A Guide to Face Rollers and Other Skincare Tools You Keep Seeing on Instagram

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of the recent renaissance of mystical skincare tools but we’d venture to say it’s a mix of Goop, coupled with the overarching trend of wellness that has seeped into beauty and possibly their ubiquity all over Instagram. The point is, they’re everywhere these days. “There’s an appetite for some sort of reconnection,” says Jennifer Bonito, co-founder of beauty and wellness brand Cardea AuSet who came out with one last year, of their popularity. “And for anything that allows us to slow down in our lives and in our daily routines.”

Though pretty they might be, what exactly do they do? We break them down:

The Face Roller

Rumour has it that the ancient Egyptian goddess, Auset used rose quartz—a stone that speaks to your heart chakra—to maintain her youthful looks. But don’t discount them in jade, which date back to seventh century China and are known for having healing and protective properties. Spiritual benefits aside, rolling one of these along your face massages the skin, increasing circulation and promoting collagen production. Upward motions generate lift, while downward ones stimulate lymphatic drainage.

Most rollers are dual-ended, and some (like the version from Province Apothecary) have a smooth and studded side. “The studded end is like a body roller,” says Kassia Gooding, brand ambassador for the company. “It really moves the fascia (connective tissue under the skin), breaks up scar tissue and helps with any discolouration or pigmentation.” The smoother side soothes the skin and calms puffiness. Using post-serum or facial oil is best, as it will help your skin absorb the product. Once applied, curl up with a book or Netflix and mindlessly roll away.

 

The Dry Brush

More commonly known for use on the body, dry brushes also come in versions for the face and are recommended for those with sensitive skin. It’s a gentler version of a face roller and offers a lot of the same benefits: they soften the skin, provide light exfoliation and encourage lymphatic drainage. Lymph–the fluid that circulates our lymphatic system–carries waste away from our organs and back to the heart. Many lymph vessels live right beneath the skin, so the thought is that by brushing regularly, we’re helping to stimulate the lymph flow in our body, removing toxins in a natural way. They’re used on dry skin prior to cleansing your face or bathing, brushing in firm, small strokes towards the heart.

Gua Sha Stones

These flat crystals are dragged across the skin to promote circulation, collagen production and elasticity. “It’s kind of like the soothing end of a jade roller,” says Gooding. “But it’s a different technique and movement. You can get a little deeper because you’re adding more pressure and pulling rather than rolling and smoothing.”

The pulling and tugging can sound a little intense and indeed, a preliminary Google search produces some pretty gnarly images–mainly blood red backs that evoke references to other painful-looking practices like skin cupping. Gua Sha, like cupping, is another age-old technique that’s been used in China for thousands of years. People would take sharp objects–crystals, animals horns, antlers–and scrape the surface of the skin to improve circulation. But the version used today is much more gentle than the traditional one. Just like a face roller, use after product is freshly applied.