First Patters and now Facial Gua Sha…

                                      Manual treatments such as massage, bandages, chin straps and “patters” were used in early Beauty Culture                                                         

                                                                                                Today’s Popular Beauty Trend, Facial Gua Sha,                                                                                                   

                                                                              involves Manual Treatments with More Science and Historical Background 


The Photo below is a 1927 classic Elizabeth Arden photograph demonstrating the Ardena Patter. Elizabeth Arden loved this pseudo-medical look.


Beginning in the early part of the 20th Century, it was touted and believed that manual treatments – when used with appropriate skin foods, muscle oils, skin tonics or reducing creams would produce unsubstantiated results. During this era no scientific evidence was given and ingredient lists were not required by law! The use of manual treatments by medical practitioners, sanatoriums and health spas goes back centuries. As beauty salons came into being in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they adopted and adapted many of these manual practices to treat wrinkles, flabbiness and double chins. A popular manual treatment was using a padded object known as a patter to stimulate the skin as a at home treatment by Elizabeth Arden in the 1940’s. The box which the tool was packaged in contained a facial diagram shown below.

The Patter

Patters came in different forms but generally consisted of a circular pad attached to a metal handle which was used to strike the face with a flicking action. This, it was believed, would improve circulation and thus would help firm the skin and reduce flabbiness. As wrinkles were considered by many to be lax skin folds, patters were also used to counteract wrinkles in combination with tissue creams, skin foods, skin tonics and/or astringents. Customers were sold this Patter believing it to be wonderfully helpful, “in reducing a double chin and the lump which forms at the back of the neck.”!

Ardena Patter

Above: Elizabeth Arden Patter

The direction in which the patters were used was important. As with massage movements in facials today, in order to avoid dragging the skin down, stimulation was applied upwards and outwards. They would have produced some localized flushing and edema of the skin but the effects would have been temporary.

The small patting instruments are designed in various shapes but all have the same result—that is, stimulating the surface blood vessels, and bringing color and warmth to the skin first, then filling out the hollows and making lumps of fatty tissue disappear.
Most of them are shaped like a spoon, with a flat round bowl, and are composed of rubber projections, like soft prickles. There are glass patters, which pat and smooth the face, and there are some made of horn-like substance; but all have handles which are held loosely between the thumb and two fingers, and with a flicking movement strike the face in sharp, even pats, which after a time resemble vibration. A great deal of skill can be required in using these stimulating beauty aids, and as a tonic treatment they are extremely satisfactory but they could not be expected to reach the deeper muscles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Photo Credit OSEA

 Modern Facial Gua Sha 

Advance 100 years to the popular practice of Facial Gua Sha,  a natural, alternative therapy that involves stimulating your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. It is believed this ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine healing technique offers a unique approach to better healthier skin by increasing the circulation of the blood and lymph flow. Sound familiar?!

In Gua Sha, you do short or long strokes on the neck, face, scalp to stimulate microcirculation of the soft tissue. These strokes are done with a smooth-edged instrument known as a Gua Sha massage tool in various patterns depending on the area being treated.  The basic strokes and skin prep are practically IDENTICAL to the patterns taught in the 1940’s when using the patter!  Certainly the old saying, “What comes around, goes around.” applies here. A reinvention of a technique that was used for centuries in Chinese Medicine is definitely the source of the Facial Gua Sha trend and certainly seems to be the inspiration for the use of Patters. There is little historical background for the introduction of the Arden Patter. Early Beauty Therapies were certainly not as explicate as today but the historical link is obvious if you compare the facial pattern diagrams of the 1940’s to the diagrams used today with basic Gua Sha. (See the photos posted here from both time periods.)

I find it fascinating that the Beauty Industry has honored and reinvented knowledge and techniques that have links to our ancient healing practices. This bit of history is just one of the examples of how Beauty is Wellness. I encourage you to experiment and experience the power of the Facial Gua Sha method. Shop Kaffee’s Garden Online Store where you will find the Jade Gua Sha Tool as seen in the photo.