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If you’re not ready for a lift, injection or overall tweak to your complexion, advancements in skincare formulations and ingredients mean that there are plenty of viable topical alternatives you can add into your skincare routine that rival in-office treatments geared for lifting, plumping and smoothing the skin. We sat down with Dr. G to learn more about how to obtain that youthful-glowing complexion without any needles.

If you don’t want to try injectables yet, what sort of effect will products alone have?

Anti-aging, plumping, filling serums will cause the skin to feel tight, fuller and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A topical serum is a great place to start of you’re unsure about getting an injectable.

Why do you think some women are still choosing to find results from their product over injectables? What are the pluses when it comes to products?

Many of my patients over the years have been afraid of needles or simply putting anything foreign into their bodies. This lead to creating our Needle-less serum. The pluses from choosing to use a topical product versus an injectable are anxiety, foreign ingredient in the body, price, bruising, possible over use of an injectable resulting in a frozen or, waxy or “overdone look”. In rare instances allergic reaction may be a deciding factor. However, for the most part injectables when performed by a professional are very very safe and allow people to look and feel their best. For optimal results in targeting fine line and wrinkles, I would recommend both anti-aging injectables and topical products. Topical products will help with maintenance between treatments and will allow the effect to last longer.

How long do you need to use them for to see results?

Topical products generally take 6-8 weeks to see the result. These products have a cumulative effect and need to be used very consistently, usually twice a day. I always recommend using these in conjunction with exfoliation as the newer the skin the better the results.

Is there a type of delivery system that’s particularly effective?

There are many wonderful products/delivery systems on the market, but Needle-less serum is a water based serum which delivers Acetyl Hexapeptide and Hyaluronic acid directly to the surface of the skin. With continued use, your skin will reap the benefits of looking younger, feeling smoother, and appearing more radiant. Ideal for all skin types.

What ingredient should you look out for if you want lifting/firming/smoothing/plumping?

  • Acetyl hexapeptide-3 is a powerful wrinkle-reducing peptide that works by hindering a signal protein called catecholamine that triggers muscle contraction, thereby relaxing your facial muscles.
  • Hyaluronic Acid helps skin to  feel plump, appear firm and diminish the appearance of fine lines and deep creases. Both found n Needle-less serum. CoQ10 is another powerhouse ingredient which helps protect skin from free radical attack and damage and my help the skin appear fuller and balanced.
  • Vitamin B3 is one of the most effective ingredients in reducing collagen breakdown while simultaneously increasing fibroblast production. Vitamin B appears in just two main forms: nicotinic acid (also known as niacin) and nicotinamide (also called niacinamide).
  • The ability of vitamin C to revitalize aging skin is largely due to its beneficial effects on collagen. Collagen is a tough, fibrous protein that is relatively inelastic and very strong. It supplies the basic framework that gives your skin its form, firmness, and strength, while elastin provides flexibility. Fortunately, topical vitamin C has been scientifically proven to help stimulate collagen synthesis. It also helps block the production of enzymes the break down collagen, making it one of nature’s most effective anti-aging nutrients.
  • Plant-based stem cells contain high levels of active proteins, which work topically to regulate the stem-cell division in our skin cells. They essentially act as a massive protective barrier for the skin to allow our cells to regenerate at a healthy speed without being compromised by external factors including pollution and UVA/UVB rays. They aid in the reduction of the appearance of wrinkle depth, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, an even complexion, plumper appearing skin and the longevity of healthy human skin cells. Some of my favorites to formulate with (found in our proprietary PURFLORA complex) are Raspberry Leaf Extract, Comfrey Stem Cells, White Tea Leaf Extract, Garden Crest Sprouts and Birds of Paradise extract.
  • Retinol is a form of Vitamin A. Retinol can improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles and increases collagen production. Retinol delivers an overall tighter, firmer, plumper appearance to the skin.

Is there anything especially preventative you can do instead of filler/Botox etc?

  1. Protect your skin. The Sun is the number one environmental damage for skin.  Both UVA/UVB rays are harmful. Protect yourself by wearing a hat and sunglasses. Shielding your skin, head and eyes can help with sun damage and pollution-based aging. Always wash you face to remove the residue and makeup from the day.
  2. Eat a diet high in anti-oxidant rich foods such as leafy greens and berries and foods high in essential fatty acids (salmon and almonds). Stay away form foods that can encourage and cause Glycation. The Glycation process, which is basically, sugars (from food and alcohol) breaking down the collagen fibers in the skin and therefore speeding up the aging process. Foods that feed Glycation and cause inflammation in the body and the skin are carbohydrates, fried foods, sugar, fatty meats and alcohol.
  3. As you grow older, the rate of skin cell turnover slows down dramatically. Dead cells on your skin’s surface hang around much longer, a fact that tends to accentuate those fine lines and make your complexion look dull and lifeless. By removing these dead skin cells, exfoliation helps make up for the gradual slowing down of your natural skin renewal process, improving the tone and texture of your skin.
  4. Facial massage, gua sha, micro current, lymphatic drainage all can help the skin’s appearance.

At Goldfaden MD, we’re all about safe and natural facial treatments. But here’s the thing—if we’re going to fit any new products or techniques into our beauty routines, they have to actually work. If it’s not efficacious, we’re just not interested.

We created our Needleless Line Smoothing Concentrate for exactly that reason—we wanted to see fine lines and wrinkles diminish by the time we woke up in the morning. Yes, our obsession with the Needleless Line Smoothing Concentrate is real, and we’ve been actively searching for a non-invasive treatment that works as well as our formula and is also safe for skin.

And then we stumbled across gua sha facial massage, and our complexions were changed (and lifted. And toned.) forever.

What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha (pronounce gwah-shah) is a popular therapeutic technique used in Eastern Asia to encourage blood flow and healthy chi energy, decrease muscle pain and inflammation, and treat tension in the body. Traditional gua sha is performed all over the body, much like a massage.  In Eastern Medicine therapies, it’s believed that stagnant chi (or energy) is usually the root cause of chronic illness or disease.

Gua sha naturally encourages healthy blood flow to the body—which is why it’s so helpful for treating inflammation—and moves the chi throughout the meridians. Meridians are the energetic life force paths all over the body that act as a mainstay of Traditional Chinese medicine and are used as a guide for everything from acupuncture to acupressure to gua sha.

If you do a quick Google image search, you’ll be confronted with images of bright red backs, ripe with bruising and striations. Don’t be scared! It looks intense—borderline masochistic, perhaps?—but gua sha is actually wonderful for skin, muscles, and fascia. Enough pressure is applied during a full-body session to result in light bruising, which is part of the reason gua sha is so healing for soft tissues.

Much like getting a deep tissue massage, gua sha encourages movement in the lymph system to encourage detoxification and improve blood flow to muscles and tendons. As soon as the lymph fluid is stimulated through massage, the body can begin to detoxify itself. If you’re the one receiving a treatment, you’ll notice that any water retention or bloat totally vanishes after a treatment. When the lymph begins to move, it carries with it lingering toxins and extra water that’s holding on for dear life in your body.  Gua sha also can help to break down scar tissue and stagnant connective tissue to improve mobility and flexibility in joints.

In recent years, facial gua sha has become incredibly popular as a beauty treatment. Anecdotally, it’s been said to improve nearly every skin condition—from hormonal acne to sagging jowls. Facial gua sha is significantly lighter in pressure than a full-body treatment, so don’t expect to see bruising or even light marks on your skin. However, you’ll likely experience instant lifting, toning, and brightening after getting a gua sha facial or trying the technique out on yourself (yep, you can totally do this one at home!).

Keep scrolling for the low down on how gua sha works, who uses it now, and exactly how to perform gua sha on yourself.

How does gua sha work?

Gua Sha Massage

The biggest difference between a massage and a gua sha treatment is the gua sha tool. Typically made of jade or rose quartz, a gua sha tool is about the size of a credit card and can be held in one hand. The tool itself has smooth edges on all sides and is about a quarter of an inch thick.

To use it, your practitioner will hold the tool at a 15-degree angle to your skin with one edge gently resting on the area to be worked on. Using long, fluid strokes, the practitioner applies pressure and drags the gua sha tool along the appropriate meridians (or muscle knots) to stimulate the chi and break up muscle tension and adhesions.

Usually, a practitioner will go over the same area a few times. You’ll notice as they begin to work through the fascia, the area around the muscle immediately begins to release and relax. It’s really important that your practitioner moves the lymph all the way through your body to the end of the meridians—you don’t want to get that nastiness stuck anywhere! And if you’re the one enjoying the treatment, remember to drink tons of water the day after your appointment—you’re going to need it.

Gua Sha Facials

Gua sha facials aren’t all that different from the massage treatment—both use the same tool and technique. But, facials require a much lighter touch because pressing too hard can damage skin. Plus, our facial muscles don’t usually have the same scar tissue or adhesions as say, your quad or calf muscles, which go through a lot more wear and tear. With the face,  we’re more concerned with moving and draining the lymph fluid; stagnant lymph causes puffiness, bloating, dark circles, sallow skin, wrinkles, and pimples. And because it’s a very light massage, you might even notice that gua sha eases any tension that you might be holding in your forehead, jaw, and eyebrows. Just remember that it’s not necessary to apply heavy pressure, and in fact, if you’re pressing too hard you won’t be targeting the lymphatic material.

Lymph lives just below the skin, and is so sensitive that it won’t respond to roughness! When it moves through the body in a healthy way, our puffiness diminishes. We get our natural, youthful glow back because our bodies are naturally detoxifying themselves. And the improved circulation helps flush toxins and revitalizes the look of skin.

What to Expect After a Gua Sha Facial

After a gua sha facial, you’ll likely see instant results. Your brows and cheeks will look more lifted, and cheekbones will be more defined as excessive lymphatic fluid drains from the face. Skin will look brighter because of increased blood flow. And because you need to use a facial oil or emollient lotion whenever you gua sha, your complexion will be hydrated, too!

Where to Get a Gua Sha Facial

Gua sha treatments are typically performed by trained professionals. When it comes to full-body massage, practitioners are usually certified in the technique and also have their massage license. Estheticians and facialists also must go through a training to learn how to properly use the gua sha tool on the sensitive facial skin.

It’s safe to try giving yourself a gua sha facial treatment at home, as long as you’re not pressing too hard. If you see redness on your face, you’ve gone too far! A little goes a long way with this stuff. And trust, you don’t want bruise lines on your face—it’s not a good look.

How to Do Gua Sha at home

Gua Sha Facial Tools

To give yourself a gua sha facial you’ll need a gua sha tool, facial oil, and about five minutes of free time. We also recommend grabbing a towel, just in case! When purchasing a gua sha tool, make sure you get one that’s made of real stone like jade, rose quartz, or brian stone. Beware of super-cheap versions on Amazon—they might be made with dyed acrylic, which is bad for the planet and bad for your skin health! Also, the real things look very cute on Instagram. Really important to up your self-care ‘gram game.

Directions

  1. Before you get started, wash your face thoroughly. No make-up, no nothing. You want to be barefaced, babe! We recommend double-cleansing with the Pure Start Gentle Detoxing Facial cleanser to remove any dirt or grunginess from the day, and then following up with the Detox Clarifying Wash to give pores the clean sweep.
  2. Apply a few drops of Fleuressence Native Botanical Cell Oil to the skin. This golden elixir contains Kalahari oil, Mongongo oil, Rosehip seed oil and Baobab oil to boost skin’s natural radiance, improve tone, and fade scars. You want the gua sha tool to gently glide against the skin, so don’t be shy about using a little more oil than usual.
  3. Hold the gua sha tool at a 15-degree angle against skin; it should almost be flush against the face. In one fluid motion, sweep the tool from its initial starting point all the way down the next to the collarbone. Follow these pathways three to five times each:

– From the middle of the under the chin to the earlobe. Repeat on both sides.

– From the middle of the ridge of the chin (follow your jawline) to the earlobe. Repeat on both sides.

– From the lower edge of the nostril up to the middle of the ear. Repeat on both sides.

– From the inside of the eye, lightly draw the gua sha tool to the temple. Repeat on both sides.

– From the inside of the eyebrow, follow the brow bone to the temple. Repeat on both sides.

– From the middle of the forehead to the hairline. Repeat on both sides.

– From the hairline, sweep all the way down, around the back of the ears, down the sides of the neck to the collarbones. Repeat on both sides.

When you’re done, you should notice an instantaneous difference in your skin! Gua sha massage acts like a natural mini facelift—and it feels really amazing.