What is facial cupping? The lowdown on its benefits, safety, and functions

What is facial cupping? The lowdown on its benefits, safety, and functions

Face it

Text: Jeway Tan

Image: Instagram | @skingymco

We are not strangers to body cupping. Heck, if you haven't already tried it out yourself, you probably know someone who has. This traditional Chinese technique is said to help with pain relief while promoting healing. Interesting, but, to be honest, a tad terrifying — though it may have something to do with the circular bruises spotted on the backs of celebrities like Michael Phelps and Gwyneth Paltrow. Facial cupping, on the other hand, is not something you hear about every day. It is as it sounds, where the same theory of cupping is simply used on your face. Make no mistake though — there are key differences that distinguish the two. We detail 'em all in a comprehensive guide on facial cupping, below.

What is facial cupping, exactly?

Think of it as a form therapy that uses suction cups to stimulate the skin and muscles. It is known to increase blood circulation — which, in turn, helps promote cell repair; relieves muscle tension; and aids in other forms of skin regeneration.

So, how do facial and body cupping differ?

Though they are based upon the same restoration principle, both are executed differently. Facial cups are small and softer. They are typically used to gently pull the skin, separating it from the deeper layer of fascia. This, hence, means that it can rejuvenate the skin without leaving any cup marks or bruises behind. While it is known to sometimes leave some redness, users have reported it fades within minutes.

On the other end of the spectrum lies body cupping. This is mainly used to relieve and alleviate pain or aches in certain parts of the body. Unlike facial cupping, body cupping almost always leaves cup marks and bruises behind. Aforementioned marks will only fade after the lymphatic system processes and flushes out cellular waste build-up.

What are the mechanics behind facial cupping?

The suction effect of cupping essentially pulls blood into the area underneath the cup. This help saturates the surrounding tissue with fresh blood, thus promoting new blood vessel formation. This suction effect also separates the different layers of tissue in your skin. This results in microtrauma and tearing, triggering an inflammatory response where it'll flood the area with white blood cells, platelets, as well as other healing aids.

Are there any benefits of adding facial cupping into your skincare regimen?

An increased rate of circulation is credited to strengthen your skin and connective tissue, as well as stimulate cells to allow for better collagen production. This results in a brighter, more radiant complexion all while minimising the appearance of scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. Other benefits include a decrease in facial puffiness; the toning of the chin, jawline and neck; as well as a marked improvement in nutrient delivery and product absorption. The general consensus amongst skincare professionals is that it is particularly effective for those with oily skin as the procedure is known to regulate oil production.

But is it safe to use?

Like with most products and treatments, there are is the potential for minor side effects. This includes cold sweats, light-headedness, dizziness, and nausea. Do not give this treatment a try if you're dealing with any broken or inflamed skin.

Is it recommended that you attempt facial cupping without a professional?

Yes, at-home facial cupping kits exist, and they are safe to use. However, it is still recommended that you seek professional assistance. Hijama Singapore, for instance, provides the service — as well as Refresh Day Spa. If you're determined to DIY, perhaps drop one of these companies an email or text to get a recommendation for reputable labels.

Any other points of note when it comes to at-home facial cupping?

There are a variety of kits to choose from. Some are equipped with cups made from hard plastic or glass, while some are soft and gel-like. All these are said to be equally as effective — so it really boils down to personal preference. The most important thing is to always follow the instructions of your at-home kit. Another pro tip: do not share your cupping kit as it might risk contamination. Naturally, it is recommended that you wash your cups after every use, too.