Gua sha and face rollers have become incredibly trendy recently, though they have a long history that’s rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. But what do these skincare tools do exactly, and is there a difference between the two? Let’s take a closer look at gua sha, face rollers, the benefits of each, the differences between the two, and whether they’re a worthy addition to your skincare routine!
Let’s start with gua sha…
What is gua sha?
Pronounced “gwa sha,” this massage technique has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Body gua sha and facial gua sha are quite different — facial gua sha helps stimulate lymphatic flow and drainage, as well as smooth the fascia beneath the skin.
What are the benefits of gua sha?
Since stagnant lymph leads to fluid retention and puffiness, and since gua sha stimulates lymphatic flow and drainage, gua sha helps reduce puffiness. I’ve noticed the biggest (and a very significant!) improvement with the bags under my eyes.
The slow, deliberate strokes used during gua sha facial massage help ease muscle tension by breaking up fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds and runs through our muscles. Fascia provides structural support to the skin, giving it lift and tone, but it can also carry a lot of tension and adhesions that restrict circulation of blood and lymph. By helping to break us fascia and soothe muscle tension, gua sha can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In this regards, I’ve personally noticed the biggest difference in the “11”s between my eyes, since I have a bad habit of always furrowing my brow.
Because of these benefits, gua sha has actually been dubbed “Eastern Botox.” A pretty bold nickname, right!? But gua sha is a heck of a lot cheaper and safer, and doesn’t require needles.
What are the different types of gua sha tools?
Gua sha tools are typically flat and come in a wide variety of stones, shapes, and sizes. Some have little ridges and resemble a comb (like my jade stone pictured throughout this post), rounded grooves, or curves.
My favorite gua sha tool is the mushroom-shaped stone! I love how easy they are to hold and you can very easily use two at once.
(In fact, I love them so much that I added them to the Body Unburdened Skincare store… and designed a cute little storage bag for them, too! You can learn more about these gua sha mushrooms or pick up a set for yourself over here.)
How to do an at-home gua sha facial:
You don’t have to book a spa appointment to get all of the beautiful benefits of gua sha, but it’s very important to follow a specific massage technique when practicing gua sha at home.
Be sure to keep your gua sha tool clean, and freezing it before use can help to further soothe and depuff.
Now what about face rolling?
What is face rolling (a.k.a. jade rolling)?
Face rolling is similar to gua sha, in that the face roller tools provide a gentle face massage.
What are the benefits of face rolling?
Like gua sha, face rollers help increase circulation to the upper layers of the skin, and with it, oxygen and nutrients. They also help work product more deeply into the skin, relax the facial muscles, and stimulate lymphatic flow.
That being said, face rollers don’t stimulate lymph or smooth fascia as significantly as gua sha. (You can think of face rolling almost like “gua sha lite.”)
And it’s for this reason that I personally prefer gua sha to face rolling.
What are the different types of face rollers?
Jade rollers are the most common, which is why “face rolling” is so commonly referred to as “jade rolling.” Rose quartz face rollers are also popular.
Most face rollers have a larger bead on one end and a smaller bead on the other. The larger bead is meant for the jawline, cheeks, forehead, and neck, while the smaller bead is meant to be used (gently!) under the eyes.
Some rollers have textured beads — like these Province Apothecary rollers — which helps to further stimulate circulation and massage the skin.
How to use a face roller:
You can use your face roller to massage your skin in any way you’d like, though I’d recommend following the same massage pattern as with gua sha — moving towards the lymph nodes. Again, I detail the gua sha facial massage technique in this blog post: Gua Sha: The 5-Minute Face Massage that Gives Skin a MAJOR Glow
Again, be sure your face roller is clean before it comes into contact with your skin, and freezing your roller before use can help to further soothe and depuff.
What do you think? Convinced that these massage techniques belong in your skincare routine?
Have you already incorporated gua sha or face rollers into your routine? Have you noticed any benefits? Please share with us in the comments below!