From Gua Sha to jade rolling and ice rolling, turn your skincare into self-care with these de-stressing techniques and tips

During times of stress (and boy, have we had our fair share as of late), many of us turn to tried-and-tested rituals to provide a much-needed pocket of calm amid the chaos. From a warm bath to an at-home workout and breathing practices, we all know what works for us – but what about trying a facial massage? 

Turning our skincare into a form of self-care can provide benefits from the inside out, whether you’re looking to brighten dull skin or de-stress body and mind. Here’s how to find a routine that works for you.

What are the benefits of a facial massage? 

If you’re looking for glowing skin, a facial massage can help: it boosts blood circulation, which has the effect of increasing oxygen flow to perk up sallowness and dullness. As a result, you may notice that your skin looks bouncier, more refreshed and less fatigued right away, and during the following days, too (great if you have a special occasion coming up).

Then, of course, there’s the relaxation element. Facial massage works as a great way to re-centre at the end of a long day. In fact, it can act as a form of touch therapy, as hypnotherapist, coach at Calmer You and author of The Anxiety Solution, Chloe Brotheridge explains to us in our article on seasonal affective disorder

There are studies to suggest that as well as decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, massage may help increase levels of the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine to uplift your mood and ease away tension on a number of different levels.

There are loads of different techniques and facial massage tools to choose from, each offering a host of benefits and an option to try whether you’ve got 30 seconds in the morning or 10 minutes in the evening. 

Here’s the lowdown on some of the most popular at-home facial massage techniques, the facial massage tools that are currently creating a buzz, plus, some of the best tutorials to help hone your skills.

Gua Sha

What is Gua Sha?

It may be causing a stir on Instagram and TikTok at the moment (courtesy of a glowing review from Lizzo), however Gua Sha has been around for thousands of years. 

With its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Gua Sha was originally used as an ancient healing technique involving scraping the body with various shaped tools and stones, which was believed to help with energy flows. It was also used as a means to release toxins and alleviate heat from the body. 

More recently, its popularity as a facial massage technique has soared where, instead of traditional scraping motions, gentler gliding movements and a smooth-edged massage tool (commonly made of jade or rose quartz) are used to release tension, manipulate and lift facial tissues and increase microcirculation. 

What are the benefits of Gua Sha?

Gua Sha may help to:

• Reduce facial puffiness

• Relieve stress

• Stimulate blood flow

• Temporarily tighten the skin

• Ease muscular tension

• Create a temporary lifting effect 

What do you need?

A Gua Sha stone made of jade, Bian stone or rose quartz are fantastic options, alongside a facial oil to provide sufficient slip.

Best facial oil

Try: Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Facial Oil

• Size: 15ml

• Luxurious soothing facial oil

• Lightweight formula

Infused with a nourishing blend of skin-loving ingredients like coconut oil, sweet almond and jojoba, this easily-absorbed oil leaves skin radiant and more youthful-looking.

Best Gua Sha tool

Try: Botanics Rose Quartz Gua Sha

• Hand-crafted

• Wash before first use

Made of rose quartz (traditionally believed to support heat energy and encourage skin cell renewal), this tool is perfectly shaped to fit the contours of your face and hand.

Best facial oil for massage

Try: Botanics 100% Organic Facial Oil

• Size: 25ml

• Vegan

• 100% organic

This nourishing organic facial massage oil enriched with rosehip oil gives your Gua Sha tool extra glide and leaves skin softer and more moisturised. 

How often should you Gua Sha?

Try once a week to begin with and depending on how your skin reacts, build up to two or three times a week if you’d like. Find what works best for you and take care not to overdo it around the delicate eye area.

How do you use a Gua Sha tool?

Gua Sha involves using gentle strokes of a Gua Sha stone to relieve tension in areas such as the forehead and jaw. The key is to work in an upwards and outwards motion and stick to light pressure to avoid bruising. 

The best way to learn how to Gua Sha is either by having it done professionally with a licensed TCM practitioner or through watching it being done by an expert. This tutorial from facialist and TCM practitioner Ada Ooi breaks down the basics brilliantly.

Gua Sha can also be used to relieve tension around the neck. This highly viewed YouTube tutorial from acupuncturist Sandra Lanshin Chui shows you how.

Who should avoid Gua Sha?

Those with broken or sensitive skin and those with rosacea, eczema and other reactive skin conditions may want to avoid Gua Sha as it can be aggravating. As pointed out by Sandra Lanshin Chui in the above video, those with high blood pressure or cardiac conditions may want to consider consulting their doctor for guidance before using the techniques she demonstrates.

Jade rolling

What is jade rolling?

This facial massage technique involves using a traditional Chinese roller made of jade (rose quartz is also commonly used), and works in a similar way to Gua Sha but is less intensive. 

What are the benefits of jade rolling?

Jade rolling may help:

• Increase circulation

• Reduce puffy eyes

• Calm redness

What do you need?

There are a wide variety of different jade rollers to choose from, many of which have a larger roller on one end for areas such as the cheeks and forehead, and a smaller one on the other end for the eyes and around the nose.

For extra slip, it can be helpful to use a jade roller with a facial oil. Here are two of the best products to try. Shop more great options here.  

Best jade roller

Try: EcoTools Dual-Ended Jade Roller

• Made from 100% jade

• Double-ended

• Biodegradable paper and a plantable seeded sticker to grow packaging into wildflowers

• Designed with larger and smaller ends, this facial massage roller covers a range of needs.

Best facial oil for massage

Try: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• Vegan

• Free of essential oils, silicones and fragrances

• Rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, this fragrance-free oil leaves skin soft and supple.

How often should you jade roll?

As jade rolling can be less intensive than Gua Sha, it can be done more frequently. Some enjoy doing it every few days while others may like doing it twice a day. 

How do you use a jade roller?

After applying your favourite facial oil or face mask, roll the tool gently upwards and outwards towards the hairline. Repeat over the rest of the face and neck area. 

To add an extra dimension, keep your jade roller in the fridge or freezer to increase its de-puffing abilities and reduce swelling. However, as facialist and aesthetician Abigail James (@abigailjames1 on Instagram) points out in her excellent jade rolling tutorial on YouTube, it can warm up quickly. She recommends having a bowl of ice cubes nearby to keep it cool. 

Watch her full face lifting and de-puffing jade rolling video to sharpen up your jade rolling technique and find out how to use a jade roller under your eyes, too.

Ice rolling

What is ice rolling?

This type of facial massage involves rolling a cold-to-the-touch tool that has been kept in the fridge or freezer over the face to calm skin, de-puff and reduce redness. It takes inspiration from ice therapy, a traditional practice within Chinese medicine.

What are the benefits of ice rolling?

Ice rolling may help:

• Increase circulation

• De-puff and brighten

Best ice rollers for face

Try: Botanics Ice Rollers

• Provides a calming and soothing facial massage

• Use on its own or with your favourite skincare product for an at home facial

How often should you use an ice roller?

If you’re prone to puffiness after waking up, ice rolling can be a useful addition to your morning routine. It’s also wonderful to have to hand on hot summer days.

How do you use an ice roller?

Store your ice roller in the fridge or freezer (depending on how cooling you want its effect to be) and, after cleansing and applying a hydrating face serum or cream, slowly move it across your face working inwards to outwards. 

Use your hands

Sometimes, the only tools that you need are your hands. They offer great control, allow you to be quite intuitive pressure-wise and the warmth from your fingertips works really well with cleansing balms and facial oils, too. 

What’s particularly great about adopting a more hands-on approach is that you can seamlessly combine a range of different techniques to bolster results. Whether you’re looking to lift, sculpt or brighten, there’s a routine to suit. And the best news? It’s free. 

What do you need?

A cleansing balm or facial oil – and short fingernails.

Best cleansing balm for facial massage

Try: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

• Size: 100g

• Sweep over face and neck in circular motions

Cleansing balms have the perfect shape-shifting texture for a facial massage due to their ability to transform to an oil with just the warmth of your hands. This one contains a unique blend of nine essential oils including lavender, chamomile and eucalyptus to truly invigorate your senses.  

Best cleansing balm for different skin types 

Try: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

• Size: 125ml

• Fragrance-free

This pick is one of the best for a wide range of different skin types (including the sensitive and irritation-prone) thanks to its fragrance-free formula. A little goes a long way, too.

Explore more great options here

What are the best facial massages to do at home?

Lisa Eldridge’s Facial Massage Routine: Combining techniques such as effleurage, lymphatic drainage and acupressure, this 10-minute sequence by make-up artist Lisa Eldridge targets everything from puffy eyes to water retention around the jawline, which leaves skin glowing and features more defined. 

Abigail James’s Face Lifting Massage: With movements designed to lift and firm muscles, add definition and sculpt, this facial massage routine is stimulating yet relaxing at the same time. Abigail recommends doing it one to four times a week. 

Face fitness by Mia: Specialising in all things “face fitness”, Mia’s videos cover a range of techniques touching on everything from reducing fluid around the jawline to exercises for a more toned neck.