Gua Sha Massage: Techniques, Effectiveness, Side Effects

Massage with rollers and crystal scrapers is becoming increasingly popular. Gua Sha Massage tools for the ancient Oriental technique of drainage deep facial massage is the one of the best tools that you can use at home. 

What is Gua Sha?

It is both an ancient Chinese massage technique and a beauty gadget. Literally, “gua-sha” translates to “scrape away all the bad stuff” (where gua in Chinese means “one-way movement” and sha means “bad stuff”). “Bad things” are removed with a smooth plate of wood, bone, horn, or stone that is pleasant to the touch. 

Modern gua sha tools for this ritual are most often made of nephrite, onyx, or quartz. The procedure is performed by scrubbing movements along the massage lines of the face and body. Red marks after the massage are a normal phenomenon. It occurs due to microscopic hemorrhages, which are beneficial to the body.

Gua sha is especially topical nowadays as more and more people lead sedentary lives, affecting the posture and drooping tissues of the lower face.

By accelerating blood and lymph circulation, gua sha massage activates the parts of the face that have “fallen asleep” for one reason or another. This treatment can also allow you to take time for yourself and strengthen your connection with your body. It improves psycho-emotional well-being and helps you feel better about yourself.

But since massage for medical purposes can only be done correctly, without harming your health, by professionals with medical training, we will talk today about ways to massage Gua Shai for home use for cosmetic purposes on the face.

Benefits of Gua Sha Massage

Massage can reduce inflammation, so it is often used as an adjunctive technique to treat conditions that cause chronic pain, including arthritis and fibromyalgia, and those that cause muscle and joint pain.

Gua sha also relieves the symptoms of other conditions. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting a massage:


If headaches can’t be treated with over-the-counter medications, gua sha can help. In one study, a 72-year-old woman suffering from chronic migraine was given gua-sha for 14 days. During that time, the pain decreased. Doctors have suggested that this ancient healing technique may be an effective remedy for migraines.

Cervical pains

The gua sha technique may be effective in treating chronic neck pain. To determine the effectiveness of this therapy, 48 study participants were divided into two groups. One group was given gua sha, while the other group used a neck pain reliever heating pad. After one week, participants who received gua-sha reported decreased pain compared to the group that received the therapy without massage.

Perimenopausal Syndrome

Perimenopause occurs as a woman approaches menopause. Symptoms include insomnia, irregular cycle, anxiety, and fatigue. A study by physicians has shown that gua sha can reduce them.

Eighty women with premenopausal symptoms participated in the experiment. Some patients received a 15-minute gua sha massage once a week in conjunction with conventional therapy for eight weeks. Others received treatment without massage. At the end of the study, the first group reported significant reductions in insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, and headaches compared with the control group. Doctors believe gua sha therapy may be a safe and effective treatment for this syndrome.

Side Effects and Risks

Gua sha massage is not suitable for those who have open wounds on the skin (pressure with a scraper can further irritate the damaged areas), exacerbation of allergic and infectious skin diseases, thrombocytopenia, high blood pressure at the time of the massage, and pregnancy. If you have had any injections in the last three months, it is better to do gua-sha with caution. The main thing is to consult with your Doctor first and choose a qualified specialist. 

Gua sha is safe as a natural healing remedy. The massage should not be painful. But, because it involves rubbing or scraping the skin with a massage tool, tiny blood vessels – capillaries – can burst. If the vessels are fragile, they become traumatized, resulting in couperose – red marks that remain on the skin’s surface forever. This leads to bruising; the effects usually go away within a couple of days. There is also a risk of disease transmission with open wounds. Therefore, professionals must disinfect instruments after each patient.

Avoid this technique if you have had any surgery in the last six weeks. People who take anticoagulants or suffer from blood clotting disorders are contraindicated from gua sha.

If you do gua sha massage by pressing too hard on the skin, you can encounter unpredictable side effects. For example, one patient lost his voice for a while: massage of the neck with scrapers caused swelling of the epiglottis.

How To Use Gua Sha At Home?

If you want to massage at home, it is better to learn it beforehand from a professional who will explain all the peculiarities, considering your facial structure. A good expert will tell you which part of the scrubber is designed for the face and neck area and how to correctly use (angle, pressure, movements) gua-sha tools for massage. The massage is easy to perform and can be done at home if you learn the safety rules. Be sure to consult a doctor before trying gua-sha.

For the Body

The massage is performed along the meridians of the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, meridians are channels or energy flows through which qi flows in our bodies. The gua-sha tool scrapes the skin in a smooth motion to disperse stagnant blood. Slow strokes with pressure help stimulate blood flow.

Depending on the desired result, practitioners often treat painful areas or perform guasha along meridional lines. Gua-sha is usually performed on the back, neck, shoulders, and sometimes the legs.

On the Face

Usually, a polished instrument of jade or quartz is used for facial massage. Facial gua-sha increases blood circulation and the production of anti-aging proteins – collagen and elastin. The former helps to reduce wrinkles. The latter strengthens and tones the face. Increased blood circulation promotes detoxification, which improves the complexion and lymphatic drainage.

What is Gua Sha Massage For:

  • To reduce puffiness around the eyes. Lubricate the area with lotion or oil. Swipe the tools under the eyes in the direction from the bridge of the nose to the temples to the hairline. Repeat this three times. Then run the scraper from the inner corner of the eye to the brow bone at the temple area.
  • To enhance lymphatic drainage.
  • To relieve tension. Start in the middle of the forehead, moving to the temples to the hairline. Repeat several times.
  • To reduce nasal swelling. Gently move the scraper down the bridge of the nose, then along with the nose to the cheek. Repeat three times.
  • To contour the chin. Gently sweep the tool along the chin line to the ear. Repeat three times on both sides.
  • To firm the skin in the décolletage area. Start at the outer corner of the jaw near the ear. Lead the squeegee along the line, stopping at the collarbone area.

How Often Should You Do Gua Sha?

t is better to perform massage in 10 sessions – two or three times a week is enough. Then to maintain the effect, it is enough to have one session in the interval of 1 to 10 days. Such a course promotes tissue regeneration, reduces swelling, improves joint mobility, and reduces inflammation. In general, after the procedures, there is an improvement in the skin condition – it begins to shine and looks tighter. That is why this type of massage is widely used in cosmetology.

Gua Sha Facial Massage Techniques

  1. Clean your face.
  2. Apply oil or an oily care product for a good gliding of the scrubber to avoid stretching the skin.
  3. It is best to start and end the massage with the neck area. For good lymph flow from the earlobe up and down the side of the neck with the scraper.
  4. Along the remaining massage lines move the scraper upwards and outwards from the center.
  5. Work completely on one side of the face and then move to the other side.
  6. Hold Gua-sha at an angle of 10 to 45 degrees. For beginners hold the scraper as flat as possible and at an angle of 10 degrees to avoid excessive pressure on the skin.
  7. Be sure to drink a couple of glasses of water after the massage to promote good lymph drainage.
  8. Clean the scraper after each use!

Facial Directions

gua sha
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