In the last few years, crystals have become ubiquitous in wellness enclaves. Every yoga studio has clusters of them in corners, chic beauty and wellness spaces like at CAP Beauty and Taryn Toomey's studio have crystals inlaid into their floors, and celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Katy Perry, and Miranda Kerr laud the mental health benefits they get from their precious stones. Now, using crystals as facial massage tools is taking off. Celebrity facialist Georgia Louise, who treats the likes of Emma Stone and Jennifer Aniston, created her own rose quartz tool called the Lift + Sculpt Butterfly Stone for puffiness- and wrinkle-reducing face massage; the Chinese medicine massage technique of gua sha using flat-shaped precious stones is rapidly becoming a beloved technique among holistic facialists coast to coast; and the founder of gem-infused Själ skincare brand, Kristin Petrovich, recently published her book Elemental Energy, which is like a beginners guide for precious stones to use in beauty rituals like at-home skin care and baths.
Of course, crystal coveting, like flared jeans, appears to be a trend that ebbs and flows. Ask any Baby Boomer about crystals and you may get some stories about Haight-Ashbury in the 1970s. But the use of stones for wellbeing and healing goes back centuries and is in the bedrock (pun intended) of some cultural health philosophies. "In general, stones are prized in Chinese culture and healing for their resilience, because they take eons to form as the perfect coming together of the elements and time," says Brooklyn-based acupuncturist and herbalist Sandra Lanshin Chiu who uses jade for gua sha facial treatments. "They are regarded and revered as entities with spirit and consciousness of their own, so they help with healing—including improving skin—because they expose a person's energy field with that of the stone."
To persuade more science-minded folks, crystal proponents point to the use of crystals in electronics, such as watches, liquid crystal displays (LCD computer screens), and microchips made with the same components as quartz crystals to explain their powers. "If we can program data into a silicone strip, who's to say that our minds or thoughts or intentions can't program a crystal?" poses Heather Askinosie, who has studied crystals for 25 years and is co-founder of Energy Muse, a California-based crystal e-tailer. "The thoughts in our brains can alter the molecules in our body and the human body is made up of minerals and energy, not unlike crystals." Imagine transferring such command to your skin and, well, it starts to sound irresistible.
There are, admittedly, no peer-reviewed studies proving any crystal's healing benefit to the body (whether beauty or otherwise), but, in her book, Petrovich draws upon wisdom from Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and even ancient texts from the middle ages. She also highlights some the essential stones for beauty such as hematite to energize tired eyes, amethyst to calm inflammation or acneic skin, and scolecite for relaxation. "As a general rule blue and purple stones are more cooling, reds and oranges are more warming, and greens and dark stones are more grounding," she explains.
Among all crystal lovers, rose quartz is the most commonly associated stone with skin care benefits. "Rose quartz is known for circulation and self love," says Petrovich. "I don't care who's skin it is, I've never see someone's skin not look happy after a treatment with rose quartz." Some facialists even place their skin care products on rose quartz plates to infuse their products with beautifying energy. Jade, which often comes as a roller, is a close second. Devi Brown, the founder of Karma Bliss notorious for giving crystals to hip hop stars, also recommends jade for helping skin heal, restore, and purify, and suggests tree agate, carnelian, and poppy jasper for improving the skin, too. Tami Lesser, a facialist at Manhattan's new Modrn Sanctuary who uses crystal wands and crystal infused waters in her facials, turns to aquamarine for eczema and rosacea, kyanite for tissue repair, and sodalite for hydration, among others in her Rebalance Treatment. Askinosie encourages use of multiple stones laid in a grid around your face to detoxing and anti-aging. (Stay tuned for her crystal "recipe book" launching in the fall.)
Luckily, experts say that cheap crystals can provide the same benefits as super expensive ones, so you can get into the crystal facial game for as little at $35 for a rose quartz facial wand, $25 for a jade roller or rose quartz gua sha tool, or $6 for a small hematite stone. The key is to keep them clean by washing with soap and water before using them on your face and, say devotees, to regularly recharge the stones in sunlight or moonlight.
While we'd like to think studies are in the works proving crystals help your skin (they aren't), the most believable benefit for skeptics to get behind may simply be the way a stone can get the circulation flowing and that the ritual gives one a minute to relax. "On a practical note the feel of jade as it glides across skin is deeply relaxing to the nervous system," says Chiu. "We notice that people tend to fall asleep pretty quickly when we're doing our facials." Better skin and a nap? Rock on.