A Beginner's Guide to Gua Sha

A Beginner's Guide to Gua Sha

In line with our expanded beauty and wellness services, we are excited to launch our Black Obsidian gua sha facial tools as the latest additions to the Glasshouse range. We believe in approaching beauty and skincare rituals holistically to improve overall wellbeing, and these crystal tools are a great way to not only enhance the appearance of your skin, but also act as a moment in the day to check in with how you’re feeling, take some deep breaths and centre yourself. We sat down with our in-house facialist Abi Titterington Lough to find out more about how we can use these ancient beauty tools in our daily routine and the benefits they offer;

What is Gua Sha?

One of the most treasured and ancient references that is widely referred to today is the Huang Ti Nei Ching (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). Here we can find detailed analysis and wisdom regarding the body’s anatomy and functions, the blood and circulation, physiology, pathology, diagnosis and treatment. This ancient text suggests that health can be understood as a stagnation, or deficiency preventing the proper movement of Qi or ‘life force’.

As with other popular Chinese Medicine practices (such as cupping, Qi gong, acupuncture & acupressure) traditional Gua Sha massage is fundamentally about helping the body in its natural detoxification process; in order to ward off and remedy this restriction or stagnation of Qi; believed to be the culprit of disease, illness and disharmony. The word ‘Gua Sha,’ can be loosely translated as ‘scrape away fever or disease.’

“The most important tenet of Chinese wisdom is that the smooth flow of Qi (our vital energy source) is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. As our largest organ, taking care of our skin is imperative, and massage is an excellent route to promoting smooth, open and free-flowing Qi; and therefore radiant, glowing skin. Massage supports healthy circulation, as well as effectively releasing the physical and emotional tension that our body - particularly our face - stores and holds onto in our fast paced, modern lives. Massage also improves product absorption, so if you’re investing in good products, it makes sense to invest equally in regular facial massage.”

The benefits of Gua Sha:

Incorporating Gua Sha into your facial massage routine works on multiple levels; from improving sluggish circulation and encouraging renewal, to improving the loss of skin elasticity and subcutaneous fat as we age, as well as responding to the natural changes (aka lines and marks that can appear from repeated use of the facial muscles).

However, Abi’s number one reason for using a Gua Sha is actually just because of how good it feels, and how effectively it can reset, regulate and relax the nervous system, in a matter of minutes! Facial massage, whether with hands or a tool, will in turn slow down the breath, and help return the body to its natural homeostasis, which is why regular self massage is always a top recommendation.

This is also why Abi’s holistic facial treatments focus on manual manipulation of the skin and massage with the use of hands, Gua Sha and other tools, alongside a bespoke facial oil, to ensure optimum results for the individual and their unique needs.

Ultimately, using a combination of hands and a variety of tools in a facial will yield the best results in a professional treatment, and being consistent with your Gua Sha and self massage in your own routine will yield the best results on an ongoing basis - the mantra ‘little and often’ is a good one to follow for self practice.

How to use a Gua Sha:

The most important thing to remember when using a Gua Sha (and indeed any facial tool!) is applying a massage medium first. Ideally this is oil based, but a cream can work too. Without an oil or cream applied first, you are pulling the skin and this is not good for skin texture, tension release, or enjoyment.

Playing with the temperature of your gua sha can be a welcome addition too! If you’re emotionally angry, having a hot flush or skin flare up, try using a Gua Sha that’s been resting in a bowl of cold water or the freezer to ‘cool down’ energetically and physically.

If you have a cold, suffer from poor circulation or are feeling lonely or detached, try heating your Gua Sha in warm water to encourage emotional and physical warmth for the skin and heart space.

Here’s a simple 6 step practice to get you started - you can also find a simplified video guide here.

  • Apply massage medium to cleansed, clean skin. Using a coin sized amount of your favourite facial oil (or try our bespoke oil service for a facial blend formulated especially for you). Apply oil to the neck, across the cheeks, jaw and eye area first; finishing with the t zone.
  • Take three deep, expansive breaths; visualising the surge of fresh energy and renewal on the inhale, and the removal of stagnant energy on the exhale.
  • Take your Gua Sha and stroke using downwards sweeps on each side of the neck, repeating 3-6 times, to support lymphatic drainage.
  • Starting at the chin; hook your Gua Sha onto the jaw, and glide along to meet the ear lobe; giving it a little wiggle once there. Repeat 3-6 times on each side.
  • Place the Gua Sha flat on the face; next to the nostril and under the cheekbone; sweep along the cheek to the top of the ear; wiggling at the end once again. Repeat 3-6 times on each side.
  • Use the tip of the Gua Sha to draw a few circles in between the eyebrows; then glide under the brow bone to the end of the brow using an upward moving stroke. Repeat 3-6 times on each side.

Whether you have 1 minute, 10 minutes or the luxury of 30 minutes to tend to your skin, mind & spirit, you can incorporate Gua Sha into your self care and feel the benefits it can bring.


Words: Abi Titterington Lough

You can purchase one of our Gua Sha or facial rollers both online or in store now, as well as a selection of facial oils. You can also book in for a facial or bespoke oil blend with Abi in our Therapy Room every Friday.