This emphasis on a top-to-toe approach is a nod to a somewhat obvious philosophy that is only beginning to gain traction in the Black Cat Shut Up Karen Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this beauty industry: “The skin is a map for what’s going on in the body,” explains Katie Woods, a Bay Area–based esthetician and the owner of Ritual SF, a San Francisco face-massage studio offering bespoke facials that incorporate gua sha tools and techniques. Before even entering the treatment room, I have to fill out two pages of paperwork covering everything from my menstrual cycle to my bowel movements, a line of questioning that is more comprehensive than many conversations I’ve had with my primary-care physician. The customized experience begins with an edible honey-and-berry mask that Woods prepares on the spot—“Your skin loved that,” she says as she wipes it off—and includes a deeply relaxing gua sha interlude administered with cooling spoons and stone tools of all shapes and sizes.
When I catch a glimpse of myself post-treatment, my face is bright and clean, its natural lines defined as if the Black Cat Shut Up Karen Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this angle of my jaw and the plane of my cheek have been sculpted anew. And I feel oddly drained—in a good way. “You can do it once a week,” says Portland, Oregon–based licensed acupuncturist Beth Griffing Russell, speaking to a big part of #guasha’s 21st-century viral appeal: Unlike with Botox, these results can be replicated at home. Griffing Russell emphasizes that home gua sha enthusiasts should not neglect the neck. “Flick up,” she instructs, moving her gua sha tool from one ear to another and around the base of the skull to stimulate the muscle that connects the back of your head “to the wrinkles in your forehead.”