As skincare tools, such as jade rollers and Kansa wands, continue to take center stage in the skincare arena, gua sha, an ancient Chinese healing technique is moving into the spotlight. Reputed to ease muscle pain, improve circulation, and more, it involves scraping the skin with a smooth-edged instrument. “For something to grow in popularity and not be just a trend, it has to work beyond expectation, and gua sha goes way beyond expectations,” says Valérie Grandury, founder and CEO of Odacité. “Even after the first gua sha massage, you can see an immediate improvement in the glow of the skin.”
It’s no surprise then that many skincare companies are looking for ways to introduce gua sha to their facial and body protocols and even launching their own tools. “I found out about gua sha therapy when we launched Odacité in Hong Kong three years ago,” says Grandury. “I had the most amazing body gua sha massage and decided to create a gua sha tool specifically designed for the face. For the stone, we started with rose quartz, as it is the stone of unconditional love, and for me, skincare is an act of self-love.” When Odacité’s Instagram community began asking for other stones, the company responded by introducing blue sodalite, the crystal associated with harmony, and green aventurine, which relates to opportunity and good luck.
Kerstin Florian also introduced a line of gua sha tools, choosing to make them with the Sibin Bian stone. “We’ve always been very particular about stones and their qualities and vibrational frequencies,” says Trina Jefferson, director of global education. “Having our own tools gives us the level of quality and consistency that we demand.”
At Studio Britta (New York City), spa-goers can experience Facial Gua Sha with Acupuncture ($225, 75 minutes), which focuses on sculpting, lifting, and detoxifying the skin. The Prativada Tarot Massage ($270, 80 minutes) at The Spa at Paradise Point (San Diego) relies on gua sha to lull guests into a state of psychic serenity. There, gua sha is used on the body with long, fluid strokes. At Treatment by Lanshin (Brooklyn, NY), a holistic healing studio that offers a number of gua sha-related treatments, spa-goers can sign up for the Lanshin Pro Gua Sha Master Class ($150) to learn how to perform gua sha at home. The class comes with the Lanshin Pro Gua Sha tool ($125 retail), a technique cheat sheet, and more. Across the country and beyond, spas and consumers are rediscovering this ancient technique.
What’s driving the trend? According to Elizabeth Trattner, AP, DOM, doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine, our tendency to look to ancient remedies is certainly one reason. Ada Ooi, founder and CEO of 001 London, also points to the fact that the basic principle and technique are easy to comprehend and learn, and the tools needed are inexpensive. It also doesn’t hurt that there is such interest in the healing and energetic properties of stones. The main driving factor, however, is that the results speak for themselves. Whether spa-goers are seeking glowing skin, a contoured jawline, or relief from pain, gua sha is providing the results they seek. “Right now, with the opioid epidemic at an all-time high, we are looking to ancient remedies that help decrease pain without addictive substances,” says Trattner. “Gua sha has excellent clinical efficacy for reducing pain with little to no side effects, except a rash.”
But like the visual effects of cupping, the temporary bruising sometimes associated with gua sha isn’t proving to be a deterrent. Instead, many are taking to Instagram to show off their results, and there is no shortage of tutorials on YouTube. It goes to show that when it comes to time-tested techniques, everything old is new again.
For the full digital edition of American Spa's 2020 Trend Report, click here.