Relax after a long day with these skincare tools.

By Amber Katz
July 28, 2020
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This is part of our new weekly series called Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, as well as explore new techniques IRL.

My evening skincare routine has evolved from a jam-packed 3-4 minutes before I collapse into bed to a leisurely six-step skincare extravaganza I do while I binge-watch a show. Since 2020 involves few social obligations, I suddenly have more time on my hands to devote to skincare. I’ll do a series of masks in conjunction with my evening face roller or gua sha (pronounced gwa-shah) treatment. Gua sha is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine that involves a rounded tool being scraped against the skin. I’m partial to using this Knesko Black Obsidian Gemstone Roller ($80, Knesko) over a good, hydrating sheet mask at least once a week.

“Face rollers and gua sha both come from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese culture from thousands of years ago,” acupuncturist Elizabeth Trattner, A.P. says. “Although both have become mainstream, it is important to acknowledge their roots,” she adds. Face rollers are usually made from jade, rose quartz, or another crystal (I’m partial to black obsidian). Shaped like mini paint rollers, they are designed to gently massage the face and stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins, decrease puffiness, and stimulate blood flow. Gua sha involves a flat, rounded tool you use for a similar facial treatment. Gua sha is also made of a stone-like jade or rose quartz and is scraped over the skin in upward strokes to promote tissue drainage.

Alena Terrell, aesthetics and content coordinator for the vegan beauty brand OSEA, says to hold the tool flat against your skin. “You don't have to apply a ton of pressure—because the lymph is superficial it moves really easily as you flush it out,” Terrell says.

When using both tools, always begin on the chest to help increase lymphatic drainage, promote circulation, and to break up fascia or connective tissue, Trattner says. “Most people ignore both the chest and neck and for me, it is the secret to better results,” she explains. Both tools can be used with a serum or cream. You can also use them while masking, but only if the mask has a slip to it. This helps the product penetrate the skin. “If you are working on the chest, you can use the extra serum in sheet masks on the chest and neck—and the back of hands,” Trattner suggests. She also recommends cleaning your gua sha and face roller after each use with warm gentle soapy water and letting them air dry. “Good tools are an investment, take care of them,” she says. Here are my roller and gua sha picks, and some skincare stars with which to pair them.

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skin roller for face
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Best For: Depuffing & Cooling Down

While you can stick your face roller in the fridge to help with puffiness, it’s actually not a good idea to place it in the freezer, as you can crack the stone, Trattner says. That’s when an ice roller comes in handy. Store them in the freezer until ready to use. This one is perfect to use on a hot summer day to calm breakouts and early-morning puffiness.

Buy It: StackedSkincare Ice Roller, ($30, Sephora)

green skin sculptor
Credit: Courtesy of Osea

Best For: The Neck Area

This jade gua sha is a perfect size and shape for working on your neck. Trattner recommends placing the gua sha in a mug of hot water before use to warm up the stone prior to treatment. “They move energy and blood and stuck fluid better because heat increases circulation,” she says. I pair this with Prai Neck Cream ($28, SkinStore) to help alleviate stress and muscle tension from the increased tech-neck hours I’m putting in working from home.

Buy It: Osea Gua Sha Sculptor ($32, Osea)

facial roller in multiple colors
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best For: Tension Relief

If crystals aren’t your thing but you want the benefits of a roller, try this one from Youthlab. It lifts facial muscles for a firming effect that lasts several hours. I like to use it before an evening out. It provides a nice massaging action and you can cool it in the fridge before using in lieu of an ice roller. I use this with an application of Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Dew Cream ($26, Mario Badescu), which gives me a dewy finish.

Buy It: Youthlab Roller, ($28, Amazon)

vibrating face roller
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best For: Straight-Up Self Care

When I want to relax and unwind, I reach for this rose quartz roller. It vibrates and features 2 removable head options, one that rolls and one that presses underneath the eye area to cool, calm, and depuff.

Buy It: Finishing Touch Flawless Vibrating Roller, ($19, Amazon)

black facial tool
Credit: Courtesy of Alder New York

Best For: Sculpting Your Jawline

This heart-shape gua sha tool works well for sculpting my jawline. It's made from black obsidian, a crystal formed from cooled volcanic lava. I like to use this one at night with my go-to night cream, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Face Moisturizer ($19, Neutrogena).

Buy It: Alder New York Black Obsidian ($30, Alder New York)


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