205: Gua Sha + Body Brushing For Skin Health w/ Gianna De La Torre, L.Ac

Brought to you by Quell

This episode is bought to you by Quell — to help support rebuilding healthy skin from the outside-in + inside-out!

Take 10% off your next order! Use promo code QUELL10 at check out — Get started HERE!

– – –

Have you ever tried gua sha or dry brushing? Both these practices are linked to better lymph drainage, which can have a positive impact on skin health! My guest today will explain how.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

Gianna De La Torre is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist for the last 12 years.

In 2018 she co-founded Wildling with Jill Munson and Britta Plug. She also became a mom in the same month that Wildling launched.

Gianna still offers facial and intuitive acupuncture sessions in Los Angeles, California.

Join us as we talk about how gua sha and dry brushing can improve skin health.

Have you ever tried gua sha and body brushing? Tell me about it in the comments!

In this episode:

  • How did Gianna get into the world of gua sha, dry brushing, etc.?
  • How to use a gua sha tool on the face and body
  • Why is having slip important when using a gua sha tool?
  • How is dry brushing different to gua sha?
  • Can you do gua sha if you have skin rashes?
  • Is gua sha just for adults?


“You're really gently increasing the flow of chi and blood. And you're guiding that emphatic fluid down towards the lymphatic centers so that your skin is deep puffed, you're relieving facial tension, and relaxing the muscles. You're also smoothing the fascia, which is the connective tissue.” [9:08]

“You're never going to use the technique directly over an active skin issue, whether that be acne or whether it's eczema or a rash or anything like that.” [19:20]


Find Gianna online here and here

Get 10% OFF your first Wildling purchase with code HEALTHYSKINSHOW

Follow Gianna on Instagram | Instagram | YouTube | TikTok

Gua Sha + Body Brushing For Skin Health w/ Gianna De La Torre, L.Ac FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Gianna, thank you so much for being here today, I really appreciate it. It has been an honor to get to know you and your work and the work of the company, Wildling Beauty, that you are one of the co-founders for. And I'm excited actually to have this conversation today because I do recommend to my clients to work with their limp, so to speak, doing dry brushing and gua sha and whatnot. But you guys are the experts in this. So I'm glad that we're able to have a conversation around this because I do think it can be incredibly powerful. So just out of curiosity, what got you into this whole field of being interested in gua sha and dry brushing and whatnot?

Gianna: Thank you for having me. And I'm a licensed acupuncturist and a long time Yogi and health enthusiast. And I really came to gua sha specifically through my Chinese medicine studies, which I started in 2005. And what I really love about gua sha and what really stuck with me right away was that it was the first thing that I was empowered to do in the clinic, which means when you're starting acupuncture school, I can only really speak for California, but when you're starting acupuncture school, you almost immediately start observing in the clinic. And you're taking massage courses and biomedicine and Chinese medicine courses and all of these things and absorbing all of this information. And the first thing that I was allowed to do in the clinic was gua sha and it has a long history of being used by professionals to decrease fever, to increase immunity, to benefit the lungs and respiratory conditions. It's known to revive consciousness and relieve pain.

Gianna: And so the first time that I was able to use it on a patient, it was relatively easy to do it, inspired instant results. I also experienced it on my own body and just felt like the power of moving chi and blood and clearing heat and just really connecting to the power of this relatively simple practice and gua sha has a long history of being a folk medicine, which means that it's been used in the home in many Asian cultures, especially Chinese culture, by elders, by parents, many people growing up in there cultures would have experienced gua sha as a child when they were sick or whatever. Chinese medicine doesn't really talk a lot about the beauty benefits of gua sha. But as I really began to develop my practice and get a little bit older, I noticed that especially in Los Angeles where I live, there's almost this epidemic of just feeling like you need to go into the derm at a certain age and get injectables.

Gianna: And there's almost this expectation that that's just your option and that's what you do. And there's nothing wrong with that other than the fact that there aren't other options. And so, as I was working and living in LA, I really wanted to offer a holistic option to benefit the skin. And we all want to look better, we all want to feel better. And so I really came to gua sha and facial acupuncture as a way of just offering alternatives. Like we can choose between organic and inorganic produce, we can choose between where we shop, we have all these choices to make with our health and our wellness, but I didn't feel like as women, getting older that we have a lot of options that are holistic and also pharmaceutical.

Gianna: So that is why we were really passionate about creating Wildling and I've always been passionate about gua sha. So I designed the tools with a lot of feedback for my partners, and I just designed our dream tools to use on the face and on the body and also for muscle tension relief in the face and the jaw and the neck. So that's a long-winded answer, but it was a long story.

Jennifer: It's a great answer. I mean, the thing that I actually learned from starting to follow you and your business partners was that I just thought gua sha was for the face and moving the lymph around and especially helping it to drain essentially toward the lymph nodes. But I learned from you all that you can actually use this on the body. So gua sha uses a tool. Do you want to talk a little bit for somebody who doesn't know what a gua sha tool looks like? Because I think a lot of times they confuse them with the rollers, the jade rollers, most people are familiar with that. So what is a gua sha tool made of? Is there a difference between ones that would be used on the face as opposed to the body? And I need you to talk about slip because we talked about slip on an Instagram live, and that is a really important part to making this whole process comfortable and not damaging your skin.

Gianna: Yes, definitely. So a gua sha tool, traditionally would be made out of, the original gua sha tools used for Chinese medicine were either a spoon or a polished animal horn. It's always a flat surface. You think about something that's almost disc like shaped so that it has a firm edge. Some people even use lids, think about the lid to the tiger balm, which is a very commonly used gua sha thing in practice. So when you're using a firm edge against the skin, gua sha translates as scraping sand, but it really refers to scraping the stagnation out of the tissues. So if you think about using a firm edge on the bottom of a lake bed. When you're dragging a lake, you're going to stir all of this silt and stuff to the surface, and it's going to get kind of mucky, right? Because you're moving it around.

Gianna: That's the same thing that you're doing in the tissues. When you apply oil and tonic, we have a tonic first and then an oil for hydration and then slip and moisture. And then you glide the tool across the skin. It's like you're hitting those deeper layers of the tissue and pulling all of the stagnation up to the surface. Now that would be on the body. And there can be some marks that are similar to cupping on the body. We would never use that type of pressure on the face. So on a much more gentle level, you're also moving chi and blood and lymphatic fluid on the face. Just like you said, you're absolutely stimulating lymphatic flow. And I think that you're not alone. Right now, gua sha is trending so hard. You used to Google gua sha and you would just see these crazy markings on someone's back. And it would be like random articles here and there.

Gianna: Now, when you Google gua sha, you will see only stuff about the face. So it's really easy to feel like this is something that is really gaining traction in the west, mainly for use on the face. But it's a really powerful modality that works on many levels. So like I said, according to Chinese medicine, it moves chi and blood, which is energy, energy and blood and clear stagnation from the tissues. So according to Chinese medicine, stagnation is the root of disease. So anytime that we're increasing the flow, we're increasing overall health. And then you're also improving, a great side effect is that you're improving the way the tissue looks. So the tissue is going to look more, it's going to get more circulation. So a lot of times the skin and the body can be kind of dull.

Gianna: And so when you increase the circulation, you notice wow, my skin looks more even, my skin tone is more even, it feels smoother. So those are some of the benefits again on the body. And then on the face, when you use that really gentle pressure. We cannot stress enough, the pressure on the face is so gentle. Think more like frosting the cake rather than giving yourself a deep tissue massage. How gentle would you be with a cake? You're not trying to mess up the frosting, right? And we always use the tool almost flat to the face and hold the skin and secure it with the opposite hand. You can go down a whole rabbit hole of Instagram tutorials in IGTV that will cover this step-by-step.

Gianna: But you're really gently increasing the flow of chi and blood. And you're guiding that emphatic fluid down towards the lymphatic centers so that your skin is de-puffed, you're relieving facial tension, and relaxing the muscles. You're also smoothing the fascia, which is the connective tissue. All of these things kind of contribute to age over time, or signs of aging, I should say. So if we have a bunch of habitual facial expressions that we're making and we're not kind of massaging that tension out, we're not revitalizing the tissue, it's a very natural way to kind of encourage the flow and also encourage the glow so to speak. So the results with that are really kind of immediate. You'll look different as soon as you do either body gua sha or facial gua sha. Know that on the body, it can leave some bruising and some marks, which is totally normal. But yeah, the results are instantaneous and then more cumulative also over time because when you're getting in there and you're relaxing the face and it's actually really addictive. I feel like my face just craves it over time.

Jennifer: I will acknowledge that I started doing facial gua sha earlier this year, so a few months ago, and I noticed a huge improvement in, I was getting like these, I don't know what you call them, the jowl look on the side of your jaw line. And I've noticed that that has really gone away. My skin does look and feel better. Again, I wasn't aware of the body gua sha until more recently, so that hasn't been my focus, but just for the facial improvements, that's been really nice. And I've also encouraged other clients too, where they comment that they feel like their face is very puffy. There's a lot of puffiness going on under the eyes, especially after waking up in the morning, they just feel the face looks full and they have also noted that they do feel that there is a pretty good difference in how they look when they do it. The one thing that I did learn kind of the hard way, because I thought well, I'll just use the tool. They're usually what's made of jade or some sort of stone, essentially the tools.

Gianna: They can be, they can be made out of all different forms of crystals. Ours is made out of BM stone, which was created when a meteor struck a mountain in China. And it's one of the original pillars of Chinese medicine, this stone. So they can be made out of various stones. We kind of picked one that feels really connected to the roots of the practice, but yeah, a lot of different kinds of stones out there.

Jennifer: Well, there you go. So at least now you all know it's a stone tool, it's a stone tool. But slip is really important, you had kind of touched on that. I initially thought that you just use the tool, but that's not the case. You have to have some slips. So when you say slip, whether you're doing it on the face or the body, what do you mean by that?

Gianna: Yes. So that means the application of oil. And at Wildling, we also incorporate a tonic for the face and the body. We have the hydrating tonic, emperor's tonic that we use on the face, which also activates lymphatic circulation. And then over that, we apply the emperor's oil, which also has ingredients that kind of boost the benefits of gua sha, they're very circulating plumping and toning ingredients. And what that slip does is it provides a frictionless space, frictionless surface for the tool to glide over. Because you can imagine if you just picked up something and it kind of stuck to the skin. It's going to stick to the skin and stretch the skin and it might feel unpleasant. But when the tool is sliding on oiled skin, it has more slip.

Gianna: And that slip allows the tool to really do what it's meant to do. And you can really relate to this. Hopefully out there you've had a massage with oil versus a massage without oil. Once you have the oil massage, the hands are able to really glide along the skin in an amazing way. Without oil, you can do things like acupressure, shiatsu, there's a lot of really incredible techniques that don't use oil. But there's a really nice feeling that happens with that slip and the glide. And it's the same thing with the gua sha tool. So using the oil is an essential, essential thing to do. And so a lot of people will hit us up and they'll say, what do we do if we can't use oil on our skin or skin doesn't react very well.

Gianna: And there's creative ways. You can try using a serum as long as it's really slippery. I had a friend told me that she likes to just wet her skin and use a little bit of moisturizer that's water-based in addition to the water, which you might have to reapply a few times if it starts to get sticky or dry. But yeah, you want to make sure that that tool is gliding over the skin and not sticking to the skin is the most important thing on face and on body.

Jennifer: And in terms of, well, I want to talk about dry brushing first, and then I definitely want to touch on when there are good times to do this and when we should avoid it. But how is dry brushing different than gua sha or are they connected?

Gianna: Yeah. So dry brushing is derived from many, many different cultures practice some form of dry brushing. Dry brushing and gua sha are not a traditional Chinese medicine combination. This is something that we've kind of combined based on our knowledge of the body and the lymphatic system, especially. Lymphatic drainage is a very gentle technique typically, it's not deep pressure. And dry brushing works in that way, where it's stimulating the surface of the skin, which is very exfoliating. And then it also works in those vessels underneath the skin to stimulate lymphatic flow. So dry brushing has been really well known for again, it's really invigorating for the system, it's very lymphatic activating.

Gianna: And so we have combined that in our aura collection with a dry brush products for the body, and then also a gua sha tool. So the gua sha tool is going to work on the deeper layers of the skin, really getting into the muscle, the tissues, moving and breaking up connective tissue that can contribute to things like cellulite. And so the dry brushing kind of prepares the skin and then you go deeper with the gua sha. and they have very different actions, they have very different surfaces, they're very different, but they're are really great adjunct to each other.

Jennifer: I love that explanation. I didn't think of it that way, it's like there are different levels. So you go deeper with the gua sha than you do with the dry brushing. Because I feel like lymphatic drainage can be so helpful for people who are really struggling no matter where you are on your journey. I know even there's been times where I've recommended somebody has a little trampoline at their house and I'm like, get on the trampoline and bounce up and down, it does help to move your lymphatic fluid. Doing some sun salutations can also move lymphatic fluid as well. So there's a lot of different things that we can do in our daily life. Even horseback riding, not that everyone has access to a horse and I have only been on a horse once in my life. But if you do, that actually is great for your lymphatic system. So with dry brushing, am I correct that you start with the extremities and you're moving inward, so from say the wrist for example, inward toward the armpit, the ankle up toward the groin area.

Gianna: Yes, exactly. So we have our lymph nodes tend to collect around the armpits, around the neck, which is why facial gua sha is so good for kind of sweeping towards the neck. And then also in the groin. And you always want to work from the toes towards the hips and you want to work from the fingertips towards the armpits in order to really get that lymphatic movement. If you're going the opposite direction, you're actually encouraging lymphatic flow in the wrong direction because it is going to detoxify and drain those lymphatic centers that are closer to the trunk. So that's a really great thing to keep in mind is that you're sweeping generally towards the armpit and towards the groin, towards the neck.

Jennifer: So as you know, a lot of folks who listen to this, they may have rashes themselves. Some listen for a loved one, a friend, and some are practitioners as well, who learn a ton from the show. And so if someone is dealing with active rashes, so for example, let's just say someone has active eczema all over their face right now, the face is incredibly inflamed. That would likely not be a good candidate for doing gua sha right now. What would your thoughts be on if that was the case for that person?

Gianna: Yeah, a hundred percent. You're never going to use the technique directly over an active skin issue, whether that be acne or whether it's eczema or a rash or anything like that. Now that being said, you can work as long as there's clear skin from the ear lobe down to the collarbone. We do tell people if you have a skin condition, you can work around it on the face and you can work from the ear lobe down to the collarbone, and that's where the lymphatic fluid drains from the face. So you can just do 10 to 30 strokes on the neck, making sure that the neck also has slip, to kind of just encourage lymphatic flow because the lymphatic system carries waste materials away from the skin. And so if there's anything that is kind of hanging out in the tissue that could be contributing to the skin condition, then that's a good way to heal. Again, that's very, very gentle pressure because it's lymphatic moving. So it's really, really gentle self-loving massage from the ear lobe to the terminus point just above the collarbone

Jennifer: And that person then two could consider dry brushing the rest of the body, gua sha on the body. Whereas for somebody who might have rashes on body in certain areas, that's where if their face is clear, gua sha on the face. So I think that's the point is you have to customize where it is and based on where your rashes are, how flared up they are, how angry they are, because you don't want to do this, I would assume you don't want to do any of this over areas that the skin is broken or it's very weak and fragile and could break open, I would assume.

Gianna: Yes. A hundred percent. So you're always going to be doing this on clear skin. And that being said, it's just good to keep in mind that you can still really benefit your overall health and your body and your skin by working around it. So unless your entire body's covered, which for some people that might be the case. Unless that's the case, you can find a way to kind of work around and still get a lot of benefits because of the movement otherwise. And then also just knowing what you said about the lymphatic movement, the lymphatic movement is encouraged by your body's movement. So anytime that you're jumping on a trampoline, anytime that you're riding your horse or jogging or doing any sort of physical exercise, that's going to be benefiting your lymphatic system. So no matter what, one of these things is accessible to you and will benefit.

Jennifer: And just out of curiosity, is this just for adults or is this something that teenagers or even children you can do with kids? Or do you have any thoughts on just age for somebody who's listening? Who's maybe a mom and thinking oh, this might be helpful for my daughter, but the daughter is five.

Gianna: Yeah. So gua sha is definitely used on children. I know that I talked about gua sha being a folk technique that's passed down for generations in the home in many Asian cultures. And with that as also some knowledge of when and how to use it. So unless you have had that tradition kind of passed down to you, it's great to do some research or consultant acupuncturist directly for how to do this with your child. Generally, massage in general and gentle gua sha is going to feel really good to your kids. I know that my two and a half year old really loves it when I do any sort of body work or gua sha to her. But when it comes to okay, my kid has a fever, what can I do to help them? It's good to consult a professional for that. But a hundred percent, this is something that is used on children, obviously not necessarily for beauty, but for many different health and wellness conditions.

Jennifer: Well, I really appreciate you taking the time today to share all of this with us, because it's something that I've been recommending more and more over the last year. And it's nice to have something to really point people to, especially those who aren't clients and who listened to the show and are looking for different resources and your company has a ton. Like you said, on Instagram, you guys have a ton of information just in your account alone. I have just learned so much. And if anyone is listening and is interested in checking out your products, where can they find you online?

Gianna: So you can find us on Instagram at wildling_beauty. We're also on YouTube at WildlingBeauty, no space. And we are shoppable on the web at wildling.com. We're also on TikTok these days at wildling_beauty, getting into the TikTok thing. And I think that's mainly it. We also have a private Facebook group for people who like to have a little bit more privacy and be connected to our core community. And that is searchable under the hashtag WildlingWorks is the name of our Facebook group. And so we are all over and we're very passionate about educating in addition to sharing great products. So we're very responsive on Instagram for people who have questions. And we just want to make sure that people feel like this is accessible to them, that they can do it. We're doing online classes all of the time. So if you go to our events page, you can see our upcoming virtual classes and virtual events that you can join and kind of be able to ask questions in real time and follow along.

Jennifer: Perfect. And as a thank you for those listening, if you're interested in making any purchases. Like Gianna said, they have a lots of amazing tools and such that are crafted specifically for their company that are beautiful. You guys might remember Rachel Pontillo, I know she's gotten herself one of the tools and she absolutely loves it. So you can head on over to their website and they've been kind enough to offer us a discount code. If you use healthyskinshow at checkout, you can get 10% off your first purchase.

Jennifer: Thank you so much, Gianna. I really appreciate your time and your sharing your wisdom and enthusiasm about these practices. And I'm just so excited to continue diving into this and sharing it as well with clients to help provide them the tools to rebalance their body, their skin. And as you said too, this is partially energetic as well, because it does change us on so many different levels and helps bring us into, I think you find yourself more in tune with yourself as you learn how to advocate better for yourself, listen to your body a little bit better. And these are great physical practices to help and support someone on their health journey. So thank you so much.

Gianna: Thank you, Jennifer. I had a great time.

“You're really gently increasing the flow of chi and blood. And you're guiding that emphatic fluid down towards the lymphatic centers so that your skin is deep puffed, you're relieving facial tension, and relaxing the muscles. You're also smoothing the fascia, which is the connective tissue.”