FACIAL GUA SHA OR JADE ROLLER?
What’s the difference? Which one is best? Instead ask “Which one is right for ME?”
SANDRA LANSHIN CHIU, LAc
Personally, I exclusively use Facial Gua Sha - because I know my way around a Gua Sha tool (and a face).
Professionally, I also choose Facial Gua Sha (over jade rolling) because it’s so versatile and achieves the precise results that I’m looking for.
If you’re trying to choose between jade rolling and Facial Gua Sha, your willingness to learn proper Gua Sha technique should be a deciding factor. In this post I share with you my take on the different methods with the hope it helps you decide which tools and practices to invest in.
WHAT IS JADE ROLLING? Jade Rolling is a simple technique using a roller to apply pressure to the skin and underlying tissue in order to create movement beneath the surface. (It’s not unlike foam-rolling to release tension and tightness in muscles, though you need to be much more gentle when working on the face.)
PROCESS. Simple. You just roll it over your face, covering as much ground as possible. I suggest that you start by rolling all the way around your neck to open channels of circulation before working up to your face. I also recommend rolling in one direction – up, rather than up-and-down (as if painting a wall). For best results, jade rolling should be done as often as daily, when you do your skincare routine.
THE BENEFITS OF JADE ROLLING
IT’S EASY. It doesn’t take a lot of instruction or practice. (I think this is important to consider because when something is easy, we’re more likely to actually do it.)
PRODUCT PENETRATION. Jade rolling is an effective way to help skincare products penetrate more deeply.
LYMPHATIC CIRCULATION. Jade rolling is helpful for microcirculation of fluid, or lymph. This means that it can help reduce puffiness (in some cases).
IT FEELS GOOD. Contact with the stone – whether jade, rose quartz, whatever material – is a lovely, relaxing way to “treat yourself” that doesn't take much time and can be done (almost) anywhere.
DRAWBACKS OF JADE ROLLING
CLEANING. One thing I personally find to be a chore is cleaning around the rollers; products tend to find their way into the area where the roller meets the track. It’s important to wash skincare tools. Soapy, hot water will do the trick, but I personally find it harder to keep a roller clean.
WEAR & TEAR. Rollers comprise several working parts so they tend to wear and break over time. (They can also break when dropped, so handle with care!)
SIMPLE. While the simplicity of the rolling technique can be a benefit, it can also be a drawback. If you’re intent on achieving clear, visible results jade rolling doesn’t offer as many features or as much power as the Gua Sha technique (rolling is like a one-speed bike, Gua sha is like a ten-speed).
FACIAL GUA SHA
WHAT IS FACIAL GUA SHA? Gua Sha is a formal Chinese Medicine technique. The facial version has been adapted from the body treatment which intentionally produces red marks (don’t be alarmed) called: therapeutic petechia. For facial work, the Gua Sha strokes are practiced much more slowly and gently, resulting in more comfort and relaxation, with the noticeable absence of red marks.
PROCESS. Like jade rolling, Gua Sha strokes include applying pressure to skin and tissue to aid circulation within. But, the Gua sha stroke not only applies pressure, it also produces a light stretch of skin and tissue at the same time. Done correctly, this results in a more noticeable myofascial release. Put simply: Gua Sha relaxes tissue tension and thus, invigorates circulation better than jade rolling.
BENEFITS OF FACIAL GUA SHA
IMPROVES TOTAL CIRCULATION. Facial Gua Sha helps improve lymph circulation (and thus drainage), but it also improves the quality of blood circulation and energy (“qi”) circulation. This is an important distinction.
PRODUCT PENETRATION. Gua Sha can be performed with your moisturizing routine (you need at least a hydrating mist and facial oil), and it’s also a very effective way to help products penetrate more deeply.
RELEASE AND RELAX TENSION. Done correctly, Facial Gua Sha is a very effective tool for relaxing tension in the face and neck. Not only does it feel amazing, it softens tension from “poor face posture” (brought on by active facial muscles constantly forming a “worried” or “strained” face). We use Gua Sha to bring back a “relaxed” face, which in turn looks refreshed and more youthful (this is not unlike the intent of Botox).
SCULPT, CONTOUR, AND SHAPE. Facial Gua Sha uses a stroke that creates pressure and stretch at the same time, which makes it more effective than the jade roller for sculpting facial features like cheekbone and jawline. Gua Sha tools that are designed with shapes that fit around facial curves amplify this benefit even more.
FINE LINES, WRINKLES, AND TEXTURE. Theoretically, a jade roller can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but a Gua Sha tool designed with multiple shapes and edges can be used in so many more ways, and as a result, will be more effective. For instance, you can use a comb edge, or turn the tool on its narrow edge, and work with a quick and light stroke to smooth texture or lines. There are more options available when using a Gua Sha tool.
IT FEELS GOOD. In my opinion, Facial Gua Sha takes this to another level and leaves you feeling even better. (Our students consistently report that they experience relief from headaches and sinus congestion.)
EASY TO CLEAN. The Gua Sha tool is a simple stone board, so it’s easy to clean with soap and hot water.
BUILT FOR YOUR CURVES. The different shapes and edges of a Gua Sha tool are designed to “sculpt and contour” through contact with the different curves of your face and body. Some edges are best for the bones (i.e. jaw, cheek, and brow) while others are better for fleshy or highly muscular areas like the jaw muscle.
DRAWBACKS OF FACIAL GUA SHA
BREAKAGE. Gua Sha tools may break or chip when dropped, but otherwise don’t show wear & tear. (I’ve found that tools made of Nephrite jade are denser and sturdier, therefore less prone to break.)
EFFORT. Learning Facial Gua Sha requires effort, there’s no way around it. There’s a long and exciting list of benefits of Facial Gua Sha, but learning (and practicing) proper technique is the key to getting the results you’re working for. I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn from professionally trained, experienced sources. That’s why my team and I are forever updating our website with tutorial videos, research, and other educational materials.
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
There’s no right or wrong choice. Think realistically about what you want to achieve and what your schedule and lifestyle will support. Let me know what you think…which will you choose?!