Facial Gua Sha Demystified: Science Behind the “Natural Face Lift”

Logan Hailey
5 min readMar 30, 2021

Science shows it’s more than just a fad.

Yes, there is evidence that strategically rubbing a stone (or a roller, a spoon, or your own hands) across your face can actually improve circulation, reduce wrinkles, and decrease inflammation.

It’s like a natural face lift, but the benefits aren’t only aesthetic.

Image courtesy of Maed

What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha (pronounced gwa-sha) is an ancient skin care practice that uses a smooth stone scraped across oiled or lotioned skin.

With promises to reduce wrinkles, give a natural face lift, and reduce breakouts, gua sha stones (and associated jade rollers) have become very popular new beauty products.

But is there real evidence behind the hype?

I dug through the scientific literature and consulted esthetician and gua sha expert Jess Santora to figure out if rubbing a stone on your face can actually positively impact your skin health.

You might be surprised how powerful this technique can be!

Image courtesy of Anti Aging Beauty Zone

Ancient Practice, Modern Benefits

Gua sha has been used for many centuries in Traditional Chinese medicine.

It was even written into major medical records during the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644.

Gua sha roughly translates to “scrape away illness”.

Based on principles of lymphatic drainage and micro-circulation, the Eastern technique has exploded in popularity in the last few years, particularly for facial care.

Many acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners argue that facial gua sha is not actually gua sha, rather it is “instrument-assisted facial massage”. But I’m not here to argue semantics.

Perhaps a better term is the French effleurage or Japanese term shonishin, which roughly translate to soft-touch stroking.

This distinction is relevant because facial gua sha is much gentler and more subdued than the…

Logan Hailey

Vivacious nomad writer with a wild spark. Helping you optimize your wellness + mindset for the most joyful, natural, and healthy life possible.