Facial tools and treatments - hype or skin help?

Go beyond the hype and learn what you need to know about cryotherapy, massage, and facial tools (Gua sha, jade rollers, spoons).

Gua sha face motion
What to know
  • No doubt some of the claims you’ve heard about cryotherapy, massage, and facial tools are overblown, but all three have at least some proven benefits backed by science

  • Cryotherapy constricts arteries and limits blood flow, which reduces inflammation.

  • Massage can strengthen and firm skin—in one study, combining facial massage with an anti-aging cream was shown to enhance the effects of the cream.

  • Studies show that Gua sha and jade rollers increase circulation and lymphatic drainage, which can improve immune function and promote youthful-looking skin.

  • Spoons can be an effective tool for delivering facial cryotherapy, especially under the eyes.

These days there is a lot of buzz about various tools and treatments designed to improve the health and appearance of your skin. Admittedly, not everything you may have heard is supported by the research. The good news is that real tangible benefits can be gained through facial cryotherapy and massage with tools like Gua sha, jade rollers, and spoons.

Let’s explore what we know about each and separate fact from fiction.

Cryotherapy facial treatments reduce inflammation

Cryotherapy was originally developed to treat arthritis, exposing parts of the body or the entire body to freezing or below-freezing temperatures. The cold constricts arteries and veins and limits blood flow, which has been proven to reduce tissue inflammation and the presence of anti-inflammatory cytokines.[1]

Some experts believe cryotherapy can stimulate collagen production, which can strengthen the skin and improve elasticity, making it plumper and more supple. Notably, most dermatologists agree that the increase in blood flow post-cryofacial can enhance the performance of skincare products by enabling them to penetrate more deeply.[2] These hypotheses are rooted in science but have yet to be proven definitively in clinical trials.

Cryotherapy users also report additional visible benefits such as skin brightening, depuffing, toning, tightening, and reduced eye bags.

Cryotherapy can be administered by a professional via a cryofacial, or you can do it yourself at home with ice or the facial tool of your choice. To administer at home, select your preferred tool (e.g., Gua sha, spoons, jade roller), cleanse it with alcohol, and place it in the freezer. Once fully chilled, gently apply it to your face per the tools’ specific instructions.

Facial massage can enhance the anti-aging effect of skincare products

Massage is the manipulation of tissues (as by rubbing, kneading, or tapping) with a hand or device for relaxation or therapeutic purposes. In a recent study, researchers found that facial skin treated with a massage tool had higher levels of procollagen, tropoelastin, and fibrillin – all of which contribute to more youthful-looking skin.[3] In addition, the same study found that the combined use of a massage device with an anti-aging skincare product enhanced the cream’s effects.

This is an exciting finding, as it shows that the products you currently use to support skin health and longevity can be further enhanced when paired with facial massage tools!

Gua sha

Gua sha tools increase blood circulation and lymphatic flow

Applying pressure and gently smoothing the skin with a Gua sha results in a fascial (fibrous tissue) massage. Think of it as a foam roller for the face! Using a Gua sha can increase blood circulation and lymphatic flow and may smooth and firm the skin.[4]

It’s important to note that just like any other tool, there is a right and a wrong way to use a Gua sha. Check out this video we made at a recent Timeline Skin Health event for tips on using a Gua sha most effectively.

When selecting a Gua sha for home use, consider what it is made of—stainless steel, plastic, or crystal. While crystal versions may be most aesthetically pleasing, they are porous and difficult to clean, which means bacteria can get trapped inside and potentially cause an infection. Stainless steel Gua shas, on the other hand, are naturally nonporous, antimicrobial, and, therefore, more hygienic.[5] Stainless steel is also heavier than plastic, so less pressure is needed, making it easier on your hand and wrist.

Jade roller

Jade rollers may deliver anti-aging effects via lymphatic drainage

While Gua shas work on a fascial fibrous tissue level, jade rollers work primarily at the lymphatic drainage level. Both methods use an upward and outward motion to reduce inflammation, improve skin complexion and decrease wrinkles. It’s recommended that you roll your neck first to clear the lymph passageways before moving onto your face. One study showed increased blood flow and lymphatics after just 5 minutes, while longer-term use improved vascular dilatation response and delivered anti-aging effects.

Spoon

Spoons are great for under-eye cryotherapy and facial massage

Research on the specific benefits of spoons is limited, but they can be a great home tool for facial cryotherapy. Applying a cool spoon on your upper and lower eyelids can help reduce puffiness and enhance the drainage of excess fluid.

Aestheticians also suggest soaking the spoons in warm olive oil and using them to deliver a facial massage, moving the spoons in upward motion. Fans of the spoon facial claim that a quick daily treatment reduces their dark circles and under-eye bags.[6] They also report that their skin feels firmer and glows.

Conclusion

The best news is that cryofacials and facial massage tools can help make anti-aging creams even more effective. Just remember, always sanitize your tool of choice with alcohol before use and follow instructions carefully to ensure you use it correctly.

Be sure to check out Timeline Skin Health products for healthier, youthful-looking skin, and consider pairing them with some of these tools and techniques at home for even better visible results!

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References
  1. Zitz, S.6 Cryotherapy benefits and what to consider before trying the trendy cold therapy. Prevention website. August 25, 2022. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://www.prevention.com/health/a40970886/cryotherapy-benefits/

  2. Nazish, N. Here’s What the dermatologists want you to know about cryotherapy skincare. Forbes website. August 17, 2022. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2022/08/17/heres-what-the-dermatologists-want-you-to-know-about-cryotherapy-skincare/?sh=6e51dbd16003

  3. Caberlotto E, Ruiz L, Miller Z, Poletti M, Tadlock L. Effects of a skin-massaging device on the ex-vivo expression of human dermis proteins and in-vivo facial wrinkles. PLoS One. 2017;12(3):e0172624. Published March 1, 2017.

  4. Hamp A, Anderson J, Laughter MR, et al. Gua-sha, jade roller, and facial massage: Are there benefits within dermatology? J Cosmet Dermatol. 2023;22(2):700-703.

  5. What your Gua Sha is made out of matters! Stainless steel is elite, here’s why...July 27, 2022. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://www.ecocious.com.au/blogs/news/what-your-gua-sha-is-made-out-of-matters-stainless-steel-is-our-fav-heres-why

  6. Discover the incredible spoon facial massage. Steps to health website. May 25, 2022. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://steptohealth.com/know-spoon-facial-massage-discover-incredible-effects/

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