No, I’ll probably never give up on my beloved jade roller, but there is a new skincare tool in town that has amped up my facial massage routine tenfold: the jade scraper. Also known as a gua sha tool, this little flat pebble of jade has chiselled out cheekbones I didn’t even know existed, depuffed countless hungover eye bags and whacked up the dial on my skin’s brightness. Interest piqued? Let me explain.
While jade scraping tools are only really just weaselling their way into the skincare mainstream, they aren’t all that new. “The [face scraping] technique is based on an ancient healing technique called Gua Sha, which was first referred to in a classical Chinese medicine text called the Shan Han Lun dated 220 CE. Originally, practitioners wanted to obtain ‘Sha’—redness that encourages the skin to heal itself,” explains David Peters, Chinese medicine practitioner and skincare expert. “Having studied both Japanese and Chinese traditions, I have adapted this early technique for my facial treatments.
Obviously, I don’t use it as vigorously—I’ve seen it performed with a coin in China.” While modern-day jade scraping might be less invasive, it can still have some pretty impressive results.
How to use a gua sha
So how do I do it? At home, I apply a 50p-size puddle of facial oil and then use the tool over my entire face, neck and décolletage, and I’ve found it’s brilliant for the days when I want to really ham up the facial massage or need to iron out a cheese board–induced puffy jawline. It isn’t hard to use at all—you simply just apply a little bit of pressure and scrape (not as harsh as it sounds) the skin to move the muscles and tissues underneath.
Whilst on our hunt for gua sha inspiration, I came across Queen of holistic skincare Britta Beauty on instagram. Her gua sha videos are not only great to have on hand if you're unsure how to use a gua sha tool, but they're seriously mesmerising too.
“I like to use a combination of short and long strokes across the areas that need it,” explains Peters. “It is great for lifting and sculpting the face, but it also can release tightness in certain areas,”—perfect if a frustrating meeting has given you a bit of a tight jaw. Peters is also keen to note that it’s great for stimulating blood flow (which leads to brighter skin) and collagen production (if you’re concerned about skin volume and firmness). The process can also stimulate lymphatic drainage, releasing excess fluids that can make the complexion look a little, well, inflated.
Where to buy gua sha skin scrapers
Gua sha jade scrapers are becoming more and more readily available. At first, I was dubious, but Peters reckons it’s fine to even buy one on Amazon when you’re just starting out, but Cult Beauty also has a great version by White Lotus (£24), while skincare brand Elequra's (£25) is bone-shaped and made of rose quartz. Founder Nausheen Qureshi tells me that means it has “a packed crystal structure that means it's able to retain heat and cold better, which in turn helps the absorption of active ingredients into the skin.”
“Some people believe the stones contain different energetic properties, but I prefer to focus on the physical effects,” adds Peters. “I use surgical-grade stainless steel so it can be properly sterilized, but whether your tool is made from jade or rose quartz, the most important thing is the motion. You could even start with a rice spoon if you wanted.”
There are tonnes of different skincare serums or facial oils that are perfect to use with your gua sha. As a general rule of thumb, you want something with enough slip that will let you really work the product into your skin, without too much pulling or dragging. But if you're unsure which is right for you, we can help…