Cultural Significance behind Gua Sha

In recent months gua sha tools have become viral with buyers praising the product for sculpting their facial features showing proof through before and after pictures. Despite this product being a massive hit and now a staple for people’s skincare routines the product’s Chinese origin has been left behind. 

 

Lily Chen, a former seasonal worker at Sephora, saw first hand the sale of the products rise at Sephora and the viral explosion of videos on TikTok. She noticed that the videos with the most views and likes were of caucasian girls promoting the product. She also noticed that they never mentioned its root in Chinese medicine and that comments suggested people purchase gua sha tools from retailers like Amazon, Shein, and AliExpress. 

 

“During a time where the Asian community is experiencing a great deal of hate, I wasn’t surprised that the origin of the product was left out of the conversation,” Chen stated. “Gua sha is a healing treatment from Chinese medicine, but the name has been given to the tools that are being sold today.” 

 

Those retailers have led people to overlook Asian-owned beauty companies selling the same products. People have been ordering gua sha from places like Amazon to get the product for cheap and as quick as possible. The listings for gua sha on Amazon never mention anything about Chinese medicine nor the importance of the product being made from jade (stone of eternal youth). Moreover by not understanding the origin of the product buyers very often use the tool in an incorrect manner that does not coincide with the technique. 

 

Chen has memories of both her mother and grandmother using the edges of spoons to perform the gua sha technique on their face. Studies have stated by using a tool to perform the gua sha technique your face is given a treatment that stimulates circulation, treats fine lines/wrinkles, tightens skin (temporarily), and overall decreases puffiness in your face. This is why many people have noticed subtle changes in their faces after adding the tool to their morning and night routines. 

 

Understanding and receiving advice on how to properly use the tool is what Chen believes is missing from all the advertisements made on the product. 

 

“I have seen so many videos of people using the product incorrectly and they’re advertising it to their viewers,” Chen stated. “I see people using it on their bare skin without any oil, pushing it too deep onto their skin, and pulling their skin in a downward direction. Doing that could cause more harm than good.” 

 

Aside from her mother and grandmother the place Chen receives her advice on how to use the gua sha tool is from Mount Lai, an Asian female-owned beauty brand rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. 

 

“Their brand is sold at Sephora and founder Stephanie Zheng doesn’t just produce the tool to be sold, she offers tutorials on how to use them,” Chen stated. “Their gua sha prices range from $28 to $34, which is higher than Amazon’s $4.99 gua sha. People shouldn’t question the price being significantly higher when you are getting better quality from a reliable company.” 

 

On Mount Lai’s listing of their jade gua sha tools, they specify the following: what it is, what it does, and how to use it. Customers are even able to play a video titled, “How to Use the Gua Sha facial tool by Mount Lai.” The website also includes the reasons for why their products work. Specifically, answering several questions on why is lymphatic drainage important and why is using a tool better than using your hands. The company isn’t just selling tools, they are guiding customers to understand the medical practices and self-care rituals behind the products. 

 

“The credit they are giving to Chinese medicine is something you won’t find on Shein, AliExpress, or Amazon’s listings of gua sha tools,” Chen stated. “When it comes to putting something on your face you should always buy from a reliable company that promotes a clear message of what their products can offer you.”