what you think after having a read through the polarising opinion of a Singapore-based veteran aesthetician who specialises in TCM. Will you be retiring your jade roller or skipping it from here on?

What do you think is the most common misconception about do-it-yourself gua sha facials? 

Most people do not understand that unprofessional execution of gua sha can lead to ramifications in time to come. These include saggy skin, sensitive skin and acne breakouts amongst others. It requires a certain level of expertise to be able to identify the Meridian points in the face and direct the blood flow respectively.

The manuals that come with the massage tools you can purchase online, would you consider those to be accurate techniques? 

You have to understand that with gua sha, we are tackling problems from a level deeper than the skin as with massage techniques in general. No two people have the same facial topography. Hence, with each face, the massage points vary. Technically speaking, the generic instructions do not apply to all facial shapes.

What about the tools themselves then, would you consider those effective?

The ones that I use are crafted from Bian stones, historically used in TCM. It is considered the most effective in converting energy which is a key element in gua sha facials. This is also something that is overlooked in Westernised renditions of this ancient technique. It has been overly simplified for convenience. Again, no two people have the same facial shape. These tools might fit some people better than others.

When executed by a professional, what are the benefits that one will reap from gua sha facials?

The list is extensive but some of the noticeable effects would be brighter, smoother skin, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, acne, pigmentation, sagginess of the skin, improved contouring of the face, amongst so many others.

What would you say to anyone who gives themselves gua sha facials at home?

The interest in gua sha facials is more than welcome! But to fully benefit from its benefits, I would suggest going to a professional. The difference will speak volumes for itself.

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