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Gua Sha: an Interview with Ann Roth

Facial beauty tools are seemingly everywhere lately - jade rollers, facial cupping, and gua sha, to name a few. The latter of which has recently received much attention on TikTok. Yet, none of these techniques are actually new! In honor of our upcoming facial gua sha workshop with expert Ann Roth on Tuesday, August 31, we interviewed Ann about gua sha, its benefits, and proper techniques.

SG: How did you become involved in Eastern medicine? In what practices do you specialize?

AR: I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune thyroid disorder) about 12 years ago and was told to take a pill for the rest of my life to treat it. I knew there had to be a better way and started to seek out other treatments to support my health. My doctor suggested acupuncture and the more I went, the better I felt! Upon further research about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I realized it aligned with how I wanted to live my life and help people. So I went back to school to get my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has changed my life in many, many ways! I am trained as a general practitioner and I love treating women’s health and pediatrics. Insomnia, stress, anxiety, menstrual disorders, hormone imbalance, fertility, digestive disorders, and pain are some of the conditions that I treat.

SG: What is gua sha?

AR: Gua sha is a scraping technique used to restore healthy blood, fluid, and qi (energy) circulation to the body’s tissues in order to heal disease and illness.

While gua sha is certainly having its moment on social media, it is not “new.” It is one of the many modalities found within an over 4,000 year old indigenous medicine practice that is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

 Facial gua sha is a version of this modality used in TCM cosmetic treatments. Using slow and gentle strokes, you are able to work below the surface of the skin and promote the health of the tissue and muscles underneath. Therefore, affecting the appearance of the skin.

SG: What are the benefits of gua sha?


  • Increases blood and qi circulation
  • Reduces puffiness
  • Improves skin texture
  • Lifts and sculpts facial features
  • Brightens complexion
  • Relaxes facial muscles
  • Reduces under eye darkness and puffiness
  • Improves lymphatic circulation
  • Eliminates congestion to improve acne

SG: Do you need to use oil or lotion with the gua sha tool?

AR: Yes, it’s important that the tool glides over your skin and not pull or tug, so a facial oil is necessary to achieve that “slip and glide” for gua sha.

SG: Are there specific techniques involved in gua sha?

AR: Yes! 

  • Having a good glide with a facial oil
  • The angle - flat against the skin, don’t use the edge!
  • The pressure - gentle!
  • Speed - slow and mindful
  • Direction - move in one direction (not back and forth), usually upwards

SG: How often do you recommend doing a gua sha facial massage?

AR: As with most things that benefit your health, consistency is key. I recommend facial gua sha 2-3 times per week. Do what’s best for your life - whether that is in the morning to invigorate and awaken skin or in the evening to relax and calm.

SG: Is gua sha for everybody?

AR: Yes, but there are some cautions when doing facial gua sha. 

  • Avoid active breakouts (just go around the area)
  • If pregnant, avoid the top of the shoulder area. This is a very stimulating point to promote labor.
  • Avoid areas of the face that have had Botox for 3 weeks after injections and 3 months after filler injections.

SG: What do you love most about gua sha?

AR: So many things but mostly that it is a wonderful way to carve out time to take care of yourself and connect your mind, body, and spirit.

If you enjoyed our conversation with Ann and want to learn how to gua sha in person, join us for the facial gua sha workshop on Tuesday, August 31 at 6:00 PM. We hope to see you there!

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