Say the word cupping and two things probably come to mind: Gwyneth Paltrow and one of the many times she has talked about it on Goop or any celebrity who has hit the red carpet with bruises on their back courtesy of what looks like some medieval torture device. Though the ancient practice, which consists of a therapist putting special cups on your back and skin to create a suction for a few minutes, has been around for decades it picked up in popularity in 2016 and the trend hasn’t slowed down.
In fact, now it's so popular the practice has expanded to other regions of the body including the face. According to experts, it’s a great way to detoxify the skin and stimulate cell structure to create a smoother face and reduce fine lines, eye puffiness, and dark circles. It’s also been noted to help with bruxism (excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching) which usually occurs when one sleeps (or watches the news).
To see if the trend is really worth the hype, I visited Ildi Pekar at her Wellness Studio in NYC to learn more about the procedure. Pekar, celebrity facialist to Miranda Kerr and Irina Shaynk, answered all my most pressing questions before, during, and after the procedure.
What is facial cupping?
Facial cupping is meant to increase blood circulation and stimulate the facial cells that are responsible for collagen production. In turn, this can brighten your skin, minimize the appearance of scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and tone your chin, jawline, and neck by decreasing puffiness.
How does it work?
First, Pekar cleansed my face to determine my skin type. Once she established that I had slightly sensitive skin with hyperpigmentation and hormonal acne, she infused my skin with a few products to detoxify and cleanse, the key ingredient being CBD oil which calmed my skin and jaw pain. Before the actual cupping took place, Pekar gave me a magnetic masked treatment which made me feel like a bit like a character in Silence of the Lambs. It vibrated on my face and I couldn’t open my eyes or move any muscles while it worked its magic.
After that, Pekar tested the size of the cups to make sure I would not have a terrible reaction. The actual facial cupping only took place for 15 minutes and it didn't feel like anything you would expect. It’s completely painless and felt as if someone was brushing my face with a bit of a sucking noise at the end.
What’s the difference between a normal facial and facial cupping?
The use of cups and the suctioning of the face is the most obvious way they're different, but the benefits may also differ. The magnetic-cupping technique aims to increase local chi, blood circulation, and draws nutrients to the surface of the face.
And what’s the difference between back cupping and facial cupping?
Since the cups are not static, the movement creates stimulation, moves blood around the face, and drains toxins out through your lymph system. During body cupping, the cups are applied in a specific area for a few minutes which creates the bruising effect. The darker the bruise, the more inflamed/stagnant that particular area is. This helps the technician see which part of the body needs to be worked on.
So no bruises?
Nope! This is a common misconception with facial cupping. While it can leave other parts of your body bruised it should not (and does not!) leave your face with any rough purple marks. Minor side effects can occur after treatment and in rare instances individuals have reported rare instances of dizziness, nausea, and a bit of facial discomfort.
The left side of my face has received the cupping treatment.
How should I prepare for a facial cupping?
Avoid taking any medication that thins the blood prior to treatment. If you are pregnant, you also shouldn't get a facial cupping.
What’s the aftercare of facial cupping?
Make sure to drink plenty of water to drain out excess toxins, fats, and excess water. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and salty food. Also, Pekar recommends drinking two glasses of water with every meal for the first 24 hours afterward.
So....does it work?
Yes! Seconds after the procedure was finished my skin felt and looked unreal. It felt noticeably tighter and my jawline was very much so defined. It did exasperate my breakouts after the initial procedure (there was redness!) but after a few hours it all went away. Overall I felt very chiseled and my cheekbones were easily the stars of my face. Maleficent better watch her back.
Before and After