Do you love your gua sha stone? Your nightly facial roller routine? Your buzzy little facial tool that depuffs your eyes every morning? Well, we have your next tool obsession right here—and it predates all of the others. “New” this is not—but it is just starting to have an entirely modern resurgence.
What is a kansa wand?
A kansa wand is to ayurveda as a gua sha stone is to traditional Chinese medicine. According to ancient tradition, it helps balance the three doshas on the skin. As a reminder, balance is the most important part of ayurveda, and you achieve this through balancing your three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Ayurvedic practitioners often describe doshas as your health type—but when we talk about skin scare specifically, doshas are connected to various skin conditions or attributes. (Vatas are dry and easily irritated, pittas are acne-prone, and vatas are oily.) You can balance skin through various oils, tonics—and this wand.
The tool dates back to the Bronze Age in India. At first glance, it looks almost like an herbalist’s muddler, with the end shaped like a large dome. It’s made of a solid wood handle and kansa metal, which is very important to the healing properties, tradition dictates. Kansa metal is a specific type of bronze metal, or a blend of copper and tin. “It’s a very sacred alloy,” says Michelle Ranavat, founder of Ranavat Botanics, one of the brands reintroducing the tool stateside. “It’s said to provide a detoxifying effect—and it’s used for many things from drinking cups to serving plates.”
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How does it work?
There are three primary ways that the kansa wand is thought to work:
1. It’s thought to balance pH, according to practitioners.
According to ayurvedic practitioners, the kansa metal will balance any acidity on the skin. “It forms a chemical reaction with the serum and neutralizes any pH imbalances,” says Ranavat. However, we must note, there is no research done at this time that connects this specific metal to a more balanced pH on the skin.
We do know from research that pH is quite important to skin health (having a proper pH helps your skin microbiome flourish). We also know that the pH might become disrupted from soaps, other beauty products, or lifestyle factors. Experts have identified many pH-balancing measures over the years, including eliminating harsh surfactants and using microbiome-friendly products. So regardless, be mindful of what you are using on your skin and how it might alter pH.
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2. It may help with lymphatic drainage.
Facial rolling or massage is also thought to encourage lymphatic drainage, according to holistic practitioners. “Lymph is a highly underrated circulatory system within the body, and it is responsible for detoxifying waste from the skin on a cellular level, in addition to its many, many other functions,” writes holistic esthetician Britta Plug, who has become the de facto expert on all things facial massage and lymphatic drainage. Some research has been done on manual manipulation and lymphatic drainage, but the main focus has been on sports medicine rather than aesthetic. And, too, final conclusions vary from expert to expert. One study found that lymphatic massage can reduce swelling in patients. However, another concluded that an otherwise healthy person doesn’t need to stimulate lymphatic drainage because the process happens on its own.
3. Facial massage is good for skin regardless.
Finally, at its most general level, there are many studies that connect regular facial massage and manipulation to healthier skin in general. A 2018 study from the Tokyo Institute of Technology found that daily massage increased blood circulation in the face, as well as widening blood vessels for long-term improvement in circulation. Another recent study found that a product’s benefits were amplified when paired with a facial massage tool, though the reason why isn’t fully understood.
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A typical routine takes about five to 10 minutes, and you can modify as you’d like (some people like to pay more attention to the eye; some the jawline). Overall, this should feel much more fluid than gua sha or a roller. Ranavat notes that you might notice that when the metal reacts to the oil, it might turn a shade of gray on the skin but not to worry and that it will fade or disappear if you wash off the oil.
- As with any facial tool, start with an oil or serum so you have some slip on the skin. When you do this on dry skin, it can end up pulling at the delicate skin. As far as the product used, find one that helps your specific dosha or skin ailment. If you’re dry, you can tolerate a thicker product. But if you have oily skin, you might consider an oil that balances your sebum production.
- Master the movement. (Try on your forearm the first time until you get used to it.) There are two different techniques that you’ll use depending on the area of the face. The first is moving the wand around in small circles: Think of the motion as though you are drawing spirals all over your face. The second is long, smooth strokes. Apply gentle pressure—the same you would a roller.
- Beginning at the center of your forehead, move out and down around one side of your face, using the spiraling method. Switch to the other.
- When you are around your eyes, use the long, sweeping method—the curve of the metal will mean that the glide feels gentle and effortless throughout the stroke. Start at the center and move outward, around the eye, and even into the eyebrow for a full circle. You can even do a figure eight around both eyes.
- Keep the long, slow, sweeping movements under the cheekbones and jawline. Unlike with gua sha (where you move the tool in only one direction), you can move the tool back and forth with these movements. Occasionally you should end the strokes by making tiny, focused circles at the base of the ear, near the lymph nodes.
The bottom line:
If you are a regular user of facial tools, this is just another that you can fold into your routine. While there isn’t much research done on the kansa wand specifically (at least at the moment), there’s been enough research surrounding regular facial massage to support the skin care habit.
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