The Beginner’s Guide to Gua Sha

Here’s a shocking revelation: the power of a moisturizer or a serum doesn’t entirely rely on its ingredients. It’s also depends on how you apply it. A small tweak that makes a world of a difference. Trust me.

And by looking at the recent skyrocketing popularity of skincare tools, I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Regardless of their features, they all share one big goal: to boost the benefits of your skincare routine. One tool that’s been around for ages (aka centuries), but that’s surprisingly not that well known, is the amazing gua sha.

How to use gua sha for smooth and luminous skin

What’s Gua Sha?

A gua sha tool is a pebble-like massaging tool, generally made ouf quartz or jade, used in traditional Chinese medicine. Although it has garnered mainstream attention in the last few years, its first mention actually dates back to 220 A.D. So waaaayyy before Sephora put in on its shelves. Here’s another fun fact: gua means press or stroke, and sha stands for rash or redness (in the stimulating-blood-flow sense). 

Your Skin’s New Best Friend

First of all, it lifts and sculpts the face. I mean you can actually see it. The massaging also helps with blood circulation, which means a healthier and more luminous complexion. Great news: The same energizing effect can also be observed on the skin’s collagen production! And like that wasn’t enough already, it stimulates lymphatic drainage (au revoir, toxins!) for instant puffiness reduction.

From a holistic point of view, the ritual alone is also deeply relaxing. Probably more than if you were using your hands directly. Why? Because—and that’s totally hypothetical—having a middleman between your fingers and your face feels a bit like someone else is giving a massage. Except you can do it whenever and wherever you want. 

Here Comes the First Canadian-Made Gua Sha

The best ideas often rise in the face adversity. And that’s exactly what happened to Léa Bégin, founder of Beauties Lab, a space and boutique dedicated to clean beauty.

“When the first wave of COVID hit, my gua sha order got stuck in China,” Bégin says. The most annoying part? “It was our bestseller.” Unable to find a distributor closer to home, she ended up paying three times the shipping costs just to get her hands on the gua sha she had initially ordered. When they arrived—Murphy law being what it is—, half of them were chipped.

That’s about when most people would have thrown in the towel and called it a day. But Léa is not most people. In what seemed like a lost cause, she saw an opportunity for an exciting new venture. 

The whole mishap sparked an idea: What if we crafted gua sha scrapers locally, here in Quebec? “I got in touch with Louise Bousquet, the only person in Canada working with porcelain according to the Limoges tradition”, says Bégin. The result? A full-fledged handmade production of porcelain gua sha, nicknamed Minéra

In addition to being non-porous, hence anti-bacterial, Minéra has another advantage. “It’s more shock-resistant than other gua sha tools”, she says. Plus, its matte surface makes it way less slippery than quartz or jade. But if something should happen to it (Murphy law, ever heard of it?), Bégin offers an Apple Care-like guarantee, gua-sha version.

Knowing Léa personally, I know she’s a sensitive, thoughtful, and extremely smart person. So evidently, the looming risk of cultural appropriation was always on her mind throughout the entire process. “I talked with people from the Chinese community and they all had a positive reaction. I really believe that this is cultural appreciation rather than appropriation”, she says. She also wants to donate part of Minéra’s sales to a Chinese cause, but still haven’t found the one. So if you have any suggestions, let her know!

Step by Step: How to Use a Gua Sha Tool

1. Prep Your Skin

Apply 1 to 3 drops of face oil on clean skin to help the gua sha glides more smoothly. And how convenient, Léa launched an amazing one to go with the Minéra

2. The Moves

Explaining massaging techniques with words is not easy! I put together a short video to make everyone’s life easier.

A few things to keep in mind: do one side of the face at a time. Repeat each movement 3 to 5 times before moving on to the next. Use moderate pressure. Finally, make sure the gua sha almost lays flat on your skin and not perpendicularly.

And if you need heavy-duty depuffing, Bégin suggests keeping your gua sha in the fridge, and starting your ritual with the neediest areas first (like bags under eyes).

*I apologize for the HUGE size of this video. I tried to adjust the dimensions for like 2 hours and couldn’t find any solution. So bear with me <3

3. How Often Should You Do It

Morning, night, once a week: do it whenever you feel like it! Careful though, Bégin doesn’t recommend using a gua sha scraper on breakouts or severe acne. You risk irritating your skin unnecessarily and overstimulating sebaceous glands.

4.The Final Step

Wrap up your routine by washing your gua sha with mild soap and let it dry on the plush cloth provided in the box.

If ever you have more specific questions, head over to the Minéra’s website! Everything is really well explained. Or ask Léa, I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to share her knowledge.

Have you ever tried gua sha? Did you like it? What’s your routine like? Let me know in the comments :) 


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