This is a part of our ongoing ‘We Tried it’ series where we test out weird and wonderful things to do or see in Colorado. Go here to see what else we’ve tried. Comment below and let us know what we should do next.
If you’re an avid Tik Toker that follows the latest trends, you’ve probably heard of the newest skincare staple — a gua sha. The practice originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM), where a tool is used to eliminate inflammation in areas of the body.
Color Up, a wellness center located conveniently off of I-25 and Alameda, specializes in healing the skin through the use of CBD products. The space is home to a laboratory where all Color Up products are made from scratch, as well as an abundance of room to host events, gatherings and appointments meant to heal and rejuvenate the skin, body and mind. Founders Shauna Blanch, Bryce Conley and Will Parker have found the healing powers of CBD to be endless.
Those looking for a holistic skincare approach can feel comforted in the walls of Color Up as the products that the estheticians use are produced right down the hall. In addition to providing products and services, Color Up hosts courses for students, professionals and those entering the industry through cannabinoid-focused classes, an online Cannabis Master education program and interactive webinars.
Color Up’s building itself provides a healing experience. Various pieces of art showcasing local artists’ work adorn the walls with color and flair. It is clear that love and intention are prioritized in all aesthetic practices in this space by just the decor. Although, the service itself was what drew me to Color Up and all that this unique wellness experience has to offer.
What is a Gua Sha?
Gua Sha facials are exploding on the internet and amongst younger generations as a way to preserve the skin through gently massaging the neck and face to release tension. The tool is a stone that is typically made of jade or quartz, although nowadays plastic versions are available for the everyday person looking to implement the practice into their beauty routine.
However, gua sha facials are provided by a licensed esthetician to achieve optimal results. The service combines traditional facial techniques like using masks and scrubs with a massage of the neck and face to release tension and tightness and promote blood flow. As a result, lymph in the massaged areas can drain.
It’s important to note that this new beauty trend has cultural meaning behind it. Gua sha was not always used as a beauty tool to alleviate wrinkles and instigate healthy-looking skin. In traditional forms of Eastern medicine, gua sha was used to treat sore muscles, pain throughout the body and numerous illnesses.
According to an article written by Debra Rose Wilson in Medical News Today, qi represents the energy within the body in Chinese culture. Many believe that “qi can become blocked, causing pain or tension in the muscles and joints. Gua sha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness,” she said.
Nowadays, gua sha is taking social media by storm. While its benefits are different in terms of the beauty industry, the cultural origination of the tool remains the same.
While I have received countless facials prior to my appointment at Color Up, nothing has topped the Gua Sha Glow facial that esthetician of nine years Ashley Deckard performed on me. I had seen videos of influencers swearing by using a gua sha nightly to get that chiseled jawline that we all want.
However, I didn’t realize how beneficial the service really was until I left after spending 60 minutes with Deckard feeling rejuvenated and like a new version of myself. Yes, it was that good.
While Deckard has experience in a variety of esthetic practices, she ultimately “found my niche within holistic skincare treatments,” she said.
Deckard has been working at Color Up since June 2021 and has found gua sha facials to be a life-changing service for her clients.
“It can do so much for skin without using any products,” she told me. The result? “More beautiful and healthy cells,” Deckard said.
Using a gua sha is entirely technique-based, and the result is more firmness and tightness as well as a reduction in discoloration and breakouts. Basically, it can improve a multitude of skin struggles by simply promoting blood flow. Besides the benefits of the service, who wouldn’t want a 60-minute facial massage?
My service from start to finish was relaxing, rejuvenating and rejoicing. Deckard began by inquiring about my skin history and the products that I regularly use. I have sensitive and acne-prone skin, so I’m careful about what goes on my face. Often, I hesitate to get facial treatments as I worry my skin may break out as a result.
Deckard recognized the way I treat my skin on a daily basis and I could tell that she was intentional about the products that she used on my face during my service. I was having a great skin day when I saw her, so she even asked me first before performing extractions.
I felt luxurious as Deckard applied a soothing mask to my skin, and was in a complete trance when she began to massage my neck. She performed extractions similar to a typical facial, but once I felt the gua sha tool on my skin, I could tell that this was no ordinary service.
Once the gua sha touched my neck, I could feel the tension in my body release. The massage that Deckard gave me with this magical tool was deep and powerful. As she ran the gua sha over various areas around my neck and face, I began to feel my muscles loosening. I could even feel some knots in my neck being caressed away like in a typical massage.
The ability for the tool to manipulate the muscle in areas that a hand cannot was noticeable, even for someone like me that isn’t familiar with the science behind facial services.
Each product that Deckard applied left a better smell than the last. I especially enjoyed when she massaged the gua sha over my nose and cheeks. I could feel tension that I hadn’t even realized was there release.
To be completely transparent, I hadn’t felt that relaxed in a very long time. Therefore, the experience itself is hard to put into words. I’m telling you, this was one of the “we tried it’s” that you won’t really know until you’ve tried it.
I’m not ashamed to say that I have puffy cheeks and often a bloated-looking face. The second I left the sensual aroma of the facial room, I could feel not only the silkiness of my skin but the effects of the gua sha. My double chin was almost nonexistent and the muscles in my neck and face felt both tight and refreshed.
According to Deckard, “by increasing movement through massage and restoring inner mobility, the skin is able to naturally clear deleterious obstructions that lead to acne, rosacea, puffiness, dark circles and sensitivities. Igniting this natural healing power, the skin flourishes develops a fresh healthy glow that radiates from within and results in long-term benefits.”
That healthy glow was written all over my face for the rest of the day. I may have to invest in a gua sha tool myself now; although, I’m already convinced it won’t even compare to my Color Up service. The relaxing combination of the gua sha and the CBD-infused products lead to a facial experience that certainly didn’t disappoint.
Color Up CBD is located at 1448 W Cedar Ave, Denver. To book with Ashley, visit her website or check out other offerings at Color Up on their site.
All product and Color Up Wellness Center photography by Richard Edens.