Over the past few years, you might have noticed pretty rose quartz rollers and flat jade Gua sha tools popping up on social media and at various beauty supply stores. You also may have noticed your favorite facialists offering unique additions to their repertoires, like buccal massage or facial cupping. These forms of massage, and the tools that are paired with them, have been making waves in beauty circles for years. In some cases, hundreds of years. Today, we’re chatting with beauty experts to break down the latest in facial massages, including what you need to get started, how to use the tools effectively and how these treatments benefit our skin.

Gua sha

Kari Zwickel is a wholistic esthetician, and she is the proud owner of Nourishing Skin Coach in Franklin, Tennessee. After studying health education in college and working part-time in dermatology, Kari found herself hooked on skincare. Over the years, she’s worked to hone her skills by studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and learning from the best in the green beauty biz. Needless to say, Kari is an expert when it comes to holistic facial techniques.

According to Kari, Gua sha and facial Gua sha are two different methods. “Gua sha on the body involves more vigorous scraping, whereas facial Gua sha uses very gentle pressure and stroking on the skin,” she tells us. If you’re going to try facial Gua sha at home, it’s the method you want to focus on.

gua sha facial

Kari Zwickel’s facial Gua sha in practice: She says implementing this technique has completely changed her facials. Image: Courtesy of Kari Zwickel.

Before getting click-happy and ordering the prettiest tool you can find on the internet, Kari recommends selecting a tool that feels good in your hands and doesn’t look intimidating. If you’re intimidated, you’ll never get the benefits! Tools come in a variety of colors and stones, but Kari has a favorite place to shop. “Knowing where my products come from and how they are sourced is important to me,” she says. For that reason, I purchase all of my stones from Cecily Braden with Beauty Secrets.”

To get started, Kari says to do your research. “There are plenty of workshops online and in-person that you can attend to learn facial Gua sha.” However, if you simply can’t wait, make sure your skin is clean and well moisturized. Next, focus on how you’re holding your Gua sha tool. “For the majority of facial Gua sha movement, you need to hold your tool at a 15-degree angle, always making sure you have an oil or serum on the skin so the tool glides across the skin. You don’t want to pull or scrape the skin,” Kari explains.

The benefits of facial Gua sha can include everything from tension release to improving circulation and creating lift, and Kari says her practice has evolved since introducing the method. “It has completely changed what I do in the treatment room,” she explains. “I no longer use any machines or need to do any extractions.” Talk about a glowing review!

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Buccal Massage

Like Kari, Mary Bogart is a massage and facial expert. She’s not only a massage therapist with more than 20 years of experience, but she’s also a wholistic esthetician and the woman behind love.beauty.nourish., a facial treatment and massage studio in Atlanta. Mary’s laundry list of specialties are all tied together with one common factor: natural rejuvenation, which she achieves through various treatments, including buccal massage and facial cupping.

According to Mary, “The sculptural lift technique — which includes buccal massage, a technique created by Yakov Gerskovich, which I was trained in — is a naturally rejuvenating, face-lifting technique. It focuses on the inner muscles of the mouth and massages muscles deep inside the cheek and jaw area.” Yes, it sounds … well … different. And that’s why Mary suggests leaving the technique to the experts. “I highly recommend you seek someone who is trained in these techniques. Sculptural lift technique and buccal work well together and are highly effective,” she tells us.

buccal massage

Expert Mary Bogart says the benefits of buccal massage are bountiful and can even help ease TMJ. Image: Courtesy of Mary Bogart.

What exactly does “highly effective” mean? Mary says the benefits are bountiful. “Buccal massage improves lymphatic drainage, resulting in a significant reduction of puffiness. [It helps] deep relaxation of facial muscles and TMJ, improves skin texture, improves muscle tone, [creates] a more contoured jawline and lifting of the muscles, and helps release stored, psycho-emotional blockages. It softens fine lines and wrinkles, too.”

Plus, the royals are totally into it too. “Buccal massage has been around for quite some time in the massage therapy world for TMJ, but I believe it became more well-known to the world of skincare when Meghan Markle’s esthetician spoke about the protocol she uses on Meghan during her facials, which includes buccal massage.”

If duchesses do it, Southerners can too!

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Facial Cupping

Like buccal massage, facial cupping might sound a little odd — especially if your only knowledge of cupping is watching Olympic athletes walk from event to event with big red circles on their backs. However, Mary assures us no circles will be present after facial cupping. “There is a continuous glide with facial cupping, whereas cupping for the body will be placed at certain points and left at those points for a certain amount of time, creating round bruises.” Whew.

According to Mary, facial cupping is, “the use of suction cups on the skin, which creates suction and negative pressure to gently lift the facial tissue, resulting in increased blood circulation as well as draining of excess fluid by opening llymphatic pathways.” Essentially, this could very well be the next big thing in facials.


Don’t be scared of facial cupping; it won’t leave red welts on your face, but it will make your skin feel lifted! Image: Courtesy of Mary Bogart

In fact, facial cupping helps a variety of typical skin concerns that we often rely on make-up and other products to correct. Think: a brighter, more glowing complexion and a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. It also stimulates collagen and elastin, reduces tension and helps drain stagnant fluid, resulting in significantly less puffiness.

Note: This is not a job for YouTube. Like buccal massage, if you’re curious about the treatment, Mary says to find a trained expert. “I recommend seeing an esthetician first, to receive a facial cupping treatment. Then let your esthetician guide you in a brand as well as product, and [show you] how to do a correct facial cupping home-care protocol.”

The point is, when it comes to beauty, think beyond the make-up aisle or the latest Korean skincare masks. Your local estheticians are valuable resources, always learning about the next big treatment. Place your face in their expert hands.


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