Publication date February 21, 2024

Beyond the Hype: Gua Sha Tools - Do They Really Work? Here’s What Experts Say

Gua Sha

Have you heard of Gua Sha tools? They're everywhere on social media, with people using them to sculpt their faces and claim amazing results. But before you jump on the bandwagon, you might be wondering: do Gua Sha tools actually work? Keep reading to find what experts have to say and help you decide if this ancient practice is right for you.

What is Gua Sha exactly? 

Gua Sha is an alternative therapy that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to help improve blood circulation. It is a traditional Chinese healing technique, in Chinese Gua translates to 'scrape' and Sha translates to 'petechiae' (tiny, flat red, purple spots). Gua Sha first began as a full-body treatment, which most people don’t realize since facial techniques have recently become popular. 

This tool aims to scrape the skin (commonly the upper back) to invigorate blood flow, release heat toxins, stimulate lymphatic drainage, activate various points of the body, and bring helpful cells to the area by stimulating an immune response.

History of Gua Sha Tools 

Although you may have just recently come across Gua Sha, the tools and processes certainly aren’t new. The emergence of the Gua Sha-like tool predated acupuncture in the Stone Age. It was fashioned out of Bian stone in several types of shapes and used for things like heat therapy and bloodletting. 

History of Gua Sha Tools

Huang Di Nei Jing, the most representative Chinese Medicine text from 475 to 221 BC states that Bian stone tools then became known as 'Bian Therapy' along with acupuncture and herbal therapies."

Celebrity facialist Georgia Louise Vassanelli explains that according to traditional Chinese medicine, qi and chi are energy that flows through the body. Many believe that a person’s qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and well-being. She believes that stagnant qi is a possible root of inflammation or the underlying cause of many conditions linked with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface is believed to help break up this energy reduce inflammation, and promote healing. 

The Original of Gua Sha Tools 

Today, beauty and wellness brands place special importance on the stones, often jade or rose quartz, that Gua Sha tolls are created from. But, this wasn’t always the same, according to Vassanelli. 

“Gua Sha, which was used for decades by Chinese mothers as a home remedy for sick children, could have been made from any household tool to scrape the skin,” she says. 

Celebrity facialist Angela Caglia states that Stone Age Gua Sha were usually made of stone, and those developed later by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners did use jade. 

Why is Gua Sha Tools so popular?

The biggest reason behind the popularity of Gua Sha is just how simple it is to use. Nowadays when we use so much technology, it’s nice to have a break and use an effective, soothing tool that doesn’t need to be charged. 

Gua Sha Tools so popular

Source: Glam

And also, their results are pretty nice too. Aside from using Gua Sha in TCM clinics, we can also use this technique in our self-care rituals. It’s especially effective at relieving muscular tension and breaking down fascia adhesions, perfect for those with tight muscles, sluggish circulation, and tech necks. 

As facial therapy, Gua Sha tools can help de-puff, stimulate microcirculation, and promote collagen production. But, the key to receiving noticeable results is consistency. 

What do dermatologists think of Gua Sha?

A Chinese medicine expert and founder of Hayo’u Method, Katie Brindle, who has researched the subject since 2002 and written a book about it says, “We consider that beauty is the exterior manifestation of interior health, this stands to good reason as you never look your best when you are feeling unwell. The idea is, to focus on your health and beauty will follow. Shiny hair, a healthy weight, glowing skin ― in Chinese medicine, these are all signs your organs are happy.”

dermatologists think of Gua Sha

Brindle explains facial gua sha as a simple and gentle technique that will increase blood circulation and lymphatic flow in your face.  She believes that if you’ve ever felt tension on your face, around your jaw, or between your bows, gua sha might be the tool you need to try.  

“Using a gua sha tool allows you to work deeper into the muscles and fascia than by using fingers alone, so you can consciously release where you are tight,” Brindle says. “Facial gua sha activates acupressure points along the 12 major meridian lines in your face.”

Another expert, Nyla Raja, an aesthetic doctor and founder of the U.K.-based aesthetics and medispa clinic called Dr. Nyla Raja, questioned the ability of gua sha to help lessen wrinkles or lift the face. 

She doesn’t believe the stone can effectively get under the surface layer (epidermis) of the skin and affect the skin’s elastin production. She says, “Using a jade gua sha tool at home essentially gives your face a mini workout ― you are stimulating blood circulation, which increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the skin, which can improve skin health, however, it is unlikely that the effects of gua sha are able to reach this layer, and so does probably not stimulate or strengthen elastin production.”

Even though she has used gua sha tolls herself as part of her routine, she recommends it with some cautions: “There is certainly no harm in using it, especially as part of an at-home routine and in between facials and treatments. But, do not expect a gua sha to solve all of your skin care needs”. 

“With all skincare routines, there needs to be consistency but also different elements. People with deeper lines will not suddenly see their wrinkles disappear because of gua sha and should seek a collagen-boosting treatment such as Ultherapy instead, where the effects can reach deeper into the skin, stimulating collagen production and strengthening elastin.”

In short, use a gua sha tool as part of your routine to stimulate blood flow, but don’t expect miracles. Many studies have shown impressive results, but these are mostly focused on the effects of traditional gua sha practices on the body, not specifically on the face. While it certainly relieves tension and can be incorporated into one’s routine as a form of self-care practice, it’s a personal choice to decide whether to use the tool.

Types of Gua Sha Tools

In ancient times, tools made out of ivory, bones, porcelain, or were jade used to perform the art of Gua Sha. Today, modern technology has made it easier and these Gua Sha tools are now made into gemstone materials such as rose quartz, amethyst, or blue spot jasper. 

These tools come in a variety of different shapes and vary depending on different needs and purposes, and whether you want to use Gua Sha for face and body. 

1. Gua Sha Boards

 Gua Sha Boards

These are flat and rectangular in shape and are the most common type of gua sha tool today. Gua Sha Boards are usually made from jade, rose quartz, stainless steel, or buffalo horn and are suitable for treating larger areas of the body, such as the back, legs, and arms.

2. Gua Sha Combs

Gua Sha Combs

Gua sha combs are narrow and are designed to treat especially scalp and hair. They are commonly made from jade, rose quartz, or stainless steel. These can help stimulate blood flow to the scalp and promote healthy hair growth.

3. Gua Sha Spoons

Gua Sha Spoons

This Gua Sha tool is curved and is ideal for treating the face and neck. Generally, they are made from jade or rose quartz and can help improve blood circulation, reduce puffiness, and promote lymphatic drainage.

4. Gua Sha Rollers

Gua Sha Rollers

You must have seen this Gua Sha tool as they’re particularly one of the most popular and is used to massage the skin and improve blood circulation. They involve a roller that is attached to a handle and can be used to apply pressure to the skin. 

These are often made from jade, rose quartz, or stainless steel, and some have a smooth surface, while others have a textured surface. Textured gua sha rollers can offer deeper tissue massage and help break down adhesions and scar tissue.

Gua sha rollers can be a good option to gua sha tools for people who prefer a rolling motion instead of a scraping motion. They can also be used in combination with other gua sha tools for a more comprehensive treatment.

5. Gua Sha Stones

Gua Sha Stones

Although Gua Sha Stones are similar to Gua Sha Boards, they are smaller in size and are designed to be held in the hand. They can be made from jade, rose quartz, or other kinds of stone. These are suitable for treating smaller areas of the body, such as the face and neck.

Benefits of Using Gua Sha Tools 

There have been studies that have looked at whether Gua Sha can be helpful for some conditions, including:

Hepatitis B

One study found that it might help lower the amount of liver inflammation caused by the hepatitis B virus. But we certainly need more studies to know for sure.


A study shows that as part of a 14-day inpatient treatment, gua sha appeared to help ease migraine pain. But experts need more research and clinical trials to support this. 

Tourette's syndrome

This condition directly affects the nervous system and causes “tics,” or sudden twitches. In one study, a man with Tourette's syndrome used a combination of acupuncture, herbs, lifestyle changes, and gua sha once a week for 35 weeks and found his symptoms improved by 70%, but, researchers need more evidence to confirm the links. 

Neck pain

In one study, 48 people with chronic pain in their necks went into two equal groups. After a week, those who had gua sha treatment saw their pain ease significantly for a short time. But, experts are still not sure about the long-term effects of gua sha on neck pain.

Perimenopausal symptoms

Women nearing menopause can face things like abnormal periods, hot flashes, sleep issues, and mood changes. In one study, women who used gua sha once a week for 8 weeks found those symptoms improved. However, researchers are still trying to understand if and how it works.

How to Use Gua Sha

How to Use Gua Sha

When it comes to how to Gua Sha Tools, it’s a relatively simple process that anyone can do.

Step 1: Cleanse and Tone

Before you begin using Gua Sha, make sure your face is clean and if you use toner, apply it after cleansing. Also, ensure your hands and the tool itself are clean. 

Step 2: Apply a Facial Oil

Now place a generous amount of face oil on your face, neck, and chest. Oil will help the tool glide more easily, but if you prefer a cream or water-based lotion that is OK as well. However, you may need to reapply more throughout the process.

Step 3: Perform Gua Sha

Now you can start your actual gua sha practice. Hold the tool at a 30 to 45-degree angle, and very gently pull/scrape it across your skin. As a rule, remember all movements should be upward and follow lymphatic flow. Repeat each movement 3-5 times before moving to the next area of your skin.

Step 4: Remove Excess and Complete Regimen

If you desire, you can massage the remaining product into your skin with your hands, or you can wipe away any excess oil or cream with a damp cloth. Afterward, you can complete your go-to skincare routine.

How many minutes should I use Gua Sha?

If you have a question, is it OK to use gua sha every day? Lin Chen, founder and CEO of Pink Moon recommends doing five minutes of facial gua sha twice daily, or at least once a day, for the best results. Using gua sha in your morning and/or evening skincare routines is an easy way to make it a consistent practice. Chen further says doing facial gua sha in the morning can help with “reducing puffiness in the cheeks and under-eyes”, while gua sha at night “promotes relaxation and better sleep.”

What are the disadvantages of using Gua Sha Tools?

As a natural healing remedy, gua sha is safe to use. It’s not supposed to be painful, but the technique may change the appearance of your skin. It causes tiny blood vessels near the surfaces of the skin called capillaries to burst. This develops the distinctive red or purple bruises, known as sha.

The bruises often take a few days or a week to heal and can be tender while healing. People can take an over-the-counter painkiller to help with pain and reduce swelling. Applying an ice pack can also help reduce inflammation and ease any pain.

Those who practice gua sha should not break the skin during the treatment, but there is a risk it could happen. Broken skin can increase the possibility of infection, so practitioner should always sterilize their tools between treatments.

You also need to keep in mind that, Gua Sha is not suitable for everybody. People who should not use gua sha include those:

  • Who have medical conditions affecting the skin or veins
  • Who bleed easily
  • Who take medication to thin their blood
  • Who have deep vein thrombosis
  • Who have an infection, tumor, or wound that has not healed fully
  • Who have an implant, such as a pacemaker or internal defibrillator

Does Gua Sha help you define jawline?

Yes, Gua Sha can help define the jawline, it often takes between 5-10 minutes and can be used to help shape and contour the jawline and cheekbones by providing gentle pressure along the facial contours. When using regularly, you will start to see results after a few weeks or months.

What Gua Sha tools should I buy?

When you’ve decided to buy a Gua Sha tool for you, it’s important to look for a Gua Sha that fits your face’s natural contours. The tool should be comfortable in your hand as well as against your face. They are usually made out of natural stones like rose quartz and jade, which have natural cooling properties and are believed to hold spiritual and healing properties in TCM. 

Gua Sha tools

Source: Harpers Bazaar

And when you go for a gua sha tool made from these, it’s important to look for authentic natural stones — glass lookalikes are common — because they will last longer and are less likely to break. 

Shopping from an Asian-owned brand is another factor that one can consider, as gua sha is first and foremost a wellness practice rooted in TCM, and supporting the community it comes from helps keep the traditions alive.

Does Gua Sha work for double chin?

If you’re someone who has seen those before and after photos on the app of "double chin transformations" and believe a gua sha can solely do it, you might be wrong. 

Although, gua sha indeed can give the chin and jawline a more defined appearance — but only if you have the appearance of a double chin resulting from built-up fluid rather than an actual double chin comprised of adipose tissue (widely referred to as body fat), bone structure that lends itself to a round facial shape, or skin that naturally becomes droopier with age. 

The issue with claiming that gua sha can reduce a double chin is nothing but a misunderstanding of anatomy and physiology. If the heaviness of your chin is due to an outpocketing of adipose tissue, there is no way gua sha is going to help eliminate them. 

Is Gua Sha painful?

While treatment is not supposed to be painful, gua sha deliberately causes bruising, which may cause discomfort for some people. These bruises often take a few days to heal.


While there’s no denying that regular use of Gua Sha tools can have some visible results (beauty benefits), more evidence is needed to confirm if this is actually an effective treatment for several medical conditions. 

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