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Since skincare is such a flooded market, any devotee with even a little bit of awareness knows there’s just as many products we don’t need as those that actually make a difference. Jade rollers and facial massagers in general are highly suspect as the former. After all, they appear in trendy places like Gwyneth Paltrow’s insufferable Goop and in the hands of Instagram influencers with blurbs like “wake up your entire face with the cooling, soothing power of rose quartz crystal.” Someone get me a bucket, I’m gonna vom.
The thing about jade rollers is that they are effective, supposed mystical powers aside. It’s not so much because of the roller itself, but that you’re applying light pressure to your face in the first place. How you touch you face actually matters more than what you put on it. But before we get into all that, let’s talk about what facial massagers actually are and what they do.
What is a jade roller?
All a jade roller is is a facial massager. These come in many different shapes and sizes and are made of many materials; rose quartz, jade, marble, and even stainless steel. While retailers would love you to believe the material they are made of matters, this writer does not agree. I’m sure that someone will hit the comments to extoll the benefits of jade and tell me what a fool I am soon enough, but the heart of these tools is the massage, which originates from China and is called 刮痧 (gua sha).
Wait…what is Gua Sha?
Gua means “to scrape or scratch” in Chinese, and while some element of the ancient practice is about massage, it’s also about letting certain types of energy out of the body (this will sound familiar if you’ve ever experienced acupuncture). The Chinese believe cold air enters the body, causing stiffness and tightness. By applying pressure using a Gua Sha tool and pushing in a scraping motion, the cold is sent on its merry way, allowing the body to relax again and the “chi” (or vital energy, as the Chinese define it) to flow.
The thing about Gua Sha, though, is that it looks pretty painful, as many people come out of it with backs that look like they’ve been beaten. Eep! Luckily, the facial massage technique that’s inspired by this method does not leave red marks behind. What it does do, however, is apply pressure to the lymph nodes located in your face, neck, and chest. Lymph nodes hold toxins, which can cause the face to look puffy and unhealthy. Just like Gua Sha, it’s also believed this massage aids the flow of your chi by following a map of the body’s meridians, another Chinese medicine concept commonly followed in acupuncture.
By performing facial massage properly, you can help the lymphatic system drain these toxins and improve the texture and luster of your skin. This type of massage also tones the muscles of the face. Like any other type of muscle toning, you’ll get best results if you do it regularly. For a more detailed guide on how to do this type of massage properly, I recommend the book The Japanese Skincare Revolution from famous Japanese beauty advisor Chizu Saeki. Her method is also shown in the video below.
Jade rollers and the like may or may not be magical depending on your personal beliefs, but they do produce actual results. Using one for facial massage is far more hygienic than using your hands, and you can get more extreme hot and cold temperatures using a tool as well. While puffy skin reacts best to a cold roller or facial massager, a warmed one would feel wonderful on a cold winter day as well. You can submerge them in the water temperature of your choice or store them in the fridge to get this result.
One last bit of advice: since rollers have gotten so popular, you will find some that are advertised as jade but are actually acrylic. This is the not the greatest material to be rubbing all over your precious face, so make sure the product you go for is made of real jade or rose quartz if you go with that option. The picks below are all the real deal.
The best jade rollers, facial massagers and more
If you want to try both a roller and the original Gua Sha tool, this set is a good place to start. For the price, this is probably not the highest quality jade available on the market, but remember it’s the massage that matters. It has close to a perfect rating on Amazon and the reviews are full of raves, so we figure you can’t go wrong with this option if you’re a beginner to the world of facial massagers.
Price on Amazon: $18.95
I particularly like this rose quartz roller because it has two heads, one for larger areas like cheeks and neck and a smaller one to get delicate areas like beneath the nostrils, the temples, and the chin area. The makers also note that you can relieve sinus swelling and tension by letting it sit in the fridge overnight and using it on the affected areas. I myself have had success with this method and found it especially useful during migraines. Rose quartz is associated with all types of love, so whether you believe in the healing powers of stones or not, it’s a lovely sentiment.
Price on Amazon: $22.99
As you can see from the photo, this zinc alloy roller looks a bit different than the others on this list. The double head is ideal for massage along facial ridges like the chin and the nose, and Amazon reviews claim to prefer it over their jade rollers. Maker House of Rhon also promises a complete refund within 60 days if you don’t love it, so you have nothing to lose by testing it out.
Price on Amazon: $34.99
This stainless steel massager from selfkaire rolls body massagers and facial rollers into a single product. At first I was skeptical about it because of the price tag, but I’ve seen impressive results from it with daily use. I have TMJ, which can mean waking up with jaw pain, so I have combined it with my oil cleanse in my AM skincare routine in an attempt to release the tight muscles at my jaw joints. My skin looks glowy and happy and I’ve noticed a significant reduction in pain after a week of use, so I’m going to keep on doing it! This tool can also be super handy for doing the lymphatic drainage method I mentioned above, and it also works to release tight muscles after a workout. It also claims to reduce the appearance of cellulite, which I am still testing out, but considering everything else it does well, I ought to have 18-year-old thighs again in no time.
Price on Amazon: $125
Want to learn more about Korean beauty? Check out our guides to doing the 10-step Korean beauty skincare routine, the best sheet masks money can buy, and why Korean sunscreens are vastly superior to American ones. You can also dig through all our Korean beauty coverage right here.
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Colette Bennett is a writer/editor who specializes in web culture, skincare, and all things geek. Her work has appeared on CNN, HLN, Engadget, Kotaku, Colourlovers, and Continue Magazine. She also writes horror and sci-fi fiction for Corona Books and is at work on her second novel.