Gua Sha: From Tradition to Trend

The latest skincare “trend” on TikTok is actually an ancient Chinese tradition that traces back to the 12th century--the gua sha healing method which utilizes the gua sha stone tool to rub parts of one’s oiled skin repeatedly in one direction. 

Woman doing skincare routine Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels Videos on TikTok have shown how using gua sha regularly can be extremely beneficial; the method can depuff your face and even sharpen your jawline. But often enough, we find ourselves radiating toward trends without truly understanding where they came from. Especially with gua sha, it’s extremely important that we educate ourselves on the cultural importance of this ancient method before we use it. So what exactly is the history behind gua sha?

Historical records show that gua sha was first recorded in the Paleolithic age. When people fell sick or became unconscious, stones were rubbed on parts of their bodies to alleviate their symptoms. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the treatment was officially noted in medical records since by that time gua sha had become a folk therapy method. 

woman applying lotion Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels Those who currently use gua sha may be alarmed by the red marks that form on your skin after usage. But fear not! As the gua sha harmlessly “scrapes” the parts of the body, it pushes a build-up of fluid ahead of it, leaving behind red marks. These marks are indentations that draw toxins out to the surface of the skin from within the body tissue. Eventually, these marks fade away. 

Gua sha can be used to stimulate blood flow and promote lymphatic fluid from the body through the skin. This, in turn, helps your body’s immune system. The benefits from gua sha are endless; and since it’s been ingrained in Chinese medicine for so long, it’s clearly effective. 

cottonbro via Pexels If you do decide to purchase a gua sha stone tool, I recommend buying it from small Asian-owned businesses that specialize in traditional Chinese medicine. This article from beautyindependent.com lists over 200 Asian-American beauty brand retailers that will likely sell gua sha tools and more. As tempting it may be to give in to Amazon Prime's next-day delivery, it’s even more important now to support small AAPI-owned businesses. 

Now that you’ve understood the history and importance of gua sha, you’ll be able to start your gua sha journey and experience the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine.