Modern Woo: Gua Sha

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

Modern Woo is a blog series spotlighting modern wellness practices and alternative therapies that have been historically, or are currently stigmatized as woo woo, quackery, or mystical bunk. We explore the what and whys, and YOU decide if this Woo is for you.

Today’s Modern Woo is Gua Sha.

Gua Sha, also sometimes referred to as “scraping" or "spooning" is is a traditional Chinese therapy in which lubricated skin is scraped with a smooth edged instrument (often ceramic) to produce dark, bruise coloured streaks. Gua means to scrape or scratch, and Sha means sand, in reference the sandy textured rash that results - and manages to scare most folks away. It’s so scary looking that we decided not to post a picture here, go ahead and Google that yourself if you’re interested...

Practitioners believe that Gua Sha stimulates circulation of soft muscle tissue to increase blood flow, move stagnant energy called chi, and promote cell repair and recovery. Devotees say that despite looking painful, it feels like a deep massage that effectively treats muscle pain and improves range of motion.

Recently, we’ve been seeing Gua Sha facials popping up. Before you run for the hills, facialists have adapted the method with decidedly less violent looking results. Using scraping tools made of stone, bone, or even gemstones these facials are touted to move lymph, ease stress and beautify and may even remedy skin conditions like acne, eczema and rosacea.

Image: Instagram via Britta Beauty/ @britta_plug

Our favourite Gua Sha practice comes from New York–based facial specialist Britta Plug. We first spotted her on Insta (@britta_plug) layering woo, on top of woo using her avant garde-shaped gua sha tools made of gem stones like rose quartz and jade!

Are you brave enough to try a traditional Gua Sha massage, or is a facial more your speed?

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