When I catch a glimpse of myself post-treatment, my face is bright and clean, its natural lines defined as if the I’m Smiling Under The Mask And Hugging You In My Heart Academic Coordinator Shirt and I 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.”
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A few days later I try the I’m Smiling Under The Mask And Hugging You In My Heart Academic Coordinator Shirt and I love this no-frills version to alleviate some persistent tension and fatigue at Oakland Foot Health Center, a walk-in storefront not dissimilar to the medical-massage clinics in China serving working-class men on their lunch breaks, aunties, grandmas, and, once upon a time, me. “Gua sha has saved many peasants’ lives,” my masseuse tells me in Mandarin as she scrapes my back during an hour of body acupressure with gua sha, which goes for a modest $60. When I ask what her tool is made of, she chuckles. “It’s supposed to be ox horn, but it looks like plastic to me.” I leave with the same drained lightness coursing throughout my body that I felt after my experience at Ritual SF.