If you have an Instagram account, you’ve probably already noticed the rising popularity of the crystal facial roller.
As interest peaks in all things spiritual and New Age-y, crystals have been having quite a moment in the spotlight. Evolving from altar décor and talismans to be carried in your pocket to being infused into beauty products and turned into sex toys, home goods, and more, it’s no wonder that crystal facial tools are also booming.
“Crystal facial tools are used in skin care to create both physiological, affecting the physical skin, and energetic, affecting the subtle body, shifts,” says Emma Graves, co-founder and master aesthetician at Brooklyn Herborium. “They have been used for smoothing fine lines, penetrating product, cooling inflammation, lifting, sculpting, and many other purposes.”
However, these skin-improving tools are not new innovations. Aestheticians have been performing crystal facials for a long time, and, as beauty editor for Herbivore Botanicals (which has its own gorgeous offering of rollers) Desiree Pais points out, “Jade and rose quartz have both been used in beauty rituals for thousands of years. Jade rollers have been used since seventh-century China and in ancient Egypt, [where, allegedly,] Cleopatra found rose quartz stones at the bottom of the river and would rub them on her face for beauty benefits.”
The types of crystal facial tools
You’re probably already pretty familiar with the crystal roller since they launched into Instagram stardom, so let’s start off with those. As Pais explains, “Facial rollers work on a more superficial level and target the lymphatic system, our major detoxification system. It’s a thin network, like the threads of a spider web, which sits underneath the top layers of the skin. Facial rollers help to stimulate this network and increase our body’s ability to detoxify, which leads to a decrease in retention of body fluids, puffiness, and inflammation.”
Next, you’ll find the flatter, ridged tools known as gua sha, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine to massage the face. In addition to the benefit that rollers hold, these tools go a bit deeper and allow muscles to release tension. “These are the workhorses of the crystal facial tool world,” says Graves. “The more perpendicular a crystal is held to the skin’s surface, the more the tool is able to grab at fascia [tissue under the skin’s surface] and break it up or allow it to release. The more parallel the tool and softer you press, the more you address the body’s lymphatic flow, encouraging the release of fluids and helping the body take out the [cellular] trash.” Due to the versatile angles of the tool’s shape, Graves explains, they have the ability to create an immediate face-lift result when used by a professional.
There are other types of tool shapes as well. Pointed wand-like tools (which, admittedly, remind me very much of the ever-so-popular crystal dildos) can be used to focus energy directly to specific points on the face. “This is acupressure, an ancient healing modality that sends messages to the subtle body and internal organs by stimulating the surface of the skin,” says Graves.
How to use each tool
You can use a crystal wand by stimulating specific acupressure points on the face. “These pointed tools have a precision that exceeds that of even a tiny roller ball and can be over-stimulating—even painful—without proper guidance,” says Graves. “Be gentle, or practice with just using your fingertips before moving onto these! There are many charts available to teach you where various points are located, but to get an initial feel for it, you could just glide your fingers along your face looking for soft spots to stimulate.”
When it comes to rollers, you’ll want to use them in sweeping motions, working from the center of the face outward. Karina Sulzer, founder of all-natural beauty tool brand Skin Gym, gave us the rundown on a basic ritual: “Apply your favorite moisturizer, oil, or serum and then, starting from your chin, work from the center outward and upward onto your cheeks. Next, make sweeping rolls from the center of your chin toward your collarbones, working outward to the sides of your neck. Then, from the center of your neck, roll outward and upward, working up to every section of your face.”
Pro tip? “We highly recommend putting your roller or wand in the fridge to keep it super-cold—this is the ultimate trick for maximum de-puffing in the morning,” she says.
Gua sha can be a bit more on the intense side and, as such, don’t necessarily need to be used daily. “I encourage using these tools for lymphatic manipulation whenever the desire arises—every day is fine, though the more intense fascia work works best with some recovery time in between,” says Graves.
Sulzer breaks down a face gua sha exercise to do three times a week, repeating each exercise three times, below:
Under the chin: Sweep from the middle of the soft under-chin out to the bottom of your earlobe.
Jaw: Start at the outer corner of the jaw and sweep down to the dip above the middle of the right collarbone.
Chin: From the middle of the chin, under the lower lip, sweep out to the ear.
Cheek: Sweep from the corner of the nose out to the middle ear.
Under-eye: Being especially light and slow, sweep over the under-eye area, where “eye bags” would show up, and out to the temple, all the way to the hairline.
Eyebrow: On the brow bone, sweep from inside corner out to the temple.
Third eye: Stroke from center of eyebrows up to hairline.
Lower forehead: From the center of the forehead above the eyebrow, sweep toward the ear.
Big sweep: Here, we bring everything we’ve moved to the outer edges of the face all the way back down to the collarbone. Start at the center of the upper forehead and trace down the hairline, over the temple, then curve behind the ear, and down the side of the neck to collarbone.
Most of the tools you’ll find are made from quartz, due to its availability, durability, and resistance to high heat and chemicals. “It also allows other things to pass through—such as light creating a rainbow or electricity creating the precise movements of a clock or your emotions in helping to clear your mind—without having a change in itself,” says Graves. Of course, their healing properties have a lot to do with it, too. She goes on to explain the different types of quarts and benefits of each:
The ever-popular rose quartz, which is calming to the skin and is considered to resonate with the heart chakra, stays cool to the touch even in a warm room. Aventurine—which many improperly label jade—is a type of green quartz that also resonates with the heart chakra, but heats up faster and creates more friction on the skin, benefiting those who want more activation and change to occur, such as addressing wrinkles or dark spots. Amethyst, also quartz, may resonate with those who wish to connect to their more spiritual side, due to its characteristic purple hue. Tiger’s eye, carnelian, agate, and onyx, which are commonly used for tools, are also all quartz.
Even if you’re not a New Age-y type that believes in a crystal’s metaphysical properties, you can still get behind the effectiveness of these tools. If they're good enough for Cleopatra, they sure are good enough for us.