Bella Hadid-inspired jaw-highlighting may be trending on TikTok, but some skin care enthusiasts prefer more traditional techniques for face sculpting. Their go-to for jawline definition? The centuries-old practice of using gua sha tools.
When performed properly, a gua sha massage — which consists of gliding a gemstone facial tool over the skin — helps to enhance circulation, promote lymphatic drainage, and reduce puffiness and inflammation, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Bustle. Gua sha drains the skin of excess fluids, which in turn, emphasizes the face’s natural contours. Hence, the face appears more “sculpted” after its use — and that’s exactly why many people use gua sha for jawline sculpting.
The bottom half of the face is clearly having its main character moment after all, so it only makes sense that using gua sha on the jaw has become so popular. According to data from consumer brand platform Spate, searches for gua sha average 99.1 thousand each month in the U.S., but have increased by 47.7% since last year. And if you take a look at the #guasha hashtag on TikTok (which currently has over 857.1 million views), you’ll see countless videos of people using the tool on their jawline in particular. But the old-school facial device does even more than tone the face.
“We can develop poor posture from looking down at our phones too much, as well as the skin of the neck and muscle losing fat and support,” explains Ada Ooi, celebrity facialist, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) expert, and founder of 001 Skincare, adding that since the skin on the neck is thinner than that on the face, the aging process coupled with gravity can result in a less defined jawline. And that is where gua sha comes in as a remedy to help combat the dreaded tech neck.
Interested in highlighting your jaw the old-fashioned way? Read on for an expert guide.
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What Is The Gua Sha Tool?
Gua sha is an ancient tool rooted in Chinese medicine and has applications beyond aesthetics. “Gua sha is more than a facial or skin care tool. It’s great for self-care,” Dr. Ervina Wu, L.Ac., Ph.D., a doctor of TCM, registered TCM dermatologist, and founder of YINA, tells Bustle, noting that “gua” means “scrape” and “sha” means “petechiae,” aka “tiny, flat, red or purple spots,” in Chinese.
“It’s commonly used in Chinese medicine to scrape the skin — often on the upper back — to invigorate blood flow, release heat-toxins, stimulate lymphatic drainage, activate various points of the body, and stimulate an immune response bringing helpful cells to the area,” Wu explains. “This action creates discoloration on the skin but there is no pain and the petechiae usually goes away within days.” Since its initial creation, the gua sha has gone on to evolve into a widely known skin care tool, and is commonly used to “scrape” the contours of the face to help achieve a more defined look.
How Does Gua Sha On The Jawline Work?
According to Ooi, jawlines naturally sag as we age. “This happens as the bones of our face decrease in size which leads to less support for the fat, muscle, and skin, causing them to sag,” she tells Bustle, adding that the natural aging process also prompts a loss of collagen and therefore less volume in the face, resulting in the appearance of a “blurred” jawline.
So how can gua sha help? For starters, its ability to stimulate microcirculation may also help promote collagen production, which directly combats the loss of volume, Wu explains. “[Gua sha] is great at improving circulation, releasing tension, and revitalizing the skin,” she says. “When done correctly and consistently, you’ll feel more refreshed, and the skin and jawline will look more toned.” Wu notes that the gua sha tool is especially beneficial if the issue stems from inflammation and/or puffiness.
How To Sculpt The Jawline
Before anything, apply a facial oil to help the gua sha slide gently across the skin, says Wu — otherwise, you may end up hurting your face. Next, apply light to medium pressure (not hard!) with the tool at a 30 to 45 degree angle facing away from the skin. “Start from the middle of the face slightly upwards and toward the hairline,” Wu advises, clarifying that you should only glide the gua sha tool in one direction — outwards — and not go back and forth (this is a common mistake).
Once you’ve finished with the top section of the face, move to the center of the jawline, gently gliding the tool towards the ears on each side. “Wiggle the gua sha to stimulate the triple warmer meridian,” Ooi says, referencing TCM. This movement will help relax the face, resulting in the correction of its alignment. Next, gently glide the gua sha down the sides of the neck, stopping at the collarbone. Wu and Ooi suggest sliding over each area at least five or six times to achieve maximum results.
Ooi also recommends placing the gua sha tool at the masseter muscle (aka the jaw chewing muscle) with medium pressure, and massaging in a circular motion. “I describe this as 'grinding the fascia' to unblock all the tension accumulated from pressure from crunching nuts, talking, and even any unconscious grinding due to stress,” she says. And while this motion isn’t necessarily “sculpting,” relieving the jawline of excess stress is certainly a welcome benefit.
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Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., board-certified dermatologist
Ada Ooi, celebrity facialist, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) expert
Dr. Ervina Wu, L.Ac., Ph.D.., a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), registered TCM dermatologist