Published February 12, 2018 I think every woman I know (including me) is on the eternal hunt for a “miracle product” that will magically give us a face lift, erase our wrinkles, and clear our skin. After battling cystic and hormonal acne for years, I finally beat it by improving my digestion and bowel movements, cleaning up my gut with my parasite cleanse formula, and adding in a few supplements like L-Lysine and probiotics. I detailed that entire process in this video on my Youtube channel, and I can’t emphasize enough that there is NO magic pill or cream that will improve your skin overnight. It takes time and a whole body approach, with focus on healing the gut and removing the stressors that are overwhelming your system. I do, however, have a few go-to topical products that keep my skin in check, which I talk about in that video as well. I haven’t strayed from those in years because I like to keep things simple and consistent so that I don’t mess with my skin’s microbiome. Nevertheless, I’ve been getting hundreds of requests for a skincare routine update and more skin-related videos, so today I want to talk about an ancient massage technique that does more for my face than any product I’ve ever used! Check out my video below to learn the benefits of Gua Sha facial massage, including an in-depth demo of how I use each tool. If you’d prefer a written blog on of this topic, keep scrolling to read everything you need to know 🙂 WHAT IS FACIAL GUA SHA? Facial Gua Sha is an ancient scraping massage technique developed by Traditional Chinese Medicine. It began as a treatment done solely on the body to improve blood circulation, move lymphatic stagnation and release muscle tension. Over time, a much gentler version was created for the face that involves a light gliding motion to tone, lift, and smooth the skin. Tools of various shapes made of crystal (such as jade or rose quartz) are used with light pressure in an upward and outward movement. The aim is to de-puff the face by facilitating lymphatic drainage into the neck and bring fresh blood & nutrients to the skin for that healthy glow. As you gently scrape the skin, micro-circulation is improved, which brings oxygenated blood to the dermal layers clearing congestion, stimulating cell renewal and brightening your complexion. This rush of blood brings nutrients that make cell regeneration and tissue repair much more efficient, which is extremely helpful if you’re recovering from acne or trying to get rid of acne scars. Overall, it’s an incredibly easy addition to your morning or evening skin routine that takes 5 minutes and will give you a visible lift and glow each time. GUA SHA TOOLS Back in the day, Gua Sha scraping tools were made of things such as bone or even cow horns. I was once told that this is because cow horns are excellent conductors of energy, as cows use their horns to communicate. Whether that’s true or not I have no idea, although I would love to believe in the notion of telepathic cows. Regardless, it makes sense that crystals are used today, as they are also said to emit energy. I purchased my rose quartz Gua Sha set on Amazon here. BENEFITS OF GUA SHA Facial Gua Sha moves lymphatic fluid that gets built-up in the face (hello morning puffiness!), which carries away toxins that can contribute to acne and dull, irritated skin. Gua Sha benefits include: tones the muscles of the face which can help with sagging skin firms and hydrates the skin relaxes muscle tension in the face, contributing to full body stress relief (puts the body in a parasympathetic state, which is wonderful for anyone who has trouble falling asleep) boosts blood flow & circulation moves stagnant blood that contributes to dark circles & under-eye bags helps the skin recover from blemishes & acne scars prevents wrinkles and helps smooth existing lines de-puffs and slims the face instantly lifts and plumps the skin allows serums to penetrate deeper post-treatment aids neck pain & headaches brought on by tight muscle or fascia SELF-CARE! (a wonderful way to touch and love on your body) HOW TO PERFORM GUA SHA AT HOME You can watch my Youtube video above for a live demo on how I use my Gua Sha tools. You want to start at the neck/jaw first and work your way up, so that you open up lymphatic drainage at the lowest point. That way, when you get up to your forehead and eye area, the fluid and toxins have somewhere to drain into like a funnel. You also want to use very light pressure. If your skin starts to get very red, it’s too firm and not working on the lymph. Lymph needs light pressure because your lymphatic vessels are so close to the surface. Your tools should be angled at about 15-20°, almost flat to the skin so that you’re not stabbing yourself and can feel the gentle pull that contributes to the lifting effect. Always scrape towards the outer edges of the face and sweep down towards the heart when you’re doing your neck so that your lymph drains properly into the nodes above your collarbone. WHY IS LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE IMPORTANT? Did you know that your lymphatic system is twice as big as your circulatory system? And yet, while your circulatory system has your heart to pump and clean your blood automatically, your lymph has NO built-in pump whatsoever. Lymph only moves manually through exercise, massage, and diet; which is why it’s so easy to get backed up with our modern lifestyle. The lymphatic system was not fully understood in the Western world until as little as two decades ago – yet ancient systems of medicine such as TCM or Ayurveda see it as one of the first places to look for stagnation when the body is ill. The AMA historically ignores lymph stagnation as a cause of disease, whereas other countries such as Germany employ specialized Lymphatic Drainage techniques as a treatment for fibrocystic breast disease, allergies, chronic sinusitis, arthritis, eczema, heart disease and more. Signs your lymphatic system is sluggish may include: If your body is a house, think of your blood as the faucet and your lymph as the drains. Like I said, your blood is always pumping, so your faucets are constantly running. The problem is, they run right into the place that isn’t always guaranteed to move. When waste particles from the blood are too large to be eliminated by your liver, kidneys, or skin, it goes right into your lymphatic vessels. And when those “drains” are not moving properly, stagnation and illness occurs. The most common causes of poor lymphatic circulation are: STRESS – The chemistry of stress is degenerative and lymph-congesting in nature. Overwork and lack of rest periods compromise your lymph, digestion, and liver Qi. DIGESTIVE IMBALANCES – Irritation of the intestinal villi due to inflammatory foods and poor digestion congests us because the majority of your lymph surrounds the gut via “Gut Associated Lymph Tissue” (GALT). See my blog post here about 11 unusual (yet very simple) ways to improve your digestion. For more in-depth solutions, I have another post here that explains the 4 main causes of poor digestion and how to address each of them. DEFICIENCIES – Mineral deficiencies, especially iodine, affect the lymph. Iodine helps to mitigate the effects of a toxic environment (hello pesticide-sprayed world!) and supports the lymph at a cellular level. See my post here on the benefits of seaweed. EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL – Shame, blocked flow of joy in life, depression, repressed emotions. LACK OF ACTIVITY – Since I explained that the lymph has no pump, it relies on you to move it! A sedentary lifestyle/working a desk job severely compromises lymphatic circulation. DIET – Foods can either help or hinder the flow of lymph. Worst: processed/packaged, refined sugar (corn syrup), white flour. Facial Gua Sha is one tiny part of the lymphatic puzzle, but it can really help to get things moving especially if you have chronic issues with mucus build-up in your sinuses. I like that it opens up the lymph nodes in the neck, which I feel “jump-starts” the rest of the body and helps with my overall energy for the day. Things you can do to improve lymphatic circulation include: take walks daily, especially after meals (even for just 10 minutes) eat the white part of the orange! (click that for my post on the topic) consume red-staining foods (pure cranberry juice, blueberries, raspberries) – I have an entire post about that too! decrease the amount of time that you sit per day give dry-brushing a try jump on a rebounder for just a few minutes, a few times per day sip hot water throughout the day – keep some in a thermos and aim to take 1 or 2 sips every 15 minutes.