The Lunar New Year –– a celebration that marks the beginning of the new year on the lunisolar Chinese calendar –– commences on February 1 this year. Billions of people across the world, myself included, will be celebrating. While traditions vary based on geographic region, many U.S. families will be cleaning their houses, decorating with red lanterns and trinkets, and eating auspicious foods, such as oranges and dumplings for good fortune, luck, and prosperity. Last year was particularly challenging and stressful, so to ring in the Year of the Tiger, I'll be adding this stress-relieving tool to my skincare ritual: a gua sha.
For those who aren't familiar with gua shas, they are tools made from stones, such as jade or quartz. The tool's usage has been rooted in traditional Chinese medicine practices, with its earliest uses linked to the Paleolithic era.
"Gua sha was used to treat pain and illnesses as serious as cholera," Sandra Lanshin Chiu, L.Ac., acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, and founder of Lanshin healing studio, previously told InStyle. It was also used on the body to "release toxins" and "relieve pain in tired, sore, or injured muscles," added Anna Lam of Ginger Chi. Today, gua shas are used to improve blood circulation, reduce puffiness, and promote lymphatic drainage.
As someone who grinds their teeth at night and experiences temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), I find the Mount Lai Gua Sha (which the brand sent me to test) to be a great stress relieving tool. It has three sides: a pointed side, a short curved side, and a longer curved side.
I use the pointed side against my jaw and chin, which breaks up tension that's held in those areas. By scraping with repeated strokes, the gua shua stimulates blood flow to the inner tissues and generates cell healing, Lam explains. After using the tool, I've noticed less puffiness and my face appears more sculpted. I use the jade version, but it's also available in three other stones: rose quartz, amethyst, and black obsidian.
Shop now: $28; sephora.com
To use, start off by cleansing your face. After you have completed this step, keep the tool flat against your forehead and scrape in upward motions, moving from the eyebrows to the hairline. After a few strokes, you can move onto the cheeks, starting from the crease of the nose and ending the stroke near the ear. You can use the short- or long-curved side for the forehead or cheeks. For the jawline, you'll want to use the side with the two points. Start from the chin and slide the tool upward until you reach your ear lobe.
I'm not the only one who loves this tool. Sephora customers also laud about it in the reviews. "This tool is amazing! Such a relaxing experience for yourself, especially after a long day," raved one Sephora shopper. "This is now part of my daily routine and I couldn't be happier. I noticed my facial features were slightly more contoured. This is definitely a new favorite for me!"
"So high quality, and the cooling properties that jade has are so soothing to the skin," said another customer. "Performing my gua sha routine every morning is so calming and truly prepares me for the day. And yes, it absolutely works. It sculpts my cheekbones and my jawline so well there is a noticeable difference."
Whether you celebrate the Lunar New Year or not, we can all agree that we need to relieve some stress in 2022, and the Mount Lai Gua Sha can help with that. Shop it for $28 on Sephora.