Gua sha is so much more than just a quick way to sculpt the jawline (though they can certainly help with that, too). As traditional Chinese medicine expert Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc, once told mbg: “Facial gua sha is medicine in your hands. That tool you’re holding in your hands has thousands of years of ancient wisdom.”
And tools with ancient wisdom should be treated with the utmost care—aka, you should take time to figure out what you’re doing. Rule No. 1: Do not drag the gua sha too harshly across your skin.
“These are great tools; however, when draining the lymphatic systems, the key is a very light and gentle touch. You don’t want to drag the skin, which can create lines or wrinkles,” master esthetician Sarah Akram, owner of Sarah Akram Skincare once told mbg.
Instead, opt for a gentle glide, and always use some face oil to help the tool easily run across the skin. A bit of redness immediately following your gua sha ritual is to be expected, but if it lasts more than a few hours, you may have gone too far.
You should also keep your strokes to a maximum of 10 in each area of the face. However, “Five is a good middle ground,” holistic esthetician Britta Plug says. Too many strokes and your skin may start to get irritated. If you want a bit more in-depth instruction, check out this step-by-step guide from Plug to get started.
Of course, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles takes a holistic approach; gua sha can certainly be helpful, but it’s not the only way to prevent those folds from settling in. For example, you may consider smart topicals (like retinol and glycolic acid) or add a collagen supplement to your routine to work from within—age-related wrinkles, after all, are generally caused by a decrease in collagen production1. Here’s a list of the best nine collagen supplements on the market right now, all backed by a nutrition Ph.D.