I'm Obsessed With Facial Stones: Here Are the Best-Kept Secrets
Just a few years ago I knew nothing of facial rollers or stones. I thought they were gimmicky and couldn't imagine them doing anything substantial for my skin. I stuck to my extra-strength peels and harsh chemicals instead. Then? My skin started responding—quite negatively—to all my skin barrier stripping.
I turned to oils, creams, and facial massages. At first my massages were strictly of the professional variety—I would seek out facialists who specialized in it. I became obsessed with the feeling: It was somehow simultaneously revitalizing and relaxing. With each session, I could just feel years of tension melt away. (At one appointment, the therapist found knots under my cheekbones! Seriously!). Eventually, they also inspired me to try a weekly, then daily, routine at home—rollers and gua sha stones, included. But don't take my word for it: The science is there to support it. It's been shown to increase blood flow to the face (hey, glowy skin!) and delay the appearance1 of fine lines. After playing major catchup, I discovered a few tricks and tips along the way.
1. Pair it with a sheet mask.
An easy hack you might have seen all over Instagram: using your favorite facial roller with a sheet mask. The key with sheet masks is that you are supposed to massage in the active serums while you wear it—not just let it sit there on your face. And since facial rollers need a serum while in use, the two are a natural pair: You'll better work in the serum from the mask, and your roller will have better slip. Oriag Vitamin C Revitalizing Organic Sheet Mask is my go-to (I'm always looking for brightening products, but the brand has plenty of other options no matter your need) because the fabric has a little grip to it, so it won't slide around your face as you are rolling. Finally, when you're done masking, you can do one last pass over the face, working in the serum layer.
2. Give yourself a gua sha hand massage midday.
Gua sha has really only been popular for the face so far (it was only recently I learned you can do full-body!). But for a major stress-relieving afternoon ritual, keep a scraping tool (the swooped triangle stones) at your desk and try this quick technique out. Start by lathering up your hands with your favorite hand cream (the thicker the better; I like SkinFix Eczema+ Repair Hand Cream). Then with the dimpled end of the stone, start stroking each finger from tip toward the palm, rotating around the finger so you get all sides. Treat each finger a few times before moving to the palm itself, where you'll gently stroke toward the wrist with the curved side.
3. De-puff eyes in the a.m. & sculpt at night.
"I prefer to roll in the morning, as it can help with puffiness we experience then," says acupuncturist Elizabeth Trattener, A.P., whose signature facial includes gemstones and acupuncture. And on the weekends, I'm all for it: A relaxing full-face roll is one of my favorite Saturday rituals. But come Monday through Friday, I'm hardly ever coordinated enough to do a full routine (I am decidedly not a morning person, and I'm usually doing the bare minimum to get out the door). So instead of de-puffing my whole face, I just target the areas that need it most: the eyes, which are more sensitive to retaining water. After applying my moisturizer and eye cream, I take the small end of my roller and do about five passes on each side, starting at the inner corner and moving out. Then, at night during the weekdays, I do my full routine. I prefer this because my nighttime oils—currently I'm obsessing over Pai's classic Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil—are just the perfect amount of thickness to give the roller some slip.
4. Pick the right stone.
"I do believe it is important to understand how stones function and choose one that is specific to your skin issues and also use a proper technique," says Trattener. And whether it's your roller or gua sha stone, the options abound. The most common you'll see are rose quartz and jade. "Rose quartz has a piezoelectric effect, meaning it carries a small charge to help awaken the skin. I like using it for patients who have issues with stagnation and also hyperpigmentation," she says. For jade: "This is my default crystal of choice when working, and I find it can balance the skin. It's also a hard stone, so it's great for gua sha."
5. Utilize the principles of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy has been shown to do wonders for your mental state, be it waking you up in the morning, helping you focus during the day, or winding you down at night. One easy way I've found to amp up the benefits of facial massage is to use oils with distinct scents. For example, a few nighttime oils have lavender in them to help induce sleepiness, or if you are using it in the morning, find a facial oil with a crisp, citrus scent.
6. A reminder: Clean your stones.
When is the last time you washed your roller or stone? Ideally you'll do it after every use since all you need to do is run it under warm water and add some soap. But I know my own habits, and I don't necessarily after every roll session. But your roller or stone is probably slicked up with serum after and then just sits there collecting dust and dirt.
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Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at 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 in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.