Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Gua Sha and Your Skin September 22, 2014

Filed under: Skincare Treatments — askanesthetician @ 7:00 am
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A few months ago I took a wonderful course that was called “Japanese Facial Massage and Acupuncture”.  I had a blast in the course – learning new massage techniques, finding out about new acupressure points on the face, and discovering how to use gua sha and a jade roller to help my clients’ skin.  Some of my readers may have heard of gua sha and/or have seen pictures of red, bruised backs (or other body parts) that were treated with this Traditional Chinese Medicine healing technique and are already wondering just how this relates to the skin and to facials.  It turns out that gua sha is wonderful for stimulating blood flow and lymph drainage in the face.  But before I get into all those details let me first explain what gua sha actually is.

In the article Scrape Away the Pain (found on Dr. Oz’s website) Jamie Starkey explains the principles of gua sha:

Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used by many clinicians of TCM. In this procedure, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. A smooth-edged instrument is used by the acupuncturist to apply short or long strokes on the skin, typically in the area of pain or on the back parallel to the spine. This stroking motion creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis).

Pain, both acute and chronic, is the most common indication for gua sha. In the TCM tradition, pain is oftentimes caused by the stagnation of blood in the local area of discomfort. The guiding principle behind gua sha is that this technique has the ability to break up stagnation, to promote the smooth flow of blood in the area, thereby relieving pain.

While gua sha is most commonly used to treat pain, it can also be utilized by TCM clinicians to address conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.

There are several theories that may explain why this ancient technique works: gua sha increases blood flow (microcirculation) in the soft tissue, potentially stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opioid systems, and it may block the pain response pathways so you feel pain relief.

But how does this work with facials and skincare since you definitely don’t want to bruise the skin or cause long- lasting redness?  When it comes to facials and treating the skin gua sha is modified and the esthetician is much less aggressive when rubbing the skin.  While you still want the skin to get red you don’t want to leave marks that can last for days.  During a facial gua sha actually feels nice as the tools gently glide across your face after the esthetician applies a cream or oil.   Gua sha is used during a facial to increase blood flow to the face and to move lymph. In order to do both of these things there is no need to be aggressive.  I was even taught in the course I took to gently rub wrinkles and lines with the gua sha tools in order to stimulate collagen synthesis in those areas.  Following the gua sha treatment the esthetician can gently roll a jade roller all over the face in order to calm the skin.  Jade helps to soothe the skin.

You don’t need to wait to have a facial in order to benefit from gua sha.  If you have the tools you can do gua sha on your face for about 10 minutes a day if you want in order to enjoy the benefits of this traditional treatment.

Resources and Further Reading:

Image from http://www.buychinaherb.com

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Beauty after Baby September 2, 2014

 

Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child

 

 

Any mother with a newborn or a baby knows one thing for sure – your baby’s needs always come before yours.  That’s just the way it is.  Finding time for yourself, not to mention household chores, sometimes seems like the most impossible thing ever when you have a baby at home.  Depending on how much sleep you are getting, probably very little, taking care of yourself quickly falls by the wayside once you have a baby.  So I’m here to remind you that even when you have no energy or it seems to silly to invest in your appearance because so many other things require your immediate attention, that you should and can take five to ten minutes a day for yourself each day.  Believe me I know how ridiculous that sounds when you’ve had four hours of sleep or when your baby decided to start their day at 5 am.  It’s hard; it seems pointless, but consider giving it a try.  Yes, if you had an elaborate skincare routine before you gave birth you probably can’t keep up with it now.  Don’t beat yourself up about that.  Keep in mind that when you feel good about how you look (even if you haven’t lost all the baby weight and that takes lots of time) your outlook changes about everything around you.  So don’t neglect yourself after you’ve had a baby.  Do take a few minutes each day to concentrate on your appearance; there is nothing selfish or wrong about that.

In no particular order here are some tips for a fast beauty routine when you have a baby at home:

  • Remember to wash your face – at the very least at night.  Once you’ve gotten your baby to sleep (or passed off childcare to your partner) take a moment to wash your face.
  • Use sunscreen!  Take a moment in the morning to apply sunscreen.  In case you need a reminder about why sunscreen is so important take a look at this video.  If your skin really needs a moisturizer use one with SPF in order to cut-down on skincare routine steps until you have more time for yourself.
  • Find an under-eye concealer you like and use it.
  • Use multitasking make-up products like Nars The Multiple which is for both lips and cheeks.
  • Think about what beauty or make-up product always makes you feel good and use it.  Is that product mascara?  Or a facial mask once a week?  Don’t give up those feel good products.  The baby can cry for a moment while you apply your mascara and everything will still be fine with the world.
  • Is there a beauty service that you really can’t live without?  Well don’t!  For a lot of women getting their eyebrows professionally waxed is just something they can’t give up and in my opinion shouldn’t.  Eyebrow waxing when compared to other beauty services is one of the fastest and cheapest services out there.  You can probably even bring your baby along to your eyebrow wax so keep up with having well groomed  brows.   Remember that having your eyebrows waxed or tweezed can change the look for your entire appearance for the better.  For other people their weekly manicure is a must so I fully endorse finding the time to keep up with the beauty service that makes you feel like yourself again after giving birth.  Keep in mind that there are many estheticians and nail techs that will come to your home to provide services so if you really can’t leave your baby or don’t want to have the service come to you.

 

I strongly believe that the better we feel about ourselves the better parents we can be.  So even if it’s only a few minutes each day take that time for you.  Even your baby will appreciate it.

 

Further Reading:

 

Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child by Kitagawa Utamaro

 

 

 
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