Here Are All Your Facial Cupping Questions—Answered

New to the skincare technique? Here's what you need to know.

facial cupping

When it comes to cupping, the first image that springs to mind for many are the rows of perfectly circular blue/black bruises dotted along toned, muscular backs. But there’s a fresh kind of cupping that’s been sweeping the beauty and wellness world for a while now and it’s got nothing to do with muscular aches and everything to do with our never-ending quest for firmer, more youthful, radiantly glowing skin. Still not sure what facial cupping is all about? We help break it down for you:

What is It?

Facial cupping, much like its traditional counterpart is nothing new. The ancient Eastern modality has been an alternative practice utilised for thousands of years to encourage optimal health by increasing circulation and subsequently bringing blood flow to the tissues while encouraging waste drainage from the cells—sexy, right?
As a non-invasive beauty tool, facial cupping involves the process of applying tiny suction cups to your face and sweeping them over the skin in the hopes that you’ll plump up fine lines and get rid of that pesky extra fluid causing puffiness. A quick scroll through YouTube will bring you countless beauty bloggers, claiming rejuvenated radiance after just one session. Likening the experience to that of the ultimate facelift, softening lines and wrinkles, bringing you the eternally worshipped glow (sans Glossier beauty kit) and even giving a Kylie Jenner worthy pout.

How does it work?

Facial cupping uses tiny glass suction cups, that have a small silicon bubble attached to the end. As you squeeze the bubble and place it onto the skin, a reverse suction action picks up the facial tissues and lifts them into the dome. With benefits similar to that of a massage, this lifting of facial tissues increases blood circulation, shuttling in fresh oxygen and nutrients, whilst stimulating the lymph nodes for advanced lymphatic drainage to dump out all the toxic waste which can be clogging up the skin—cute. As the excess fluid gets drained, you are rewarded with less puffiness while all that plumping and lifting gives you an immediate and noticeable facelift.

Image: Amazon

Wait, am I going to get a black eye?

“But the bruising?!” I hear you yell. No stress girl—unlike the traditional cupping practice, the petite cups glide smoothly across your face in a constant motion of lifting and smoothing, resulting in perhaps a little pink-ness (that’s the good oxygenating blood flow hitting your troublesome hormonal acne spots) but sans-bruising. The only time time there’s potential for some suspicious hickey-like marks to crop up is if you, or your facialist leaves the cups in one spot for too long—so keep on moving to avoid any awkward convos at work tomorrow!

Salon or at-home?

The holistic beauty treatment carried out at specialised salons, is favoured by Hollywood A-listers including Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow (of course) and beauty editors/addicts alike. But if you’re anything like us and want to try out a new trend without the salon price tag, you can give it a go, DIY style at home, with a variety of different cups available on the market—just make sure you follow some key instructions carefully.

A word of warning:

When it comes to facial cupping, the immediate results are short-term solutions—the plumping, lifting action won’t last all that long, but combined with your skin care rituals can promote a healthier, more radiant complexion. If you’ve got sensitive skin—this may not be the treatment for you its best to avoid the practice if you’ve recently had fillers, as all that suctioning may cause some displacement.

How can I get started at home?

As much as you’ll likely want to be plumping and cupping as much as possible to get that glow, the trick is to not overdo the treatment. To begin with 2-3 x a week of around 5-10 minutes of pumping up those cheeks is sufficient to see some of the benefits to your complexion.

DIY Facial Cupping:

Step 1: First thing’s first. Make sure you always start with a clean face, using your favourite scrub or wash to cleanse the skin thoroughly. The next step is crucial to your success—apply a serum to the skin, to lubricate the skin and allow the cups to glide smoothly, without dragging or catching—which is not at all pleasant. The cupping process will also assist in helping get all the goodness of the serum down deep into your skin, so optimal benefits occur!
Step 2: To get started, give yourself a little TLC massage to the lymph nodes around the neck and chest region—this helps to warm up the lymphatic system and prepares the nodes for the dump of toxins they are about to receive.
Step 3: From here, you want to begin to move up to the face with your cups—to hit the right flow of drainage, you want to sweep up along the and cheekbones towards the ears, or outwards from the brow across the forehead again out to the temples and ears. From here, draw the cups down the side of the face, towards the neck and down along the throat. Just think up and out, then down.
To avoid over-stretching and damaging the elasticity of the skin, disrupting collagen production and eliciting (ie. the complete opposite effect that you’re going for with the cups), it’s important to not over-do the cupping. You’re looking for shorter strokes that don’t drag or excessively pull on the skin. And remember, keep those cups moving to avoid getting bruising!

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