ice roller, jade roller and gua sha stone on a pink, floral background

Gua sha vs jade roller vs ice roller: what's the difference?

Last Updated: April 14, 2022

Gua sha, jade rollers, and ice rollers — what are they, and how do you use them? If you’re ready to give these skincare tools a try but you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

Is an ice roller better than a jade roller? Is a jade roller better than gua sha? What even is a face roller, and how do you know which tool is best for your skincare needs? If you or someone you know is asking these questions, we’re here to help.

You’ve probably seen one, if not all, of these tools in Instagram ads, on TikTok, or in one of the many celebrity skincare videos on YouTube. And while jade rolling, gua sha, and ice rolling all have similar benefits, they also vary in significant ways. Come along as we sus out the differences between these skincare tools and help you decide which one is best for you.

What is gua sha?

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Gua sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice that can be used on the face and the body. Gua sha uses a flat tool that’s scraped along the skin to promote the flow of “chi,” or energy, and provide a slew of skincare benefits. These tools come in various shapes that are made to fit the contours of your face. Many gua sha stones are made from jade, but you’ll also find them in adventurine, amethyst, and other materials.

What are the benefits of gua sha?

Sculpts jawline and cheekbones: Gua sha stones are made to tightly contour the lines of your face and, with regular use, provide serious sculpting benefits.

Relieves tension: Gua sha delivers a deep massage that relaxes the muscles of your face to relieve tension in your cheeks, forehead, and jaw.

Stimulates lymph drainage: Lymph fluid can become stagnant under the skin, leading to puffiness — gua sha moves lymph fluid so it can leave with other body waste.

Increases blood circulation: Increased blood circulation plumps up skin, which in turn decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

How do you use a gua sha tool?

Gua sha requires ‘slip’ in order to glide across your face without tugging at your skin. Wash your face, then apply a good moisturizer or face oil before you practice gua sha. Methods vary depending on the type of gua sha tool you have and how long you want to spend on your routine, but here’s a general outline of the technique:

First, visually separate your face in half and work one side at a time with the tool flat against your skin, counting five sweeps for each area:

  1. Start at the bottom of your neck, and move the tool in gentle, upward strokes to the top of your neck.
  2. Move to the center of your chin, and sweep upwards along your jawline to your earlobe.
  3. Now, work from the edge of your nose to your temple.
  4. Press the tool under the inner corner of your eye, and sweep it gently toward your temple.
  5. Place the tool over your brow bone, and move along the shape of your brow.
  6. Last but not least, sweep the tool over your forehead, from the center to each temple.

For visual learners:

What is a jade roller?

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Jade rollers, aka facial rollers, are a skincare tool of Ancient Chinese origin. They’ve got a larger roller on one end — perfect for areas like your neck, cheeks, and forehead — and a smaller roller at the other end that works well for brow bones and the under-eye area. Jade rollers aren’t just made from jade — you can find facial rollers in rose quartz, amethyst, opal, and more, too.

What are the benefits of jade rolling?

Light sculpting: Jade rolling offers light sculpting of the cheeks and jawline.

Glowing skin: Facial rolling promotes blood circulation, which makes your skin look brighter, plumper, and firmer.

Better product absorption: Jade rolling is a great way to drive the active ingredients in serums and sheet face masks deeper into your skin.

Increased lymph drainage: Any type of facial massage helps move lymph fluid through your skin, which helps you look more glowy and less puffy.

How do you use a jade roller?

Prep your skin! It should be clean before you use the jade roller. Like gua sha, the facial roller needs a bit of slip so it can move fluidly over your face without tugging. Pick your fave serum and get rolling:

  1. Roll each side of your face separately, using five strokes per area.
  2. Start at the base of your neck with the larger roller, and work in upward strokes to your chin.
  3. From the middle of your chin, roll over your cheek and toward your temple.
  4. Move to your forehead and roll from the center, over your brow bone, and to your temple.
  5. Now, flip the roller so you’re using the smaller side. Roll under your eye from the inner corner to the outer corner.
  6. Still using the smaller side, run the roller over your jawline beneath the chin to earlobe.

For visual learners:

Curious about these beautiful tools? We gave the jade roller a spin (literally) and reported back with our findings.

What is an ice roller

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An ice roller is a skincare tool with a large roller attached to a handle. Depending on the roller, it may be made from metal, plastic, glass, or silicone with a gel core. Ice rollers work by way of cold therapy, which can help reduce inflammation. Ice rollers are great for all skin types — including folks with acne.

What are the benefits of ice rolling?

Helps inflammation: Ice rolling helps reduce swelling, puffiness, and inflammation caused by allergies, skin issues, or nights of overindulgence.

Tightens pores: Cold temps cause our blood vessels to contract, which tightens and reduces the appearance of pores.

Improves circulation: Rolling combined with icy temperatures helps increase blood flow, which makes skin look brighter and plumper and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.

Promotes lymph drainage: Ice rolling promotes lymphatic drainage via manual lymph massage to get your juices flowing.

How do you use an ice roller?

Use the ice roller after you wash your face but before you apply any products. With a light pressure, move the ice roller along the contours of your forehead and temples before moving down to your cheeks, chin, and neck. Use slow back and forth motions for a refreshingly cool and gentle massage.

Ideally, an ice roller should be stored in the freezer so it’s ready to go whenever you need it. If that doesn’t work for you, set the roller in the freezer for at least a half hour before you use it, and keep it somewhere safe — and clean — when it's not in use.

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle with our guide to glowing skin for a brilliant boost of radiance.

So, which tool is right for you?

The right tool for you depends entirely on how the results you want and how much effort you want to put into your routine. And, in the case of ice rollers, how much room you’ve got in your freezer.

Jade rolling is great for people who are new to the world of skincare tools because it’s gentle on the skin — especially sensitive skin — and the technique is easy to learn.

Ice rolling is a solid choice for folks with sensitive skin or people who want super-strength depuffing in the morning but aren’t as concerned with facial sculpting.

Gua sha is for you if you want a more intense facial massage than jade rolling or ice rolling can offer — plus a hefty dose of facial sculpting, to boot.

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