Facial tools have been all the rage on the social media front this past year — everything from stone rollers and gua sha to more intense at-home treatments like portable microcurrent and microdermabrasion. It can be easy to get carried away with all the fun and newly accessible tools.
Each person that buys a new product or tool due to the hype of a beautifully written article from a beauty blogger or editor will fall into one of two categories: an individual who does their research, seeks a recommendation from their skincare professional, and follows instructions per their skin condition or (the most common) an individual who wants all the newest trends and products without thinking about application or consequence of multiple modalities. These individuals often end up with a self-inflicted problem on their skin that an esthetician has to then try to remedy.
Now, before I go any further, this article isn’t meant to shame or discourage anyone from trying something new because I thoroughly appreciate the enthusiasm, however, I always recommend for a person to do their research before diving in face first.
Cupping is one of the latest, most popular trends (which is funny because it has actually been around for over 3000 years)!
Cupping has a long history of accompanying acupuncture and helping to break up stagnant blood or energy in a concentrated area, and can greatly release knots or painful tension.
Any area of stagnation can block your flow of Qi (your life force energy) and eventually cause pain or discomfort to an area. Most photos on Google will show the procedure being performed with glass or bamboo cups that uncomfortably pull at the skin, leaving behind perfectly circular bruising (actually the release of stagnant blood and lymphatic fluid).
This practice can be a transformative procedure for the entire body… including the face! The face is a wonderful communicatory of what is going on in our internal bodies, and oftentimes the lack of flow we are experiencing on our skin can cause a breakdown in the natural flow of the lymphatic system. This can come from stress, tension in the neck, jaw, and the natural course of dormant muscles in our skin.
Typically done by a holistic esthetician or an acupuncturist who specializes in facial acupuncture, it’s also available to do as an at-home practice, but only recommended to do so if you are not highly inflamed, sensitive/sensitized, or blemish prone.
The practice of facial cupping encourages the flow to come back to your skin for an optimal glow. It’s very normal for skin to pink up during this procedure, because, like body cupping, it moves stagnation to eliminate tension and dermal waste.
To do it properly, follow the natural flow of the lymphatic system, essentially moving from the top center of the face outward all the way down to the neck. The neck will then drain out any fluid, so it’s important to open up the channels by making sure you don’t have tension and by gently pushing down in a soft motion towards the clavicle. Afterwards, it’s of the utmost importance to continue practicing good health habits like drinking water and eating whole foods to increase your skin’s nutritional intake.
Practices like facial cupping are meant to help your body self-heal. Our skin is an organ that is constantly communicating with us and eliminating toxins we don’t need. Choose a mindful intention of self-care when deciding to explore this practice because it isn’t a quick fix and the benefits will vary depending on your full spectrum health. Facial cupping is a slow-paced, gentle practice that’s meant to help you reconnect with your breathe and body.
Born in Canada, with roots of the Midwest and Texas in her upbringing, Hayley Wood is now fully rooted in the SoCal lifestyle. A holistic facialist and reflexologist with 12 years experience in the industry, she is the founder of Therapeutic Skin Coach.
Illustration Credit: Juliet Romano at @julietjordanro.