Gua Sha the Natural Facelift from the Far East

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see so many fine lines and wrinkles that I hate. The temptation of getting Botox is real. Just step on into a doctor’s office, a few little injections and just like that, years wiped off of your face.

Who hasn’t dreamed of this fountain of youth that has become so easily available that women are now hosting ‘Botox Parties’ in their homes - cocktails and fillers, girl’s night with a fun, wrinkle free face as your take home gift.

But, personally (no judgment whatsoever if you have chosen Botox), literally wiping away the years my face shows is not something I could ever do. The lines around my eyes and mouth remind me of the millions of smiles and laughs I have shared, the lines on my forehead are reminders of the silly faces I don’t even realize that I make, one of the things my husband first fell in love with. There is proof of a life lived, of joy and sadness, carefree summers on the sunny beaches of California and the worries that every mother carries with her every day.

I have no desire to look ‘young’, I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today. I just want to look fresher, to not look old. I want to be able to look in the mirror and know that I am taking care of myself and loving my body as much as I can.

Easy, simple and oh so relaxing

And so, several years ago, I stumbled onto Gua Sha (pronounced gwah-shah). It is a smooth tool usually made of either jade or rose quartz, the crystals are said to have beneficial effects on your body.

Jade for example, is said to have beneficial effects on stress, anxiety and blood circulation. While rose quartz also has strong benefits for your circulation but has a strong emotive power when near the heart. It is said to ward off negativity and restore positive emotions and balance.

This crystal tool is passed over your face and neck toning, massaging and improving your skin. It is sometimes called the ‘Botox of the Far East’ because it has such an amazing effect on your face.

Gua Sha is a must for an anti age beauty routine and it literally takes just a minute or two out of your day for incredible results!

Relaxes of facial muscles making sure your face doesn’t freeze in ‘mom face’

One of the main causes of wrinkles is stress. It creates tension in our facial muscles and also elevates our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which can break down collagen and elastin which keep our skin plump and firm.

The stress that we feel in our facial muscles (a furrowed brow and pursed lips for example) pulls the skin as the muscles contract and over time that pull creates wrinkles.

Gua Sha can help to ease the tension in those problem areas. By scraping the stone over your face, applying gentle pressure to facial muscles you are essentially ironing out that tension and helping those muscles to relax.

This is in a nutshell the whole concept of Botox, by paralyzing certain facial muscles, the skin is smoothed out because there is no longer any tension to pull your skin.

As I said before, high stress levels can have a drastic effect on fine lines and wrinkles. When you are stressed, you release the hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol can break down collagen and elastin which keep our skin resistant to wrinkles and even sagging.

The simple act of using a gua sha stone on your face is incredibly relaxing and soothing. Think how great it feels to massage your temples or the absolute bliss you feel when you get a facial and your aesthetician massages product into your skin.

I have found that using my gua sha after my evening shower after I have applied my skin care products has become a vital part of my self care routine. It takes only about 1 minute, and I sometimes even use it along my chest and the tops of my shoulders to relax tense muscles. It helps my products to penetrate better and I wake up every morning with color in my cheeks and a rosy glow.

Lymphatic face massage - a daily detox (that 1 prosecco too many last night gets taken care of!)

As discussed in the previous section, we tend to hold a lot of tension in our facial muscles. When we create these knots, our body’s natural detoxification system is not working at its full potential. The lymphatic system pumps lymph fluid through our body. It is all the more important to concentrate on our faces as we have over ⅓ of the lymphatic system is in our faces! Bananas right??

Lymph fluid is responsible for isolating disease and toxins and basically delivering them to the bloodstream where they are then filtered by our kidneys, liver, etc and expelled from the body.

By sliding this smooth gua sha tool over your face in a proper sequence (click here to see how to use gua sha, no stress it is SO easy!) you are helping to not only open up those lines of circulation blocked by muscle tension, but you are manually helping move the lymph fluid along.

By performing this massage daily, you are creating a more toned, defined face by eliminating water retention and improving detoxification. So, go ahead, indulge in  just one more Spritz tonight, by practicing gua sha massage every night you won’t have to worry about waking up to a puffy face and your skin will be able to detox right away!

pink and green gua sha stones from Clean Beauty Swiss

Increased circulation, a little workout for your most visible asset

Poor circulation is the cause of many beauty woes. When your circulation is sluggish in your face, your skin tone becomes dull and prone to inflammation, you might experience more frequent breakouts and you’ll see some puffiness and sagging.

While I’ve already pointed out the importance of lymphatic massage to increase the circulation of lymph fluid, getting good old blood flow back to an optimum level can make an incredible difference in your skin.

Just like tense muscles will block lymph fluid, they also reduce blood flow. Gua sha massage will increase your circulation dramatically - one study even found that it helped create a 400% increase in circulation!

Increasing circulation can eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) under eye puffiness and even dark circles. Having your blood flow at its most effective levels means that nutrient rich, oxygenated blood will be drawn to the skin’s surface helping get your eye area glowing.

Another excellent benefit of using a gua sha stone is that it magnifies the efficacy of the skin products that you are using. By first applying your products and then massaging them into your skin using the gua sha, your products penetrate your skin much more effectively. The increased circulation brought on by the massage will make those creams and serums really work their magic.

Excellent blood circulation will keep your skin glowing and toned. Gorgeous skin without any makeup is a wonderful way to wake up!

Stimulates collagen production to keep skin plump and firm for years to come

Collagen is a word that gets thrown around alot in the beauty industry. But what exactly is it and why is it so important?

Collagen is the most common protein found in the body. It is important for the structural integrity of your body - bones, skin, cartilage, you get the idea. It is a fundamental protein to protect the integrity of your skin. The more collagen you have, in essence, the stronger your skin is. The stronger your skin the fewer wrinkles you have and the less your skin will sag.

The problem is that as we age, collagen production begins to slow down each and every year. And unfortunately, unlike what we have been told in countless advertisements for skin creams, it cannot be applied to the skin. Its molecules are too large to penetrate the skin’s surface.

Which leaves us with very few options to get the collagen we need to keep our skin plump and firm.

A daily gua sha facial massage is one of the best options, both for its simplicity to do and its efficacy.

The boost in circulation and the lymphatic massage that a gua sha massage creates, both stimulate collagen production. The increased blood flow can basically kick start lethargic skin cells into producing more of this precious protein.

Botox is not the end all miracle that it seems

We all wish there was a quick solution to all of our problems as we age right? A quick injection here, a nip and tuck there and voila! Unfortunately, while botox might seem the perfect solution it is only a temporary solution.

Not only does it require precious ‘mom hours’ of doing your research to find a reputable center, one that is at the forefront of understanding exactly where the muscle needs to be paralyzed to avoid an expressionless face, or worse droopy eyes or lips.

It can be quite expensive. Just a quick Google research of the costs here in Lugano, the price was around 500 swiss francs (about 500€ or $500) for 1 treatment. The effects are temporary and the treatment needs to be repeated after only a few months.

And botox and other fillers are not without their risks. They can result in infection, numbness in the area treated, headaches, and drooling. And that is without considering that in rare cases the toxin (yes, botox is a neurotoxin so it is literally an injection of poison into your body) spreads to other parts of your body.

We have all gawked at the celebrities that have had too much botox. They are in their 50’s and their forehead is still perfectly line free and almost transparent. When I lived in Beverly Hills I saw many women with this unfortunate look.

It happens when over time, continued botox injections have caused the muscle to atrophy, to just waste away. This makes the skin become very thin and somewhat transparent because it no longer has a structure that supports it.

I personally prefer to fight aging by taking better care of myself. By taking the time to eat fresh foods. By exercising my body. By reading more books that interest me. By performing a daily skincare routine both morning and night that not only nourishes and protects my skin, but has become a self care ritual that soothes my mind and soul as well.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, as much as I wish I could just snap my fingers and make peace with some of my skin hang ups, I would be too afraid to not recognize the woman looking back at me in the mirror. My lines are part of me, I have earned every single one of them.

Part of growing older, especially after having kids I think, is accepting who you are. Right now, at this point in my life.

Are there things I’d change about the way I look, abso-fricking-lutely. But at the end of the day I am grateful for what I have and have realized that my beauty routine isn’t to attain some unrealistic ideal (and believe me, after living in Beverly Hills a woman in her 50’s with perfectly smooth wrinkle free skin is completely unrealistic) but to love and care for what I do have. 

Click here for my Guide to Using Gua Sha