When puffy under-eye bags look a little intense in the morning, gua sha tools can help. Somewhat similar to jade rollers, these smooth, cresent moon-shaped stones help soothe and de-puff pillow face, joining the likes of under-eye patches and eye creams in their calming capabilities.
Gua sha, an ancient Chinese healing technique, uses scraping (loosely translated to "gua" in Chinese) massage tools to improve balance and flow energy from within, says board-certified dermatologist Monica Li, M.D. Today, gua sha is largely used as more of a massage technique and a self-care tool, using gentle upward strokes on the face and neck to quell puffiness and swelling.
Gua sha enthusiasts may notice a temporary mini-facelift effect thanks to the lymphatic facial drainage, but the science behind the effects of using gua sha is quite limited, says Dr. Li, so more research is needed to prove the results. According to Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab chemist Sabina Wizemann, the massaging techniques may relax facial muscles, provide a cooling sensation on skin and even offer a firming benefit over time. Although we haven't Lab tested the picks below, we vetted popular reviews and rounded up favorites recommended by Good Housekeeping beauty pros and staffers. Here are the gua sha tools you need in 2022:
- Smooth, curved edges for sculpting
This jade gua sha from Mount Lai is said to promote daily lifting and smoothing of skin, promising to leave the face lifted and radiant after use. According to one Sephora reviewer, "My face is notably more defined, and I’ve even received comments on how much slimmer my face is after only two weeks of using it."
- Great sculpting abilities
Sturdy and smooth, this gua sha tool from Amazon can do the same trick as some luxury options. GH's associate product and reviews editor stores it in her freezer for extra cooling in the morning. "It's a relaxing ritual, and the cool stone feels really nice up against the skin after applying moisturizer."
- Thick and weighty
Specifically designed to stimulate circulation while depuffing, lifting and sculpting your face, this rose quartz gua sha seems to do it all. KORA Organics founder Miranda Kerr uses it alongside a facial oil, which she claims helps the oil absorb deeper into the skin while also increasing blood flow and promoting collagen production. "The fact that this one stone works for your entire face is amazing," says a Sephora reviewer. "My cheekbones and jawline have never looked better."
- Added cooling benefits
Welcome that extra cooling sensation with this stainless steel gua sha. Our associate product and reviews editor loves that unlike other stone options, you don't need to pop this one in the fridge to keep it cool. "I use it after cycling through my skincare routine – serums and all. It glides along the contours of my face so smoothly."
- Great starter pack
This duo works together to give you the ultimate facial massage. Made from pure rose quartz, each gua sha is one of a kind, so some may vary by color and surface. Beginners will love the set's step-by-step gua sha guide. Plus, it's perfectly packed in a reusable velvet pouch to protect and store your tool. "I love how easy this tool is to use," says GH assistant editor Annie O'Sullivan. "I have sensitive skin so some gua shas can leave me with red, irritated skin, but this one works great and noticeably depuffs and cools my skin."
- Larger to cover more surface
- Sturdy construction
Ridged edge and all, the Yina gua sha works to relieve tension and activate circulation in facial muscles. Its bian stone is claimed to contain more than 30 minerals and trace elements that are beneficial to the human body. "I love how sturdy this gua sha feels in my hand. It does not feel like it will break under deep pressure," notes one reviewer. "It also is nice and big – so great for the body as well as the face!"
- Ridged edge for deeper massage
Following the curved shape of a traditional gua sha, this one from Skin Gym also incorporates a small combed edge for a deep massage. Plus, its larger size means it can cover more surface area like the neck and shoulders. For relaxation, use the pointed edge for acupressure points like your temples. "I massage my skin with this, and it allows blood stimulation to [reach] my skin, allowing my skin to regenerate," says an Ulta reviewer.
- Versatile edges
- Very pricey
This unique gua sha stone made from black nephrite jade helps circulate and energize skin. Lanshin founder Sandra Lanshin Chiu, an expert in Chinese medicine-based skincare, custom designed it to create a "swiss army knife" of gua sha with multiple functions in one easy-to-use tool. "I'm new to skin tools, so this felt like quite the splurge, but I love how versatile it is with the different edges," raves one reviewer. "It makes me feel good to slow down and really pay attention to my skin, helping to depuff and melt away the stress."
✔️ Material: There's no exact science behind gua sha stone types, but jade is said to be a sturdier stone than rose quartz, according to acupuncturist and Lanshin founder Sandra Lanshin Chiu, L.Ac. So if you accidentally drop it, it's more likely to survive the fall. However, cheaper forms of jade look dull and waxy are not necessarily more sturdy, she says. You may opt for a top-grade jade like nephrite, which is "a more expensive, dark green, almost black stone that is very thick, dense and sturdy," says Chiu. Stainless steel options also tend to feel much more durable and already feel cool to the touch. As for unique stones like bian, there are claims that it stores beneficial minerals.
✔️ Shape: Generally, you want a gua sha with smooth curves that'll settle nicely into the contours of your face without tugging. But if you're looking for a deeper massage, ones with a combed edge can stimulate multiple acupressure points at one time and activate more blood circulation, says Chiu.
✔️ Thickness: A gua sha with some weight to it can make it easier to grip and thus easier to glide evenly across your face. Weightier options like stainless steel and bian stone tools tend to be a bit sturdier, which is especially great if you use yours on a daily basis.
Gua sha is typically best used in the morning given its claimed de-puffing benefits, says Dr. Li. Use the gua sha with a serum or oil for an easy glide across skin, then gently scrape upward and outward along the lymphatic drainage tracts, which starts all the way from the forehead, outer cheekbones and jawline, then draining around the ears and down through the neck.
One to two strokes with light to medium pressure should do the trick. You can also use the various sides of the tool for different areas of the face: For example, you can use smaller edges under the eyes and deeper curves to sculpt along the jaw.
How often you need to use your gua sha depends on how your skin tolerates it: "Your skin is the best guide to individualize the practice in a skincare routine," says Dr. Li.
Gua shas and jade rollers are most commonly made of jade or rose quartz stone, says Wizemann. Although different in shape, both offer identical benefits, like lymphatic drainage, facial massage and sculpting.
According to board-certified dermatologist Joyce Park, M.D., jade rollers tend to be better for sensitive skin as it uses less pressure than gua sha tools but that also depends on the individual performing the massage. In the end, it comes down to personal preference and perhaps, a gentle touch.
Since joining the Good Housekeeping Institute, Sabina Wizemann has touched, researched, tested and evaluated thousands of products for almost a decade. She carried out various studies from sunscreens (including formulas for sensitive and oily skin and mineral types), night creams, eye creams, makeup cleansers and more. She also lends a hand when it comes to explaining skincare ingredients, like occlusives, and verifies product claims.
Jacqueline Saguin has spent years researching and experimenting with skincare products that work with her severe eczema, and subsequentially began her career covering everything from buzzworthy buys to sensitive skin staples. She regularly collaborates with GH's Beauty Lab to put together product reviews on the very best skincare out there according to consumer and Lab testing.