Something new more often! So now a Chinese stone massage. It is supposed to provide for relaxed facial features, without injections. The new beauty hype is called Gua Sha – we tested it in New York.
Gua Sha – Chinese stone massage for anti-aging.
It is no secret that a relaxed face is more inviting than a pinched one. The problem is that it is almost impossible to control the muscles exactly where all emotions want to express themselves: You curl your forehead with worry, angrily draw your eyebrows together, pinch your eyelids, let the corners of your mouth hang down. In order to avoid all these impulses in the future and to iron out past ones, there are well-known tried and tested remedies such as botulinum toxin or hyaluron injections.
Not only here, but especially in the USA, these measures are as much a part of everyday life as coffee to go. It is all the more astonishing that there of all places a trend is causing a sensation that manages completely without nerve poisons and injections: Gua Sha. It is pronounced quasha, it is a massage with a stone, which has a tradition going back thousands of years.
Even traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), one of the oldest medical systems in the world, mentions massage and lymph drainage with precious stones as a means of bringing the body into balance. However, Gua Sha for the face is a much gentler technique than that traditionally used in TCM. Regular use is said to improve blood circulation, vitality and tone of the complexion. Studies have also shown that Gua Sha heals inflammation, strengthens the immune system and can even improve sleep.
The tool that is supposed to do all this consists of a black, flat hand flattering stone with rounded edges about the size of a matchbox. It is called Bian Stone and contains forty trace elements. The story that is told about it goes like this: about 65 million years ago a large meteorite is said to have collided with the earth in Shandong, a north-eastern coastal region in China, and the collision created a mountain.
Its stones are known as Bian Stones, and are said to have an anti-aging effect on cells and DNA. Some even claim that they balance the energies in the body. It is undisputed, however, that the face looks less strained after a Gua-Sha treatment than before the treatment. With gentle pressure, the skin is worked in stroking movements until it turns slightly red. This is exactly what the words Gua Sha mean: “Gua” means rubbing, and “Sha” describes the resulting redness of the skin.
The best advertisement for these promises is Britta Plug herself. When the well-known beautician appears for an interview in the lobby of “The Ludlow” on New York’s Lower East Side, “Glow” is the first thing that comes to mind despite the inflationary use of the word. And this despite the fact that she says she suffers from a cold and almost had to cancel the meeting.
Visually, however, there is no trace of exhaustion or tension, her complexion is poreless, her facial expressions are soft as butter, even her temples seem relaxed. If all this is coming from a stone, it must be the philosopher’s stone, one ponders while she tells how she came to the honorary titles “Best Facialist of New York” and “Skin Guru”, which were awarded to her by various magazines.
The 35-year-old is originally from Canada, but grew up in southern Germany until she was sixteen. There she discovered the topic of beauty, gave herself and her friends pressure point facial massages, for which she found instructions in a do-it-yourself book. There was a sauna in the house, which she declared her own spa area, rolled aroma therapy guides, touched healing packs for herself and at the same time smoked a pack of Marlboro Light daily at the age of 13.
What young people do. She quickly gave up puffing, turned to healthy nutrition, yoga, meditation and Chinese healing methods in New York, and trained as a beautician. It soon became clear that she wanted to do something drastically different than working on impurities and putting on masks. Namely something holistic.
When she started with Gua Sha a few years ago, hardly anyone knew about the method, but everything that works naturally attracts attention. Even Plugs appearance, tattooed arms, a nose piercing, her natural, cool look arouses interest. Surely the success has to do with the change in the image of beauty that conscious women are developing, also in the USA. They no longer want just a quick solution on the surface, but honest, sustainable offers, the activation of self-healing powers.
In all areas of life we are becoming more conscious, more attentive, and the beauty industry is not unaffected by this movement. On their website studiobritta.com you will find the sentence: “Beauty is a process, not a product”.
Behind her concept is the belief that the skin is alive and that the largest physical organ needs and deserves more care than the shaking of a lotion that promises us eternal youth. Those who want to go deeper can book online courses there and find videos with instructions for self-massage on their Instagram account. All you need is a gua-sha stone, which you can also easily buy online.
For example at the Swiss shop Biomazing, they are also available in jade or rose quartz. You also need a vegetable oil so that the stone glides well over the surface. Basically it is quite simple, you divide the face into three horizontal segments: forehead, upper cheeks, lower cheeks and jaw contour. It is best to start with one half of the face and to complete the series there before lovingly turning to the other side. The word affectionate is not an unimportant detail, but part of the concept.
The Gua-Sha treatment in Britta Plug’s studio on Spring Street in Soho starts with steep steps, then a door opens on the first floor, behind which one would rather suspect a hippie artist flat than a beauty oasis. It smells of Palo Santo, the Indian incense. Amy, one of the beauticians has purple hair and an aura like a good witch.
Hardly furnished on the couch, one is overcome by drowsiness. This may be related to the fact that they are amethyst biomats that give off warmth, relax the muscles and put body and mind in an irritatingly peaceful state.
After skin analysis, Amy starts manual lymphatic drainage to relieve congestion, and then it’s off to Gua Sha, which feels like being caressed, but confident enough to tickle. Next comes an LED mask, these plastic Star Wars bonnets, which work with light and allow the product to work better into the skin.
A look in the mirror after 90 minutes of “Facial Attunement” (240 dollars) is astonishing: an expression as if one had slept deeply and carefree for three days. But if you want to achieve this state permanently, you have to rub yourself properly and above all constantly.