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How Expert Advice Turned a Chore into A Mindfulness Ritual

(My Personal Journey with the Famous Gua Sha Tool)

Early in the pandemic, searching for some kind of skincare and wellness routine in the wake of stress and disruption, I saw an ad for a gua sha tool on social media and was instantly interested. I had heard about the benefits of the tool when it comes to facial sculpting and relaxation, so I made my purchase and looked forward to a big change in my routine. My goal: get more facial sculpting as I suffer from a puffy face in the morning, and the gua sha tool seemed to be the best tool for that job.

After the tool arrived I swiftly began to experiment with the practice, despite doing a limited amount of research about using a gua sha tool - I figured, “it looks simple enough”. Of the research I did, there were clear dos and don’ts for using it correctly and respectfully. The one that stuck in my mind was to be slow and keep the tool flat on your face in order to reduce any discomfort or bruising. A lot of people online recommended using face oil to make the tool easier to glide across your face; unfortunately, I had a lot of misconceptions about using oil on my face so I opted to use the gua sha on its own in between my cleanser and moisturizer. I waxed and waned between a wet face and a semi-dry face, but each time I felt a lot of inconsistency with how I was using the tool. I kept up the practice for about four months, swiping the tool across my face way too fast and without much thought to the relaxation that the practice should elicit (I was silently wondering where was the relaxation everyone raved about). Over time the practice became more of a chore that outweighed any progress I saw, and the tool eventually sank to the bottom of my skincare drawer.

Last week I participated in a Lymphatic Facial Drainage Massage masterclass with celebrity facialist Ildi Pekar on Puremaven. It came with a product kit put together by Ildi herself, including the primary tool that was the gua sha, this time in a striking and sleek obsidian quartz. I was excited to get some expert advice on correct gua sha practices and hoped that this masterclass would reignite my consistency in this skincare practice. Going into the class I was curious to see where my previous knowledge of the gua sha practice lined up with Ildi’s expert advice, and a few minutes in, the verdict was crystal-clear: I was missing out on a lot and I was floored how big the gap was for what seemed like a simple routine. The Masterclass was extremely hands-on and informative, and I admit feeling extra special that a pro like Ildi Pekar - who’s famous partly for her model and celebrity clientele like Miranda Kerr, Irina Shayk, and Emily in Paris’ breakout star Ashley Park - was keeping track of my techniques like she did with my “classmates” to make sure we were doing the proper “detoxing”, which is apparently what the facial exercise is really about.

My favorite thing was the emphasis on breathing and closing your eyes while working with the tool. This put a whole new perspective on the practice and led me to the elusive relaxation I couldn’t find with my solo DIY attempts. Best of all, I confidently used the products that came with the kit, and couldn’t believe the difference the right facial oil (yes, I used the oil and DID NOT break out) and products make during the whole experience. The biggest difference that made an impact on me between my own experiment with gua sha and having professional help was my mindset around the practice. Before the masterclass, I viewed gua sha as another step in my already full morning and evening routine. It was a chore that I thought I had to do, instead of putting aside time to dedicate to my own wellness, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Since the masterclass, I have worried less about doing the gua sha practice every day and viewed it more as a self-care and mindfulness experience that will center myself. Especially as Stress Awareness Month comes to an end, I have used this tool as a nightly ritual to calm myself down after a long workday. The sculpted face I’m working towards (instead of my morning puffy face) feels like it’s right around the corner, and now seems like a bonus on top of the relaxation I enjoy every time I reach for my gua sha.


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