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Can Gua Sha Cause Wrinkles? A Dermatologist's Answer & Advice

Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director. Previously she worked at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Image by ohlamour studio / iStock
December 14, 2020

Gua sha is a tool many skin care experts swear by—myself included. I currently have a collection of about six or seven tools, each a different shape and stone. I'm even known to carry one around in my purse, should the occasion call for a sculpting routine while I'm out and about.

And they aren't just pretty little things—these stones have a long tradition in traditional Chinese medicine (primarily for bodywork, but most modern iterations seem to favor the face) and can help relieve tight muscles, increase circulation, and sculpt the skin.

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But every once and while, I'll get this question: Can't pulling and tugging on the skin cause wrinkles? The answer to this being a resounding yes (It's why derms tell you to be so careful around the eyes when doing makeup or washing your face). So, doesn't it stand to reason that gua sha can do that, too? Uh, gulp.

Let's put this rumor to rest: Can gua sha give you wrinkles? Not if you're doing it right.

"Some people get nervous to use a gua sha tool since it looks like it is pulling at your face and tugging the skin, which we know can promote fine lines and wrinkles. However, if you use the tool gently and properly, it will not cause any wrinkling," assures board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skinfluence Marina Peredo, M.D.

So there you have it: As long as you're not being too aggressive with your movements, you're in the clear for fine lines. One way to make sure you're not accidentally pulling too much is to use a silky-enough oil underneath. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes people make with facial massages is they don't use oils along with their tools—the oil will help the stone slide over the skin, not drag.

Peredo goes on to note that you should "make sure you are not pulling the skin downward; always use an upward motion, and do not apply too much pressure."

And rest assured: Science is on our side. For example, one study showed that facial rolling—which lends a similar effect to gua sha—for only five minutes a day improved blood flow to the face, resulting in better skin quality and smoother skin over time. In another, patients claimed feeling tighter, more supple skin after regular massages. 

The takeaway.

Don't be afraid: Your gua sha stone isn't giving you wrinkles, if you're doing it right, that is. Just be mindful not to apply too much pressure, use oil, and always move upward. Glowing skin awaits.

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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director at mindbodygreen. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She has worked at many top publications and brands including Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends and updates in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as travel, financial wellness, and parenting. She has reported on the intricacies of product formulations, the diversification of the beauty industry, and and in-depth look on how to treat acne from the inside, out (after a decade-long struggle with the skin condition herself). She lives in Brooklyn, New York.