With the rising popularity of alternative therapies, women are more concerned with taking a holistic approach to beauty, including eating clean, practicing daily meditation and opting for beauty treatments that go beyond treating skin-deep concerns.

Amongst these beauty treatments are traditional Chinese medicine practices of gua sha and acupuncture facials. Steadily gaining momentum amongst the discerning set, these facials refer ancient know-hows about dispelling toxins and stimulating the body's self-renewal processes to promote health and a sense of well-being. Curious about them? Here are what you need to know before you decide to try one of these facials

What Benefits Do They Have?
Traditionally used break down blockages and release toxins in the lymphatic system, gua sha is believed to help stimulate lymphatic drainage so that toxins accumulated in the face can be effectively expelled via lymph nodes. In turn, water retention is alleviated, so your face looks less puffy. This means that your facial contours look more defined while under-eye bags, dark circles and the double chin looks less pronounced. And as toxins are eliminated, normal cellular activity in skin cells are restored so skincare products are absorbed more efficiently. Moreover, the sliding motion also helps loosen any tightness or tension that is lodged in your facial muscles, improving muscle tone and.

On the other hand, acupuncture is used to improve blood flow, speed up the body's detoxification process and basically improving your general health and vitality. And when performed on the face, acupuncture can have similar benefits. In addition, acupuncture can also help to stimulate skin repair and collagen production to soften the appearance of wrinkles.

How Are They Performed?
When getting a gua sha facial, it goes without saying that the highlight of the treatment is the gua sha massage performed. Using a flat tool, your therapist will pull it across your skin in a firm but light pressure, moving towards the hairline and just above the collarbone to effectively drain toxins.

As for acupuncture facial, your therapist inserts tiny pins at various points of your face. Unlike needles or syringes that will probably make your skin crawl, acupuncture needles are extremely tiny and even finer than a strand of hair. More often than not, you'll hardly feel anything when each one is inserted. So all you have to do is recline and relax as the needles are left in your skin to stimulate collagen synthesis and relax your facial muscles.

Are They Safe?

A light touch is necessary when performing a gua sha facial as lymph responds best to light pressure. You should just feel a light dragging sensation and you shouldn't develop any burning sensation from the friction as an emollient cream is used when performing gua sha massage. After the facial, a slight flush to your skin is normal as sluggish microcirculation is improved.

You should only get an acupuncture facial from a certified acupuncture practitioner as it requires in-depth knowledge and training to be able to insert the acupuncture needles accurately to the specific points on your face for maximum benefits. A certified practitioner will also take the necessary precautions to ensure that the needles used are sterilised.

Can You DIY?
You can definitely do some basic gua sha on your own in the comfort of your own home. In fact, gua sha facial tools are easily available on the market. To make the most of your DIY gua sha, it is good to know that the material which your tool is made of can also have additional benefits. For example, jade is a semi-precious stone that remains cold when it comes in contact with the skin, thus serving the purpose of soothing skin and helping to tighten pores. On the other hand, rose quartz is known for its high vibrational energy which brings out a deep sense of self-love, joy and tenderness.

On the other hand, since acupuncture requires professional training, please do not attempt this at home.

Which Should I Choose?
If you're mainly concerned about puffiness and dullness, opt for a gua sha facial to eliminate water retention and toxins to reveal a more sculpted and illuminated mien. Or if you're looking to target fine lines and wrinkles, try an acupuncture facial as it targets collagen synthesis and accelerates cellular repair for a smoother, more refined complexion.

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