Posts

At Goldfaden MD, we’re all about safe and natural facial treatments. But here’s the thing—if we’re going to fit any new products or techniques into our beauty routines, they have to actually work. If it’s not efficacious, we’re just not interested.

We created our Needleless Line Smoothing Concentrate for exactly that reason—we wanted to see fine lines and wrinkles diminish by the time we woke up in the morning. Yes, our obsession with the Needleless Line Smoothing Concentrate is real, and we’ve been actively searching for a non-invasive treatment that works as well as our formula and is also safe for skin.

And then we stumbled across gua sha facial massage, and our complexions were changed (and lifted. And toned.) forever.

What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha (pronounce gwah-shah) is a popular therapeutic technique used in Eastern Asia to encourage blood flow and healthy chi energy, decrease muscle pain and inflammation, and treat tension in the body. Traditional gua sha is performed all over the body, much like a massage.  In Eastern Medicine therapies, it’s believed that stagnant chi (or energy) is usually the root cause of chronic illness or disease.

Gua sha naturally encourages healthy blood flow to the body—which is why it’s so helpful for treating inflammation—and moves the chi throughout the meridians. Meridians are the energetic life force paths all over the body that act as a mainstay of Traditional Chinese medicine and are used as a guide for everything from acupuncture to acupressure to gua sha.

If you do a quick Google image search, you’ll be confronted with images of bright red backs, ripe with bruising and striations. Don’t be scared! It looks intense—borderline masochistic, perhaps?—but gua sha is actually wonderful for skin, muscles, and fascia. Enough pressure is applied during a full-body session to result in light bruising, which is part of the reason gua sha is so healing for soft tissues.

Much like getting a deep tissue massage, gua sha encourages movement in the lymph system to encourage detoxification and improve blood flow to muscles and tendons. As soon as the lymph fluid is stimulated through massage, the body can begin to detoxify itself. If you’re the one receiving a treatment, you’ll notice that any water retention or bloat totally vanishes after a treatment. When the lymph begins to move, it carries with it lingering toxins and extra water that’s holding on for dear life in your body.  Gua sha also can help to break down scar tissue and stagnant connective tissue to improve mobility and flexibility in joints.

In recent years, facial gua sha has become incredibly popular as a beauty treatment. Anecdotally, it’s been said to improve nearly every skin condition—from hormonal acne to sagging jowls. Facial gua sha is significantly lighter in pressure than a full-body treatment, so don’t expect to see bruising or even light marks on your skin. However, you’ll likely experience instant lifting, toning, and brightening after getting a gua sha facial or trying the technique out on yourself (yep, you can totally do this one at home!).

Keep scrolling for the low down on how gua sha works, who uses it now, and exactly how to perform gua sha on yourself.

How does gua sha work?

Gua Sha Massage

The biggest difference between a massage and a gua sha treatment is the gua sha tool. Typically made of jade or rose quartz, a gua sha tool is about the size of a credit card and can be held in one hand. The tool itself has smooth edges on all sides and is about a quarter of an inch thick.

To use it, your practitioner will hold the tool at a 15-degree angle to your skin with one edge gently resting on the area to be worked on. Using long, fluid strokes, the practitioner applies pressure and drags the gua sha tool along the appropriate meridians (or muscle knots) to stimulate the chi and break up muscle tension and adhesions.

Usually, a practitioner will go over the same area a few times. You’ll notice as they begin to work through the fascia, the area around the muscle immediately begins to release and relax. It’s really important that your practitioner moves the lymph all the way through your body to the end of the meridians—you don’t want to get that nastiness stuck anywhere! And if you’re the one enjoying the treatment, remember to drink tons of water the day after your appointment—you’re going to need it.

Gua Sha Facials

Gua sha facials aren’t all that different from the massage treatment—both use the same tool and technique. But, facials require a much lighter touch because pressing too hard can damage skin. Plus, our facial muscles don’t usually have the same scar tissue or adhesions as say, your quad or calf muscles, which go through a lot more wear and tear. With the face,  we’re more concerned with moving and draining the lymph fluid; stagnant lymph causes puffiness, bloating, dark circles, sallow skin, wrinkles, and pimples. And because it’s a very light massage, you might even notice that gua sha eases any tension that you might be holding in your forehead, jaw, and eyebrows. Just remember that it’s not necessary to apply heavy pressure, and in fact, if you’re pressing too hard you won’t be targeting the lymphatic material.

Lymph lives just below the skin, and is so sensitive that it won’t respond to roughness! When it moves through the body in a healthy way, our puffiness diminishes. We get our natural, youthful glow back because our bodies are naturally detoxifying themselves. And the improved circulation helps flush toxins and revitalizes the look of skin.

What to Expect After a Gua Sha Facial

After a gua sha facial, you’ll likely see instant results. Your brows and cheeks will look more lifted, and cheekbones will be more defined as excessive lymphatic fluid drains from the face. Skin will look brighter because of increased blood flow. And because you need to use a facial oil or emollient lotion whenever you gua sha, your complexion will be hydrated, too!

Where to Get a Gua Sha Facial

Gua sha treatments are typically performed by trained professionals. When it comes to full-body massage, practitioners are usually certified in the technique and also have their massage license. Estheticians and facialists also must go through a training to learn how to properly use the gua sha tool on the sensitive facial skin.

It’s safe to try giving yourself a gua sha facial treatment at home, as long as you’re not pressing too hard. If you see redness on your face, you’ve gone too far! A little goes a long way with this stuff. And trust, you don’t want bruise lines on your face—it’s not a good look.

How to Do Gua Sha at home

Gua Sha Facial Tools

To give yourself a gua sha facial you’ll need a gua sha tool, facial oil, and about five minutes of free time. We also recommend grabbing a towel, just in case! When purchasing a gua sha tool, make sure you get one that’s made of real stone like jade, rose quartz, or brian stone. Beware of super-cheap versions on Amazon—they might be made with dyed acrylic, which is bad for the planet and bad for your skin health! Also, the real things look very cute on Instagram. Really important to up your self-care ‘gram game.

Directions

  1. Before you get started, wash your face thoroughly. No make-up, no nothing. You want to be barefaced, babe! We recommend double-cleansing with the Pure Start Gentle Detoxing Facial cleanser to remove any dirt or grunginess from the day, and then following up with the Detox Clarifying Wash to give pores the clean sweep.
  2. Apply a few drops of Fleuressence Native Botanical Cell Oil to the skin. This golden elixir contains Kalahari oil, Mongongo oil, Rosehip seed oil and Baobab oil to boost skin’s natural radiance, improve tone, and fade scars. You want the gua sha tool to gently glide against the skin, so don’t be shy about using a little more oil than usual.
  3. Hold the gua sha tool at a 15-degree angle against skin; it should almost be flush against the face. In one fluid motion, sweep the tool from its initial starting point all the way down the next to the collarbone. Follow these pathways three to five times each:

– From the middle of the under the chin to the earlobe. Repeat on both sides.

– From the middle of the ridge of the chin (follow your jawline) to the earlobe. Repeat on both sides.

– From the lower edge of the nostril up to the middle of the ear. Repeat on both sides.

– From the inside of the eye, lightly draw the gua sha tool to the temple. Repeat on both sides.

– From the inside of the eyebrow, follow the brow bone to the temple. Repeat on both sides.

– From the middle of the forehead to the hairline. Repeat on both sides.

– From the hairline, sweep all the way down, around the back of the ears, down the sides of the neck to the collarbones. Repeat on both sides.

When you’re done, you should notice an instantaneous difference in your skin! Gua sha massage acts like a natural mini facelift—and it feels really amazing.

 

“I almost forget that there’s real weather In other parts of the country. LA’s climate is so ridiculous that the years and years I spent on the east coast seems like a far away dream. But those winters are real and your skin needs some extra love. I truly believe in an occlusive barrier in the winter to combat the effects of the wind chill. Using a products like the HollyBeth Rose Geranium moisturizer will help keep the moisture in even while the wind whips about your face. Water based moisturizers will evaporate in the cold, so you want to create a barrier to keep the moisture in. Radiator heat is no joke either, so when you get back into your cozy house slather on that balm or oil and let your face soak it in. Skin looks different in the winter, makeup can just sort of look like it’s sitting on top of the skin. Find blushes that have a very soft mica in then so that there’s a pretty glow on the cheeks (without looking sparkly) and find blush shades that are closest to your skin tone; soft peaches, rose tones and blush shades are best. Leave the bronzer for warmer months. Anything too bright or too “poppy” will not feel integrated and will sort of “stand off” the face.” Fiona Stiles

How to get the most bang out of your beauty bounty: what products can’t you live without, Fiona?

There are too many favorites to list here, truly your eyes would glaze over because I have a deep and special love for ALL of the products in my kit, but there are for sure ones that I would be crushed if I couldn’t use on the daily and here they are in no particular order……

Tata Harper Illuminating Moisturizer: I love this for the face of course, but at work I am constantly using it on the body for a gorgeous, soft radiant glow on the clavicles, shoulder caps, legs etc.. Plus the smell is out of this world….

Kejiwa Venus Love Spray: One spritz of this “psychic mist” will transport you into another world. It’s meant to clear the energy around you, and I certainly use it that way on set, but I also like to use it as a face mist during skin prep. It lets the model or client take a deep breath, re-center and relax, which just makes for a better day all around. And it works beautifully to set the makeup. After setting the face with loose powder, I like to mist this onto the face so that the powder melts into the skin, allowing the makeup to look more seamless.

French Girl Lip Scrub:  A lot of what I do as a makeup artist is dependent on a well primed canvas. The first thing I do when someone sits in my  chair is asses their skin to see if there’s something that needs special attention… is their skin oily or dry, do they need to exfoliate their skin, or their lips? If I’m going to do a bold lip, those lips need to be in perfect condition to receive the pigment. I love to use the lip scrub from French Girl. It’s like eating a french pastille and the sugar and oil combo really do a knock out job of getting the lips silky smooth.

Orgaid Vitamin C sheet masks: These are great for pluming the skin and prepping the face for makeup. It’s also just a wonderful, quick, luxurious treatment that isn’t expensive, doesn’t take an hour and has immediate, noticeable results. Nothing beats a good sheet mask (and this one has an incredible ingredient deck so you can feel good about all of those ingredients soaking into your skin).

Anastasia Brow Wiz Brow Pencils: They’re just the best on the market. The colors are spot on and the formula is the perfect consistency for creating the loveliest brow. There’s a shade match for everyone in her line so all brows are spoken to.

NARS cream blushes: The range of shades in this line is just so delicious and the consistency of the cream blushes is incredible; they blend perfectly onto bare skin or onto foundation. I’m not actually even sure how many of their cream blushes I have, maybe all of them? They’re like Pokemon cards for me, I want to collect them all!

Fiona Stiles Beauty mascara: Sooooo many mascara run on me and make me look like a feral raccoon at the end of the day, but this mascara gives me insanely long, full lashes with zero smudging. It makes even the shortest lashes look fluffy.

Maybelline Lash Discovery mascara: The teeny, tiny brush on this is what makes it so special (and a staple in my kit for over 10 years). I can find all of the invisible tiny lashes at the inner corners with this brush and magnify them, making the eyes seems wider and bigger. I’m not sure how many tubes of this that I’ve gone thought over the years, but it’s a LOT.

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Illuminator: Here’s another product that’s been in my kit for ages. I love that it’s a transparent liquid illuminator. It doesn’t make the skin lighter or darker, like some highlighters can, and it melts into the skin seamlessly, just making you look like you are surrounded by candlelight 24/7. I always know this will make the skin look drop dead gorgeous on the red carpet….I pop a bit on the tops of the cheekbones and a little along the top 1/3 of the bridge of the nose. I’ll even mix it into under eye concealer to bounce light back and reduce the appearance of dark circles and underage bags. It’s a miracle product.

Charlotte Tilbury’s lipsticks: Which ones? ALL OF THEM. Her colors are incredible, as are the formulas. There isn’t a shade that I don’t like (or that I don’t own).

Personal faves from Fiona S medicine cabinet

Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub: I use this at least 3-4 times a week. I have never used a scrub that is better than this; the micro-fine particles make it so that you can really massage it into every nook and cranny of your face and they really get the job done. My pet peeve is a scrub that feels thin and sparse and leaves me feeling unsatisfied. This one leaves me 100% satisfied.

Goldfaden MD Sun Visor SPF: I’ve been known to say that I won’t switch on a lightbulb without putting sunscreen on first. I think it’s your best line of defense when it comes to aging. I’m not sure how many bottles of this I’ve gone through, but it’s a substantial amount. I have a real issue with product textures, especially sunscreens, and if it doesn’t feel good, I just won’t use it. This feels like nothing on the skin and it doesn’t mess with your makeup, or make your skin a funny color like so many natural sunscreens do. It’s my holy grail product.

SkinCeuticals Retinol: In my personal life I lean towards non-toxic beauty products, but I still get down with this because the efficacy is just so good.

Heir Atelier Eye Primer: I have oily skin, and oily eyelids, so an eye primer is a must for me. This one doesn’t make my shadow look dull, or change the color of it, and it keep say eye makeup crease-free from dawn to dusk.

In Fiore Veloutee Balm: In real life I’m a total lip balm girl. When I’m running around town or working I just need moisture on my lips and I don’t want to have to worry about reapplying  a lip color. I love how chic this balm is, and it makes my lips feel velvety soft. Plus I use it on my cuticles and around my eyes when I’m not wearing any makeup.

As a makeup artist, what is the one piece of advice you’d like to share? Are there any makeup application tips you can share? What are the best tips for achieving a “natural” look and flawless complexion (tools, product, application, treatments, lifestyle tips, etc.)?

Even when I do a strong editorial look, it still has a “natural” feel to it. I never want the skin to feel dead or flat, that makes an image feel static. I love the life and tangibility that comes from “feeling” the skin in an image. You can add all of the highlighter in the world, but if you put it on heavily covered skin, it looks two dimensional. I remember staring at my daughter’s skin when she was a few months old and marveling at how it looks the side of a lit candle;  the texture was perfect but there was an inner glow that beamed out from it. That’s what I am for when I do makeup.

So that said, how do you create that. It all depends on the person so there isn’t one tip or trick that will cover all of the bases, but there are a few universal tools and suggestions that work across the board. Prep the skin in a way that’s best suited for your skin type. If you have dry skin (no visible pores, fine wrinkles) you can really go for it on the moisture front. Oils, balms, rich creams, the richer the better. That will help bring life and luminosity to the skin (favorite products for this category: * Kahina Argan Oil //one of the purest Organ Oils on the market//, * HollyBeth Organics Rose Geranium Moisturizer, Leahlani Skincare Bless Beauty Balm). Use cream blushes (again I love NARS, and also Kjier Weiss as well as Kosas) and only powder where you need it.

If you have oily skin, use a more lightweight moisturizer (I love the one from * Schaf and the matte moisturizer from *Earnest Supplies) and find a foundation that won’t sink into your pores. I go back and forth between a cream blush and a powder blush, it really depends on the look, but with oily skin, sometimes a powder or stain lasts longer than a cream (the Glossier Cloud Paint is pretty great).

You just can’t go wrong with a * beautyblender, it truly makes a difference in how your makeup goes on and blends. It that feels like too much for you, then I swear by dense synthetic foundation brushes, they melt the product right into your skin. And the great thing is that the inexpensive ones are just as good as the expensive ones. It’s one of those few times that there’s real democracy in makeup tools!

Here are the steps to a beautiful, natural look that any one can wear:

– Fill in your brows if needed and brush them up and set them with a clear brow gel. I don’t feel put together if I don’t set my brows. Plus the gel makes them look a bit shiny, which is sexy.

– Apply cream bronzer on your cheeks and then add a pop of a fresh, bright cream blush. It adds dimension to the face and depth to your blush.

– Curl your lashes. I love the one from * Surratt. Curling your lashes really, truly makes a difference in how you look. No one escapes my chair without a proper curl.

– I love the Lid Tints form Jillian Dempsey on the eyes for a cool, unfussy look.

– Lots of mascara, because well, I just love mascara. You can use brown if you want, but I love a rich inky black. Brown is lovely on the lower lashes if you want something a bit softer.

Dior Lip Glow in Berry or the Lip Stains from Vincent Longo. They give your lips color without the fussiness of lipstick.

Dive deeper into Fiona’s amazing curated assortment of hard-to-find and the best of beauty from around the world @ Shop Reed Clark.

 

The dog days of summer are wrapping up—and coincides with when skin has decided it can no longer take the heat, grime and sweat it’s been enduring for the past few months, going haywire. Just some of what you might be seeing in the mirror? Photo-damaged skin, discoloration, dehydration, dull or lackluster complexion, congestion. “It’s the sun, sand, beach, warm/humid climate,” explains Dr. Goldfaden. “Added with the fact that consumers are putting on loads of sunscreen to protect against harmful UVA/UVB rays, which can lead to skin congestion and breakouts.”

So what do we do about the new constellation of pimples that has suddenly appeared on our left cheek, and refuses to budge? The changes in weather, as summer transitions to fall, is already enough to shock your skin. So make sure any changes to your skincare regimen are subtle, rather than completely abandoning your previous routine just because it’s getting a little cooler outside. “Subtle changes to your regimen can do wonders for your skin and give it what it really needs. Polish and plump: this is the key. Exfoliation (either in the form of a physical exfoliator or enzyme/chemical)–ridding your complexion of dead, dry, dull cells and revealing brighter, smoother, younger-looking skin underneath is the beginning of revealing a more healthy-looking complexion followed by a corrective moisturizer/hydrating treatment, like oils and moisturizers.”


/**/

/**/

/**/


One subtle change? Swapping out just your cleanser. Goldfaden MD has developed a new cleanser that foams, the Detox Clarifying Facial Wash. Currently the original cleanser in the line, Pure Start, is a gentle wash that helps realign the skin’s natural pH balance. Detox Wash—thanks to a hardworking combo of AHA acids—takes it a step further by fighting bacteria, clarifying pores clogged up by sunscreen, and really addressing congested skin. If your current cleanser works great—check by swiping a pad with micellar water after a wash to see there’s no grime or residue left behind—keep using it!

To treat discoloration, photodamaged skin, or a dull complexion, think about slipping a few brightening ingredients into your regimen. Vitamin C (found in Goldfaden MD’s Brightening Elixir), alpha arbutin (found in Light Treatment, specifically for dark spots) and lactic acid (found in Fresh a Peel) are all power players that can help brighten skin tone and increase radiance.

It’s not just enough to apply product to the face—aka, treating merely the visible symptoms—to treat your skin well. It’s important to balance an effective skincare routine with good choices in diet and a supportive environment. “We holistically believe that healthy-looking skin is a 360-degree approach to wellness,” says Dr. Goldfaden. He recommends eating a diet rich in fatty acids (a “hydration punch”): think avocados, salmon, leafy greens, which will “keep congestion and inflammation at bay while infusing nutrient rich vitamins and nutrients back into your system.” It also means staying clear of alcohol, white carbs and refined sugar—all of which can trigger the inflammation we’re trying to avoid.