TCM Beauty: Gua Sha, Face Acupuncture, Cupping
Gua sha and jade rollers may be popping up all over your Instagram feed with skin therapies like face acupuncture and small face therapy gaining traction. What are they really? What are the benefits? How often (and how) should we be doing it? BEAUBIT gives you the low-down on the different skin therapies used in traditional Asian medicine, and how they can smoothen your complexion while boosting your skin’s radiance.
What is… Gua sha?
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, the practice involves scraping a flat tool with rounded edges, usually made of jade or crystals, over the skin. Traditional gua sha is usually done on the neck and back to relieve tension in the muscle. Other healing properties include boosted blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. For the face, a gentler, lighter version will be done.
How to do gua sha
You can do gua sha on your face, body and scalp. Using water or oil as lubricant — never on bare skin! — hold the tool flat to the skin and gently scrape under the eyes or over any redness to soothe and de-puff. Switch to the curved side and work it over the skin, taking short strokes in one direction, never back and forth. Stroke down the neck to drain and work over the brow bone to lift. To release tension, hold and press upwards between the brows.
Gua sha can be done daily after your skincare routine. In the morning, it treats puffiness. At night, it works to relax muscle tissues. It will not be suitable for you if you are prone to broken capillaries, acne breakouts or have any open wounds on the skin.
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and it has been known to help with many health concerns, from back pain to menstrual cramps. More beauty-focused than traditional acupuncture, face acupuncture involves inserting needles into strategic and specific acupoints on the face to stimulate collagen production and blood circulation. This can help improve skin quality, heal acne and scarring. A series of treatments may be recommended to address the skin issue and correct it.
It’s quite easy to spot someone who has just done a cupping session; the circular bruises on their back are a telltale sign. Cupping originated from Eastern countries and Egypt, and is often used to help with inflammation, plain and blood flow. Facial cupping is similar, but with different results; it can help brighten up your complexion and tighten your skin for a lifted effect. The cups placed on the skin create a suction effect, drawing blood to the surface and giving you a healthy glow.
While at-home cupping kits may be convenient, cupping works best when left to the hands of an expert. It’s really easy to bruise yourself if you have zero experience with cupping.
Small face therapy?
This skin technique is not necessarily a part of traditional Chinese medicine but still deserves an honourable mention. Ever heard of small face therapy? It’s a facial therapy designed to help you achieve the Asian dream of a smaller visage. Your facial bones shift over the course of your life, because of your lifestyle habits, like chewing on one side of your face or sleeping on your side, leading to a more asymmetrical and ‘unbalanced’ face.
There seems to be two main types of this face size-reducing therapy: the Japanese small face correction or Korean Golki therapy. The difference between the two is that the Japanese small face correction works with the bones while the Korean Golki therapy mainly stimulates the muscles to make a temporary face-lift effect. The Japanese small face correction therapy is semi-permanent; its cranial adjustment method works to push skull bones together and eliminate the spaces between facial bones for a smaller and more symmetrical face. The Golki stimulates the bones through the muscles to help rebalance or resize the face.
Image credits: @nao_hada, @minimalbeauty