When it comes to caring for our skin, most of us already have a well-established skincare routine. Yet, once in a while, we come across unfamiliar beauty tools that entice us to change things up. Despite being around for centuries, gua sha and facial rollers have both garnered attention in recent years and for many, have become skincare staples. Celebrities, influencers and aestheticians alike liberally praise these tools’ skincare benefits and recommend their usage, but which one of these facial tools should you choose?
In the friendly battle of gua sha vs roller, both facial tools have their unique perks whilst also sharing some common benefits. Apart from detailing the inherent differences between gua sha and facial rolling, we’re sharing a brief introduction to both practices and insights into their respective benefits, so dive right in and find out which tool is the right one for you!
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What Is Gua Sha?
The healing technique of gua sha enjoys a long and rich history, one that’s deeply rooted in traditional East Asian medicine. The efficacy of its techniques dates back to prehistory but it is only recently that gua sha gained the Western world’s attention. In its most literal sense, ‘gua’ means ‘to scrape’, whilst ‘sha’ refers to the reddish petechiae which emerges from the treatment. Yes, we had to look that one up too – according to the Mayo Clinic, petechiae are ‘pinpoint, round spots that appear on the skin as a result of bleeding‘.
Gua sha treatment basically involves using a smooth-edged flat tool, typically made out of gemstone or metal, to therapeutically press-stroke (essentially, gently scrape) your face and body. According to Chinese medicine, this helps your qi / energy to flow through your face and body. When done by a professional (typically an acupuncturist), the gua sha is ‘scraped’ over areas with stagnant qi or that suffer from inflammation, aiding to move things along to promote healing.
Gua Sha Massage Benefits for Face and Body
With a 2000-year history behind it, the effectiveness of gua sha treatment for both the face and body has been widely documented, and backed up by solid, scientific research. Through consistent use, benefits you can expect include:
- Reduced tension in the face, neck and jaw area.
- Improved blood circulation, in fact, you may notice your skin looking slightly flushed after using a gua sha. Improved blood circulation means more nutrients and oxygen get delivered to the skin cells, resulting in healthy, glowing skin. Blood flow also helps to flush out waste products from working cells!
- Aids in lymphatic drainage. Fluid builds up in the lymphatic system, and this could be the reason your face is looking a little tired, puffy and pallid. By gently pressing a gua sha (or face roller for that matter) in an upward and outward motion, you’ll be encouraging lymphatic drainage, bringing some life back into the skin.
- Studies have shown that gua sha may help to alleviate headaches, chronic neck and lower back pain, and many other ailments.
- A more defined and contoured face. Whilst professional gua sha facials are best at lifting and contouring the skin, that doesn’t mean you won’t see any benefits if you DIY-it at home, and the various shaped edges of the gua sha are designed for you to be able do just that. The more you use a gua sha, the more definition you’ll begin to see, particularly around the cheekbones and jawline!
- Stimulates collagen, or in other words, reducing the appearance of fine lines.
- Increased skin care penetration, because by using the gua sha as the final step in your skin care routine, you’ll be helping your skin to absorb all the goodness you’ve just applied, by massaging it in that gentle upwards and outwards motion.
What is Face Rolling?
The face roller is inspired by the gua sha tool – you could say it’s the gua sha tool of the 21st century – providing similar benefits but designed to be easy to use and intuitive. They are made in the form of a small roller paintbrush, with a cylindrical gemstone as its roller. Some face rollers have different sized gemstones on either side of the roller, with the idea being that the smaller roller can be used for smaller areas of the face, such as the under eye area. Some of them are even mechanically powered to achieve more effective results.
Like the gua sha tool, facial rollers are offered in a range of gemstones all featuring their own unique healing properties, and whether you’re looking to invest in a gua sha or face roller, the gemstone it is made of should be selected depending on the healing properties you are seeking.
When it comes to face rollers, the most popular are jade rollers (which have generated the term jade rolling) and rose quartz rollers, likely because they are the most commonly available. For the sake of completeness, here are some of the other gemstones you can expect to find in a face roller (many are also available as a gua sha, but they may require a little more digging to find).
- Amethyst – known as the stone of tranquillity, it naturally helps to relieve stress, offers overall balance and wards off any negativity.
- Obsidian – a stone which promotes balance, detoxifies the body and keeps you energised.
- Tiger Eye – the tiger eye is a protective crystal and is said to attract lucky vibes. It helps to focus the mind and help users to get in touch with their emotions.
- Opalite – opalite is a man-made stone known for its mood stabilising properties and its ability to help re-energise users of this stone. It fosters inner strength and the courage to persevere through tough times.
- Clear Quartz Crystal – according to experts, this healing stone boosts energy, promotes immune activity and helps to enhance concentration.
- Red Jasper – much like glowing embers, red jasper ignites and promotes self love and self assurance, while promoting emotional well-being and stamina.
- Aventurine – this quartz stone comes in many colours but is most famously green. It is said to bring balance to your newly confident physical and spiritual self, and attract prosperity.
Face Rolling Benefits
Just like the gua sha, face rollers are wonderful for massaging and de-puffing the face, especially first thing in the morning. Both face rollers and gua shas can be left in the fridge prior to use and this serves to make the whole facial massage experience much more soothing, and a great start to the day.
Overall, the benefits of using a face rollers are not too dissimilar to those of the gua sha – both promote blood circulation, help with lymphatic drainage, skincare absorption and overall relaxation, so this leads us to the question – what is the difference between a gua sha and a face roller, and ultimately, which is right for you?
Gua Sha vs Roller – Is There a Difference?
Despite the fundamental similarities, there are also some marked differences between gua sha and face rolling that you need to be aware of, and ultimately, these should help you to decide which is best for you, your skin and your lifestyle.
- If Sculpting and Contouring is Your Priority: gua sha treatment penetrates the face deeper than a facial roller would, and its unique shape allows for better sculpting and contouring. Whilst it is more time consuming, the long-term sculpting results are more visible and absolutely worth the effort.
- Ease of Use: the most significant difference is each tool’s ease of use! Whilst anybody can use a face roller without worry of causing damage, gua sha requires a more practiced hand. Ideally, the stone must be held at a 30 to 45 degree angle, scraped in one direction, all whilst following your lymphatic flow. Each area of your face requires its own movement to achieve optimum results and ensure that no undue damage is caused.
- The Shape: as the face roller is designed to be an easy-to-use tool, it comes complete with a handle which makes it much simpler to manipulate than the gua sha stone. The cylindrical shape of the face roller stone also glides effortlessly over your face and neck without much worry about proper angling or regulating pressure. With the gua sha tool, one will need to first learn how to hold the stone, position it properly and then exert the correct amount of pressure when scraping across the face.
- Time Needed: face rolling can easily be done in a space of 5 minutes, making it an ideal choice for busy people with hectic lifestyles (most of us really). For gua sha to be done properly, you’ll need to designate around 15 to 20 minutes a day to this part of your skincare routine. If you want a quick and effective facial massaging tool, the face roller is for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to give yourself some much deserved pampering, you should treat yourself to a relaxing gua sha massage treatment by a professional.
- Choose According To Your Skin Type: you need to consider what your own skin’s needs are. Although gua sha offers a deeper, massaging treatment with a long and rich history to back up its many benefits, it might not be an advisable treatment for people who suffer from acne prone skin, as it could serve to irritate further. The roller is a less aggressive treatment which gently glides upon blemish prone skin without causing irritation. On the other hand, the deeper penetration that the gua sha tool offers is found to be significantly more effective when targeting fine lines, stimulating blood flow and performing manual lymph drainage.
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