“While new ingredient developments are important, there is so much we can learn from our forbears,” writes natural beauty guru Imelda Burke in The Nature of Beauty: Organic Skincare, Botanical Beauty Rituals and Clean Cosmetics, a beauty bible for anyone interested in natural skincare. Designed to help you “question the industry of being beautiful without being a beauty counter bore,” Burke’s book describes how, when mass production took off we became sidetracked by glossy advertising and the allure of the new. “We have been taught to dismiss tradition, and seek out the ’straight-out-of-a-lab,” she wrote back in 2016. But some of the world’s worst-kept beauty secrets weren’t conjured up in sterile laboratories, they were passed on from generation to generation. The latest addition to Glasshouse Shop is one such product you’d be happy to inherit from your grandparents.
Gua Sha is an ancient massage technique which first originated in China and has quickly become a morning ritual around the world thanks to its ability to keep puffy eyes at bay, disperse tension headaches and relieve muscle tension. We spoke to Guy Morgan about this new addition to his range and how and why you should be starting your day with this ancient practice.
“Gua Sha is for anyone wishing to enhance their self care rituals,” explains Morgan. Inspired by the curvaceous sculptural forms of Barbara Hepworth, the stone itself is 100% A-grade White Nephrite Jade, non-chemically treated, and mined in China. “I wanted to create something that was versatile enough to be used on both the face and body. The ridged side is ideal for use on the scalp while the stone’s flat side is great for larger areas of the body and the curved pointy end is designed to follow the facial contours.”
Unlike jade rollers, which traditionally have a handle, the Gua Sha stone is designed to be held in the hand as this creates a deeper connection with your body, allowing you to incorporate some “intuitive flow into your self care,” says Morgan. Pair with Guy Morgan’s ultra-nourishing Flower of the Five Wounds sensitive balm and your skin will thank you forever.
Like anything that is propelled to the trend section of magazines, there will be a flurry of cheap knockoffs to choose from. As well as a too-good-to-be-true-price, imitation rollers will feel warm to touch and are often covered in chemical coatings made to look like jade. “In an age of bargain basement jade rollers of dubious quality, I wanted to respond with a return to fine craftsmanship. It was important for me to honour the ancient teachings of the traditional Gua Sha craftspeople of China.”
The Jade was mined in China and hewn by the craftsfolk of Beiyang Village, where all employees are fairly compensated and work to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines and regulations. In addition, Guy assures us that the mines are strictly monitored and undergo regular inspections. Taking your beauty routine back to its ancestral roots isn’t just beneficial for your skin and hair, it can also help the communities where these practices originate from.
Take argan oil, for example, an ingredient favoured by Organic Colour Systems, Evolve and Basho Skincare. The process of extracting oil from the argan tree is one that has been perfected by the Berber women over hundreds of years. The nuts are gathered from the floor and dried under the Moroccan sun before being de-pulped and cracked by hand. With demand rising, many workers cooperatives have sprung up and with locals relying on the trees for their livelihoods, the chances of deforestation are reduced. These squat trees with low-hanging branches aren’t just loved by the local goats, (who help disperse the seeds via spitting), the vitamin E-rich oil is full of skin-loving omegas three and six. As Burke says “the therapeutic benefits of argan oil have made their way through eight centuries of use – there has to be something to that.”
If you’re looking to incorporate more ancient wisdom into your daily routine we’d suggest perfecting your nighttime ritual. One way to take a leaf out of Cleopatra’s book and treat your skin to the mineral-rich waters of the dead sea (without jumping on a long-haul flight), is to swap your usual scented bubble bath for Shinrin-Yoku Bath Salts by Earl of East, a soothing blend of dead sea and epsom salts infused with essential oils. And if there’s one ritual we can all get on board with it’s getting a good night’s sleep. We suggest prepping your boudoir with a delicious smelling, calm-inducing sleep spray by Earl of East.
When you find time to incorporate a little self love into your day, you’ll notice results that aren’t just skin deep, says Morgan: “These self care rituals we create allows us to connect to our own power to change, and that particular mindset that allows transformation to happen, whether it’s visible or more profound. With Gua Sha, the gesture of gliding the stone across the skin is a wonderful meditative technique for modern times. Similar to the rest of my range, I encourage you to slow down and appreciate the small, yet meaningful, gesture of each use as part of your daily rituals.”
Words: Kyra Hanson