There’s a constant rotation of new ideas into Western health and beauty markets from Asian countries. These ideas range from new product types or routines structures to traditional notions of how to achieve beauty and health. Gua Sha, a traditional health practice, is one of the latest instances of a trend beginning to become particularly popular in the west. It follows closely after cupping, which was made popular at the Olympics, and is a close relative of acupuncture. These various techniques have been suggested for achieving different beauty and health goals in recent years and as a result they need to be looked at carefully to ensure they can actually help the skin. Gua Sha needs this treatment in particular thanks to its comparative newness as a popular treatment in the West. With that in mind, it is time to take a close look at what Gua Sha is, its claims, and if there is anything to this traditional therapeutic practice.
What Is Gua Sha?
Simply put, Gua Sha is a form of traditional Eastern medicine, typically credited with being Chinese, that focuses on utilizing a method of bruising the skin to release believed impurities from the body. It typically involves a scraping device of sorts, often a spoon, coin, or similar surface, that is placed on well-oiled skin and then firmly moved downward along either the body’s muscles or believed meridian points from acupuncture traditions. The treatment frequently leaves highly visible bruising and skin striations along the path used and the area is typically left in a degree of pain in the aftermath of the treatment. It is hard to pin down precisely how visible this bruising will be as it varies from practitioner to practitioner. There is a facial equivalent that is particularly popular in the West that does not result in bruising but follows a similar pattern with the same goals.
What Does It Do?
The actual practitioner of gua sha credit the practice with having pronounced healing capabilities. The claim for its efficacy tends to vary depending upon the kind of gua sha being practiced. Those who follow the musculature of the body tend to credit it as improving blood flow and releasing impurities trapped within the skin. That is what they claim the bruising and pain represents. Practitioners that follow meridian points are more likely to say that gua sha helps to manipulate a vital energy of the body and allows it to flow properly while thereby restoring health to the body while also claiming the bruising and pain is evidence of a released blockage. Even the facial kind has similar claims, but they tend to revolve around the believe energies of the crystal implements used conveying a positive charge. All scientific studies simply say that gua sha bruises the skin by damaging subsurface capillaries and potentially causes other issues with the skin and body if used too often.
What Does It All Mean?
Like most forms of traditional Eastern medicine, there is no reliable proof as to the efficacy of the treatment. Gua Sha is an in a unique place amongst such treatments as it relies on actually inflicting direct, and obvious harm to the skin. Any dermatologist and professional will tell you that the sort of damage inflicted by the treatment is a bad idea. This is especially true when it is done on the otherwise healthy skin as most gua sha practitioners encourage. Not only that, but the links to energy medicine are likely the oldest form of the treatment. This, in turn, makes it clear that gua sha is pre-scientific to one degree or another. Vital energy manipulation of any sort has never had any sort of reliable proof for it. With all of this in mind, there is no way that gua sha, facial or otherwise, can be reasonably suggested as a treatment. It will either do nothing or it could permanently harm your skin.
Gua Sha is an attractive option for anyone who is looking to get away from the “chemicals” that people have become increasingly wary of being part of skincare. Everything is ultimately a chemical though. The practice of gua sha may seem attractive, but the chances are it will do nothing for your skin or it will harm it. That makes the practice ill-advised to anyone interested in truly taking care of their skin and minimizing the effects of long-term damage to it over time.