Gua Sha: A Massage for Your Face

a woman using a gua sha massage tool on her face

Do you wake up looking puffy and tired? Consider a simple technique to de-puff your face, called gua sha (pronounced gwah-sha).

What is Gua Sha?

This time-tested muscular sculpting technique is based in traditional Chinese medicine.

A type of massage that can relieve tension in the face, it also helps lower inflammation, improve blood circulation, increase skin elasticity, and smooth out wrinkles and smile lines.

Benefits of Gua Sha

Regular gua sha facial massage can help contour the face, lift the jaw and eyebrows, lessen dark circles, and reduce puffiness.

Some even report this technique helps relieve sinus pressure, tension headaches, neck pain, TMJ, and migraines.

About Gua Sha Tools

To perform a gua sha on yourself, you need a gua sha tool.

These scraping devices are typically made from jade stone. You may find one that’s rose quartz, obsidian, glass, or even wood.

Each material offers its own benefits. Jade is the most common and generally preferred, since it’s firm, cool to the touch, and soothing to the skin.

Gua sha tools are unique looking. Typically, they are flat and smooth with a shape like an elongated heart. You may come across moon designs, as well as different rectangular or oblong versions.

What they all have in common are smooth, rounded edges. These edges gently scrape over the contours of the face, providing a healing facial massage.

Performing Facial Gua Sha

Here’s how to perform a facial gua sha on yourself.

  1. Preparation

    Prep your face by patting over a facial oil. This allows the gua sha tool to slide over the skin smoothly and easily.

    If you prefer using a cream lotion, you may need to apply it more than once during the massage.

    Make sure your hands and the gua sha tool are clean.

  2. Jawline

    Hold the gua sha tool at a slight angle (about 30 to 45 degrees). Position the notch of the tool (that’s the top of the heart), so it hugs the center part of your chin along your jawline. You can also use the long, slightly indented, and curved side of the tool.

    With gua sha tool in hand, glide it along the edge of your jawline moving up toward each ear. (Holding your chin firmly with your free hand may make this easier.) Use long, sweeping motions to help contour the area.

    Repeat for a total of five times on each side of the jaw. You may want to hold the gua sha in place for a second or two at the end of each sweeping motion.

  3. Forehead

    Move on to the forehead. Divide this area into three sections, starting at the forehead’s center. Glide the gua sha tool up and out toward your hairline. Drag the tool up and over each brow bone, moving from the center of your face out.

  4. Cheeks

    Now on to the cheeks. Start on one side of the nose and sweep up toward your ear. Repeat with the other cheek. Move down the cheek two more times on each side, repeating the movement. 

  5. Lips

    If you wish to work the lip area, firmly hold the skin above one side of the lip. Glide the gua sha tool over the lips to create a plumping effect. 

a diagram of gua sha techniques for the face
Illustration 227740904 © Maryna Hlushko |


During the massage, avoid rubbing the gua sha tool up and down or back and forth. This will only stretch and aggravate your skin.

You want to see a little redness on the skin, but never enough that the face starts to hurt.


To avoid bruises and bursting capillaries, don’t press too hard when using the tool.

How often should you do a gua sha facial massage?

Consistency creates the best results, so aim for three to five times a week with about three minutes per session.

Beyond the Face

If you have a bloated abdomen, you can also use your gua sha tool to massage your belly.

  1. Start by moving the tool in a downward motion across the upper abdominal area six times. Repeat. 
  2. Next, go to the lower abdominal area near the hips. Move the tool down and in toward your pubic bone. 
  3. Last, move it in a counterclockwise, circular motion about 24 times. 

A gua sha massage on the abdomen can be done every day, but even a few times a week can be effective.

This technique is best performed on an empty stomach, so there’s no interference with the digestive process.

You can also try using the gua sha tool behind your neck to alleviate tension.

For an extra cooling effect, place the tool in the fridge for 30 minutes before using. 

Keep it Clean

Occasionally disinfect the gua sha tool by placing it in boiling water (if the material allows for this).

You can also immerse the tool in a watered-down bleach solution for a few minutes.

If the tool chips or breaks, discard it. 

Click to See Our Sources

“Facial gua sha tutorial” by Lumvi Skincare,, 12/4/21

“Gua sha tools can help depuff your face—here’s how to use one properly” by Wendy Rose Gould,, 8/22/23

“Why gua sha might be good for you,” Cleveland Clinic,, 6/14/21


Lisa Fabian

Contributing Editor

Lisa Fabian is an award-winning freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in the publishing industry. She's enjoyed covering topics as diverse as arts and crafts, boating, food, and health and wellness.