Gua Sha was originally a “full body treatment,” which may surprise people as popularity has only recently surged regarding Gua Sha as a facial massage tool.
Known as a ‘lymph’ drainage and clearing skincare tool, the sleek and polished stones offer a wide range of purported benefits – but how do they stack up to a normal facial roller, and what is the difference between the two?
Facial Rollers (Jade Rollers, etc.) vs. Gua Sha – Aren’t They Exactly the Same?
There are many facial tools flooding feeds today – all seemingly similar, so it can be quite confusing to try to determine which one would work best for you.
The use of Gua Sha dates back to Eastern Asian medicine, where it has been used for centuries. Gua actually means ‘to scrape,’ while ‘Sha’ represents spots that appear from bleeding – not exactly pleasant or relaxing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Gua Sha can help the flow and movement of ‘qi’ through the body to ensure health and well-being.
The flat, smooth stone is scraped along contours of the face (although originally used on the entire body) and is supposed to increase energy flow and promote lymphatic drainage and movement.
On the flipside, jade rolling (or using any facial roller) is a simple technique of using a roller across the face to apply pressure to the surface of the skin and tissue underneath in order to create movement. This can both help skincare products you use to penetrate the skin more deeply and thus, become more effective – but also, like the Gua Sha, help with lymphatic circulation which can help with puffiness, inflammation, and complexion.
While the roller is a more simple technique than using a Gua Sha, the Gua Sha tends to be more targeted, with more visible results from regular use.
How to Use a Gua Sha for Lymphatic Drainage & Tension Relief
Many articles online note that beauty bloggers or those on Tik Tok are actually using the Gua Sha incorrectly in their videos.
Instead, they should be going in an upward, outward direction and be using the tool lightly, without applying a ton of pressure. A little oil – a skin oil like jojoba, for example, can also be used to help with ease of use, or the Gua Sha can be used as part of your skincare routine in conjunction with other products (ideally a serum, cream, or facial oil).
Rather than a ‘scraping’ opts for a sliding, soft pressure over all the face contours – for the neck or longer portions of the face, use longer strokes.
Which Tool is Best for Me? (Either Way You Can’t Go Wrong)
While both Gua Sha and facial rollers are incredibly similar – the facial roller having been thought to be inspired by the ancient history of using Gua Sha, there are some slight differences that may help you decide which option is better suited to your skincare routine.
If ease of use – a ‘go-to,’ simple product is what you’re after, the facial roller would be the best bet. They’re equipped with a handle and allow for quicker movement and easier use, and this extra control allows you to better dictate how much pressure is applied to your skin. While there is a ‘wrong’ way to use Gua Sha, with a roller the movement itself is beneficial to lymphatic flow regardless of how you use it.
Conversely, if what you want is more facial sculpting and toning, you’re likely to see more results from using a Gua Sha. The curved edges of the tool allow better indentation and movement along the contours of the skin, giving more shape and tone to cheekbones and jawlines compared to a roller. Additionally, Gua Sha can help you more accurately target fine lines and wrinkles, Gua Sha penetrates the skin deeper and offers more improvement in flow. The stroke used with Gua Sha creates more pressure and stretch, allowing the amplified benefit to releasing the tension, and helping relax the face while contouring, sculpting, and shaping at the same time.
So, a beginner might opt for a facial roller given the total ease of use – no chance of incorrect use, and the same benefits for lymphatic drainage and circulation that a Gua Sha would offer. Those looking for more of a sculpting product or that want more targeted control are better suited to using a Gua Sha.