A few days later I try the I’m Smiling Under The Mask And Hugging You In My Heart Reading Specialist Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will 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.
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So why, I wonder, would I pay $285 to visit Crystal Cave LA, a “healing hut” in Santa Monica where Julie Civiello Polier performs her much-blogged about “shamanic” gua sha facials three days a week? Described as “a meditative journey and intuitive reading,” the I’m Smiling Under The Mask And Hugging You In My Heart Reading Specialist Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this whole concept makes me laugh before I even arrive. “I love how gua sha gives us a tool that is charged by the person using it and the person receiving it,” Civiello Polier—a petite blonde former actor—tells me of her popular treatment’s purported energy exchange. At least I’ll get a nice nap out of this, I think to myself as I close my eyes.