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Sandra Lanshin Chiu knows the value of tradition. When it comes to gua sha, the trained acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner is all about authenticity, education and practical application. She’s worked hard for the knowledge and skill she has in her field, both in the classroom and over 20 years of working with patients, and used it to launch her own brand, Lanshin.
For those unfamiliar with gua sha, Lanshin Chiu explained it as a centuries-old traditional Chinese medicine friction-based technique involving scraping or rubbing on the body to boost internal health. These days, however, the practice is most associated with facial gua sha, which centers on massaging the face with a smooth-edged stone tool to relieve tension, increase circulation and improve the look of the skin.
The rising popularity and subsequent cultural appropriation of gua sha poses a problem for trained experts like Lanshin Chiu. On a practical level, she said, there is now a saturation of cheaply made knock-off products and haphazard instruction videos that come with no real context.
To honor her own experience and the rich lineage of TCM, Lanshin Chiu founded Lanshin, her traditional Chinese medicine dermatology brand, and began designing her own gua sha tools and releasing in-depth tutorials on her website and social media channels.
“I knew if I didn’t do it, there would be no Chinese TCM representation. ... I just felt like culturally it would be a sea of people speaking inaccuracy about facial gua sha,” she said. “And I just couldn’t let that happen, I just felt protective of my medicine.”
Her years of schooling and real-life experience empowered Lanshin Chiu to create authentic, high-quality and incredibly effective gua sha tools.
“There’s a lot of intentionality and thought put into every little detail,” she said of her products. “What’s the material, what’s the shape? Gua sha should be for all. TCM is a medicine of the people. So we wanted to do our best, provide a quality tool, real freaking stone, not fake shit, that was handcrafted with quality.”
“Part of why I decided to make a tool was because I knew if I didn’t do it, there would be no Chinese TCM representation... I felt protective of my medicine.”
Lanshin Chiu urges people interested in trying gua sha for themselves to do their homework and find a brand with real TCM expertise. In addition to higher quality, more specialized products, she says such brands will likely have informed support staff on hand if you have questions or concerns later on.
For those stuck on what stone to buy, Lanshin Chiu broke it down: Rose quartz is the best budget option — though the most fragile — and has a smooth and glassy feel. Xiuyan jade (a lighter green), is another affordable option. It’s more durable and has more of a “stone” finish that creates positive light friction on the skin. The almost black nephrite jade, the most durable stone, has what Lanshin Chiu says “a good hand feel [and] a beautiful sensation.”
While you may want to dive right in, Lanshin Chiu suggests you check out the free tutorials on the Lanshin site before starting gua shaat home. And if you need more help selecting the right tool for you, she broke down her favorite gua sha and home massage items below.