Gua Sha is the ancient healing technique all skincare enthusiasts should know about
At Dazed Beauty we’re fans of lasers, red lights and cryotherapy. We crowd around each other’s desks to inspect curious products that have been sent in for us to try– like the time we received water-free sheet masks–but for your arse– but that’s another article. Like lots of people, we associate a stinging feeling as a sure indication that a product is “working”. We’re here for the viral products and the hype. Sometimes, however, it takes the pressure of a firm pair of experienced hands to remind us that nothing surpasses “simple” when it comes to skin– or in fact– the expert knowledge of a therapist who’s been working in the beauty industry for decades. Enter Su-Man.
There are facials, then there are chi-flow-unlocking, Gua Sha (more on this later) facials from the master Su-Man. For a time she was Juliette Binoche’s personal facialist and Sienna Miller and Freida Pinto are also clients. The ballerina turned facialist is known on the internet as the “natural alternative to botox”. As well as her career as a dancer serving as an influence, Su-Man’s upbringing in rural Taiwan has shaped her approach towards the body and its healing potential.
When I visit Su-Man at the Agua Spa at Sanderson it’s for her signature Chi Flow Contour Facial. I admit I am mostly excited to experience her Gua Sha techniques. Gua Sha is the real deal. It is, in layman’s terms, the practice of scraping your face with a “stone”. The technique is based on a traditional Chinese medicine healing art form that Su-Man has experimented with and made her own. She believes that long, slow strokes, pressure, friction and deep massage stimulate microcirculation of the skin and promote blood flow– hence the famous Su-Man post glow effect.
At first, Su-man deep cleanses, extracts impurities, exfoliates, tones and moisturises my face. An entirely conventional prep for any facial. Things take a more interesting turn when she begins to use the scraping instruments on my face. Su-Man tells me she is looking for tightness so she can “open up the meridian channels and lymphatic system”. The treatment can be intense. The instruments look like flat shoe horns or naturally occurring flints made of earthy-looking materials: wood, rose quartz and ceramic plates. I enjoy the sensation of my face being pulled and pushed in lots of different directions and it feels like a workout. Once Su-Man is done with the Gua Sha she applies a heavy firming mask that’s fridge cold and not for the claustrophobic. Your eyes and mouth are covered. Once I find the focus to relax, I tune into the massage Su-Man is now giving my shoulders and upper back. If I had any doubts about Su-Man’s nuanced perceptiveness about the human body, they’re dismissed when she asks if I’ve ever been diagnosed with scoliosis. I haven’t, but my twin brother has, and it’s an extremely common occurrence with twins. The massage is probably the unexpected highlight of the experience and Su-Man deftly needs by stiff body till it’s limp and supple. Finally, she adds some of her own products including her cult Velvet Skin Brightening Serum (I would highly recommend this to anyone with dry skin).
I meet a friend in the pub for a drink afterwards, which sure, kind of counteracts all the detoxing Su-Man has done but my friend assures me “I’m glowing”. As someone’s who’s shopped around when it comes to facials, I can recommend Su-Man for anyone who wants to strip everything back and go for a treatment that feels as healthy as it does relaxing. My skin felt pore-free and tighter for about a week or so after the treatment and I found myself buying everyone I know a Gua Sha tool to boot.
RRP £220 | 60-Minutes | www.su-man.com