What is Gua Sha, And What Can It Do For Me?
During facial treatments, we may offer Gua Sha as part of the experience, but what is it? Gua Sha is a type of scraping therapy developed by Chinese medicine, which aims to improve the flow of blood and vital energy (Qi, pronounced “chi”). Therapists include Gua Sha for benefits to both internal health and outer beauty, but here we will focus on its uses during facials.
How Therapists Perform Gua Sha
In Gua Sha, your therapist uses a smooth-edged Gua massage tool to scrape your skin with short or long strokes. They first apply massage oil, and scrape in a downward motion to stimulate circulation.
If you’ve had Gua Sha on other areas of your body and noticed red marks that last for a couple of days, don’t worry. You will receive a gentler treatment for your face than what is generally used for other parts of the body.
The Benefits of Gua Sha
Gua Sha has several benefits that can help to improve the health of your skin and the connective tissue underneath.
1. Boosts Circulation
Gua Sha can boost the circulation of both blood and Qi, the vital life energy that separates us from inanimate objects. A study using Doppler and thermal imaging found that Gua Sha immediately doubles blood flow in the target area, which mostly drops back to normal within 30 minutes. The average skin temperature rises by one degree Celsius, and returns to normal more slowly. This may indicate a temporary jump in cellular energy production, which improves regeneration and produces heat. A circulation boost also increases oxygen and nutrient supply.
2. Supports Detoxification
Toxins, whether they are from environmental sources or are simply metabolic waste products, can impair tissue regeneration and cause inflammation. They must be removed from your tissues via the lymphatic system, which is kind of a second circulatory system. It’s much smaller, and mainly moves fluid and immune cells around.
Your face is also serviced by lymph vessels, which rely on muscle movement and manual stimulation to function as they cannot contract themselves. Gua Sha therapy may support the lymphatic vessels’ ability to collect excess fluid and toxins from your tissues by providing this much-needed movement.
3. Improves Collagen Regeneration
With aging, collagen production decreases, and the collagen you do make is more likely to become cross-linked. Cross-linked collagen has less strength and functionality, and contributes to wrinkles and sagging.
Gua Sha may help reduce this through providing friction. Research shows that friction massage reduces collagen cross-linking, especially as it is being formed. Friction is also a source of stress to the connective tissue, and Gua Sha applies this is a safe way. When under stress, your body produces more collagen to over-compensate and therefore prevent injury. Other treatments such as microneedling or chemical peels work by a similar mechanism, but Gua Sha causes far less discomfort.
Overall, Gua Sha is a helpful accompaniment to facial treatments through providing added benefits to circulation and connective tissue repair. To make an appointment or request further information, click here.