I think we can all agree that facial massage — and the jade rollers and gua sha tools that facilitate it — has become something of a skincare staple. Crystal-carved massagers are offered by beauty brands both science-based (Dr. Brandt) and mystical-minded (Mazz Hanna), because really, who doesn’t love the feeling of a smooth, cool crystal on their skin? The one area of facial massage that may still cause confusion, though, are the jade roller face oils to use.
First of all, yes, you do need to use an oil or serum in conjunction with any facial massage tool. “It gives the skin slip so you won’t drag or tug your skin,” Dr. Howard Sobel, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin in New York City, tells The Zoe Report. “Tugging and dragging your skin, especially the delicate skin under your eye, can actually cause premature aging and do more damage than good.” He recommends reaching for an oil-based serum, like Savor Beauty Carrot Rose Serum, to give “maximum slip for the longest time;" as well as products that are rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids — i.e., extremely hydrating and non-drying.
“There is some evidence that mechanical stimulation with a massage tool can amplify the effect of certain topically applied products,” Dr. Caroline Robinson, a dermatologist based in Chicago, adds to TZR — so ask yourself what benefits you really want to boost for your particular skin. If you’re dry, opt for a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid, suggests Dr. Amanda Doyle, a New York City dermatologist, in an email to The Zoe Report. If your skin tends to be reactive, pair your roller with a soothing product, like The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. “For those with sensitive, rosacea-prone skin, look for a serum with calming ingredients such as lavender, green tea or rose extract,” Dr. Sobel adds.
“You can also work with a serum that has the same properties as the tool to maximize results,” says Michelle Ranavat, the founder of Ranavat Botanics. She loves pairing her brand’s Kansa wand (a rounded, Ayurvedic massager) with the saffron-infused Radiant Rani Serum. Since both are anti-inflammatory, they work in tandem to decrease puffiness and support a healthy glow. (Side note: If you personally prefer the texture of a moisturizer to that of a serum or oil, experts say that that’s fine, too. The key is using a product that stays “slippery” on the skin while you massage.)
As for the ingredients you definitely shouldn't pair with these tools? Anything active, harsh, or traditionally irritating. “I recommend avoiding use of topical vitamin C, retinoids, and retinols, or any products containing alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs),” Dr. Robinson says. Besides potentially causing a reaction on the skin, “any products that contain lactic acid or glycolic acid could damage the stone,” Emilie Hoyt, the founder of LATHER, tells The Zoe Report.
Not really sure where to start? You’re in luck: Skincare brands are launching skincare products specifically meant to be paired with their corresponding jade rollers and gua shas (or vice versa), all in the name of taking the guesswork out of facial massage.
Ahead, the nine massage-tool-and-product pairing experts recommend.
Odacité All-Embracing Serum + Gua Sha
“Excessive tugging and pulling can do more harm than good, especially on areas with thinner skin, like the eye contour,” Valerie Grandury, the founder of Odacité, tells TZR. “We made it easy by formulating our All Embracing Serum to give you the perfect slip to the gua sha.” Made with hydrating watermelon seed oil and calming oatmeal, it’s derm-approved.
Ranavat Botanics Radiant Rani + Kansa Wand
“When Radiant Rani is massaged into the skin with the wand, not only does it absorb better into the skin, but the heat actually helps activate blood circulation, delivering more oxygen to the skin and resulting in a natural beautiful glow,” Ranavat explains. “It really delivers a noticeable impact.”
vitruvi French Plum Oil + Gua Sha
“Using a product that penetrates the layers of skin like a carrier oil or serum is a great choice,” Sara Panton, the co-founder and CEO of vitruvi, tells The Zoe Report. “I love using vitruvi's French Plum Oil because it has a dynamic level of moisture, which means it penetrates deeper into the skin while still helping with gliding. Plus it smells absolutely amazing, like a dessert on your face.”
Esker Firming Oil + Allover Jade Roller
Beauty brand Esker recently launched the first all-over jade roller, supersized to work for legs, arms, butts... and everywhere else. Since the tool is intended to stimulate lymphatic drainage and firm the skin, it’s best paired with a body oil that does the same, like Esker’s functional Firming Body Oil.
LATHER Toning Eye Gel With Vitamin K + Jade Roller
Want to boost the effects of under-eye rolling? “It can be helpful and especially soothing to pair eye gel with the roller for depuffing,” Hoyt says. LATHER’s version features derm-loved niacin for increased elasticity.
Dr. Brandt Needles No More Neck Sculpting Cream + Gua Sha
Dr. Brandt makes it super easy to take your gua sha practice to the next level with this set. The Needles No More neck cream is “inspired by an in-office neck injectable,” per the brand’s site, and comes complete with a gua sha crystal to enhance absorption.
Kora Organics Noni Glow Facial Oil + Gua Sha
To load up on Dr. Sobel’s recommended antioxidants and fatty acids, try Kora Organics Noni Glow Facial Oil, which is packed with both courtesy of its namesake noni extract, rosehip oil, and pomegranate oil. Bonus: The brand’s corresponding rose quartz gua sha is adorably heart-shaped.
Savor Beauty Caviar Eye Cream + Mazz Hanna Rose Quartz Rollers
Save your under-eyes from bags and dark circles by pairing Savor Beauty's Caviar Eye Cream (fortified with antioxidant CoQ10 and plumping Omega-3s) with a gentle swirl of Mazz Hanna's rose quartz rollers. Both are known to brighten and ease inflammation.
Your Favorite Serum + Eterno LED Device
If you’re still skeptical about ~crystal magic~, here’s a more science-driven way to test drive the facial massage trend. “I like combining these types of serums with an easy to use at-home device like the Eterno LED Device,” Dr. Doyle says. “Just turn on the device and use it to gently massage the product into the skin. This helps increase absorption of these products so you get more out of them.” The red LED lights are also proven to stimulate collagen production. How’s that for a high-tech update?