Cupping is nothing new. The practice is rooted in Eastern medicine and has been around for centuries. Still, awareness around cupping — and its popularity — has grown exponentially in recent years. Remember when Michael Phelps showed up at the Olympics with those dark marks all over his back?
The basic premise: Creating suction with small cups and gliding them across the body helps to flush out toxins and improve the circulation of stagnant blood. And it’s not just reserved for the back. “Facial cupping helps the skin, our largest organ, eliminate impurities from the body, resulting in cleaner, healthier skin,” says Elina Fedotova, founder of Elina Organics and the Association of Holistic Skin Care Professionals.
Cupping on the face is done similarly as to how it’s done on the body. “Facial cupping pulls on the skin using a small cup that creates a mild vacuum to increase blood flow and circulation,” explains celebrity esthetician Olga Lorencin, founder of Olga Lorencin Transformative Skin Care and the Olga Lorencin Skin Care Clinic. The cups are then gently moved over the facial muscles in the direction of lymphatic flow. (To answer your burning question, no, it won’t leave you with any dark marks — at least, not if it’s done correctly, but more on that in a minute.)
The best part? You’ll see results immediately. We’re talking skin that looks tauter and more lifted, not to mention less puffy and much more radiant. “It has a lifting effect on facial tissue, resulting in firmer skin and decreased puffiness. And because it serves as a gentle type of massage that stimulates lymphatic flow, it also detoxifies the skin and brings more color the face,” points out Fedotova. Sign us up.
Still, keep in mind that any improvement you may see is temporary. Results last a few days; less if you’re smoking, drinking, running low on sleep, and/or eating poorly. This is also one time where it’s best to avoid taking the DIY route. Pass on at-home cupping kits in favor of booking an appointment with a trained skin care professional who is well-versed in the practice. “When done incorrectly, facial cupping can result in bruised or stretched out skin, not to mention up the risk of creating even more toxicity, stagnation, and puffiness in the facial tissue,” cautions Fedotova.
Also, make sure your technician has multiple cups in various sizes on hand, she adds, which is a tell-tale sign that they know what they’re doing. To that point, even if you are seeing a pro, this is an instance where less is more; Lorencin suggests facial cupping no more than once a week. She prefers traditional facial massage and using cold rollers to fight inflammation and puffiness instead.
I’ll leave you with my personal take: I did it once and really liked the results. It wasn’t painful at all; in fact, it actually felt quite nice. My skin most definitely looked firmer, rosier, and less puffy — albeit if only for a day. But is it necessary to work facial cupping into your regular routine? Probably not. However, for a fast fix before a big event or as an occasional add-on to a facial, it’s worth a try.