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Image / Beauty

What is a gua sha and did it heal my cold?

by Holly O'Neill
14th Feb 2020

Warning: extraordinary levels of notions ahead. Proceed with caution.

Look, you’re either the sort of person who is going to rub a crystal on your face, or you’re not. Somewhere on the journey from staff writer at who didn’t know what a Christmas beauty Advent calendar was, to junior beauty editor, I picked up a few notions.

I’ve used mouthwash with gold flecks in it, I keep serum ice cubes in my freezer, there’s always more skincare than milk in my fridge and I only sleep on silk pillowcases, but admitting all of those things feels slightly less ridiculous than admitting than I am unequivocally in love with my Dermalogica rose quartz gua sha.

What is a gua sha?

If you’re wondering what the hell a gua sha is (pronounced gwa sha), it’s an ancient Chinese massage tool/flat stone that you scrape (sounds aggressive but it’s not) around your face. It boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage for bright, toned and firmer skin. You use light to medium pressure, sweeping the gua sha across your facial contours and acupressure points and it relieves facial tension and headaches, reduces puffiness and inflammation, releases jaw tension, increases blood flow and eases muscle pain, migraines and, I know now, sinus pressure.

Odacite Crystal Contour Gua Sha Rose Quartz Beauty Tool, €47 from SpaceNK

Before I knew about its sinus-relieving capabilities, I was using my gua sha purely for relaxing purposes and reasons of vanity — studies have shown that daily use boosts collagen, defines your jawline, smoothes the skin, soothes puffy eyes and even reduces wrinkles. Plus, if you grind your teeth at night and wake up with a sore jaw from clenching, it really helps to ease out the pain.

And I’m pretty sure it helped heal my cold.

Sure, I was bundled up in jumpers and high on cough syrup, Lemsip and chicken soup but none of those felt as instantly effective as the gua sha felt on my sinuses. About two days into a cold, I scraped it across my sinuses for about half an hour, just for reasons of comfort, only to find it completely decongested me. I scraped the inner corner of my eye out to my temples, back and forth across my forehead, down my neck and around my nose. When I woke up the next morning, my cold was gone.

The lymphatic system, as you may know, requires a bit of motion to get it moving when it slows down, which is why the gua sha and body brushing is so effective. “The lymphatic system is responsible for carrying toxins out of the body, and it requires regular stimulation in order to keep things moving freely,” Stass & Co co-founder Bec Jakstas told me. “Our lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump and the practice of dry body brushing a few minutes every day is a very effective and loving way to move your own lymph. It will increase blood flow and circulation, which will help your body and lymphatic system clear away toxins.”

Don’t have a gua sha? Try the edge of a comb, a ladle, a spoon or the rim of a mug and add a facial oil to give it some slip. Scroll down to see some of our favourite facial oils.

Oils to use with your gua sha

Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Oil, €26

Votary Super Seed Facial Oil, €81.50

Codex Beauty Facial Oil, €100

Pixi Rose Oil Blend, €34

Photography by Herbivore

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