Superstar makeup artist Sir John has some pretty refreshing takes on beauty, and skin in particular. To his mind (and ours) freckles should be never be covered , seeing dark circles and actual skin texture is sexy and modern and you’re probably wearing far more coverage than you actually require. Sure, a certain “teflon face” is called for if you’re dancing through sweaty sets in huge stadiums à la his most famous client Beyoncé, a finish he achieves by layering powder products over cream products, but for us mere mortals IRL a more minimalist approach comes off better. Which is why skin prep is even more important, and far from being techie, Sir John’s secret weapon complexion dates back centuries.
At the launch for L’Oréal’s new Super Base foundation range last week Sir John told us that he ‘warms up’ Beyoncé’s skin by massing her face with a jade roller, a technique rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. Then, he uses his gua sha heart-shaped tool to “get blood flow going and make skin look healthy”. It's intended to release trapped ‘chi’ (energy), stimulate circulation and promote healing. The practice also creates the kind of calm, zen atmosphere he prefers to work in – Sir John is not about backstage tension or stress, no matter how quick the costume change. With Sir John in town and Chinese New Year upon us, what better time to get to grips with a gua sha ritual? Here’s are the basics, what it’s good for and some gua sha tools to get to grips with.
Gua sha in a sentence
It’s an ancient Chinese massage technique using a soft-edged jade, crystal or bone tool that’s ‘scraped’ along the skin to encourage lymphatic drainage and boost circulation.
In traditional Chinese medical theory gua sha helps to soothe inflammation and ease everything from fever to headaches, but for the purposes of your beauty routine, a minute of gua sha a day is said to plump and tone skin thanks to the combination of microcirculation enhancing massage and the light pressure of the cooling tool on the skin. It won’t have a transformative effect, but it’s an invigorating way to optimise skincare absorption (apply your serum or moisturiser first), bring down any daytime or overnight puffiness and add a bit more mindfulness into your morning or evening routine. It feels great, makes skin look lively and is Sir John endorsed, so gua sha is a goer for most of us, although don’t press too hard and it’s best to avoid it if you have active acne, broken skin, broken veins or rosacea .
We can just picture Beyoncé getting into some pre-show gua sha with one of the following…