The skin-care industry is always in search of what's new, what's next and what's better in an effort to turn back the metaphorical clock: cutting-edge technology to reduce fine lines, newly-engineered ingredients to restore your youthful glow and surgical innovations to shave 10 years off your appearance. But lately, beauty enthusiasts are turning back the clock in a whole new way, by rediscovering and revitalizing centuries-old skin-care practices (jade rolling and gua sha, anyone?). Ancient beauty rituals are gaining renewed interest thanks to social media — and the fact that they work.
The latest (oldest) skin-care tool to resurface? The Kansa wand, a facial massage device made of wood and Kansa metal, designed to balance your doshas, chakras and skin's pH level. It's Ayurveda's answer to jade rollers and gua sha crystals.
Anyone else only know what, like, five of those words mean?
Let's back up: Ayurveda is a traditional Indian healing system — yoga is its sister practice — that recognizes three doshas, or energy types in our bodies. It takes a holistic approach to health, promoting daily maintenance of the mind, body and soul in order to balance the doshas. (The thought is that by tending to your needs every day, you reduce the risk of needing major medical intervention in the future.)
Ayurveda's approach to skin-care is much the same: As Sahara Rose Ketabi, modern Ayurvedic guru and the author of "Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda," puts it, "Ayurvedic skin-care is to look at skin holistically, from the inside out." Or, in the case of the Kansa wand, from the outside in. Just like jade rollers and gua shas, Kansa facial massage stimulates circulation, resulting in clearer, plumper, smoother skin. But the Kansa wand does so much more than that.
Kansa, a metal blend of copper, tin and zinc, has been around for approximately 5000 years (so, yes, it's pretty ironic that I was introduced to its healing properties through Instagram Stories), and is considered to be a sacred metal. Since Kansa is a conductor, it can allegedly tune your chakras (AKA, the seven spiritual centers of the body) and "balance the three doshas, which increases the body's ability to heal," explains Oresta Korbutiak, esthetician and founder of Oresta Organic Skincare, who has been incorporating Kansa massage into her facials for the past three years.
On a physical level, "The Kansa wand helps to revitalize and plump skin, soften fine lines, de-puff the eyes, firm the jawline and cheekbones, and relax the neck and shoulders," Korbutiak elaborates. "Some refer to a treatment with the Kansa wand as a 'natural facelift.'"
Ketabi concurs. "I use it daily in the morning with a serum. I notice my eyes look bigger, as my eyebrows lift. My jawline looks more defined and my face looks more radiant and full of life." But putting aside the suggestion that Kansa metal is literal magic, how does the wand actually work?
For starters, Kansa massage – like gua sha and jade rolling — aids in lymphatic drainage, which may help clear up acne, reduce puffiness and under-eye bags, and brighten dull skin. But to understand Kansa, you need to understand why the lymphatic system is so important for skin health.
The lymphatic system is essentially the body's natural detoxing mechanism: It collects waste in the form of excess fluid from all the cells in your body, filters the fluid, and sends the good stuff back into the circulatory system. That leaves the lymph nodes full of all the toxins they've removed — which is OK, because the lymphatic system also produces immune cells to kill bacteria and stop infections from spreading.
It's fairly easy for fluid and toxins to build up in the lymph, though — simple things like dehydration, inflammation, eating too much salt and skipping your workout can slow this natural filtering system.
The area where lymphatic build-up is most noticeable is, of course, skin. There are lymph nodes all over your face — in front of the ears, along the jawline, under the chin, around the cheeks; when toxins are stagnating there, the result is usually breakouts, dullness, oil-overload and puffiness. (If imagining all that the toxin build-up sitting under your skin isn't enough to make you order a Kansa wand with Amazon 1-Click right now, I don't know what is.)
In Ayurveda, the lymphatic system is seen as the most important system in the body, so the Kansa wand was engineered specifically to aid in lymphatic drainage.
From a dermatologist’s perspective, this checks out. "Lymphatic drainage helps circulate blood and fluids. It's detoxifying and can help brighten the complexion and reduce facial puffiness," explains Antonia Balfour, holistic skin-care expert and founder of Yin Yang Dermatology.
"The wand also detoxifies by drawing out acidity in the skin," adds Korbutiak. Since the toxins sitting in your lymph nodes are highly acidic, releasing them with Kansa massage balances skin's pH level, which can reduce inflammation as well as balance oiliness or dryness. But be warned: When acids are released from the body in conjunction with Kansa, it sometimes has a greying effect on the skin.
Like with any facial massage tool, the proper technique is key: Run the Kansa wand in small, circular movements over the forehead, along the brow bones, at the temples and down the jawline. These are the areas where your face has the most stressed-out muscles and ligaments, and the movement of the tool helps release that tension and thus, release your future fine lines and wrinkles.
At this point you may be thinking, So, how is this different than my jade roller? The answer comes down to the differences between Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (the healing system associated with jade rolling). Balfour, whose dermatology practice combines skin-care treatments from both TCM and Ayurveda, explains, "Jade rollers stimulate specific acupuncture points on the face to eliminate toxins and move fluids that have become stagnant. Similarly, the Kansa wand is based on Ayurvedic traditions that stimulate energy points called marmas. Whereas Chinese medicine looks at points on acupuncture meridians, in Ayurveda, marmas are found on the chakras."
Jade is considered to be a sacred stone in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but Kansa is the sacred healing material in Ayurveda. Balfour says that just like jade, Kansa metal is also "cooling to the face," which can help to firm skin and calm breakouts.
The other major difference is the massaging motion: you roll a jade roller like a paint roller, up and down; you twirl a Kansa wand around in circles. If you’re someone who holds a lot of tension at your temples or in your jaw, the circular pressure of the Kansa wand may be a better fit for you. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference.
Intrigued? Here's how to perform spa-level Kansa massage on yourself, straight from Korbutiak: "Always start with a clean face. Spritz your elixir followed by three to four drops of your facial serum. I would recommend the anti-inflammatory facial serum from Laurel Whole Plant Organics or a dosha-specific facial serum from Sequoia Ayurveda. Apply a light massaging pressure with the the Kansa wand. Start at the energy center — the forehead — with small circular movements along the forehead. Move to the eye area and gently massage around the eyes, along the brows, cheeks, temples, around the ears, along the chin and jawline, around the mouth and down the neck."
Some practitioners use a non-comedogenic oil, like jojoba, instead of a serum; that part is totally up to you. Just remember to wash the wand after with a gentle, non-chemical soap and wipe it down before storing.
While Kansa massage is safe for all skin types (yes, even if you're in the middle of a breakout), one dermatologist I spoke to for this story brought up the issue of metal allergies: If you're sensitive to copper, tin, zinc or bronze, this might not be the skin-care tool for you.
Personally, I find myself reaching for my Kansa wand far more often than my jade roller or gua sha tool. I credit this to the meditative, circular motion of the massage. It makes me feel like I'm casting a spell on my skin, hypnotizing myself into a deep state of relaxation. As someone who holds a lot of tension in my face, I find that Kansa relaxes my perpetually furrowed brow and tense jaw in a way that my jade roller and gua sha can't come close to doing. Kansa massage can be done morning or night, but I prefer it before bed to keep me from clenching my jaw in my sleep. (Nighttime Kansa is also great for those who experience the aforementioned greying effect.)
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