I will try anything that promises brighter, firmer, and smoother skin. Whether that's rubbing my face with a cold stone, applying countless serums, or even trying facial aerobics. But if you'd have told me that my plight for dewier, bouncier, and more luminous skin would see me using a mini cup to suck my skin into submission, I'd probably have thought you were a bit mad.
What Is Face Cupping?
Face cupping is an alternative therapy in which cups are placed on the skin to create a local suction. It's often used to help with inflammation, pain, and blood flow.
But here I am doing exactly that: using a tiny rubber cone to suck and pull at my facial contours, all in the name of beauty. You see, I've happened upon super facialist Antonia Burrell's at-home facial kit, which incorporates a DIY version of the signature face-cupping massage she performs on her clients. Weird it may be, but I swear my jawline has never looked so defined.
Read on for more about my face-cupping experience.
What Is Face Cupping?
Face cupping might be gaining more traction now, but the technique isn't actually anything new. "It is an ancient healing practice dating back to traditional Eastern and Egyptian cultures," explains Burrell, but alongside Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, it seems right at home with our current love for time-tested beauty traditions.
I picked up Antonia's kit, which includes a set of products to give yourself a full facial, exfoliation, and all, which is heavenly in itself. Once all that is done, next comes the face cupping, which requires four mini rubber cups. As a colleague pointed out, they look uncannily like unicorn horns. Two are larger, which you use for the majority of the face, like the cheeks, jawbone, and forehead, but the smaller ones are great for the more delicate skin around the eyes.
Benefits of Face Cupping
Burrell has been using face cupping in her facial treatments for several years now, and turns to it whenever a client requests "plumper, lifted, contoured, and firmer skin." In other words, everyone. It's also brilliant at making skin brighter, as it draws more blood to the surface, giving you "a healthy glow—the sort you get from a brisk walk outdoors," she says.
So, how does it work, exactly? "The suction created by the cups helps stimulate collagen and elastin, plumping and tightening your skin and helping with lymphatic drainage to reduce puffiness," explains Burrell. And with a testimonial like that, I was sold on the idea of trying face cupping at home.
What to Expect During a Face-Cupping Treatment
The kit comes with full instructions (Burrell also hosts live facial masterclasses on Instagram every Monday), but basically, you apply a facial oil or serum all over your face to give your skin some slip (one comes in the kit, or you can use any of your favorite facial oils). Then, starting at the center of the face, you place the cup over the skin and squeeze it so that it creates suction with your face. You then quickly swipe it outward and upward, as a sort of knuckle-free face massage.
Make sure you apply a serum or oil, as it helps to slide the cup over the skin and stops the suction from leaving any marks (no oil means you risk giving yourself a nice big cheek hickey).
Because you're essentially vacuuming small sections of skin, some redness is to be expected—but not much, so long as you're doing it correctly. "The gentle suction of the cups gives your facial muscles a deep, luscious workout, so it is normal to experience some redness as blood and nutrients rush to the surface," explains Burrell. "The key is to keep the cups gliding smoothly and moving when on skin."
After performing cupping on the face, Burrell suggests applying a mask (she recommends her own Mask Supreme 7-In-1 ($83) and a moisturizer, which creates "a dewy, super glow that helps to deeply hydrate and plump" the skin. The important thing, she notes, is to continue coddling the skin after it's been cupped. "The key is to cool, calm, and nourish the skin after this deep detoxifying treatment—so hydration in both skincare and intake [Burrell recommends drinking eight glasses of water daily] is super important to maintain the gorgeous, healthy effects."
The Final Takeaway
It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but I swear, in just five minutes, my puffy jawline already looks lither and my cheeks look firmer. But where it's really made a difference is in the luminosity department. A few rounds of suction honestly make me look like I've spent hours at the mercy of a pro facialist. This is one skincare tool I'll be coming back to for sure.
Shop Byrdie-approved facial oils below.
With black bee honey and exclusive royal jelly, this luxurious facial oil combats the visible signs of aging, blurs out wrinkles, and firms skin.
Enriched with evening primrose oil, omega-6 fatty acids, and lavender essential oil, a few drops of this oil (combined with a good facial cupping session) will give you brighter, more rested skin by morning.
L'Occitane's clever immortelle essential oil contains a host of natural antioxidants, leaving skin looking radiant and glowing after just a few uses.
This dreamy blend of patchouli, chamomile, lavender, and neroli helps relieve physical tension and mental stress. Use the facial-cupping tool to work out tension along the jawline, and you'll be left feeling extra Zen.
Cao H, Yang G, Wang Y, et al. Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;1:CD009436.
Burlando B, Cornara L. Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013;12(4):306-313.
Lin T-K, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):E70.
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Kianpour M, Mansouri A, Mehrabi T, Asghari G. Effect of lavender scent inhalation on prevention of stress, anxiety and depression in the postpartum period. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(2):197-201.