Cupping therapy is an alternative therapeutic technique that is predominantly rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, but the origins of this time-honored treatment can be traced further back to the ancient Egyptians in 1550 BC.
Over the years, cupping therapy has picked up significant traction as a safe and effective form of complete body rejuvenation.
More recently, celebrities such Michael Phelps, Kim Kardashian, and Gwyneth Paltrow have brought cupping back in fashion by showing off their red and purple cupping welts or marks as a form of “silent endorsement.”
What is Facial Cupping?
Facial cupping has been used for thousands of years as a noninvasive transformative therapy to make the contours of your face more pronounced and to tighten, smoothen, and brighten your skin.
This quintessential beauty technique can work either as a standalone treatment or as an addition to facial acupuncture.
It involves using relatively smaller and softer cups than the standard body cupping ones. These cups are of varying sizes, each designed for specific areas of the face, and come attached with a silicon bubble at the hem.
- Pressing the cup into your skin will create a seal, after which you can loosen your grip to create a vacuum that sucks a bit of skin up into the dome and attaches the cup onto your skin.
- As a result of this upward pull, the surface skin is separated from deeper layers of fascia or connective tissue that lie underneath it.
- In order to prevent cup marks or bruising on your face, it is essential to keep the cups moving in an outward and upward direction, from the center of the face towards the ear. The sweeping effect of the cups gives your facial muscles a much-needed massage to release any tension.
How Does Facial Cupping Work?
- The gentle lifting of facial tissue with cupping suction is a painless way to facilitate enhanced blood flow to the targeted site. With the gush of fresh blood comes a generous supply of oxygen and skin-enhancing nutrients that helps enliven your worn-out facial tissue.
- This mechanism of guiding nutrients to the surface of the skin, which is at work here, is known as sterile inflammation. It is a form of tissue stress or trauma triggered in the absence of pathogens by a wide range of physical, chemical, or metabolic stimuli.
- The vacuum-like suction separates different layers of facial tissue, resulting in microtrauma and tearing. The body’s natural defense system responds by flooding the area with white blood cells, platelets, and other healing aids, leading to inflammation.
- Manually exercising the face and neck with these suction cups helps stimulate the lymph nodes as well. This helps promote improved drainage of cellular waste and excess fluid that has been accumulated in the face and neck, thereby reducing facial swelling and puffiness.
- By working the suction cups along the forehead, nose, and sinuses, you might even register mild relief from headaches and respiratory congestion.
How is Facial Cupping Different from Body Cupping?
Both body cupping and facial cupping are principally the same – they are deep-tissue massages that differ only by virtue of their execution techniques.
Equipment: The equipment used for facial cupping is custom made to suit the delicate skin of the face, whereas body cupping can be conducted with sturdier cups made from glass, bamboo, or earthenware.
Bruising: While the former uses a relatively intense degree of suction that is concentrated at specific spots of the body, facial cupping tends to be gentler.
In body cupping, the focused and prolonged suction pull typically leaves behind unsightly bruises.
Moreover, these marks tend to be more pronounced as body cupping often involves the use of hot air or heated cups to create the vacuum.
Unlike body cupping, the mild “vacuum massage” effect of facial cupping involves the constant movement of silicon cups across the face and neck, meaning there’s a much lower risk of bruising.
Pretreatment ritual: While body cupping doesn’t warrant any prepping of the skin, facial cupping only works on skin that has been cleaned and lubricated beforehand.
When carried out correctly, the specially designed cups should glide across your face in constant motion, ensuring increased blood flow to the surface of the skin, or hyperemia. As a result, your skin acquires a blushing tint without any signs of bruising or hematoma.
Skills Required: While you can gain enough practice over time to safely perform facial cupping by yourself, this is not the case with body cupping.
Besides the fact that it is usually performed on the back and extremities, body cupping is a recognized medical technique that can end up having adverse effects and therefore requires the expertise of a licensed doctor of Chinese medicine to be performed correctly.
Purpose: Body cupping can help relieve muscle tension and promote cell repair, thereby alleviating inflammation, pain, and aches.
Facial cupping, however, is primarily directed towards rejuvenating facial tissue by facilitating the flow of oxygenated blood to the skin surface and the drainage of lymphatic waste.
What are the Benefits of Facial Cupping?
Facial cupping may improve the health and appearance of your skin in the following ways:
1. Stimulates Collagen Production
Collagen is an essential tissue-building protein that helps impart elasticity to your skin. With advancing age, collagen production in the body tends to diminish over time, making the skin increasingly prone to wrinkles and fine lines.
Facial cupping helps boost collagen synthesis in the targeted areas, making it a more realistic alternative to drinking from a fountain of youth. By facilitating the regeneration of fresh tissue, collagen helps keep your skin looking taut, supple, and glowing.
2. Eliminates Puffiness
An underactive lymphatic system is primarily responsible for the collection of stagnant cellular waste and excess fluids under the skin. Gently caressing the key facial points with vacuumed cups helps stimulate the lymph nodes into action, thereby promoting better drainage of toxins and preventing fluid retention, which lie at the base of facial swelling and puffiness.
Thus, if you want to accentuate your cheekbones or banish under-eye bags, facial cupping is just the thing for you.
3. Enhances Facial Glow
The suction effect produced by applying facial cups to the skin gently pulls at sections of facial tissue, drawing fresh oxygenated blood to the surface layer of the skin.
The increased blood flow also brings with it a heavy dose of skin-friendly nutrients, which saturate the facial skin and revitalize your appearance.
As a result of the flooding of blood to the surface, your skin may acquire a temporary pinkish or reddish hue, which subsides within 10 minutes or so to reveal an angel-like radiance.
4. Helps Products Soak In
Facial cupping is also said to enhance absorption of lotions or serums by opening up your skin pores to allow the products to penetrate more readily and deeply into the skin.
5. Reduces Fine Lines
As the years roll by, your age begins to reflect on your skin with the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. While there’s no way to stop the advent of time, there are ways you can delay the onset of skin aging.
Many people resort to chemical injections such as Botox and other fillers as well as nip-and-tuck surgeries to give the face a lift.
However, if you have qualms about subjecting your fragile facial skin to such invasive measures, consider facial cupping, which offers a kinder, safer, and natural approach to aging beautifully.
6. Lightens Skin Imperfections
Facial cupping helps diminish the appearance of skin scarring and is known to smoothen and brighten your overall skin tone. Needless to say, anyone who struggles with discoloration issues due to acne, melasma, or similar problems should give this facial cupping a go.
However, you must bear in mind that cupping might fare better for some than others. If your skin responds well to the treatment, you might notice visible improvement almost immediately. For some people, additional sessions may be required to notice a difference.
7. Shrinks Size of Pores
There are enough reasons to qualify facial cupping as a legitimate skin care practice. One such feather in its cap is the ability of suction cups to shrink and minimize skin pores.
Anyone remotely concerned with his/her looks aspires to having smaller pores, and a single cupping session can bring you a step closer to realizing this beauty goal.
Where should I go for facial cupping?
In recent years, facial cupping has garnered a lot of acclaim as a skin care trend with more and more people lining up to get a piece of this action. However, a lot of people still harbor quite a few reservations about cupping marks, which often deter them from warming up to this therapy.
For the uninitiated, the best way to allay any apprehensions regarding facial cupping is to seek informed answers from people who specialize in the practice.
Lucky for you, facial cupping has become almost a routine service offered by a number of skin clinics and spas.
However, the technique as well as the success of your cupping treatment may vary depending on where you go to get facial cupping done.
To ensure optimum skin-enhancing benefits, it is important to run a brief and friendly background check on your chosen skin care facility. To that end, you must schedule a consultation with the acupuncturist designated to conduct your treatment, before your first session.
You must make it a point to ask the therapist about his/her professional credentials, past training in facial acupuncture, and years of practice.
Can I Perform Facial Cupping at Home?
To avoid any adverse side-effects, especially if you happen to have sensitive skin, a pre-treatment consultation with a facial expert or dermatologist is always recommended.
In fact, it is strongly suggested that you have facial cupping done by a professional first before you take a stab at it yourself. This will help determine how your skin responds to the procedure.
If you are satisfied with the results and want more of this action for yourself, you can get better acquainted with the steps by seeking the help of a trained professional.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of facial cupping and feel confident enough to try it at home, the next step is to buy a facial cupping kit.
This kit includes a set of two smaller cups intended for the delicate skin around the eyes and nose, two relatively larger ones for the cheeks, forehead and neck, and an exfoliating brush to prep the skin for maximum cuppage.
If you’re still in the experimental phase and have just started facial cupping on your own, it best to take it slow. Start with short practice sessions of 5-10 minutes in order to master the technique first.
For this therapy to yield positive results, it must be done skillfully or not at all.
How to do Facial Cupping at Home?
There are a variety of different cupping kits you can use. Some cups are made from hard plastics, while others are soft and gel-like. Both can be equally effective, so it’s ultimately up to your personal preference.
You should always follow the directions on your cupping kit.
General guidelines suggest these steps:
- The first thing on the list is to thoroughly wash your face with lukewarm water and an organic cleanser. Gently pat it dry, thereafter.
- Mild exfoliation with a gentle scrubber can also help draw out the grime that has settled deeper in your pores.
- Once your facial skin is squeaky clean, apply a toner to close the pores.
- After proper cleansing, you are required to give yourself a light facial massage with your hands to release preliminary tension.
- Next, lubricate the skin by applying a few drops of any soothing facial oil, which allows the cups to glide smoothly and easily without disconnecting from the skin, keeping the suction intact.
- Use just enough oil that gets absorbed readily without leaving the skin slippery, and wash your hands thereafter to maintain a firm grip over the cups.
- Grab one of the smaller cups between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze it tight.
- While still pinching it close, apply it to your chin and around your mouth with gentle pressure. Leave it be for a few seconds, before sliding it upwards to a new area.
- Keep switching cup sizes depending upon the facial area being treated. Use the smaller cups for working along the chin, eye socket and nose, and the larger ones for your cheeks, forehead and neck.
- Continue moving the suction cups to cover all desired areas of the face. Using short strokes for moving the cups is recommended to avoid overstretching the facial skin. Don’t let the cup rest in a place for more than a few seconds since the concentrated suction pull can lead to bruising. The ideal strategy is to keep the facial cup moving at all times.
- Once you’re done with cupping, give your face a quick clean-up to reopen your pores. Use a mild cleanser in case you applied face oil at the start, or simply wash your face with a splash of warm water otherwise. Gently pat dry your skin, thereafter.
- Since facial cupping is known to prep your skin for improved production absorption, you can optimize this benefit by applying your routine beauty or skin care products right after treatment.
- If you happen to have open sores, cuts, pimples or bumpy moles on your face, make sure not to pass the suction cups over these problem sites. Moreover, try not to meddle with the surrounding area as well.
- Using facial cups to suction the skin over the belly of a pregnant woman is strictly prohibited.
- You may notice minor redness and irritation afterward. This is normal and should subside within a few hours.
- Facial cupping beginners are advised to keep their initial sessions brief and not too often. Hone your skills by practicing cupping motions on your face for five to ten minutes, twice or thrice a week. Excessive or incorrect cupping can render your skin overstimulated or with torn blood vessels.
How to Get the Cupping Motion Right?
The right way to do cupping entails:
- moving the cup from the center of the chin to the highest point of the cheekbone
- sliding the cup from the center of the forehead to your temples
- dragging the cup from the side of the nose to the outer corner of the eye (below the eye)
- cupping the under chin from the center towards the outer corner of the jaw (under the jaw)
- working along the neck by moving the suction cups from the collarbone to the jaw line
- sweeping the cups from the top of the shoulder to the spot below the ear
What are the Precautions to Take Before and After Cupping?
For all its beauty perks, facial cupping is beneficial only when done properly and within limits.
- Whether you do it at-home or get it done by a professional, cupping sessions should not exceed 2-3 times a week. The rigorous and repetitive suction can end up tearing collagen fibers and capillaries in the skin and lead to bruising, which is precisely why people with fair or sensitive skin are usually advised against this practice.
- Before proceeding with the cupping action, it is imperative that you prime your skin by following the 3 cardinal steps of skincare, namely cleansing, toning and moisturizing.
- Post-treatment care to prolong the beneficial effects of facial cupping includes drinking ample amounts of water to keep the skin hydrated from within and further enhance the removal of toxins.
- Another skin-friendly tonic that you can freely indulge in is green tea, which works to compound the invigorating effect of the procedure.
- At the same time, you are recommended to refrain from consuming alcohol as well as fried, fatty and heavy meals after getting cupping done. Such unhealthy dietary choices will only reintroduce toxins into your system which will cancel out all the good work done.
- Another way to realize the benefits of this procedure more readily and sustain them for longer is to engage in a bit of exercise from time to time.
As the realm of skincare continues to be dominated by chemical-laden products, facial cupping presents a fairly safer, sustainable and non-invasive alternative to address your beauty concerns.
However, it is important not to be carried away by the positive word of mouth accorded to facial cupping, since this time-honored technique can only do so much when it comes to improving your skin.
Such tall claims that it will fix all your skin troubles for good are more or less intended to pitch this technique to new users, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
That said, facial cupping still remains a safe bet for treating wrinkles, puffiness, or uneven and dull complexion, especially when the other options involve subjecting your skin to chemical peels, Botox injections or going under the knife.
Something as simple as a light suction massage can give your face a more contoured effect. Even though the cupping effects are usually temporary, it still beats splurging your hard-earned money on overpriced salon sessions for pretty much the same perks.